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Airbnb safety guide: 10 tips for safer rentals

Rewind to only 15 years ago and the very idea of opening up your home or staying in a stranger’s house would be looked upon with great suspicion and concern for one’s safety and security. Today however, the idea of actively inviting strangers into your private space or staying in a stranger’s home sits at the very heart of the home-sharing economy.

In 2015, out of more than 40 million Airbnb guest arrivals, there were only 1,010 cases of significant property damage reported worldwide. Despite the infrequency of major incidents, no opportunity to make a quick buck should ever justify anything that compromises the safety or security of Airbnb hosts. Similarly, guests should be no less obliged to take a leap of faith when it comes to their Airbnb safety and security simply because they happen to be away from their homes or familiar surroundings.

Vacation rental hosts are presented with a range of various preventative and reactive safety and security measures that protect both themselves and their guests, some of which are official Airbnb requirements. In this article, we’ll run through key Airbnb safety tips and safeguards you can take to ensure that neither you nor your guests ever need to compromise your enthusiasm for using short-term rental booking platforms simply because of safety or security concerns that otherwise hold you back.

Guest post from Evian, Founder & CEO of Padlifter

1. Use your common sense

Staying safe and protecting your property begins with the basics: using your common sense. Despite the vast range of safety and security protections and safeguards you’re able to make use of against Airbnb safety concerns, the easiest way to remediate an issue is to prevent it in the first place.

Safety and security action points:

  • Remove or lock up any valuables from your home and the places that guests can access
  • Replace expensive or valuable items with cheaper alternatives of lesser concern if broken or damaged
  • Periodically check in with your guests to ensure that everything is to their satisfaction. Demonstrate your interest in their wellbeing and nip in the bud any safety or security issues or concerns before they escalate

2. Use keyless door locks

Keyless door locks are a great option for Airbnb owners who are unable to be present at the time of a guest’s arrival. They also benefit guests who no longer need to worry about sets of keys being carried, getting lost or managed amongst big groups. 

Keyless door locks (or 'smart locks') enable guests to gain access to the home using a code that is provided to them before their arrival. Many smart locks also enable the host to reset codes from their computer or smartphone, making it easy to remove Airbnb safety concerns about guests and keys.

Safety and security action points:

  • Create new and unique codes for every guest stay
  • Ensure that code validity is limited exclusively to the duration of their stay
  • Setup notifications and alerts to let you know who and when someone has entered your property

Airbnb safety

3. Install fire safety devices within your home

Irrespective of your intentions to host your home on short-term rental booking sites, installing fire safety devices throughout your home is simply a no-brainer! For the most part, fire safety equipment is cheap, easy to install and unobtrusive, ensuring that you meet one of the basic ​​Airbnb safety requirements. More importantly, they save lives and protect your property!

Safety and security action points:

  • Prevent: perform periodic gas checks and eliminate flammable materials (e.g. aerosol cans, cleaning products, etc.) from places that are likely to see naked flames
  • Detect: install smoke and/or CO detectors throughout your home
  • Resolve: place fire extinguishers and fire blankets in the places throughout your home that fires are most likely to occur (e.g. the kitchen)

4. Have an emergency exit plan

You may be familiar with your home, its entry and exit points, and getting from room to room, but that’s not necessarily the case for strangers to your place. It’s not a mandatory Airbnb host requirement, but in the rare event of an emergency, having a defined emergency exit plan known to the home’s inhabitants can be the difference between life and death.

Safety and security action points:

  • Let your guests know information about emergency exit plans upfront in pre-trip communications and welcome books
  • Display your emergency exit plan in appropriate places throughout your home (e.g. the back of front, back and bedroom doors)
  • Advise guests of relevant emergency service numbers they may be unfamiliar with (for example, numbers for police, ambulance and fire are different in different countries)

5. Provide a well-stocked first aid kit

Having a well-stocked first aid kit demonstrates your commitment towards being a responsible host, as well as your consideration towards the welfare and safety of your guests. First aid kits recognise that accidents do happen and that full medical treatment may not always be immediately available. They add another layer of protection against claims of liability or negligence and provide guests with peace of mind whilst away from home, so can help to meet Airbnb safety requirements for both owners and their guests.

Safety and security action points:

  • Ensure that your kits are stocked with core first aid essentials (e.g. bandages, antiseptics, gauze, tapes, instruments, etc.)
  • Check your kits between stays to replenish any used items and maintain appropriate levels of sanitary standards
  • Share the location of where your first aid kits can be found with incoming guests through your pre-trip communications and welcome book

Airbnb safety

6. Obtain appropriate insurance protection

Many short-term booking sites offer host protection and/or liability insurance programs, and we believe that these are essential Airbnb safety requirements. However, whilst many of these programs look good on paper, hosts are frequently none the wiser about important exclusions or limitations that leave them exposed to potential financial loss. 

Similarly, many home insurance policies have exclusion or limitation clauses that restrict protections or limit a host’s ability to make a claim. Again, many hosts often only realise these limitations once it’s too late and a claim needs to be made, leaving them in a tough spot when it comes to managing Airbnb safety.

