Seriously, those who know me know I am a bit of a worry wart – however, I was raised with good risk management skills. It may have led to some slight anxiety in my older years but I consider myself pretty good at looking out for myself and others by identifying potential hazards. My time spent working in local government leisure/recreation facility management probably helped a little too.

So we’ve just had a storm in southern Western Australia. While normal, quite unusual for this time of year when we’d normally be slapping on some sunscreen and a hat and heading to the beach.

A potted succulent tipped over on our balcony and I really did think that our cane lounge was going to be catapulted into the pool. It was obvious those winds were wreaking havoc across the South West.

When I dropped my boys off at school today we noticed some fallen branches and one tree had a thick branch snapped, but not fallen. Of course, my parting comment was “stay away from trees for the next few days and report that broken branch to a teacher guys”.

I have actually walked a bush track and watched a huge tree fall across the path in front of me. And a few summers ago my brother and sister in law’s beautiful backyard tree dropped a huge limb onto their children’s cubby house smashing it to pieces. Needless to say, they forfeited the magnificent shade and swiftly lopped that tree back to safety. Scary stuff.

There are a lot of hidden dangers in and around all homes and it is our responsibility as managers of short-term rental accommodation to assess the risk and prevent accidents and damage to the best of our abilities. For the better good but also you won’t be covered by insurance if you aren’t proactive with your risk management.

Here’s a list of a few things you may not have considered;

  • tree branches falling (be especially vigilant after heat waves and unseasonal storms).
  • coconuts and palm fronds falling. I think palms are an absolute pain.
  • fireplaces being over stoked (indoor and outdoor) – you might need to build safety measures into your terms and conditions and house rules.
  • loose balcony and pool railing giving way after years of wear and tear. Just walk around and give them a wiggle, check screws are tight and look for rust.
  • stair steps falling away. Even if loose they could present a hazard, particularly for a young child.
  • slippery surfaces on tiles and in showers and baths.
  • loose tiles and floorboards.
  • dilapidated rooves and guttering. A section of our gutter fell down after a storm a few months ago. I was lucky my husband noticed and pulled it down as it was hovering over my car.
  • exposed asbestos. Best to remove this with a licensed contractor. Always ask to view the license.
  • leaking gas.
  • old faulty children’s safety equipment – I personally prefer guests to BYO or hire from a professional who takes responsibility for safety and hygiene.
  • worn electrical chords.
  • old heaters. Although I am not one for throwing out appliances these days they do not last as long as they used to and it is most definitely better to upgrade regularly. Bar heaters especially worry me. Again make sure you educate guests on safe use in your holiday rental manual.
  • old bbq’s or bbq’s that have a big build up of fat. Yes they do catch on fire. I’ve seen it with my own eyes.
  • dryer lint cases. Again built the removal of lint before every dry into your house instructions and Terms & Conditions.
  • fat tray in griller. Educate your guests to clean this after every use or use alfoil to prevent it dripping down then replace the alfoil every time.
  • I think it’s worth a structural assessment on all buildings regularly. Balcony’s and rooves fall. Make sure your guests are aware of load capacity for risk areas.

Of course, there are many more risks in and outside of short-term and holiday rental accommodation. Make sure you set up a reporting mechanism for guests to tell you when they notice something isn’t right. Walk around your property, look at everything and make a note of all the potential disasters that could happen. Develop these notes into a checklist for yourself or your maintenance staff, conduct checks regularly, action maintenance tasks as a high priority and record everything.

If you have enjoyed this article maybe you’d like to subscribe (free) to the Welcome In e-news. I try to publish these every few months to a community of holiday rental owners and managers in Australia. I encourage you to make contact with me if you have any queries about any aspect of your holiday rental management journey. If I cannot assist you I can certainly point you in the right direction. I am well connected with niche industry holiday rental stakeholders in Australia.

Cheers, Natalie 🙂