Other platforms!

Well I have become a tad frustrated with myself. I actually prefer Airbnb over VRBO, and the reasons are actually simply laziness. They collect taxes and remit. But the market I am in in Gulf Shores Alabama is heavy VRBO and we are a snowbird area in the winter, so furnished finders is popular. I decided with our new condo we would try out furnished finders to see if we could get a late entry winter guest…. We did, and they moved in on January 31st, it is a couple both guys is a long term married relationship, I was told by one of the guys that he is a neat freak, I met them and they seemed like a good fit for the 45 day stay they were requesting. Our condo is somewhat small a one bedroom, I stopped by yesterday (unannounced) because I was just stopping by to help one of the ladies that lives there full time move a dresser, our unit is 2 doors down so when I saw the door open I stopped to say Hey! The place is a mess! Blankets all over, stuff piled up and one of the guys asked if I knew the color of the paint we used because the recliner banged into the wall and scuffed paint off, well yes it did, it actually scuffed paint and damaged the back of the recliner, (brand new furniture) they are the first guests to use the furniture. This is a guest through furnished finder so I won’t have the same recourse, but I do have a deposit which will likely not be returned due to the damage to the chair. Chair was $899 and arrived in early December. Long story short after 4 years in this business I am having to relearn what I do, and I am clearly making mistakes.

What is the best avenue for finding winter guests, that still affords protection for damage, because what I am using puts me out on a limb. I have a lease and a deposit but not backing from any platform for damages.

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You have a lease and a security deposit. Hopefully your lease is in compliance with AL lease laws. Hopefully you have STR/LTR insurance. And all the receipts and “before” pics.

Frankly, since they’re the first guests and swore they were neat freaks - and lied - you may be able to kick them out. I would be thinking about that if I were in your shoes.

And a disclosure - I was on the Furnished Finder platform for a year. They sent me the most awful people and scammers. I know folks who have gotten lucky, but I’m not a fan.

Here’s a new platform that’s coming out that could fit your needs and it’s all corporate rentals, so they “get it.”

They’re in beta right now and I’m listing with them. Having someone here Monday - Thursday nights or even weekends if they’re working who goes out every day and a corporation is paying… hooray!

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I’m curious if you have had good results from Airbnb in claiming for damages in the past at your property up north. I see so many complaints of Airbnb not backing hosts up but that’s not your experience?

I ask because a lot of folks would say not to rely on Airbnb for that so it doesn’t matter what platform you use.


I have had great results with damages through Airbnb, but I keep every receipt ever acquired (it is filed in my tax return paperwork) if it is a cleaning nightmare we take pictures, and get an invoice from the cleaner that itemized the additional cleaning requirements as well as a copy of our check out instructions. I have had 2 through Airbnb and both were covered. My son also has had good luck.


You having a security deposit is the best recourse for damage. That is assuming you took a large enough deposit. No platform will cover damage better than a security deposit and your AL state landlord-tenant laws.

We do FF and have had an excellent experience, but we don’t accept everyone who contacts us and we don’t accept anyone who works from home (not even a nurse with a partner who works from home). We call rental references, confirm their licenses on the state site, confirm their placement with their recruiter and have them send their contract to confirm income. It takes about 15 minutes total.

However, I’ve noticed some landlords on FF don’t charge a full deposit, which is so strange to me because a furnished unit has more to damage. Did you charge a full month’s deposit?

Also, I wouldn’t worry too much about it being messy because some people tidy up once a week or something. But if it looks bad then give proper notice (that’s 2 days notice in AL) and go in for an inspection (which is an allowed entry in AL). If it’s dirty or damaged then give them a list of stuff that must be cleaned or fixed and come back for a re-inspection after 2 or 3 more days.

Worst case scenario, if it’s still nasty then give them AL 7-day notice to comply for a lease violation (or for a material health and safety violation if it’s really nasty). They will either fix it or you can proceed with evicting them but the notice is enough for 99% of people.

But really it may just be untidy. That’s the problem with peeking on your unit without any warning to the tenants, it’s never a good idea. I bet if you give notice for an inspection then it will be nice and tidy when you go in for it. Untidiness can be disturbing but it doesn’t really hurt anything. Trash being piled-up or dirty dishes full of stale food left for days, those are the real problems to look for.

And if your security deposit covers the chair then just deduct the cost (or a portion of). You don’t have to deal with any CS agents or anything. But maybe move the chair before the next tenants. It’s hard to tell if they were too rough or if the chair was too fragile.

They are not guests and she cannot kick them out, she would have to go through the legal eviction process. A legal eviction is actually easy and not expensive but an illegal eviction is very costly (3 months rent in AL).

