Avalara MyLodgeTax > Blog > Rental Tips and Advice > 10 safety concerns to document when renting out your home

10 safety concerns to document when renting out your home

  • Apr 7, 2018 | Jennifer Sokolowsky

When potential guests consider whether to stay in your short-term rental, they probably aren’t thinking about whether the house has a clean chimney or the proper number of fire extinguishers. But as a host, it’s wise for you to think about the safety features of the space you’re offering up for rental.

Not only do you want to ensure the safety of your guests, but you should also be thinking about protecting yourself from liability. Keeping the safety features of your home properly maintained — and keeping records of that maintenance — is a smart move to make in case an accident or other incident takes place in your home while you have short-term rental guests.

Here are 10 suggestions for areas in your home you should be aware of.

1. Smoke/carbon monoxide detectors

Check your local standards for the number and placement of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Generally, you should install carbon monoxide detectors on every level, preferably near bedrooms to give warning when people are asleep. Smoke detectors should be placed inside every bedroom, outside every sleep area, and on every level of the home.

2. Fire extinguishers

Your city most likely has guidelines on how many fire extinguishers should be available within a property of your size. Make sure they’re placed near areas that are possible fire hazards, such as the kitchen or near a fireplace, and that they’re easily accessible.

3. Chimney

A fireplace can be a real draw for guests to stay at your property, but a dirty chimney can be a hazard. Have all chimneys inspected by a professional every year and cleaned regularly to prevent chimney fires.

4. Furnace

Without proper maintenance, your furnace can simply stop working or even pose a carbon monoxide threat. Get your furnace inspected and serviced at least once a year to ensure optimum performance and safety.

5. Exits/escapes

Make sure exits are unblocked and functioning properly. You may want to add escape ladders for second-story bedrooms. It can be helpful to leave guests a map that shows all exits and the fastest way to get out of the home.

6. Door locks

Door locks that don’t function properly are potentially unsafe because they could allow an intruder to enter the home and because they could make it difficult for guests to exit in an emergency. Make sure all locks turn smoothly and doors don’t jam or stick.

7. Ventilation

Check that you have the right amount of ventilation and combustion air for fuel-fired appliances such as furnaces, boilers, fireplaces, water heaters, and dryers. Areas around these appliance should be kept free of debris and blockages.

8. Hot tub

Hot tubs are a coveted amenity among short-term rental guests, but they can be breeding grounds for harmful bacteria. Use appropriate sanitizers and run and clean the tub regularly. A hot tub should be drained and refilled with fresh water at least every three to four months. Covering it when not in use can help keep it clean.

9. Pool

Having a pool can entice guests to choose your property, but you need to be sure it’s clean and safe. Clean your pool regularly and take the proper steps to sanitize it. It’s a good idea to surround your pool with a barrier. Cover your pool and remove any ladders or steps used for access when the pool is not in use.

It’s also a good practice to post pool rules near the pool area. These can include:

  • Children must be supervised at all times
  • No glass near the pool
  • Keep gates to the pool closed and locked at all times
  • No running near the pool

You may also want to include specific language about pool liability in your short-term rental contract with guests.

10. Water testing

If you have a private well, get your water tested at least once a year for bacteria, nitrates, and other contaminants.

Guiding your guests

It’s a good practice to provide easily visible information in your short-term rental property that points out the rules and safety measures of your home. These can include:

  • A map of the home with information on exits
  • Rules for using fireplaces
  • Pool/hot tub rules
  • Locations and directions for fire extinguishers and smoke detectors
  • Smoking rules
  • Phone numbers of local law enforcement or emergency services

It’s also very important for your guests to know who to call in case they have any questions or problems. This contact should be readily available at all times to help your guests with any issues that may arise.

Safety first

Properly taking care of your home and making sure it’s as safe as possible for your guests is not only being a good host; it’s good for your property and your business. Be sure to keep good records of your safety and maintenance efforts for maximum benefit.

Lodging tax rates, rules, and regulations change frequently. Although we hope you'll find this information helpful, this blog is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal or tax advice.
Avalara Author
Jennifer Sokolowsky
Avalara Author Jennifer Sokolowsky
Jennifer Sokolowsky writes about tax, legal, and tech topics. She has an extensive international background in journalism and marketing, including work with The Seattle Times, The Prague Post, Avvo, and Marriott.