Vacation Rental Guest Screening: Enhance Your Safety Measures

See why vacation rental guest screening is so important, and follow these 13 tips to protect your rentals before and after guests arrive.
Minut News
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February 19, 2024
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Vacation Rental Guest Screening: Enhance Your Safety Measures

“I’m proud to be an excellent host, and I recommend that everyone screens guests before accepting bookings. Otherwise anyone could just walk in.” So says Miriam*, an Airbnb host in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Before she began vacation rental guest screening, Miriam unwittingly hosted an ex-convict with criminal friends, a group who had a “wild party,” people using her home for sex work, and a “family” of 21 who arrived at her six-person rental. Most guests were great. But some most definitely weren’t.

That’s why guest screening is so important. You may be reluctant to turn down paying customers—but letting just anyone stay risks expensive damage and neighbor complaints. You could even lose your business entirely.

But guest screening has the potential to become complex and intrusive. How do you check someone’s background without accusing them, introducing friction to the booking experience, or making guests feel unwelcome?

Automated technology responds to these concerns and reduces your workload—plus, it doesn’t affect the guest experience.

Step up your safety and security with these tried-and-tested tips.

*Airbnb Community Center,

Why screen your guests?

Guest screening and background checks can help you protect your properties, neighbors, and business, helping you to:

  • Prevent injuries and disruption - Less risk of parties or breaking of house rules
  • Prevent expensive downtime if cleaning or maintenance is needed - No need for additional staff, equipment, or time
  • Protect your neighbor relationships - Less risk of noisy guests
  • Stay compliant with city regulations - Keep to occupancy rules
  • Stay covered by insurance and guarantees - Remain within the rules of your policies
  • Protect your earnings and prevent fraud - Detect stolen cards or suspicious transactions
  • Maintain your strong brand - Uphold your standards and remain attractive to homeowners
  • Build good guest relationships from the start - Deter risky guests

7 tips for screening guests

The best way to prevent problem guests is to verify their details as part of the booking or check-in process.

1. Confirm the ID of your guests

ID verification is a key step and some online travel agencies (OTAs), like Airbnb, offer profile and ID verification so you can see if the guest has passed a basic government ID check. However, not all OTAs do, and you may be accepting direct bookings via your own website.

For increased security, you can use a third-party platform like Autohost, Safely, Superhog, and Enso Connect, which we discuss in relation to guest screening software below. These can assist with guest data collection (for example, checking another form of ID, like a passport) and verifying credit cards to avoid chargebacks.

2. Use specialized guest screening software

Take guest screening even further by using specialized guest screening tools like Superhog, Safely, and Autohost, or a guest experience platform like Enso Connect.

These intelligent guest screening platforms use hundreds of data points to assess the possible risk of a guest, including asking for a selfie, checking for bad reviews, and searching criminal databases and records. They can also detect possible stolen credit cards and fraud.

This gives you a chance to double-check with guests if any problems arise and can provide you with a legitimate reason to cancel a booking.

Enso Connect house agreement solution
 Minut integration partner, Enso Connect, uses automated STR software to manage the check-in process. Source

3. Manually check reviews on the guest’s profile

Platforms like Airbnb collect guest reviews for a reason; good guests can build up a record of problem-free stays, and build trust with new hosts. Check reviews of any new guests at the time of booking, so you can see if they’ve had any issues in the past.

If the guest is booking for one night, has no profile photo, ID, or reviews, or has just joined the platform, these are all signs they may be planning a party or purposefully hiding their identity.

4. Keep an eye out for red flags

Beyond confirming ID and checking reviews, other easily available information to check is whether they have a real profile picture (an easily identifiable photo of them, rather than an avatar, cartoon character, or animal, for example), a verified email address, and a verified phone number.

Validating these details shows that the guest is willing to be identified. These checks aren’t foolproof, but they’re an additional filter that helps ensure you only accept bookings from people who appear open and honest about their identity and contact details.

5. Set standards for communication 

If your guest is reticent to answer simple questions or defensive, it could indicate that they’ll present problems during their stay.

So, politely ask guests the purpose of their trip, link a short pre-check-in questionnaire, or ask them to accept the house rules in writing. 

Establishing open communication early reassures good guests and deters problematic visitors, as they can see you’re a real human who is aware of what’s going on at their properties. Communicative guests are more likely to read and follow your house rules, and leave a good review after their stay.

5. Tell guests about your security measures 

You might be reluctant to share details about your security measures with guests because you feel it compromises their effectiveness in some way, but that transparency helps to deter troublemakers and can build trust with good guests.

