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How to successfully file a vacation rental damage claim

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It’s crucial for vacation rental hosts to monitor their properties for damage at all times. If your property is damaged by a guest, you should be able to file a damage claim with the online travel agency (OTA) the guest booked through. To file a successful damage claim, you need to take certain steps to be prepared.

What happens if your rental property is damaged?

Most property managers know that not all guests are perfect, and sometimes damages happen. 

Fortunately, there are a few ways OTAs provide aid in cases of property destruction. Each OTA will have a slightly different process but the takeaways are the same. To make things easy, we’ll use Airbnb as an example. Airbnb offers Host Guarantee, a property protection program that covers up to $1 million USD in damages caused by a guest. 

There are also measures that hosts can put in place to prevent rental property damage in the first place. Keep reading to learn our top steps for addressing and preventing property damage in your vacation rental.

3 steps to address rental property damage

When it comes to property damage, you’ll need to assess the situation and determine the best plan of action. If there has been serious damage that requires immediate repairs, consider following the steps below to file a claim.

1. Document the damage

To file a property damage claim with Airbnb, proper documentation is required. Hosts can take photos and videos of the damage to report the incident and access the guests’ security deposit. 

When documenting the damage, be as thorough and detailed as possible. Sending close-up photos and videos will increase your chances of getting your money back.

To ensure parallel documentation between guests, we recommend using a platform to schedule and manage vacation rental cleaning. 

TurnoverBnB allows cleaners to upload photos of their finished work to assure the rental is consistent. This feature can come in handy if an issue occurs since you will be able to pull the documentation from your cleaners after every turnover.

2. Inform the guest and OTA

If a guest is aware of the damage they caused, hopefully they’ll let you know about it. However, if they don’t, you should contact both the guest and the OTA about the issue. 

In the case of Airbnb, you’ll need proof of guest contact within 14 days of checkout, so we advise messaging the guest over the Airbnb platform to document the conversation. Using the Airbnb Resolution Center, you can inform the guest of your intent to file a claim and the amount requested.

If the guest agrees to the amount, you will receive the reimbursement.

3. File the right claim

If the guest is unwilling to pay the requested amount, there are two ways to request a reimbursement: Through a damage claim or a security deposit claim.

  1. Damage Claim: Airbnb’s damage claims are covered under its Host Guarantee where you can claim up to $1 million USD of reimbursement. You submit the claim through Airbnb’s Resolution Center and once it’s been processed, a support ambassador will resolve the claim following the terms and conditions.

  2. Security deposits: Security deposits can be required by Airbnb ($500) based on the property’s features and reservation details. If you’re listing on an OTA other than Airbnb, you can use third-party software like Autohost to collect a security deposit for you. If there’s an incident, property managers can claim the amount that was pre-authorized by Autohost or create an invoice and charge the card on file.

Here are some additional factors to consider:

  • Not all damage will be covered by the OTA. In the case of Airbnb, the damage must fit within its Host Guarantee criteria. For example, ordinary wear and tear, smoking, and general messiness is not included. However, serious damages like broken light fixtures or appliances, dents and holes in walls, or heavy staining (in certain circumstances) may be eligible for reimbursement.

  • With Airbnb, hosts have 14 days after checkout or before the next check-in to submit their claims via the Resolution Center. Make sure any damage is reported immediately and within the time frame in order to receive the reimbursement.

2 ways to prevent property damage in a vacation rental

Although filing a claim is one way to make up for financial losses, an OTA might not always side with you. Here are a few things you can do to prevent damages to your vacation rental before they happen.

1. Vet guests with a screening software

One of the best ways to protect your property from damage is by screening your guests. 

Autohost offers automated guest screening services to verify the identities of guests and flag any risky reservations. By catching high-risk reservations before the guest checks in, you reduce the chance of incidents like parties and damages, saving you the headache of damage claims and extra cleaning and repairs.

2. Purchase vacation rental insurance

Vacation rental insurance is necessary to cover damages that are not caused by guests. 

Incidents like flooding or fires aren’t usually covered in an OTAs’ damage claims. This means you could be left paying major expenses. Instead, purchase insurance for your rentals to fill the gaps, ensuring your property is protected at all times.

Not all insurance policies specialize in vacation rentals. Do some research on the different coverages and companies in your area to determine the best plan for your business.

This blog was written by TurnoverBnB, the premier tool for STR Hosts and Airbnb Cleaners to connect and automatically manage their vacation rental cleaning schedules.