According to the police, there is a new trend in Bay Area crime – theft by home sharing “guests.” A case in point is that of a man who recently rented a Mountain View home on a home sharing site. He canceled just before he was due to occupy the premises. The premises was burglarized shortly afterwards. A few days later the homeowner called the police to say that someone had opened a credit account in his name and was due to pick up an expensive mobile phone. The police caught the man at the store and arrested him. A large number of items stolen from the home were found in his car.
Consequently, if you intend renting your home to vacation renters, please be cautious. Use the tips given below to keep your property safe.
How To Minimize The Risk:
- A mention in a posting that a room or closet will remain locked is an indication that items of value may be in the home. If this is to be done, do not mention it in the post but discuss it with the renters one-on-one before renting the premises.
- Do not leave valuables or important documents in the home, while it is being rented out. If taking them with you is not possible, lock them in a safe that is secured to the floor.
- If possible try to meet the renters in person. This allows you to evaluate the kind of people they are. Meet them in a coffee shop or other place where their faces will be captured on surveillance video. If the renters cannot meet you in person and do not have a convincing reason for not doing so, that could be a sign that they have something to hide and are not the kind of people you want in your home.
- If they do meet you in person but their statements are vague or inconsistent, they may not be people you can trust. Also, ask for identification and take a photo of the document.
- If your premises is too large for the number of people who the renters say will be staying there, it could be an indication of an ulterior motive.
- Thieves shy away from surveillance cameras. If you have cameras in your home and the renters object to it, they may have something to hide.
- Be careful of last minute urgent rentals. This is a ploy of robbers who hope that in the rush the homeowners will overlook the precautions they should take.
- Be suspicious of last minute cancellation, as in the story at the beginning of this blog.
- Trust your instincts. If you feel that a renter is not to be trusted, do not give your home to him.
If you are planning on renting out your house or apartment on a home sharing site, following the advice given by the police is not enough. You need to be adequately insured to protect you from any loss that may occur. Contact your insurance agent to discuss the coverage options available to you. There is a lot that can be done, often at a reasonable cost, to provide you with the protection you need.