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 rented it through Airbnb and were bothering guests. What do I do now? How do I get the news to my new neighbors that the house is still a vacation rental?
ON: Your neighbor gave you a great opportunity to start your relationship on a positive note. Before you advertise your property for short-term rental, have a second interview with him. Explain that from time to time you want to rent a house, but you want to be a good neighbor.
Ask him what problems he had with the previous owners and their guests. Perhaps guests parked illegally, took out their trash on the wrong nights, or partied outside until late at night. Knowing what is bothering them, you can lay down ground rules that will solve these problems before your first guest arrives.
“You're a neighbor first,” said Alexa Nota, a founder of Rent Responsably, a community building and education platform for short-term rentals. "If you have a neighbor with a baby and you need to be quiet by 8:00 am, you can create stricter guidelines and say your rest times start at 8:00 am."
Market your property to the community you live in. If this is a neighborhood full of young children, your home might be better suited for a family vacation. In your listing, you can highlight the beach toys, high chairs, and toys for toddlers that you sell. If the area is quieter, market the place for romantic getaways, set occupancy limits, and enforce rules for parties.
Create clear, direct, and informative house rules 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 in the property, and sound sensors around the fire pit can help you keep an eye on the volume. If you can't react quickly to problems when they arrive, hire a property manager to do it for you.
Give your neighbors a direct emergency phone number and have the line answered immediately. You can also sweeten the arrangement: Offer your neighbors a "friends and family" discount if they ever have guests nearby who need a rental apartment.
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