Safety first: assess and manage the security risks in your vacation rentals


Safety first: assess and manage the security risks in your vacation rentals


ohn early in the morning of January 2021, a devastating fire broke out at a vacation home in Malibu where no smoke detector had been installed. Just 111 days earlier, Malibu City Council had issued an ordinance that, among other things, required the installation of smoke detectors in all short-term rentals. This ordinance was overdue because the state had accepted International Building Code guidelines that smoke detectors should be installed in all transitional locations in the state years ago.

The Malibu tragedy shows that carelessly occupying a home, whether it’s a hotel, condo, vacation rental, or home, comes with many risks.

To address the potential dangers of staying in a hotel or motel and to recognize the evolving needs for fire safety in the hospitality industry, the US government passed the Hotel and Motel Fire Safety Act of 1990. The Law recognizes that properly installed and maintained smoke detectors and safety markers provide the most effective protection against fires on hotel properties. Sprinklers, smoke detectors, fire exit maps, and hallway fire extinguishers are just some of the many features that hotel guests commonly encounter as a result of this act.

Compare that to occupying a vacation rental or someone else’s house; Unfortunately, similar government precautions have not been put in place. The number of fire-related tragedies and other accidents in rental homes is on the rise, and because mandatory security features such as hallway lighting, exit beacons and clear location indicators fire extinguishers have not been put in place, many tenants who are unfamiliar with a property could be in danger.

Understanding fire safety

So how do you keep your guests safe in your vacation rentals and ensure the safety of your team while doing the same? Smoke detectors are simple but vital home security functions and can make all the difference when properly installed. The National Fire Protection Association says three in five home fire deaths result from fires in properties without working smoke detectors, and 38% of home fire deaths result from fires in which no smoke detectors are present. here. When looking to install or update a smoke detector, there are several ways to make sure you are meeting this safety standard.

1. Choose the best smoke detector on the market. Consumer reports ranked smoke detectors in 2019 and revealed that dual detectors (which use ionization and photoelectric sensors) rank number one.

2. Make sure your smoke detectors are less than ten years old. Statistics show that every year a smoke detector gets older, it becomes less reliable. There is a 30 percent failure rate for smoke detectors over ten years old. For this reason, many models now come with a ten-year sealed battery.

3. Interconnect your smoke detectors. Today’s technology allows smoke detectors to “talk” to each other through wired or wireless communications. A fire warning in one area of ​​the house alerts the alarm in another area and will give more time to notify occupants and let them escape.

Other safety precautions for instrumental rental homes

While fire and smoke accidents are some of the most high-profile misfortunes that can occur in a vacation rental, there are many other risks that guests face that need to be addressed.

Slips, trips and falls

In 2019, 83% of all insurance claims submitted to Proper Insurance, one of the leading insurance companies for vacation rentals, were from slips, trips or falls. Preventing these dangers and injuries in your rentals is actually extremely easy. Making sure handrails are installed on all stairs that meet international building code standards and that rental walkways, indoors and outdoors, are well lit and easy to navigate are simple solutions to a potentially dangerous situation. Ensuring that carpets and other tripping hazards don’t slip and have no raised corners is another easy protection against trip and fall accidents.

Pool and hot tub safety

Unfortunately, pool and spa accidents are one of the leading killers of people under the age of ten in vacation rentals. Customers, many of whom do not have a pool at home, often do not have the knowledge or experience to understand the details that constitute vital swimming pool precautions. Property managers should have the necessary items such as lockable lids, pool rescue poles, lifebuoys and ladders readily available on their properties and should clearly instruct clients where they are and how to use them. Properly installed safety fences and gates with child resistant locks are also a smart installation to provide additional protection against unwanted access to water equipment.

Other amenities

Many homeowners are surprised to learn that the amenities they offer, such as fireplaces, barbecues, bicycles, baby gear or other “bonus” items are in fact a growing source of accidents. more frequent.

While they are a great addition and a favorite feature of many vacation homes, grills and fireplaces require specific placement and clear operating instructions to prevent accidents. Grills should be placed at least three feet from combustible walls, fences or other structures and should have a minimum of nine feet of clearance from the surface of the grill. Fireplaces should be placed at least 20 feet from the house and not present a tripping hazard around them. Additionally, inspecting gas line connections and tank O-rings will ensure that the fuel sources for the grill and gas fireplace are not leaking.

Property managers and owners should consider the risks of offering bikes, golf carts, personal watercraft, or other transportation options with their rental. While having these amenities in your home can be great for guests, the risk associated with them is high. Unless a thorough inspection program is in place to inspect all of these items before each tenant uses them, and unless appropriate safety equipment such as helmets and life jackets are available for their use, these items should not be offered or available.

With many families traveling and looking to spend some quality time together, it may seem like a generous offer to let renters use old cribs, high chairs, and portable playpens. Unless each of these items are personally inspected before each use, they pose a huge potential risk to your business and, more importantly, can harm a child.

Professionalism requires security awareness

Reducing risk in your vacation rental (s) protects you and the owner, helps ensure the safest and best experience for guests, and establishes your position as a professional. Across the United States, groups meet at the local level to discuss safety issues and regulations. Many of these groups are coordinated or supported by Rent Responsably, an educational and community development platform for local short-term rental alliances. Insurance companies like Proper Insurance are leading the way in helping secure rentals to reduce insurance claims and prevent tenant injuries. At Breezeway, we have developed safety checklists and inspection programs to help owners ensure their rentals meet current safety standards.

The topic of safety is important and can provide common ground for homeowners, insurers and local regulators to work together to improve their communities and industry. Responsible managers who deal with security items in their rental properties are more likely to respond to other issues, such as parking, garbage, and parties, which can ease community tensions over vacation rentals. . With the dedication of time, effort, research, and the proper safety measures, vacation rental managers can have a positive relationship with the community and provide the best experience for their guests.


About Michael B. Billingsley

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