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Not renting out your entire place? How to not be a hovering homeshare host

Many homeshare hosts rent their home or apartment while they themselves are off traveling. But a growing number of homeshare hosts stay on the property while renting out a room, or rooms, in their home, or nearby property. We know of one couple, for example, who move into their tiny home out back when they rent their home. They say they like to be able to watch over things, still be able to water their plants, take care of the pets, etc., and be available for the guests should they need anything. It makes sense, however, this could be a deterrent for guests who feel like they won’t be able to relax with the owner hovering around like an over-involved parent. Nobody wants to feel like they have to be on their best behavior, every move examined, inspected, and judged, when they’re on vacation. So how, as a host, do you strike a balance of you feeling comfortable, and your guests feeling comfortable?

Here are three ideas to make guests feel totally at home—even when you’re still home.

1. Easy communication

There are two parts to this. First post the house rules on the website and clearly in the rented room/home so everyone knows exactly what is expected and what is not tolerated. And second, be nice and friendly. It’s kind of like bad cop, good cop. Most hosts know to welcome their guests and have a clearly outlined check-in and check-out policy, but it’s better to get as detailed as possible so a guest can’t later say “I didn’t know.” It also reduces your urge to run in there and tell them a bunch of stuff stream-of-consciousness style. If it’s all listed out, in plain view, then each party can trust the other to follow the rules. We also think it’s great to let your guests know you’re just a text away if they need anything at all, or even welcome them in person when they arrive. By establishing easy, friendly, professional communication early on, they will feel more comfortable with you in person, and about contacting you with questions or concerns. This is better than them feeling like they have to sneak around and hide, because you’re watching their every move like a hawk stalking its prey.

2. Honor their privacy

Don’t enter your guests’ personal space without their permission. They’re paying money to rent your home, or a room in your home, and for that time, it’s their space. If there are times when you feel you must enter, like if they left the lights on, or the fireplace, or worse, the stove, try texting them first and asking if you can enter the room to turn off said item. You can also post a list by their door that reminds them to turn off lights, etc., before they leave. If you’re really worried about it, write it in your policies that you have the right to enter their space if you feel it’s necessary. Alternatively, that crazy technology wave we’ve been having for the last couple decades has given rise to some excellent solutions that let you turn off lights and such from your phone! I know, right? Bottom line, unless there are extreme circumstances, stay out of their personal space, better yet, stay out of their site altogether.

3. Put yourself in their shoes

This is the main theme, really. In any situation, just imagine you’re the guest. It’s typical to think about your needs and your worries and your concerns especially if you’ve had some less-than-pleasant experiences with less-than-respectful guests. You’re thinking about your safety, protecting your home, and your profit. As you should. But remember, they’re thinking about their safety, protecting their personal belongings, having a pleasant trip, their budget, and they’re also probably feeling a bit anxious being in a new environment. Assume the best in everyone and treat them how you would like to be treated and the majority of the time it all works out.