My family owns a couple of properties in Florida, including one in Orlando, which is one of the world's most popular destinations for family vacations. When my brother and I were younger, my parents “child-proofed” the house to minimize the chances of us causing any damage or suffering any injuries.
As my brother and I grew older, they no longer child-proofed the new vacation homes that we acquired. That is, until they realized the benefits of including kid-friendly features, which helped to keep damage costs low and minimize any liabilities.
This is especially important for vacation rental owners who see a few of the more than 66 million tourists who visit the Orlando area each year. You can virtually guarantee that a majority of guests will include children, so by taking a few simple steps, you can help to reduce repair costs and even your insurance premiums.
How Can I Minimize Kid-Related Damage to My Orlando Vacation Rental?
Together with your property manager, there are a number of strategies that you can implement to help reduce the instance and severity of any damage caused by the young guests who stay in your vacation home. In fact, your Orlando property manager will be very well-versed on what items are apt to be damaged or destroyed by little ones. They can play an invaluable role in helping you come up with a strategy to minimize damage. Consider the following recommendations:
If you have a playroom (or even a pet guest room), consider placing clear, plexiglass panels on the walls. This protects the walls from any damage from things like crayons, markers, and scuff marks. This strategy can be effective for any area of wall that your property manager finds to be prone to damage from children or anyone else for that matter. Placing kick plates on the bottom of doors can also be useful in preventing scuff marks.
Choose leather or other non-fabric seating for your vacation home. Fabric-upholstered furniture is prone to staining and this can be especially pronounced if you have lots of young guests. Many of the typical rules that apply at home don't tend to apply while on vacation, so you can see damage from children (and adults!) eating and drinking on the couch and other furniture.
By opting for leather sofas, loveseats, recliners, and non-upholstered seating for your barstools or dining room chairs, you can reduce the amount of damage from spills, food, and other soiling. If you're unsure of what should be replaced, your property manager can offer insight to which pieces of furniture tend to see the most damage or soiling. Your property manager can also help by reviewing the house rules (such as no eating in the living room) when he or she arrives to greet the guests.
Replace wall-to-wall carpeting with area rugs. Wall-to-wall carpeting is expensive and difficult to keep clean, especially when you add children or pets to the equation. Install tile and opt for area rugs instead. Wood floors are also an option, but wood is prone to scratching (especially from suitcases and luggage), so it’s generally best to choose tile over hardwood if you have an option.
To hide soiling or stains, opt for rugs with a pattern and medium or dark colors. Generally, you should avoid pricey area rugs, instead opt for rugs that can be replaced if necessary.
If you absolutely must have wall-to-wall carpeting, choose a carpet with a pattern or a carpet with a few different shades of color (instead of one solid color). Your property manager can offer advice on which carpets should be replaced first based on which areas see the most staining and wear.
Avoid placing breakable or fragile decorative items within a child's reach. For example, don't place a glass vase on the coffee table, where a child can easily knock it over while playing.
In cases in which you do opt to keep a breakable item within reach of a young child, you can take measures to secure that item. For example, a glass vase can be secured to a table using poster putty. It won't be totally tip-proof, but it will require more force to tip it over. Clear glass or plexiglass globes or cubes can be placed over small to medium-sized sculptures and fragile items to prevent little hands from touching.
Again, your property manager can help offer advice on which items tend to be most prone to damage. Your property manager can also ensure that these measures remain in place (i.e. the glass vase remains securely anchored with poster putty and glass globes remain in place over fragile decorative items). Guests and maids have an inexplicable tendency of rearranging items.
How Can I Reduce Liability and Insurance Premiums for My Vacation Home?
Many Orlando vacation homes include pools, which hold major appeal to potential guests. But pools also hold significant dangers, especially to guests who cannot swim.
Florida state law requires that you have measures in place to reduce the risk of accidental drowning. This includes pool alarms on the doors leading out to the pool area and pool fencing. Many insurance companies will provide lower rates to homeowners who have multiple measures in place. Your property manager can play a vital role in ensuring that the guests understand how the pool alarm works, in addition to emphasizing the importance of keeping the pool fencing in place (most pool fences are removable).
You can also reduce liability by addressing areas of the home that commonly pose dangers. This includes:
- Placing childproof locks on cabinets.
- Affixing wall anchors to dressers to prevent a dresser from falling atop a child.
- Anti-slip mats or decals in the shower or bath.
You may also wish to add features that make your home more child-friendly, while minimizing dangers. For example, simply adding a step stool to your bathroom can prevent a child from climbing atop the toilet or some other item in an attempt to access the sink.
By implementing these measures, you can minimize liability and reduce your chances of seeing any insurance claims, which could result in an increase in your premiums. Your property manager can also offer great advice and insight into any areas of your property that can be childproofed based on guest feedback and his or her own observations in the course of managing your vacation home.
By transforming your home into a kid-friendly environment, you'll have a major selling point that your property manager can promote in online marketing content and in printed marketing materials. This will, in turn, make your property more competitive, helping you to secure more bookings, while also boosting profits by reducing damages and minimizing overhead like insurance premiums.
If you're seeking a property manager for your Orlando vacation home, create a free profile on Rented.com. Set up an account and begin to receive offers from property managers who are eager to manage your vacation property. Many of the property managers on Rented.com even offer an income guarantee, so you receive a flat rate every month, regardless of actual bookings. Get started today.
Lead image: Flickr CC user Anthony Crider