October 26, 2020
It's the spookiest time of year in the vacation rental industry—but not for the reason you might think. Instead of ghouls and goblins, property managers fear parties, and how the resulting damage could haunt their business for years to come. Halloween is already a big night for parties, and with current pandemic restrictions around bars and clubs, vacation rentals might be the prime targets for this year's bash, especially with the 31st falling on a Saturday.
The vacation-rental nightclub phenomenon (yes, it's a thing) brings even more risks to property managers. If you haven't heard of it, this is when a professional party planner books a home or luxury condo and throws a nightclub-level party, employing bouncers, charging cover, hiring a DJ and offering bottle service. Needless to say, these parties break multiple bylaws around social gatherings, severely damage properties and are major conduits for spreading COVID-19.
Sure, you might face fewer risks with Airbnb prohibiting one-night reservations in entire-home listings over Halloween weekend, but you're not out of the woods. Guests can book longer stays and split the cost among partygoers, or just book through another channel. To really scare off parties this October 31st, follow these tips:
Be explicit with your house rules
Make it clear in your listing to anyone browsing for a Halloween party spot, that your property is off limits. On platforms like Airbnb, you can include your house rules right in your listing description, but on platforms where you can’t, think outside the box. Upon booking confirmation, send the guest a rental agreement that outlines your expectations. In signing it, they acknowledge your house rules and the conditions of their stay. It also never hurts to send a quick reminder post-booking that parties will not be tolerated.
Pro tip: If you use any surveillance or noise monitoring devices (like NoiseAware, for example), mention it in your listings. This lets guests know that their host isn't "checked out" the moment they check in.
Collect lots of information
Before letting anyone into your property, make sure to verify them. Halloween isn’t an excuse for guests to hide their identities and intentions behind masks and costumes. To find out who’s staying in your property, collect the guest’s ID and credit card. It’s also important to ask the guest about their reason for traveling to make sure none of your house rules or the pandemic regulations are being broken. Collecting ample information makes the guest feel like they’re on the hook in case there is any damage or noise complaints. Someone looking to throw a party isn’t likely to offer up their personal details.
Ask for a guest list
Before confirming the reservation, have the guest provide a guest list. This should include the names and contact information of everyone who will be staying in your property, not just the guest who booked. Via email, send each guest a copy of the rental agreement, having them sign and acknowledge your rules. Let them know that any unregistered guests are considered to be trespassing.
Require a substantial security deposit
Asking the guest to pay a security deposit will make them think twice about using your property to throw a party. Airbnb recommends charging 60% of one night’s stay. That’s a lot of money on the line; enough that it should convince partiers to look elsewhere. If you always collect security deposits, consider bumping up the amount for Halloween weekend.
Don’t get spooked out of hosting
Halloween is a scary time of year, but the risk of parties shouldn’t scare you out of hosting. Prove to guests and your community that you're a responsible host—make it clear to guests that you won't tolerate parties or reckless behaviour. With the right deterrents in place, you shouldn't have to deal with any party-scares this Halloween.
Though, sometimes guests will slip through the cracks, so to catch parties before they happen, remember to carefully review every reservation that comes into your system. Check out our guide to guest screening for some helpful tips.