How to Prevent Vacation Rental Neighbor Complaints
See how to maintain positive neighbor relationships by quickly identifying & addressing problems like loud guests, plus what tools can help you do so.
January 18, 2024
Neighbors don’t complain when it’s convenient. They’ll make their issues known to you either when you’re at your absolute busiest or when you’re supposed to be fast asleep in the middle of the night. And, once they’ve called you on one occasion about the incessant noise, a dog that won’t stop barking, or the trash being left out on the wrong day, you can be sure they’ll do it again.
What starts off as an annoyance can soon become costly to your business, with stress, a bad reputation, and even hefty fines all possible results of vacation rental neighbor complaints. You could even be banned from operating a short-term rental (STR) at all.
This scenario doesn’t have to occur, though. By following a few best practices, you can not only avoid complaints, but maintain positive local relationships, gain peace of mind, AND make your services more compelling to homeowners so you can continue to grow your STR portfolio with success.
In this article, you’ll find actionable advice on how to do just that. You’ll also learn about the tools you can use to reduce your workload and see how to quickly identify and address problems when they arise.
The business risks of not addressing neighbor complaints
The issue that most vacation rental property managers experience as a result of neighbor complaints is anxiety—the sense that an upset neighbor is about to call you in the middle of the night because of a party you had no idea was going on.
And the ongoing stress that you deal with can be very damaging. It can contribute to burnout, impact your day-to-day performance as a host and people manager, and lead to a lack of fulfillment in your work.
But unaddressed neighbor complaints also create tangible issues for your short-term rental business, including:
Confrontations between neighbors and guests, leading to negative reviews
An official complaint about your property to Airbnb via the platform’s Neighborhood Support service, which could lead to your listing being suspended
A report to your local authority, which, if you’re found to have contravened local STR regulations, could lead to a fine and the loss of your business licenses and permits
With these potential consequences, it makes sense to be proactive about avoiding neighbor complaints so you can enjoy a stress-free hosting experience, ensure a positive stay for guests, and protect your business from getting in trouble with neighborhood groups or authorities.
5 ways to avoid neighbor complaints and protect your business
Learn what courses of action you can take to minimize the chance of a confrontation with the local communities of your short-term rentals. We look at scalable solutions that are suitable for a growing vacation rental business, with recommendations on technology, communication, and research.
1. Install a noise monitor with crowd detection
Without visibility across your portfolio, you can’t know if there’s an unauthorized gathering at your properties until it’s too late. With privacy-safe monitoring technology, on the other hand, you’ll get notified as soon as there’s an issue—plus, guests will be incentivized not to break your house rules.
Plus, having a designated tool means you can assure neighbors you take the matter of noisy guests seriously and can monitor occupancy to prevent parties at your property. And if noise complaints from neighbors persist, you can refer to the historical log of your noise monitor app to see if they’re justified.
Here’s how this works with the Minut sensor, which is a standalone device you can easily fix to an indoor ceiling or outdoor wall:
Connect the sensor to the local WiFi router and your Minut account. Now you can see the status of your unit, make sure no rules are being broken, and receive automated notifications if there’s an issue.
Set your decibel thresholds from the mobile app. For example, you might set a daytime threshold of 75 dB for 5 minutes—so if any noise the equivalent of a vacuum cleaner persists for more than 5 minutes, you’ll be notified and guests can receive an automated message that reminds them of your house rules.
Customize your occupancy limits. The Minut sensor tracks the number of mobile devices present in your property to determine if there’s a crowd developing, providing you with live reports.
Create your automated messages. Decide what messages you’d like your guests to receive when they break your house rules—so you don’t have to take time out of your day or night to handle a problem.
Pro tip: Automated messages are a scalable solution to communicating with guests, but in some cases, you may need to speak to the guest directly or in person. When you’re managing multiple properties, though, this isn’t always possible.
To address this, you can use services like Minut’s Call Assist and Guard Assist. This way, whatever the time of day or night, a trained team of operators and security experts will reach out to the guest on your behalf, and if necessary, visit the property to make sure the problem’s quickly resolved.
2. Communicate your house rules to your guests
Share your most important house rules as early in the customer journey as possible—so within your listings—then reinforce them as part of your scheduled pre-stay and post-check-in communications.
This simple approach will help filter out noisy guests before they book. It also allows you to provide helpful information in a timely manner, making use of messaging software that can run on auto-pilot.
For example, you can use Minut’s scheduled messaging feature to share your house rules on the day of check-in, as well as information about parking, property access, and WiFi passwords. Similarly, you can schedule a message to guests to remind them to take out the trash on the day it’s collected and manage recycling according to your local guidelines.
If you use a noise monitoring solution for vacation rentals, be sure to mention this in your communications, too—most guests are very keen to stick to the house rules once they understand you’ll be informed of any excessive noise or an unauthorized party.
3. Engage with the community
Alleviate any tension with neighbors by maintaining open channels of communication, showing them you’re approachable, and letting them see you care about the neighborhood.
While it’s not always possible to develop a strong rapport with neighbors—especially if you’re managing 20+ units—knowing you’ll be there if they need you will at least help reduce their concerns.
So, make a point of checking in with next-door neighbors every once in a while. Reassure them that you take noise seriously by informing them of what measures you’ve taken, and ask them if they’ve experienced any problems you should know about. Also, share your contact details with your neighbors so they know to turn to you before making a formal complaint or speaking to the police.
4. Ensure you comply with local regulations
Zoning ordinances and homeowner association (HOA) rules often cover a wide range of areas that can impact your STR business, including:
Health and safety regulations
Animal and pet policies
Business licensing and registration
So to avoid the possibility of a complaint, legal action, or penalty, you need to research national, regional, and local regulations. Stay up to date on any developments, which you can do by regularly visiting the website of the city council and attending their official meetings.
Another helpful way to stay on top of local law and neighborhood regulations is to join local communities of property managers on Facebook and follow STR property managers on platforms like Twitter and Instagram.
5. Screen guests
Despite all your best efforts, some guests may be determined to ignore parking restrictions, flout HOA rules, throw a late-night party, and create excessive noise. You can help minimize this risk with guest screening software.
Tools such as Autohost, Safely, and Superhog run automated background and ID checks on guests at the point of booking, looking out for fraud, criminal activity, or a history of bad stays. If these checks identify an issue, you’ll be alerted, giving you the opportunity to refuse or cancel a booking based on the platform’s fact-based assessment.
Putting a stop to neighbor complaints
You may have suffered from the complaints of unhappy neighbors in the past, but most permanent residents simply want a peaceful existence. When they experience a succession of different guests next door, though, they worry about who’ll turn up next and if they’re going to cause a problem.
In most cases, you can put those concerns at rest by showing your face, being communicative, and making yourself available. But you need to support that openness with preventative measures, visibility across your portfolio, and responsiveness to issues when they arise.
You can do this by:
Communicating your expectations to guests by establishing house rules in your listings and sending scheduled messages during their stay
Including automated guest screening as part of your booking process
Installing Minut’s noise monitoring, crowd control, and home protection sensor
Automating messages to ensure guests keep the noise down
By taking advantage of STR technology like Minut, you can keep your short-term rental properties in line with noise ordinances and preemptively manage the issues that upset neighbors.