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How to Keep Short-Term Renters Safe During the COVID-19 Crisis

Mar 25, 2020 by Maurie Backman
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If you own a vacation home, you're no doubt aware that attracting repeat guests is a great way to ensure a steady flow of rental income. You can do so by offering outstanding amenities, being a good host, and taking steps to ensure that your short-term renters feel comfortable and safe with your home.

The latter, however, is much harder to achieve now that we're deep in the throes of the COVID-19 outbreak. In fact, many vacation property owners are offering renters the option to cancel their plans in the coming weeks for a full refund, and while that may constitute a hit in rental income for you, it's the smart and courteous thing to do.

But what if your guests actually don't want to cancel? Or what if they're stuck moving forward with their plans because it's not safe for them to travel home right away? As a vacation property owner, you'll need to take extra steps to keep your renters safe. Here's what to do between guests.

1. Go heavy on disinfecting

If you have a regular stream of renters, you're probably already in the habit of cleaning your home between checkouts and check-ins. Well, now's the time to be extra thorough in your cleaning efforts.

First, invest in disposable gloves so you're not touching potentially contaminated surfaces. The good news is that COVID-19 is only said to linger in the air for up to three hours, so if you wait that long to clean after guests vacate, you should be reasonably safe from contracting the virus via inhalation. And if you wear gloves and then wash your hands thoroughly before touching your face, you can avoid picking up the virus by touching it.

Once you're geared up in gloves, disinfect your entire home from top to bottom with Lysol (OTCMKTS: RBGLY) or a cleaner of similar strength. Pay attention to areas like door handles, light switches, faucets, and toilet flush levers. Also, be sure to disinfect any TV remotes your former guests had access to. Keep in mind that it's best to let whatever solution you use stand for a good three to five minutes before wiping it off for an extra-deep clean.

2. Launder towels and linens thoroughly -- and provide extras

It should go without saying that once your guests vacate your home, you should wash all towels and linens before making them available again. If your machine has a "sanitize" cycle, that's probably your best bet. But also, leave extra face and hand towels out for your incoming guests. The less they have to share, the less likely they'll be to spread germs.

3. Provide extra soap and sanitizer

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) states that frequent hand-washing is a good way to help curb the spread of COVID-19. To help your guests achieve that, be sure to provide extra soap and sanitizer in your home (if you can find any -- the latter has been especially hard to track down).

4. Survey guests after they check out

Chances are, you're not a doctor and are by no means equipped to diagnose COVID-19 or any other illness over the phone or via email. But for extra protection for your future guests, it wouldn't hurt to survey your departing guests upon or shortly after checkout and ask if anyone displayed worrisome symptoms while staying at your property, like a fever, chills, body aches, dry cough, or shortness of breath. If someone does report questionable symptoms, warn your incoming guests and give them the option to cancel their stay.

As a property owner, it's on you to do everything within your power to keep your short-term guests safe. It may require some extra effort, but with any luck, your renters will take note of that and give you their business the next time they're in town.

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