Yeah! I’m going to bring them the paint next week to repair the wall, I’ll give them 3 days heads up. I went on a Tuesday afternoon, dishes piled up including on the stove. A lot of the stuff on floor was boxes, perhaps they are choosing not to unpack for 45 day stay. I did tell them at move out the property needed to be cleaned to move in condition, if they hired this then the cleaner needs to be insured and bonded, or the cleaning fee is $200. I was light on the deposit, only $700, with new EVERYTHING in this unit it should have been $1760 the months rent. Lesson learned. We haven’t managed a Long term lease is about 30 years so we are really out of our wheel house. We highly prefer STR over extended stay guests, but winter doesn’t work that way here and there is too much competition, I won’t rent this property for $60 a day to shorter guests because the guest we would get at that price point are not what we want. Next year we will cater to actual snowbirds ( older guests) rather than younger work from homers. We will have a bit more time next year to vet and search I guess. My hubby tells me to cam down Sh$t happens and we will deal with it.


You should take whatever it actually costs to clean from the deposit, whether it’s $200 or not. I imagine you saw other low deposits on FF and may of went with the flow. When we first started using FF I noticed a lot of low deposits, but I refused to take less than a month’s (that is the limit in my state unless it’s a furnished unit and I could charge 2 months but haven’t felt like I needed to). And I’ve noticed that in my area that it is now more common to charge at least a full month’s now and it never kept us from being occupied.

Just curious, are you not getting healthcare providers from FF? Some of the work from homers have found it but we just plainly say that we don’t accept tenants who WFH. Both the Federal and our State laws allow for this, i.e. it’s not discriminatory, and your state AL also allows for it, if it helped to just deny WFH folks.

Mine tells me that too. But sometimes I have to tell him that too. It will be fine but I understand being concerned about it!

Are they on a month-to-month lease? I recommend only using month-to-months so, like in this case, you could give them 30 days to move if you’re not satisfied with your inspection.

So you are leaps and bounds ahead of AirBnb, with no deposit and no guarantee that they will have your back when you need them.



Whichever platform you use the best protection is to have your own home insurance for STRs.

They are on a lease from January 31st to March 10th, my spring vacations start on March 15th. I used a state specific lease with a lot of add in’s due to its short nature. Furnished finders offers leases with our subscription.


Unfortunately I don’t believe that my short term insurance would cover stays over 28 days, but I should review that for future reference.

I did notice that and I was trying to stay close to the market on that, but going forward if I use furnished finders again I’ll be upping the deposit to one month rent. I am hopeful that I am able to locate a snowbird on Airbnb or VRBO next year and stick with something that I know.

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Out of curiosity, why do you not accept anyone that works from home? Is it wear and tear or utility usage? Just wondering, as snowbirds here typically are older and are around a lot more. I have another property next door to my house and often wonder why my snowbirds even come year after year, they hardly leave the house, except to sit on the front porch sometimes.

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This unit it seem that most of what we have gotten is inquiries from work from homers that are younger than typical, since now work from home is a viable option for many I guess the new generation of snowbirds is younger. I did get a pharmacist with an autistic son that inquired, but they had a cat and a dog, the dog may have been ok if it was under 15 lbs, but I am an absolute no go with cats. Too much new furniture and pee smells from a cat are extremely difficult to get rid of.


Oh and healthcare workers are not necessarily the cream of the crop, I had a 35 day stay of a nurse at my other property on Airbnb and she was a nightmare, complaining constantly, broke things, (small things, 4 glasses 2 plates, a candle and a stool in a 35 day stay) the house looked like she did zero cleaning while there, the mirror in the bathroom was so dirty you couldn’t really see yourself. She washed something with black grease on it in the washer and I didn’t notice until I wrecked a set of sheets. It took forever to get that out of the machine. So I don’t have that warm fuzzy feeling about healthcare workers that I once did.


I rent minimum a month only, and the first issue is you should really check on the laws long term tenants - they have rights that STRs don’t have, the big one being the eviction process.

I agree that a lease + and deposit give you the best protection against damages, depending on what your lease says. Like, It should say that they are liable for any damages they cause, it’s not limited to the amount of the deposit. Regardless of platform/ lease, if there’s damages the problem is getting reimbursed. You can try to file a claim with the platform , or take them to small claims - whatever, it’s work for you. It’s much easier to deduct damages from the deposit then to try to get someone else to reimburse you, and know what your insurance covers . On VRBO theres a feature where the guest can choose to buy insurance for a given coverage or pay the full cost as a refundable deposit. (Insurance costing $59-$99 for coverage of$3k - $7k, I think it was) . I can’t see asking some one to pay that for a weekend, but it might be a good fit for you with longer term stays.

I never drop in unannounced and I’ve never had a guest not leave the place neat (though there was one that didn’t vacuum ever, I think) additional cleaning time just comes out of the deposit. I would not, however, approve guest repairing damage themselves. Just my two cents.

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Totally agree. I have it in my lease agreement for my LTR. They may do a less than stellar job and expect not to be charged for you having to redo it. Or they may make matters worse.

And I think it was mentioned, but unless they moved the chair, if it hit the wall when fully reclined, I think I’d have to take responsibility for that one as the owner. :sweat_smile:

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they actually moved the recliner completely across the room, that room has a Murphy bed, they didnt need that so they moved the chair over by the bed