How to host an Airbnb and be a good neighbor

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 around. When I introduced myself to my new neighbor, he told me he was relieved that the previous owners sold the property because they had rented it on Airbnb and the guests were disruptive. Now what do I do? How do I tell my new neighbors that the house will still be a vacation rental?

A: Your neighbor has given you an excellent opening to start your relationship on a positive note. Before you put your property up for short-term rental, have a second conversation with him. Explain that you plan to rent out your home from time to time, but want to be a good neighbor.

Ask him what problems he encountered with the last owners and their guests. Maybe the guests parked illegally, took out their trash on a bad night, or partied outside late at night. If you know what’s bothering them, you can set some ground rules that address these issues before your first guest arrives.

“You’re a neighbor first,” said Alexa Nota, founder of Rent Responsibility, an educational and community development platform for short-term rentals. “If you have a neighbor with a baby and he needs to be quiet around 8 a.m., you can create stricter policies and say your quiet hours start at 8 a.m.”

Market your property for the community where you live. If it’s a neighborhood full of young children, your home might be better suited for a family vacation. In your ad, you can highlight the beach toys, high chairs, and toddler toys that you provide. If the neighborhood is quieter, market the place for romantic getaways, setting occupancy limits and enforcing party rules.

Design house rules that are clear, straightforward, and informative so guests know how to be good neighbors. Learn local zoning and noise codes and structure your own rules accordingly. Also watch your property. A security camera can tell you how many guests are actually staying at the property, and noise monitoring sensors placed around the foyer can help you keep an eye on the volume. Unless you are able to respond to issues quickly when they arise, hire a property manager who can do it for you.

Give your neighbors a direct emergency contact number and make sure that line is answered immediately. You can also sweeten up the arrangement: give your neighbors a “friends and family” discount if they have guests needing a rental nearby.

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