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Have you ever had a difficult tenant in a rental property? If you’re a property owner or investor in South Africa, you’re probably no stranger to the risks associated with long-term rentals.
The legislative environment tends to favor tenants, making it challenging for property owners to manage their investments effectively. In recent years, however, the short-term rental industry has gained traction, offering an alternative solution for property owners. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the benefits of short-term rentals in sectional title schemes and how platforms like Airbnb can provide a more rewarding experience for both hosts and guests.
As property owners ourselves, we’ve experienced firsthand the challenges of dealing with difficult long-term tenants. Our “granny flat” had its fair share of excellent tenants until Frans moved in. Despite his good references, Frans soon became a source of frustration due to late-night parties, a tumultuous relationship with his girlfriend, and eventually missed rental payments.
After Frans left and we decided to try another solution: Airbnb. With an initial investment in furniture and equipment, we transformed our granny flat into a short-term rental. Over time, we met an incredibly diverse group of guests who treated our property with care and respect. Our lives became richer for the experience, and none of this would have been possible without the Airbnb platform.
One of the significant advantages of using platforms like Airbnb is their built-in vetting systems. As hosts, we can set our listing to automatically accept bookings from guests who have achieved a minimum rating from previous stays on Airbnb. This ensures that we only welcome well-behaved guests into our property. In turn, we rate each guest when they leave, creating a transparent system that encourages good behavior.
As we grew more comfortable with the platform, we introduced self-check-in through a key safe system. This allowed guests to retrieve their keys and let themselves into the unit, streamlining the process for both parties. We also implemented checklists and automated messaging on the Airbnb app to ensure a consistent and value-based guest experience.
In our three years of operating our Airbnb, we’ve encountered only a handful of problematic guests. The vast majority (90% and above) leave our unit in pristine condition. This goes against the prevailing idea that short-term guests are less likely to adhere to house rules. In fact, our experience has shown the opposite.
Handling the few instances of badly behaving guests is also much simpler in short-term rentals. For example, after one group caused excessive noise and damage, we gave them a negative rating on the app, reducing their chances of booking with other hosts in the future. In contrast, it took us six months to get rid of Frans, our long-term tenant.
Short-term rentals have become an essential part of local tourism and economic growth. For instance, the City of Cape Town has partnered with Airbnb to create an industry that supports tourism and job creation on a massive scale.
Between January and December 2021, Airbnb hosts netted over R2 billion in South Africa. By offering short-term rentals, property owners can contribute to this growing sector while benefiting from increased rental income.
Despite the benefits of short-term rentals, many property management companies seek to change conduct rules to exclude owners from letting out their units on a short-term basis. However, platforms like Airbnb have built-in safeguards that protect owners, communities, and promote local tourism.
Trustees advocating for minimum periods for short-term rentals may be opening themselves up to claims from property owners who are being denied full use of their properties.
If you’re considering turning your property into a short-term rental, our comprehensive Short-Term Rental Property Guide can help you prepare your property, navigate the Airbnb app, and implement effective marketing and pricing strategies. By embracing the potential of short-term rentals in sectional title schemes, you can enjoy a more rewarding experience as a property owner while contributing to the growth of local tourism and the economy.
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