Along with vacation-rental occupancy and booking volume, vacation-rental noise complaints are on the rise in 2021. But they don’t have to be. Our friends at NoiseAware have 5 effective, easy-to-implement ways to halt noise complaints before they happen. Which is always better than cleaning up after a noise event has angered neighbors, resulted in fines or caused property damage.
Why Are Vacation-Rental Noise Complaints So Common?
Almost all homes have neighbors, whether they share a street name, a driveway or a wall. Short-term vacation rental homes are no different. And when noise causes stress or interrupts peace and quiet, neighbors will complain. They may voice their complaints directly to the rental’s guests. Or they may call the police or neighborhood security to deal with the problem.They may also lodge complaints with the rental’s property manager or owner. Sometimes neighbors may complain about noise even if noise is not a problem. This may be because they object to the very presence of a short-term rental in their neighborhood, due to concerns about potential rather than actual parking, trash or noise problems.
Whether real or perceived, noise complaints are a huge headache for property managers. And the labor costs, ordinance violations and property damage associated with noise are notorious for cutting into short-term rental profits. Serious or repeat complaints can ultimately lead to a rental permit being revoked altogether.
But by taking these proactive steps, property managers and hosts can prevent most, if not all, vacation-rental noise complaints.
- Screen guests thoroughly before accepting bookings to root out those who may be most likely to cause vacation-rental noise complaints.
- Install a privacy-safe noise detection sensor both inside and out, and notify guests gently if volume exceeds acceptable levels.
- Communicate rules and expectations in OTA listings, guest correspondence, and on-site at the rental property, to minimize the potential for vacation-rental noise complaints.
- Be upfront with neighbors about short-term rentals in the neighborhood.
- Build good neighbor relations by investing time and money in the community, not just in the property(ies) you manage there.
1. Screen guests thoroughly before accepting bookings to root out those who may be most likely to cause vacation-rental noise complaints.
Before accepting a booking through an OTA, look at the guest’s rental history. Does the guest have a complete profile? Do they have consistently positive reviews from hosts? If a guest lacks rental history, see if you can locate them on social media and find out a bit more about them. And don’t be afraid to ask questions. You can ask the guest to tell you a bit about themselves. You can also ask if they have any special plans while in town. But don’t dig for personal information like who they associate with, or if they have a college degree, or, it should go without saying, their race or religion. Also, mention your house rules, and see how the guest reacts.
If a guest seems evasive, asks for a reduced security deposit, or has mixed reviews or no reviews at all, it’s best to move on. Vacation-rental noise complaints are far less likely with guests who check all the “good renter” boxes.
2. Install a privacy-safe noise detection sensor both inside and out, and notify guests gently if volume exceeds acceptable levels.
Privacy-safe noise sensors measure how loud a sound is by decibel level, and how long the sound is loud for. They do not identify specific sounds or record anything. Installing one sensor indoors, and one outdoors, is a simple process that can be done during property turnover between bookings.
The sensor is operated remotely through a mobile app, where you can set noise thresholds to comply with local ordinances or other requirements. If noise volume goes above the threshold, you will receive notification and can then send the booked guest a simple text reminding them to lower the volume.
Property managers who use NoiseAware find that more than 70% of noise events are resolved with this initial text. On top of that, NoiseAware users have reported a nearly 30% reduction in damage claims because they are able to stop noise before it turns into rowdy or destructive behavior.
3. Communicate rules and expectations in OTA listings, guest correspondence, and on-site at the rental property, to minimize the potential for vacation-rental noise complaints.
The house rules section of a rental-platform listing is the first place guests will encounter what’s allowed and not allowed at your property. But it shouldn’t be the only place. It’s critical to outline rules clearly in your listing, for example:
- Strict occupancy maximums
- Parking only in assigned spaces
- Quiet hours between 11 p.m. and 8 a.m.
- No parties or events
- No smoking
It’s also important to remind guests of the most important of these rules in booking confirmation notification, follow-up correspondence. and, of course, on-site at the property.
Make sure to let guests know they will be charged penalties for violating house rules. The “carrot” of beautiful views, a great deck, comfortable beds, walking distance from food and drink, etc, is how you market your rental. The “stick” of potential penalties for being a disrespectful guest is how you protect it.</this could be a callout if you have that capability in your blog format; otherwise it can just be another paragraph>
4. Be upfront with neighbors about short-term rentals in the neighborhood.
Don’t leave neighbors in the dark about your property or properties in their neighborhood. Instead, put together a mailing or invite neighbors to a casual, enjoyable gathering (perhaps with food and drink), and let them know that you are taking all necessary steps to ensure that short-term guests will be quiet, well-behaved and respectful.
Show that you practice good guest vetting, and let them know that you have noise-monitoring devices installed indoors and outdoors, for their protection and peace of mind. You may even consider offering your short-term-rental property to neighbors’ guests at a special “friends and neighbors” rate. Lastly, make it easy for neighbors to get in touch with you in the event they do need to notify you about anything questionable taking place at your property.
5. Build good neighbor relations by investing time and money in the community, not just in the property(ies) you manage there.
Neighbors want to know that you care about them, and their neighborhood, as much as you care about generating income from your short-term rental. You can demonstrate your commitment to being a good neighbor by being an active member of the community. In addition to showing neighbors how you screen guests and monitor noise, consider doing any of the following:
- Being active in community service, such as beach or park cleanup, tree planting, or serving food to the needy.
- Sponsoring a charity or neighborhood effort, such as a local pet rescue, neighborhood school initiative or preservation society.
- Offering homes to people who have temporarily been left without shelter due to a catastrophic weather event or other emergency.
By taking smart steps on the front end (guest screening, house rules, noise-monitoring equipment), and fostering good relationships with neighbors and the community as a whole, you can avoid the vast majority of vacation-rental noise complaints. And that is key for protecting your properties, profits and peace of mind.
Bio: Natasha Garber covers short-term-rental industry trends, news, regulations and compliance for NoiseAware. Her posts on STR property management technology, privacy-safe noise monitoring, and licensing laws can be found weekly on the NoiseAware blog.