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Don’t make these short-term rental mistakes

On Behalf of | Apr 24, 2023 | Land Use & Zoning |

Short-term rentals have become increasingly popular in recent years as more and more people look for alternative accommodation options when traveling. This is especially true in popular tourist destinations like St. George, Utah.

Here’s what you should know about some of the most common mistakes people make when getting into short-term rentals and how to avoid them. We will also cover some specific concerns you may need to address if you are considering starting a short-term rental business in St. George, Utah.

The benefits of short-term rentals

Before diving into the potential pitfalls of short-term rentals, it’s worth noting some of the benefits of this type of investment. First and foremost, short-term rentals can provide a steady source of passive income. By renting out your property on a nightly or weekly basis, you can generate cash flow that can help cover your mortgage, property taxes and other expenses.

Additionally, short-term rentals can be an excellent way to diversify your investment portfolio. Unlike traditional real estate investments, which typically require a long-term commitment, short-term rentals allow you to earn income on a shorter timeline. This can be particularly attractive to investors wanting to generate cash flow quickly or looking for a more flexible investment strategy.

Challenges of short-term rentals

While there are many benefits to operating a short-term rental property, there are also some potential drawbacks and challenges that hosts may face. Several common issues can arise and here are just a few to consider.

Property damage

Property damage can be a significant headache for short-term rental hosts, as it can be expensive to repair and may result in lost rental income. To mitigate this risk, hosts should be clear about their expectations for guest behavior and consider requiring a security deposit or insurance coverage. It’s also important to conduct thorough inspections between guests to identify and address any damage promptly.  Also make sure you are properly insured in all respects and that no conditions have developed on site that may adversely affect coverage.

Difficult guests

While most guests are respectful and responsible, there’s always a risk of encountering difficult or problematic guests. These guests may be loud, rude, or even destructive. To mitigate this risk, hosts should communicate their expectations for guest behavior and have clear policies for dealing with difficult guests. In extreme cases, hosts may need to involve law enforcement or seek legal action.

Negative reviews

Negative reviews can be a significant obstacle for short-term rental hosts, as they can significantly impact their ability to attract renters. To mitigate this risk, hosts should provide excellent customer service and address any issues promptly. It’s also important to communicate clearly with guests and set realistic expectations to avoid misunderstandings.

Unexpected expenses

Running a short-term rental property can come with unexpected expenses, from repairs to marketing costs. Hosts should budget carefully and plan for these expenses to mitigate this risk. It’s also important to keep detailed records of income and expenses to help with tax preparation and financial planning.

Safety concerns

As a short-term rental host, prioritizing your guests’ safety is essential. This includes providing working smoke detectors, ensuring that electrical and gas systems are in good working order, and addressing any hazards or safety risks on the property. Hosts should also be available to guests in case of emergencies and have a plan for dealing with unexpected situations. It’s essential to educate yourself about local safety regulations and take steps to comply with them. Regularly inspecting your property and addressing any safety concerns can help ensure your guests have a safe and enjoyable experience.

Low occupancy rates

Short-term rental hosts may experience low occupancy rates due to various factors, such as seasonal fluctuations or changes in local demand. Hosts should research the local rental market to mitigate this risk and adjust their pricing and marketing strategies accordingly. Offering discounts or promotions during slower periods can help attract renters and boost occupancy rates. Hosts may also consider diversifying their rental portfolio by providing different types of properties or targeting different demographics. Maintaining a high standard of customer service and positive reviews can help ensure that your property stands out and attracts renters even during slower periods.

Common mistakes to avoid

Now that we’ve covered some of the benefits and challenges of short-term rentals let’s explore some of the most common mistakes new investors make.

Underestimating the costs

One of the biggest mistakes that new investors make when getting into short-term rentals is underestimating the costs involved. While the potential for high returns can be attractive, it’s important to remember that there are many expenses associated with this type of investment.

For example, you’ll need to account for the cost of furnishing and maintaining your property, as well as the cost of marketing and advertising to attract renters. Additionally, you’ll need to pay for utilities, insurance and any property management fees. These costs can add up quickly, and it’s important to factor them into your budget when planning your investment.

Failing to consider local regulations

Another mistake that new investors make is failing to consider local regulations when getting into short-term rentals. For example, St. George, Utah, has specific rules governing vacation rental properties.

For example, you may need a license with the city, and there are specific requirements around parking, noise levels, and occupancy limits. It’s important to familiarize yourself with these regulations before starting your investment, as violating them can result in fines and legal trouble.

Not conducting proper screening

Another common mistake new investors make is not properly screening potential renters. While it can be tempting to rent your property to anyone willing to pay, it’s important to remember that your property is an investment, and you want to protect that investment.

Conducting thorough background checks and credit screenings can help ensure your renters are responsible and reliable. This can help you avoid potential damage to your property, as well as the headache of dealing with problem renters.

Tips for Success in St. George, Utah

If you’re looking to get into short-term rentals in St. George, Utah, there are a few specific tips that can help you succeed.

First and foremost, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the local regulations around vacation rentals. By understanding the licensing, parking, and occupancy requirements, you can ensure that you comply with the law and avoid any legal trouble.

It can also be helpful to work with a local property management company with experience in the vacation rental space. These companies can help you with everything from marketing your property to screening renters. They can provide valuable insight into the local rental market.

Finally, it’s important to consider the challenges of off-seasons in St. George. While the city is known for its warm weather and outdoor recreation opportunities, there are still periods when demand for short-term rentals is lower.

To combat this challenge, it can be helpful to diversify your rental portfolio by offering different types of properties or targeting different demographics. For example, you might consider investing in a property geared toward winter sports enthusiasts, or that appeals to retirees looking for a warm escape from colder climates.

Getting into short-term rentals can be a great way to generate income and diversify your investment portfolio. However, it’s important to avoid common mistakes and be aware of local regulations and challenges, particularly in St. George.