My family owned a number of vacation homes when I was growing up that we would rent out to guests from across the globe. My parents maintained a ban on college students due to their propensity for causing damage, often while smoking pot or drinking.
But there were a couple properties in locations that were considered Spring Break hotspots, and refusing to rent to college students would result in a major income loss. So in these vacation homes, my parents opted to work closely with property managers who would take measures to minimize any damage caused by guests.
Vail, Colorado, vacation home owners face a similar dilemma. Vail has traditionally been a mecca for skiers and snowboarders. But now, it's also a prime destination for marijuana enthusiasts. Colorado Amendment 64 was passed in November 2012, transforming Colorado into a year-round tourism hotspot for those looking to enjoy the legality of marijuana in the state. This has translated into a higher year-round demand for vacation rentals in Vail and dozens of other Colorado cities.
While Vail has a ban on retail shops selling marijuana -- a moratorium that was renewed in late June 2016 -- visitors can make their way to the nearby “Green Mile.” This section of U.S. Highway 6 extends through Eagle-Vail and Avon, and it's home to numerous marijuana shops. Recreational marijuana usage is permitted statewide.
Just like alcohol, marijuana can result in some impairments or unusual behavior, which can lead to property damage in various forms. Fortunately, working with a property manager can provide you with an option for preventing and limiting that damage.
How Can a Property Manager Limit Damage From Recreational Marijuana Users?
As a vacation home owner, you certainly have the right to implement rules for using marijuana on your property. For example, you may request that all smoking be done outside to prevent an odor and damage from smoke. You may also limit smoking to certain rooms, such as the kitchen, where there is less of a chance that you'll see burn holes on your furniture or rugs. Many homeowners also have a ban on smoking in the bedrooms to avoid a situation where a guest falls asleep with lit smoking materials.
But it can be very challenging to actually enforce rules that could prevent property damage. This is where your property manager can be a tremendous help. Here are some methods that your property manager can use to help prevent damage to your Vail vacation home:
Ask your property manager to oversee the installation of surveillance cameras. You can also ask your property manager to monitor the surveillance footage. In fact, numerous studies have revealed that the mere presence of surveillance cameras has been shown to dramatically improve behavior, thereby increasing the chances that guests will treat your home with respect. Remember to inform your guests that the property is equipped with interior and exterior surveillance cameras (ideally, prior to them formally making a booking so you avoid negative reviews).
If the property manager observes any dangerous activities or a violation of the house rules, then he or she can take action to intervene. The surveillance footage can also serve as valuable evidence that you can use to support your decision to confiscate a guest's damage deposit or charge the damages to his or her credit card.
Ask your property manager to maintain the outdoor seating area and install a patio heater or fire bowl. Vail winters can be very cold, so it's understandable that some guests may be hesitant to go outside to smoke -- unless you take measures to make that outdoor smoking area more comfortable. Work with your property manager to ensure that the outdoor seating area is kept free of snow and ice. You may also select outdoor seating with fabric mesh instead of metal bars, as this tends to be warmer and more comfortable.
Adding a heat source can dramatically increase the usability and appeal of an outdoor smoking area, even in the summer as the evenings can get chilly in the mountains. A table with a built-in fire bowl is a popular choice (but remember to keep your home stocked with a few fire logs if the fire bowl isn't propane powered). You could also purchase a propane-powered patio heater. If you have a patio heater or fire bowl, be sure to position them a safe distance from the house to reduce the risk of a fire.
Maintaining a comfortable outdoor seating area can increase the chances that your guests will smoke outdoors, which reduces the risk of damage from smoke, fire, and burns to furniture or rugs and flooring.
Ask your property manager to emphasize the rules when greeting the guests at the property. Ideally, your property manager should be on-hand to greet your guests in person when they arrive at your Vail vacation home. This allows you to build rapport, while also offering tips to help improve the guests' vacation experience.
This meeting also provides your property manager with a chance to perform a walk-through of the property. During the tour, your property manager will have an opportunity to acknowledge any pre-existing damage, while also indicating the house rules. Posting written rules or writing the rules into your contract is certainly recommended, but actually discussing those rules in person can have a much greater impact.
Be sure your property manager maintains fire alarms and fire extinguishers at the home. Whenever you have smoking, you have an increased risk of fire. This is especially true for marijuana, which can alter your coordination and your perception. Due to Vail's cold climate, guests are more likely to smoke indoors. So it's important to ensure that every room is equipped with a smoke detector that has working batteries.
You should also have at least two full-size fire extinguishers located in prominent locations that your property manager points out when providing a tour to the guests. If you have an outdoor fire bowl or patio heater, you should also stow a fire extinguisher near the door leading out to that area. These fire extinguishers should be checked routinely to ensure they're full and ready for use.
Ensure your property manager clearly indicates the consequences. Logic dictates that people are more likely to follow a rule if they know that breaking the rules will lead to a negative consequence. Therefore, you should ask your property manager to clearly emphasize the consequences of causing damage or breaking the rules, such as a forfeit of some or all of the guest's damage deposit.
This is especially important if you have rules such as no smoking inside the house. Vail, Colorado, is cold during the winter months, so many guests may be hesitant to go outside. By making it clear that there are consequences to smoking indoors, the guests will be more compelled to comply.
Work with your property manager to determine why damage is occurring. If your property manager consistently finds that guests are causing damage to your Vail vacation home, then you may want to work together to consider why this is occurring. For example, if you're always finding burns in your area rugs and carpeting, then it may make sense to forego the area rugs and opt for a non-carpeting flooring option in areas where guests enjoy smoking.
If you ask marijuana smokers to smoke outdoors but find that they're ignoring this rule, then you might make your outdoor smoking area more comfortable and attractive.
Or you could create a smoking room that can be closed off from the rest of the house. Solariums tend to make very good smoking rooms because the windows are fairly easy to clean and the smoke will not discolor the glass. Windows also don't hold odors in the same way that walls or ceilings retain odors. So you could ask your property manager to add a door to the solarium so it can be closed off from the rest of the home.
Your property manager should also take measures to keep your Vail vacation home's driveway and walkways free of snow and ice. Many guests don't have experience driving and walking in these conditions, which dramatically increase the chances of injury and property damage. The latter might occur if a guest's car slides on the ice, crashing into the garage or porch. And injuries can prove to be just as costly if a guest decides to file a lawsuit. These problems can be exacerbated if guests have recently smoked, as marijuana can alter your perception and impact your coordination.
A top Vail property manager can go a long way to reducing the risk of damage from marijuana tourists and other guests. If you're in search of a property manager for your home, turn to Rented.com. Once you create a free profile, local property managers can make offers on your property, and you can choose the one that best fits your needs. Get started today on Rented.com.
Lead image: Pixabay user Mariamichelle