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Airbnb Damage to Apartment (2024): How to Protect Your Vacation Rental

Airbnb is a fantastic way to make some extra money in the home you already have. A lot of hosts even rent out their apartments, and some cities allow you to sublet an apartment specifically for the purpose of renting it out short term. But what if a guest damages the property that you’re renting?

Here are my TOP tips to protecting your vacation rental or Airbnb apartment from damage:

  • Collect a security deposit
  • Make sure you’re allowed to rent your apartment
  • Have cameras outside
  • Have very clear house rules
  • Make sure you’re covered by insurance

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You will also want to check out Waivo. They offer short-term rental damage protection with their security deposit plan. Waivo will pay for your damage so you can still receive that positive review. Check out our in-depth review of Waivo here…

Collect a (Hefty) Security Deposit

First things first, I would definitely recommend adding a security deposit to your listing if you haven’t already. I’m sure that your landlord had you pay one before you moved in, so why shouldn’t your guests? You’ll be on the hook for any damage they might cause, so make sure you’re protected from the get-go. 

Adding a security deposit on Airbnb takes just a few clicks. Under the listing, click on the Pricing button. Then, next to Extra Charges click the Edit button and enter the amount you’d like to charge. 

It can be anywhere from $100 to a whopping $5000, but I would err on the lower end of things to make sure you don’t discourage anyone from booking with you. You are able to collect more than the security deposit if there is excessive damage, which we’ll explain below. 

What you charge is up to you, and you’ll want to factor in how many guests are staying at once, what the likelihood of damage is (i.e. if they’re bringing pets or children, it is higher), and how many of your things are very valuable and have the potential to be broken. 

The way security deposits work on Airbnb is that a hold is placed on the payment method of the guest prior to check in. The money isn’t collected from them at that time, but they won’t be able to spend it. 

For example, if they used a debit card to pay and had $2000 in their checking account and your deposit is $500, they would only be able to use $1500 until the hold is released. The hold is released automatically either 14 days after the booking ends or right before the next guest checks in, whichever is soonest. Make sure you’re able to evaluate any damage that occurs before this happens or you may forfeit collecting on the deposit!

Make Sure You’re Allowed to Rent Out Your Apartment!

You probably already know this, but not every apartment can be legally rented out as a vacation rental. It’s most likely stated in the terms of the apartment’s lease, and may even be covered by local laws or ordinances. 

Even if your apartment allows subletting, it may not allow vacation renters. Subletting is basically like another lease, where landlord rules and regulations still apply. Short term renting is a whole different ballgame, so make sure you’ve covered your bases (no pun intended) before you get started. 

The first step is to double check your lease and make sure your terms allow short term renting of the property. If it doesn’t specify, check with your landlord. You might be tempted to skip this step and just do it anyways (after all, who’s keeping track?) but if you get caught you could face eviction or a lawsuit, so be careful!

If your lease or landlord isn’t helpful, check local ordinances as well. Even if the building owner is okay with it, sometimes the city you live in isn’t. For example, New York has a ban on short term rentals, which they define as a stay of less than 30 days. This isn’t to say that everyone follows these rules, but they are something to be aware of. 

While you’re doing your research, be sure to read my review of the BEST vacation rental damage insurance!

Have Cameras Outside

This is a topic that a lot of hosts have very strong opinions on, but I like having external security cameras outside of my vacation rental. I view it like securing any other business you might operate, and lots of people even have them on their personal residences!

Obviously, cameras inside the rental is a huge no-no and a massive violation of your guests privacy. Outdoor cameras should work just fine, and will allow you to check up on who’s coming and going as well as any extra guests that might try to sneak in. They might not be able to catch someone damaging your property (unless the damage happens outside), but they could detect a large group or pets coming in without permission.

They can be tricky to mount outside of an apartment, so I would ask your landlord’s permission before drilling any holes. You can probably get away with mounting something on your door, or at least directly inside the apartment facing the door (just make sure to notify guests that it’s there).

Check Out Our Other Articles on Rental Recon:

Very Clear House Rules are a MUST!

Guests should understand your expectations of them while they’re in your apartment. After all, you’ll be the one that ends up paying if they do cause damage! Make sure to nip any issues in the bud and have clear rules for your Airbnb.

As we’ve mentioned before, large house parties are the enemy of apartment vacation rentals. Make sure you clearly state that no additional guests or people are allowed on the premises, and the same should go for pets (unless you do allow them). 

If you have some kind of outdoor space (shared or private) make sure you mention that as well. In some apartment communities, it might not be welcome for guests to use these spaces. 

Some insurance policies do cover a guest damaging these spaces, and Airbnb does in its Host Guarantee as well. Don’t count on them though, and make sure you’re covered by additional vacation rental insurance!

Rental Recon Tip: Assume the best in guests, but prepare for the worst! Think of all the scenarios that could lead up to some kind of damage happening in your apartment, and structure your rules around that. It’s better to be prepared now than to be sorry later!

Make Sure You’re Covered by Insurance!

Finally, if all else fails, you should have a solid insurance company to turn to in order to recoup your losses. My top pick is Proper Insurance, and they’ve earned that spot by providing an excellent service that caters specifically to Airbnb and short term rental owners and operators. 

Proper Insurance goes above and beyond a lot of standard rental insurances by letting you select the amount of coverage you need. This allows you to avoid overpaying for a policy you don’t necessarily need, while still keeping you covered for things you do need. They also cover things that happen outside the direct property, such as on an outdoor balcony or patio (very important for apartments!). 

Click HERE to get a quote from Proper Insurance TODAY!

Get Your 5-Minute Proper Insurance Quote
Don't Rely on Your Standard Homeowners Policy!

Ryan Drew- Contributor
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Ryan Drew- Contributor

I'm an Airbnb Superhost sharing my Airbnb journey and tips that I've learned along the way.

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