The media has been busy lately reporting plenty of incidents of either fraud or widespread damage from people renting out their house or apartment on websites such as AirBNB, Bookabach or HolidayHouses. The money on offer can be big – think of an $800 a night house and a 14 night booking – that’s over $10,000, so no wonder criminals are interested.
A recent Fair Go report also highlighted a scam that nabbed 90 people off a Holiday Houses scam, so it is fair to say that there are significant risks with letting out your home. So how do you minimise them?
Let’s start with a checklist to make sure you are in good “online fitness”
- You have a current antivirus, malware and security program installed and working eg Norton
- Have a strong and hard to crack password. And change it every year…
- Be careful with email – phishing scams will “pretend” they are google and ask for your password – so never put your credit card details into an email.
- Check your email settings to ensure there are no unknown redirects.
- Be careful with online messaging tools eg Whatsapp, and make sure you have an alias name and same as email – do not broadcast your credit card details.
- Shop safely – make sure any site you buy from has excellent security features – generally speaking all major retailers will be OK.
If you are confident with the above 6 points, then you are halfway there…!
Now let’s look at the other risks with holiday rentals. Do you?:
- Meet and greet all tenants face to face?
- Take a bond and deposit prior to the booking, and only give them the keys once the final balance is paid?
- Visit your property regularly and keep it properly maintained
- Have people on call who can visit the property at short notice in the event of a party / issues.
- Screen all tenants over the phone, and use social media or even reference checks to check them out.
- Have terms and conditions agreed by the tenants
- Have an insurance policy that covers short term rentals.
There are some horror stories out there – from cooking “P”, to having a drug fuelled party, to owners “losing online control” of their bach to a scammer. Having a risk minimisation strategy is absolutely essential to making your experience a good one.
Perhaps the best option is to use a well-known local property manager – but make sure they too have their house in order and use a secure 128 bit encryption on their software. A good manager will be well connected locally, live near to your property, and also have anti-fraud measures in place to make sure your holiday rental goes smoothly.