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Avoiding a liability nightmare

Hello, I’m so new to Air bnb that I will take ANY advice I can get - I don’t even have our posting up as we are just finishing the remodel.

These are some of the questions at the top of my mind…
1). What are the primary things I need to think about for safety and liability?
2). Our Chalet has a hot tub, should that be off limits (whole house rental) or do others have success allowing use of the tub?
3) Because of the hot tub, we are concerned about children, is it ok in a newly remodeled 3-bedroom home to exclude children and/or pets?
4) Price setting - should we just check out other rentals in the area, set a price, and see how it goes and work from there?

Of course, I’m open to any mentoring on this new venture - please feel free to share away :slight_smile:

Diane

@THChalet

We have a hot tub and have been hosting since 2012. For starters I would recommend no children and no pets in a newly remodelled property. Once you get more comfortable with hosting you may choose to allow children. Guests may not be aware that their children are being impacted by the heat and chemicals FAR more than an adult. For children under about 15 they are really not recommended according to the research I did about this. We are hosting with children now and advise parents that if they want to allow their children into the hot tub they must dramatically reduce the temperature to not adversely affect the wellbeing of the child. At first we were changing the water between each set of guests but our pool service man told us this is not really optimum. If guests stay for an extended period we used to go and check on the water balance during their stay but now just leave them some products and a schedule of when to put them in and how long they need to wait before they can get back in the hot tub. Since the onset we have never had an issue or a problem with the hot tub. Get a little vacuum for cleaning the floor and seats and periodically take out 1/3 of the water and top up to freshen. We put 2 outdoor hot water showers as the biggest challenge is having guests remove all traces of make up, sunscreen or any foreign products on their skin. This is what causes the biggest problems. We let guests know what the callout fee is to have the technician come to empty the hot tub and scrub it out and refill it should they choose to leave products on when they go in the hot tub. This has successfully 90% of the time led to compliance. We have to have a safety certificate for a hot tub in holiday rentals so you may check with a real estate agent or pool shop if this is required in your area. Have a handy nominated place to leave the cover as these can rip if mishandled. Hope that helps, Lisa

Thank you Lisa, I’m glad to hear you’ve had success.

After posting my concern, I saw a link regarding stating “no children”. This article was a post regarding property owners getting sued for discriminating against hosting children. There were 2 news clips attached for which there were over a dozen lawsuits regarding wording such as “no children, not ideal for children, etc…” I found this VERY disturbing that we cannot specify who we wish to rent to without being classified as discriminating when it comes to safety concerns. Most of those sued had fragile things in their home such as antiques, glassware, delicate furniture… and the settlements ranged from $7k to $15k. This raised an alarm, and the only recommendation was “watch your wording”.

Wow. It takes a lot to child proof a property. On another property we had all shelving and heavy furniture screwed to the walls. We replaced glass in a couple of tables so that it was tempered. We wall mounted all the TV’s and included some plastic dish and glassware. Low cables should be put into the walls. We had to go to great lengths and hired someone to inspect and to make sure it was child proof and safe.

If you have the intent to host children down the track when it is economically viable to do all the work related to hosting children would this count?? Could you write something like “Not yet safety certified to host children”. You can have a building contractor come and tell you their opinion on what should be done - or a plan to do so before your insurance carrier will let you host children perhaps??

I think you might be liable if you leave items in place that could be a danger to children like non safety glass or a number of other things. Our insurance man came and inspected our properties and made sure we were inside all the guidelines. They would be a valuable resource especially if you have a coverage for being sued for what your listing says. It would be in their interest to help you with the wording! Perhaps worth a call?

Hmmm.

We require that all guests sign a hot tub waiver before they’re allowed to use it.

I would not allow any children under the age of 12 in the hot tub, ever, even with supervision. Nobody pregnant either.

I’d be cautious allowing your guests to add chemicals themselves. Adding too much is easy and can cause serious health issues.

Make sure you have liability insurance in place for your rental, not just your standard homeowner’s policy.

Thanks for the tips Colorado. Good to know - we will act on that advice.

One other point to consider Diane, when researching other properties with a hot tub I noticed that some kept it empty unless the guests wanted to use it for an additional $100 fee per stay. This would have included filling it up, balancing the water and then draining and cleaning after use so you have to set a fee that is reasonable for you or a service person. All our guests use the hot tub so we have just included it in the price. This other option might be something for you to consider at the onset?

We went to the fire station to talk to them about our responsibilities in the event of a fire. This is where you find out that you really should have the name of each guest staying and how imperative it is to know how many occupants there are. They also recommended a lever door handle so that people could open it with their foot if it got really hot. Because our building has 6 apartments we also put a fire hose in the front and back. You may like a small extinguisher in the kitchen. These have to be inspected and refilled yearly here so we did not do this but have a shared one outside the building. Never use double keyed deadbolts - the door must open from inside without a key. Hosts seem to have success with the keyless entry. We have registered keys that are numbered and the skeleton is not available except by special order. Of course smoke detectors. We have new laws coming in soon where they all have to be wired in so if you can do that it is better. We have cameras outside at two of our properties which we feel could act as a deterrent to vandalism or theft.

For pricing if you can’t find comparable properties on airbnb you can go to other listing sites like booking.com or expedia and see if you find a similar property and what they are charging. Be sure to discount by 10-12% to make up for the service fee that airbnb charges the guests.

Keep abreast of events in your area so you know when to charge a premium and to let guests know what is on. As far as the price goes, never be tempted to drop it below a set bottom rate. Decide that early on and stick to it! The guests who get the cheaper prices are the ones we have found to have the least respect. The higher the price the better class of guest generally. Better to have it empty than do a big discount and find zero respect for the property.

Lastly, if you have a residential tenancy department in your government it may be worth looking at some of their information online. It will be different to short term rentals but could give a good base for what is expected of you as the homeowner such as minimum requirements under the law specific to your area. Don’t forget to call the insurance company - they will be a great source of information for your circumstances. All the best, Lisa

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