Here’s an example of what you could say in a message template:

Dear [Guest Name],

We hope you're looking forward to your upcoming stay at [Property Name]. Your safety and comfort are our top priorities, so we’ve implemented the following cutting-edge security measures:

  1. Automated Guest Screening: We utilize a comprehensive automated screening process for all reservations. This helps us maintain a secure environment for our guests and the community.
  2. Minut Home Protection: We've partnered with Minut to monitor noise levels and occupancy, and detect cigarette smoke and window breaks. Rest assured, Minut is an automated, privacy-safe solution to home safety.
  3. Smart Locks: Our properties are equipped with state-of-the-art digital locks to ensure only authorized guests have access. Codes are unique for each stay and are deactivated upon checkout.

Looking forward to hosting you!

[Your Name]

6. Ask for a security deposit or damage waiver

A security deposit gives you peace of mind and responsible guests are normally happy to pay one if it means they can secure the booking. However, guests thinking of holding a party or similar may balk at paying a deposit they’re likely to lose. Asking them to sign a damage waiver also helps you avoid risky guests while providing your business with a further layer of protection.

6 ways to protect your property after guests have arrived

Even if guests pass all your pre-arrival checks, there’s no guarantee they won’t break the rules once they’re inside. Of course, most guests won’t be a problem, but prevention is always better than cure.

Here’s how to protect your properties, ensure guests stay safe, and keep positive relationships with neighbors:

1. Noise and occupancy monitoring

Loud parties and excess guests are some of the most common issues you face, so occupancy and noise monitoring increases your visibility across your portfolio and is reassuring to homeowners. Devices like Minut are discrete and unobtrusive, and don’t infringe on guest privacy by recording, listening, or filming.

Instead, they detect if decibels have stayed above a customized threshold for too long (e.g. loud music for longer than five minutes), and can count how many smartphones are in the property.

This means you can monitor the occupancy of your rental property, and receive an alert if a party (or some other disruption) is happening, or if a big group of people suddenly show up or try to stay over.

Minut dashboard
Minut is an all-in-one STR protection solution with multiple monitoring and detection features and automated guest messaging. Source

2. Automated messaging and de-escalation

A monitoring device like Minut can be set up to send automated message templates to guests 24/7 if they’re getting too loud or too many people show up. This means that you can effectively “keep watch” over your guests and properties even if you’re asleep or unavailable.

And if the issue escalates, Minut has dedicated teams of agents trained in conflict resolution, who can call your guests (via Call Assist) and visit the property (Guard Assist) if someone is needed to step in. In fact, with Minut, sending a swift reminder solves 94% of problematic cases within 15 minutes.

3. Cigarette smoke detection

If your property is no-smoking, then guests lighting up can not only cause a fire hazard, but it also risks expensive fees and downtime if you later need deep cleaning to get rid of the smoke and smell.

An intelligent cigarette smoke detection device like Minut can precisely identify cigarette particles, using AI to differentiate between cigarettes and burnt toast. This means you’ll get an alert if a guest smokes, but you won’t risk upsetting them for no reason.

4. Smart locks

Smart locks let you send guests check-in details and entry codes in advance, so only guests who have been verified can enter your property. You can change the codes automatically once guests check out, so there’s no risk of them saving the code and coming back unannounced in the future.

Using smart locks with automatic messaging via a system like Minut contrasts with physical keys (which can be stolen, copied, or lost) or even lockboxes, which can be stolen or broken. 

You can see when guests are using the smart lock, so you can keep an eye on any suspicious comings and goings. Plus, you can revoke access remotely if a security issue arises mid-stay.

5. Tamper detection

Cameras can be covered up, but a discrete device like Minut knows when it’s being tampered with. If anything is detected, such as someone trying to remove the sensor or pressing the button for no reason, it will send you an alert. 

This in itself could be a sign that guests are planning to break the rules, and you will likely want to investigate to find out what’s happening at your property.

6. Advanced security and property monitoring

Protecting your property also means keeping an eye out for damage, break-ins, or motion where there shouldn't be any. For example, Minut detects window breaks and recognizes alarms (like a fire alarm, flood alarm, or carbon monoxide monitor). 

Minut also detects humidity and performs a mold-risk analysis so you can ensure a healthy environment for guests and homeowners.

Vacation Rental Guest Screening: Transparency and tech

Screening guests effectively—without upsetting them or compromising their privacy—is the next level in preventing damage and disruption at your rentals. 

Taking steps to confirm their ID, checking reviews, establishing open and transparent communication, and charging a deposit are some initial processes you can implement to prevent issues before guests arrive.

Stepping up your checks with the power of dedicated vacation rental technology like Minut makes this even more effective. 

By using specialized screening software and discrete devices like Minut to monitor occupancy, excess noise, smoking, and break-ins—and send automated messages to guests—you can maintain peace of mind about w without affecting the guest experience.

And, just like Miriam in Fort Lauderdale, you can stop worrying about guests, and get back to what’s really important: Being an excellent host.