Poorly maintained decks and railings are a potential hazard for you and your guests. Make sure your vacation rental home is safe.

The Insider's Guide to Renting Your Vacation Home

Free Rental Guide!

Learn what it takes to rent your vacation home and maximize your rental income.

Free Rental Guide!

Learn what it takes to rent your vacation home and maximize your rental income.

Vacation home owners beware! If your home’s decks and railings aren’t properly maintained, they could pose a serious hazard to you, your family, and your guests. Don’t overlook the importance of proper inspection and maintenance of your outdoor areas!

In one North Carolina town, a couple of incidents led local professional management companies to join together to take action to protect their guests from vacation homes not properly maintained by their owners. On July 4, 2015, more than 20 members of a family from Virginia wound up in the hospital after the deck of the vacation home they’d rented collapsed and fell about 14 feet. Investigators determined that the collapse was caused by rusted nails.

Then, on August 10, a second collapse occurred at another vacation rental home, resulting in nine people falling about 5 feet, including a 62-year-old woman who suffered fractures.

As a result, the seven major vacation rental companies in the town of Emerald Isle banded together to take action, starting a mandatory deck inspection program. Under the new program, rental units managed by the companies are required to have an annual inspection by a licensed general contractor or engineer. Homes that don’t pass inspection result in suspension from the companies’ rental programs until repairs are completed.

Vacation rental home guests want to rest assured that they will be safe if they book your property. In fact, the issue of safety is a factor in deciding whether to rent from a do-it-yourself host (rent-by-owner) or from a professional management company. A Wyndham Vacation Rentals survey conducted by Kelton Global found that “Nearly 90 percent of do-it-yourself hosts secretly dread doing the things needed to deliver a great vacation experience – dealing with guests, handling inspections and cleaning the house. As a result, nearly 70 percent of travelers who have tried both would prefer to rent from a professional management company as opposed to an owner during their next stay.”

Wyndham notes that “tales of vacation rentals gone bad when booking directly with a homeowner weigh on renters’ minds”. Among vacationers’ concerns are:

  • Unmet expectations. 62 percent of all vacationers worry about not being able to get problems solved quickly and nearly half (46 percent) are not confident that they’ll get what they anticipate when renting directly from an owner.
  • Unsafe rentals. Nearly half (45 percent) of all vacationers worry about the safety of an owner-managed property.
  • Guests want to vacation with confidence. Nearly half (49 percent) of all vacationers look for a name they can trust when booking accommodations.

Wyndham also notes that “Guests who have experience with both options are two and half times as likely to feel extremely confident in the safety of a home rented through a management company as opposed to one rented directly from the owner.”

While there’s a clear benefit of partnering with a professional vacation rental management company in terms of giving your guests the confidence they desire, it’s still ultimately up to you to maintain your vacation home. Don’t let your deck, porch, balcony, or railings become a potential hazard to you, your family, or your rental guests. Proper inspection and maintenance is critical, not only to avoid injury, death, or lawsuit, but also to provide rental guests with the peace of mind they are looking for while on vacation.

Jeremy loves the northern Michigan outdoors, and his hobbies include hiking, biking, exploring, and photography.

Jared Hammond has over a decade of experience in the real estate industry including real estate sales, property management, and condominium association management. Hobbies include camping, hiking, home improvement projects, and making the finest maple syrup south of Canada.

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The Insider's Guide to Renting Your Vacation Home

FREE Rental Guide!

Learn what it takes to rent your vacation home and maximize your rental income.