Three Ways to Prepare Your Short Term Rental for Severe Weather

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Weather can be unpredictable. Recent hurricanes and flood events in the Caribbean, Florida, Louisiana, and Texas have shown that, as did the tragic fires in Northern California. Your corporate rental is a major investment that you want to protect. Having homeowners insurance should be a given, as well as flood insurance in low-lying areas requiring you to be covered. Beyond insurance there are other ways you can not only prepare your home but also protect yourself from income lost to severe weather that prevents a tenant’s stay. Here are three ways you can prepare your short-term rental for severe weather.

A meteorologist displaying hurricane supplies

Supply “Must Have” Items in Your Corporate Housing

Just like you would in your own home, provide basic emergency supplies for corporate tenants. Bottled water, canned food, a first-aid kit, a hand-crank radio, flashlights, and an emergency kit are important to have on hand. Secure these items in a cabinet with a combination lock. When extreme weather occurs, provide your tenants with the combination. Finally, be sure your home is well maintained both inside and out. If high winds, heavy rain or snow strike, be sure your home is up to the challenge.

TRAVEL INSURANCE

Offer Travel Protection Insurance for Hurricane Rentals

In some states where vacation rentals are more common, if you do not offer your tenants a travel insurance option, and a mandatory evacuation prevents a stay, you must refund them. However, if you offer them insurance, no refund is required. In other states, no refund is required unless your lease agreement covers it. You’ll need to know the laws regarding severe weather refunds in your state and municipality, run it by the attorney drawing up your standard lease contract.

This is distinct from a security deposit because it is different than “tenant caused” damages. CHBO’s covers you in case of tenant accidental damage, a cost that can be passed on the tenant in lieu of a security deposit.

Car covered with Ice

Add a Severe Weather Clause to Your Lease Agreement

In the case of a mandatory evacuation, you could offer a refund or a rebooking at a discount. But you need clear language that only mandatory evacuations apply; guests who are simply disappointed because rain is predicted can’t get a refund, as the home is still usable.

In the case of mandatory evacuations, you could issue a refund in advance when government authorities declare the evacuation, or if the stay is in progress, partially refund for unused days, or credit guests for a future stay.

Again, be clear that this applies only in the case that your property cannot be used due to evacuation. This happens most often with severe storms or hurricane rentals, where there are a few days of advanced notice. If roads are icy but not closed, for example, this doesn’t mean a refund as your short-term rental itself is still usable and the tenant should use chains or winter tires with four-wheel drive.

You may not be able to predict when and where severe weather strikes. You can, however, prepare your corporate rental for hurricanes and your lease as best you can so that when bad weather strikes you are ready.

How to Get Tenant Reviews for your Corporate Rental (And Why You NEED Them)

Review rental property

As a landlord or a corporate rental or just as a person living life, you’re busy. Sometimes you’re too busy to sweat the details. When a tenant moves out after an enjoyable stay, you’re preparing for the next tenant, and maybe marking the departed client off your mental to-do list. Maybe you lack time, or maybe you don’t want to bother them, but if you don’t ask for a review, you’re leaving future earnings on the table. If you think photos and description speak for themselves, you’re mistaken. We’ve talked about how photos don’t always tell the full story of a home in recent blogs.

Why do I Need to Ask for Reviews?

You need to solicit reviews because they result in more bookings. Studies show that great customer reviews build customer confidence. A recent study revealed that 88% of customers trust online reviews as much as they do a personal recommendation. And tenants leave reviews for many reasons – to help others make an informed decision, to sound a complaint allowing you to improve, to praise your property, to reward great service, even simply just to be heard. Your property is competing with other furnished executive rentals in your area and reviews can give your property a leg up, because tenants trust others to guide them to properties that are “as advertised”, that provide five star service, that listen to the customer, and that stand out. Bottom line, all things being equal, properties with good reviews get booked more often.

Corporate Rental Reviews

How do I Lay the Groundwork for a Great Review?

It starts with the customer’s first impression. A well-written, grammatically correct professional property description and CHBO certified photos create that great first impression. You want to preview the high level of professionalism and service right from the start.

First, setup text alerts so that you are notified of inquiries in real-time. Once you get their inquiry, answer the lead within twenty-four hours and in a friendly manner. Don’t overpromise, treat your lead with respect and really work with them to see if your property meets their needs. That genuine approach will pay off.

Trends in Corporate Housing

Corporate Housing is an ever-changing market. While there will always be a market for great locations and great values, economic and generational trends have a big impact on demand.  As our society and the people in it change and grow, our needs and wants change with it. One of the keys to success for corporate housing owners is to understand and adapt to these trends.

Corporate Housing Trends

One trend is a greater level of certainty in choosing a rental property. Today’s corporate clients are more likely to remain in housing longer while making sure they’re satisfied with their housing choice. More and more time is being spent in researching nearby schools, neighborhoods, entertainment, and conveniences. To best adapt, you should play up the advantages of your specific property, whether it is a short commute to work, a scenic location, great schools, or local entertainment.

More specific to that last point, today’s tenants are more aware of work-life balance, and this is leading to a greater awareness of the types of recreational options that are found in the area. When describing entertainment and recreation in the area, be sure to note a variety of different types of recreation around your property. For example, point out parks, trails, beaches, bike paths, notable restaurants, shopping, fitness centers, museums and art galleries, etc. to give interested renters an idea of the types of fun and relaxing activities your home’s area has to offer.

Millennials surpasses Generation X

In 2015, Millennials eclipsed Generation X as the largest part of the workforce. Many of today’s corporate rental tenants are Millennials. As a generation, they have experienced greater access to different styles of housing than generations before. Millennials also tend to be more individualistic on the whole; and this has led to greater demand for uniqueness in rental housing. The “one size fits all” approach isn’t working, so consider unique architectural and interior design styles and decorative elements.

Another aspect is the ever-increasing amount of information out there. Corporate renters and clients have access to a wealth of information on housing options, and are spending more time researching options online. It is important, therefore, to stand out by emphasizing the good points about your rental and being more visible online via SEO and Content marketing. CHBO can help to make sure your property is as visible as it can be in major search engines.

One thing is certain, times change. As an owner of corporate rental property, it is vital to look for trends like these and adapt your property to meet the needs of your audience.