Providing some outdoor space can really add value to your vacation rental offering. However, they can also add some risk in terms of guests hurting themselves and for which you can be held liable. We have discussed liability insurance already on the blog. Read it here! Consider the example of someone using the swing in your garden. Imagine the swing's seat comes loose, the person falls and breaks their arm. You can now be held liable for this and the bodily injury they incured and if you do not have the right insurance this can be costly - costly enough to ruin your business. Therefore, it is firstly important to have appropriate liability insurance which covers you as a short-term rental host and secondly to do everything in your power to make sure your property is safe. With the help of Steve Watt, Chairman of CertiStay's Safety & Security Committee, we have compiled a comprehensive guide on how to keep your outdoor spaces safe for your guests. Read on to learn more... Pools and Hot Tubs Fencing off pools and hot tubs prevents unauthorized use and can increase child safety. Ensure all doorways/gates accessing a pool or hot tub are lockable, preventing unintended access by children. Small children should only use the pool and tub with adult supervision. Ensure all pool components, slides and other accessories are in working order and/or safe to use. Make sure the water is tested regularly and that chemicals are safely stored. Non-slip decking can reduce the risk of injury. Waterfront Access Young children accessing the waterfront should be under adult supervision. Ensure all water based equipment is in working order (canoe, kayak, power boat, etc.) and that personnel flotation devices
As the Chief Insurance Officer of CertiStay, Yvonne Chan is the go-to expert to answer any questions regarding vacation homes and insurance. Yvonne holds impressive qualifications such as Chartered Insurance Professional (CIP), Canadian Risk Management (CRM) and Canadian Association of Insurance Brokers (CAIB) designations. She has been working in the industry for over 20 years and specialises in modelling proprietary insurance solutions. Also read our interview with Steve Watt, Chairman of CertiStay's Safety & Secruity Committee. 1. Yvonne, thank you for answering some questions for us today. Could you briefly describe your background in the insurance industry? Today many young insurance professionals are graduates of a risk management program at post secondary institutions – many of my peers of my generation either fell into insurance by accident or it is a family business. I fell into insurance by accident when I was trying to figure out what to do after school. In my very first insurance job, I met a wonderful mentor who continues to be a mentor and friend to me to this day. She was knowledgeable and kind. However, she was a tough teacher, which I admired and wanted to emulate. My first job was with The Dominion of Canada Insurance Company, which was the oldest Canadian Insurance company prior to Travelers acquiring it. I was a Claims Assistant before being promoted to an In-house Claims Adjuster, adjusting homeowners’ claims. From there it was a natural progression to learning how to create insurance programs to meet the needs of different insured operations so that when there is a claim that the policy would respond. I went on to become a Placement Specialist with several global insurance brokers to continue to develop my craft. I
How to find out about laws and regulations in your area. Navigating local regulations regarding short-term rentals' safety and security can be a confusing minefield. With laws constantly changing on a national, regional and most frequently city level, hosts have to put in increased efforts to keep up with the latest requirements. Most of the time not fulfilling these requirements can mean not only putting the safety of your guests at stake but also risking being banned from running your Airbnb, HomeAway or VRBO. For example, as stated in an article by Justin Ford on VRMintel, "many localities around the United States [...] require vacation rentals to have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, emergency exit lighting, and fire extinguishers in place." Additionally, some places also ask STR hosts to follow certain procedures in order to avoid health issues. These can, for example, involve linen sanitization or pool and spa maintenance. So where do you begin? Not to worry! We've compiled a guide on where to look for your area's safety and security requirements for your short-term rental or vacation home. Consult Your Local Government Firstly, your local government will be able to provide materials on what safety standards need to be fulfilled by STRs or even if safety inspections are required. However, which department of the government is responsible varies a lot. Generally, you will be able to obtain information from the city hall or the city's general website. At times, it is also worth checking with the housing department or the licensing department, since running an STR can be considered a business. For example, to obtain a Short-term Rental Licence in Denver the “STR must have an operable smoke detector, carbon monoxide detector and fire extinguisher”. Find
Connect with fellow hosts and industry experts. With short-term rentals being a huge industry, there are many individuals who dedicate their career or at least part of their time to running the likes of Airbnb, Homeaway and VRBO. With many guests coming and going, hosts definitely have no shortage of new people to meet. However, sometimes hosts can appreciate getting to know others who are in the same boat – fellow hosts. Luckily, there a lot of online communities where STR hosts can exchange ideas, ask questions and meet peers. To make it easier for you to decide on what groups to join, we have compiled a list of the 5 Facebook groups every short-term rental host should join. Note: Short-term rentals are referred to as STRs. Short Term Rental University The biggest of our recommended groups and constantly growing, this group should be on your list to join if you are operating a short-term rental. It is run by Richard Fertig, an Airbnb Superhost, entrepreneur, and former Wall Steet Hedgefunder, who managed to create an extremely helpful community, where all questions are welcome. At times Richard provides handy video tutorials on all things STR, but mostly this group is for hosts to learn from each other and exchange experiences. Join here. New to Short Term Rentals, Airbnb and Hosting You're just getting started in the industry or still have some questions? This group is here to help! New hosts post their listings for feedback or seek advice from fellow hosts. The group was created by Alanna Schroeder, who is a host herself and also runs VR Mastered, who provide boot camps for vacation rental owners, and The Distinguished Guest, a hospitality supplier for vacation rentals.
As the Chairman of the Safety & Security Committee of CertiStay, Steve Watt can look back on over 35 years of experience in policing. Starting his career in Northern Ireland with the Royal Ulster Constabulary, he quickly established his career in police, law enforcement and private security training not only in Canada but internationally as well. A recognized expert on policing matters, he has been consulting for the Province of British Columbia and Public Safety Canada since 2007. With this impressive CV, there is really no better person to ask a couple of questions on how to keep your Airbnb and short-term rental safe and secure. Let's get started! Note: Short-term rentals are referred to as STRs. 1. Having summarised your experience a bit above, could you tell us about a highlight that stood out in your career? While there many are highs and lows in policing, my main focus has always been helping others; whether that was a police officer in training, the victim of a crime or someone struggling with life’s challenges. It’s all about reaching out and touching someone in a positive way. My role with CertiStay carries on that philosophy to ensure individuals and families can experience safe and secure business and vacation short-term rentals. 2. How did you become a member of the Safety & Security Committee of CertiStay? Happenstance! A colleague of mine introduced me to Wolf Worster in April 2017 and the rest fell into place after meeting with the CertiStay team. 3. Getting onto the subject of security in STRs, which are the 3 most important issues in terms of security to consider when setting up your Airbnb, VRBO or Homeaway? There are two interrelated issues to