Safety and security action points:

  • Find an insurance policy that specifically caters towards short-term rentals and which includes protections against liability, building and contents as well as lost business income too
  • Familiarise yourself with the procedural requirements of booking site protection programs before a time you need to rely on them to ensure your claims are not denied simply on procedural grounds
  • Consider implementing complementary protections such as security deposits that may be more appropriate protections for the type of issues you believe represent the greatest risk for your place

7. Feel comfortable with every guest coming into your home

The ball is almost always in the host’s court when it comes to deciding on the who, what, where, when and why of which guests ultimately enter a host’s home. Hosts should never feel uncomfortable with anyone staying in their personal space, which is why many have Airbnb house rules which may include things like banning parties. They should take advantage of the many tools and features that booking sites provide for validating trust and ‘filling in the blanks’, which include Airbnb safety requirements about guests verifying their identities.

Safety and security action points:

  • Take the time to read a guest’s prior reviews and be on the lookout for red flags that warrant further contact and investigation
  • Look for the Airbnb ID checked badge when deciding whether or not to accept a booking. For guests that have not verified their IDs, hosts have the option of automatically denying booking requests or requiring additional information on the guest and trip purpose
  • Be selective when screening guests to identify ‘high-risk’ booking requests more likely to cause damage (e.g. bachelor party groups)

8. Be explicit about permissible rules and behaviour

Airbnb house rules can cover anything that you want your guests to know about or that’s important to you, like areas of your home that are out-of-bounds, permission to have visitors, drug use, permissible noise levels and cleanliness expectations. Your house rules let guests know how they are expected to behave when staying at your place. As part of Airbnb regulations, you’re almost always able to cancel a booking without penalty before or throughout a booking if the guest makes it clear that they will be breaking one of your rules.

Safety and security action points:

  • Share your Airbnb house rules on your listing page for guests to review before booking
  • Remind guests of these house rules in pre-trip communications and in your welcome book too
  • Familiarise yourself with the customer support phone number of the booking sites you list on for advice and assistance in managing the process for guests that break your house rules

Airbnb safety

9. Add security monitoring equipment to your property

Security equipment like window and door sensors, or noise level monitors from companies like NoiseAware, can be installed on your property to improve Airbnb safety. These act as a deterrent against problematic or malicious guest activity and are a common feature in Airbnb safety tips. Many devices also have notification features that will inform you about a potential issue as it’s occurring or before it escalates.

Whilst managing airbnb safety concerns is important, it’s important to remember that good hosts respect their guests’ privacy. Using surveillance equipment may be against the law in some places, so make sure you understand any applicable laws and regulations for Airbnb first.

Safety and security action points:

  • Consider your target guests and the type of risks they typically represent to you and your property
  • Install smart home security monitoring devices that give you peace of mind in mitigating identified risks
  • Communicate the existence of any security monitoring or other surveillance devices that you’ve installed in or around your home. State this explicitly on your listing and in pre-trip communications and welcome books

10. Keep communications contained to the Airbnb private messaging platform

As part of Airbnb regulations, only registered Airbnb users are able to use the private messaging platform. Becoming a registered user requires providing Airbnb with a valid credit card and uploading a profile photo – representing another layer of verification of the person that the host actually deals with. 

All communications can always be referenced and followed up, and Airbnb also proactively monitors the platform to identify fraudulent, malicious or suspicious activity. The private messaging platform therefore serves to protect and assist the host just as much as it does the guest and is an Airbnb safety feature that benefits everyone.

Safety and security action points:

  • Contact the booking site’s help and support team if you suspect suspicious or fraudulent behaviour on the part of a guest you are communicating with
  • Preference your communications to go through the private messaging platform whenever feasible and appropriate
  • List the alternate communication channels and contact details by which guests are able to contact you (outside the private messaging platform) in your welcome book

Comment from Andy: “The jury is out about if and when it’s appropriate to move guest communications off the platform. Many experienced hosts prefer to interact with their guests via email, phone, text, or instant messaging services like WhatsApp. Not only is this often more convenient for all, but it allows the host to continue a guest relationship post-booking via email newsletters, etc (subject to the guest opting in). In fact, many hosts we know have become friends with their guests and have built repeat and referral business. Each scenario will be different, but I thought it was worth noting!”

Round up

At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that reciprocity sits at the core of the home-sharing phenomenon that is Airbnb. In almost all cases, guests give back what they receive. 

Take advantage of opportunities to demonstrate your commitment to providing a safe and phenomenal experience for your guests, and you’re almost certain to receive a response in kind. Use your guest communications and welcome book to alleviate any Airbnb safety and security concerns that your guests too may hold. 

These reciprocal interactions of respect, coupled with the above-mentioned measures, will pave the way for ensuring you, your property and your guests remain safe and secure throughout bookings requested and accepted.


About Evian Gutman

Evian is the Founder & CEO of Padlifter – the one-stop-shop for getting found more often, winning more bookings and making more money on Airbnb. He is the author of the best-selling book ‘The Definitive Step-by-Step Guide to Making Money on Airbnb’ and is an Airbnb Superhost that has hosted over 500 guests.

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