Buying Advice

5 Ways to Prevent Damage to Your Hawaii Vacation Rental Investment Property

I represent many buyers on sellers of vacation rental properties in Hawaii — one of the concerns that I commonly hear is how likely it is for an owners property to be damaged by short term vacation renters. The most conservative route is to not rent your property out at all when you or your personal family/friends are not using it — this is not the norm for these types of properties and is certainly more prevalent among more affluent owners who don’t require any income to help offset property expenses. This blog is oriented towards those who are interested in maximizing their financial investment by renting out the property but want to ensure that the property is as well taken care of as possible. Here are some tips to help you prevent damage to your Hawaii vacation rental.

To answer the concern in short, if you and/or your property manager take these steps in addition to other best practices out there, I am very confident that you can minimize any sort of substantial damage to your home away from home. Most of this really boils down to providing an excellent experience for the guest so that they are encouraged to treat the property with proper respect.

Here are 5 specific steps we take to prevent damage to your Hawaii Vacation Rental and best preserve our Maui Vacation Rental Properties

1. Present the property as the owner’s home away from home

We have found that during our pre-arrival process and/or during a physical greeting for the property that the more we can endear the guest with the owners of the property and help instill a sense of empathy, this greatly improves the way that the property is treated. It really helps to prevent damage to your Hawaii vacation rental by letting the guests know that this is actually someone’s home rather than just some large corporately owned entity that they feel is more acceptable for them to disrespect. We do this for all of the properties that we represent in our growing portfolio.

Parkman Family

Meet the Parkman ‘Ohana from San Antonio, Texas who are our dear friends, business partners, and own multiple high-end vacation rental properties here in Kaanapali, Maui. A photo, a little blurb, and the right presentation in our e-book homebooks go a long way for our guests treating the Parkman’s property properly along with many of our other clients that we represent. 

2. It is imperative that your property be kept in top-notch condition to prevent damage to your Hawaii Vacation Rental

By showing a pride of ownership this again sets the expectation for the guest that the way that the home was checked into is the way that it is to left upon check out. We adhere to strict standards of cleaning and property maintenance for all of our properties. By providing them a space that is clean and attractive to them, we are more likely to have them leave it in better condition upon check out. We have strict check out procedures with an itemized list of things to do and providing the necessary equipment to make it easy for the guest to do them — we also may have additional deep cleaning fees if the property is not returned in an acceptable state. 

With our assistance, we perform regular and preventative maintenance on the appliances, do touch up painting (namely on the baseboards and high volume wall areas), and recommend bi-annual deep shampoo carpet cleanings. Keeping the units in a pristine condition really helps to prevent damage to your Hawaii vacation rental.

Hokulani 223 at Honua Kai Pre-Enhancement 

We encourage all of our owners to make the financial commitments necessary to keep their properties in the most appealing and functional condition that they can be in. This includes upgrading appliances when recommended, attractive and newer furniture, and undertaking remodeling or targeted enhancement projects when recommended. The same property above and below which I represented my clients on the purchase of and is now in our rental portfolio is a clear example of what can be done with a very efficient and targeted budget.

Hokulani #223 Now 

3. Detailed Unit Inventory Lists to prevent damage to your Hawaii Vacation Rental

It is not very common that we have items go missing in our properties and one of the reasons for this is that guests are provided a very detailed inventory list of everything that is available for them in the residence. This is also a convenience element for them if they are in need of a specific item and are curious if the unit is equipped with it. Furthermore, it also keeps the guests informed of what they should pack in their suitcases and what to leave at home. We do ask our owner-clients to follow our recommended guidelines to provide our guests with much more than what a normal hotel room would provide so that it truly functions as a home away from a home. With this, the items that we recommend are not superfluous or extravagantly priced- we equip them like we equip our own. Upon check out, we ask the guests to review the lists and let us know if anything is missing or damaged.

4. Prevent damage to your Hawaii vacation rental with accurate reporting of damages or missing items immediately after check out

Immediately upon check out, we have our cleaners notify us and send us detailed photos of anything that is damaged or missing from the property. This doesn’t happen very often and we are constantly doing everything that we can to streamline and improve this process for everyone involved. In our 5 years of experience, we have only had a handful of experiences where we needed to pursue several hundred dollars or more of damages. The most common one is blood on the sheets. If we are unable to get the stains out completely, they need to be replaced and guests are billed for these. I am not referring to just a drop or two — we are talking about a substantial amount, nickel and diming the guests is certainly not a good idea. Another one that we have pretty much eliminated now is that we were getting a lot of make-up smears on our white wash clothes which would completely ruin them (see photo above).

On this note, we highly recommend that you buy all white linens and towels and employ color elsewhere so that these items can be bleached. Taking simple steps like this to prevent damage to your Hawaii Vacation Rental can really help keep the long term costs to a minimum.

We have an internal reviews process to help ensure that the property is kept in as like new condition as possible.

We find that white linens and towels with accents of color are the best route to go for our properties. Some owners have special quilts or colored sheets that we ask them to keep in their owner storage closets. 

5. Require Appropriate Refundable Damage Deposits

For all of our properties, we require anywhere from $500-$1,000 refundable damage deposits which are due at the time of booking. Sometimes we get pushback on this cost and if we do, we kindly explain that in many instances these properties which we are renting are worth anywhere from $500k to multi-million dollar properties and this is necessary in order to protect the owner’s interest. 99% of the time guests get it, and if they don’t, we don’t really want to do business with them anyway.

Additionally, our rental contract does state that if there are any damages which exceed the amount of the deposit, we will pursue these on the guest’s credit card that we have on file. Always have a credit card on file and do let the guests clearly know your policies in writing.

I highly recommend staying away from non-refundable property insurance policies offered by any third party vendors. These policies seem to instill the mindset that the guest can do whatever they want to the property and they are covered which is clearly not what you want them thinking no matter how much you think you may be protected. Secondly, collecting on any of these claims from the vendor requires a lot of documentation and is just a total pain in the a** to complete. Enjoy your Mai Tai instead of taking photos and writing memos. Take the steps to prevent damage to your Hawaii vacation rental before it happens, it is by far the easiest way to go.

As our rental portfolio has grown, we have taken over properties which were either owner rented or rented by other companies that did not require deposits. From firsthand experience, these are typically not the type of guests that you want to attract and we have had issues with these guests causing issues in the property that we had very little we could stand on to promote our owner-client’s interests.

In conclusion, purchasing a Hawaii vacation rental property can be a great investment and I hope that you found all of this information helpful. I am here at your service.

Work with a Maui Broker and Vacation Rental Specialist

Search for all of Maui Vacation Rental Properties here – use the drop-down menu to select the Short Term Rental tab and you will be good to go.

#1 I have successfully represented many buyers and sellers of Maui vacation rental properties. If you want help purchasing or selling a Maui vacation rental property, I am very experienced in this niche market.

#2 We own a short-term vacation rental investment property on Maui and have gone through the process of purchasing a Maui vacation rental ourselves.

#3 Purchasing a Maui vacation rental property can be a very profitable investment. We run a very successful vacation rental portfolio of properties through Hawaii Life Vacation Rentals.

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Jim DeVille

August 2, 2018

Great article and smart advice. Thanks Jeremy.

Jeremy Stice

August 6, 2018

Aloha Jim,

Thanks for taking the time to ready it, I appreciate your kind words.


August 2, 2018

Great article Jeremy. Really informative and pragmatic. Thanks for sharing your experience.

Jeremy Stice

August 6, 2018

Aloha Len,

Thanks for your comment here and for reaching out via email. I look forward to helping you with your specific needs.

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