Q: My partner and I bought a house on the Jersey Shore for my family, and we plan to rent it out when we’re not there. When I introduced myself to my new neighbor, he told me he was relieved that the previous owners had sold the property because they’d rented it out on Airbnb and the guests were disruptive. Now what do I do? How do I break the news to my new neighbors that the house will still be a vacation rental?
A: Your neighbor provided you with a great opening to start your relationship on a positive note. Before you list your property for short-term rentals, have a second conversation with him. Explain that you plan to rent your home from time to time, but want to be a good neighbor.
Ask him what problems he experienced with the last owners and their guests. Perhaps guests parked illegally, took their trash out on the wrong nights, or partied outside late into the night. If you know what bothers him, you can establish ground rules that address those issues before your first guest arrives.
“You’re a neighbor first,” said Alexa Nota, a founder of Rent Responsibly, a community-building and educational platform for short-term rentals. “If you have a neighbor with a baby and it needs to be quiet around 8, you can create policies that are more strict and say your quiet hours start at 8.”
Market your property for the community where you live. If this is a neighborhood full of young children, your home might be better suited for family vacations. In your listing, you could highlight the beach toys, high chairs and toddler toys you provide. If the area is quieter, market the place for romantic getaways, setting occupancy limits and enforcing rules about parties.
Devise house rules that are clear, direct and informative so guests know how to be good neighbors. Learn the local zoning and noise codes, and structure your own rules accordingly. Monitor your property, too. A security camera can tell you how many guests are actually staying at the property, and noise-monitoring sensors placed around the fire pit can help you keep tabs on the volume. Unless you will be able to quickly respond to problems when they arrive, hire a property manager who can do that for you.
Give your neighbors a direct contact number for emergencies, and make sure that line is answered immediately. You can also sweeten the arrangement: Offer your neighbors a “friends and family” discount should they ever have guests in need of a rental nearby.
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