Short-Term Rental Security: The Risks and The Solutions

Know the risks, set up the solutions

If you’re renting properties out to strangers, you need to ensure top-notch security. Especially if you’re managing them remotely. It may be a rare, worst-case scenario, but there’s a risk of parties, contents or property damage, or fraud.

Photo of a deadlock on a door
Security is always a risk to consider with short-term rentals

To mitigate this risk, you can set up digital access management and check-in, automated ID verification and fraud prevention, and smart devices that alert you to parties.


Being aware of the security risks of running a short-term rental is key, so you can choose the best way to protect your rental properties without compromising the guest experience.


Here’s how.

Step up your STR security with seamless security checks.

Choose scalable, automated solutions that protect your rental properties and the guest experience with Operto Guest.

What is short-term rental security?

Photo of a padlock to show security
STR security means setting up a system that works consistently without compromising the guest experience

Your short-term rental security measures should be focused on ensuring property safety, guest safety, and business safety. 


A secure STR system will:


  • Only let in the right people on demand
  • Change access codes with each new guest 
  • Help prevent guest injury
  • Protect the property from outside intruders
  • Ensure the property’s structural and building safety and prevent damage
  • Protect the home from unauthorized, noisy, or damaging parties
  • Enable cleaners or other staff to enter and lock up as they leave
  • Prevent high-risk guests via guest screening
  • Guard against financial risk, credit card fraud, and chargebacks

By successfully implementing security processes, you’ll be able to offer a better vacation rental experience and lay the foundations for sustainable business growth.


Why is short-term rental security important? [2022 trends]

Photo of a woman working on laptop in a room to show long term stays
More people are staying for longer and taking their work with them, meaning they care more about consistent security

Even with some kind of short-term rental insurance, online travel agency (OTA) coverage, or a security deposit, there are still important steps you can take to avoid the most common major risks in the short-term rentals industry. Here are some of the consumer behaviors and concerns that should prompt those additional steps, discussed below.


Security is a major priority for 2022 travel trends

Figures suggest security and safety will be high on the agenda for STR travelers in 2022 and beyond, because:


Long-term stays are becoming more common


  • Long-term stay nights on Airbnb grew 75% from 2019 to 2021, continuing into 2022*
  • 20% of nights booked on Airbnb in Q3 last year were for stays of 28 days or longer*

More people are working remotely


  • 44% of families said they are more likely to work remotely from a place that’s not their own home**
  • 60% of employers with offices are now operating on a hybrid model^

Families are now planning longer trips


  • 21-to-30-day family stays increased by 68% on Vrbo from 2019 to 2021**
  • Demand for pet-friendly vacation homes on Vrbo also grew 40% year-on-year**

Sources: *Airbnb **Vrbo, ^AirDNA


Guests are increasingly looking to feel “at home away from home.” As well as traveling with kids and pets in tow, they’re also more likely to be bringing more expensive digital equipment such as laptops and tablets, and staying for a sustained period of time. 


This means they’re very likely to look for properties that are extra secure (given that there are more than 2.5 million burglaries a year in the US, of which 66% are home break-ins). Plus, as a host, it’s still a major priority to protect your property and neighbors from any intentional or accidental damage, structural issues, fraud, or excess noise.


Whichever way you look at it—from the perspective of a guest, the homeowner, or even yourself as a host or business manager—short-term rental security is vitally important.


5 ways to protect your STR assets

But can you really improve safety at your rentals on a day-to-day level, and ensure top-notch security without damaging the guest experience, asking intrusive questions, installing security cameras, or needing to move in next door? 


Yes. By using technology. Here’s how.


1. Use smart access management for better host and guest experience

Graphic of Operto Tech Digital Key Door Opening screen
Operto Tech connects all your operations, including a door keycode with each new guest

Managing short-term rental access using smart locks is a huge step to improving security. 


That’s because smart locks, such as those by leading companies like Schlage or Yale, can:


  • Be connected to a centralized dashboard for remote management
  • Be set up with different codes for guests and staff
  • Remove the risk of keys being lost, stolen, or copied
  • Eliminate the need for separate keys or unsafe lockboxes

A hospitality automation platform like Operto (which integrates with many top smart locks), can also send personalized keycodes for easy access, and change codes after each check-out, to improve long-term security and the guest experience.


This also allows you to maintain an access log with a detailed breakdown of who has entered which unit at what time.


There’s no waiting around to meet someone for a key handover, no stress in case of delays, no fear of lost or stolen keys, minimized risk of unauthorized access, and no confusion for guests over what to do at check-out.


2. Verify guests with enhanced digital check-in

Image of guest accepting rules
Connected software can ensure guests pass security checks and accept the house rules before check-in

A lot of focus is on smart locks for access, but security starts before that, with effective vacation rental guest screening


Dedicated technology, such as Operto Guest, enables you to offer an enhanced digital check-in, which scans guests for security risks before they even arrive. With a name and address, it will screen for criminal history and past bad reviews without damaging the guest experience or the host-guest relationship. 


  • Guests who pass the checks may not even notice them at all.
  • Guests who don’t pass? You can double-check details with them manually, just to be sure everything is as it should be.

For example, if a guest has been flagged for using a credit card in a different name, it could be a sign of fraud…or they might simply be booking a rental with their partner’s card. If guests avoid your questions, get defensive, don’t reply, or flag up any other concerns, you can simply cancel their booking.


Verifying guests in this way enables you to catch any potential red flags before check-in, and to avoid “bad guest” issues—such as negligent damage or ignoring house rules.


3. Prevent parties with smart technology

An image of a guest being sent a noise alert
Smart software can send noise alerts to guests to prevent disruptive noise

Protecting your property doesn’t stop when guests check in. Unauthorized parties in your properties, which can cause damage, injuries, and disruptive noise, can be a major concern.


Smart technology, such as noise and occupancy monitors, help you to prevent parties and avoid these issues. By integrating smart devices into your overall tech stack, you can: 


  • Detect when decibel levels exceed a certain level for a sustained period of time. Smart noise monitors don’t record or listen in, but they do detect loud music or continuous loud groups of people.
  • Identify if many more people are in your rental than there should be. Smart occupancy monitors can track CO2, so they won’t pick up one extra person, but they are alert to parties.

Monitors can be set with customizable thresholds so you will automatically receive alerts whenever there’s an issue and can contact your guests before the party escalates.


4. Schedule and track maintenance tasks with a task scheduler

Photo of damaged outlet
Damage is always a risk at your properties, but technology can help prevent it where possible

Technology can help with structural vacation rental damage prevention and security too, including: 


  • Fire damage
  • Water damage
  • Electrical damage
  • Damage to a vacant vacation rental in winter

Using a tool like Operto Teams helps you stay on top of regular maintenance by enabling you to schedule checks and cleaning in advance (such as every quarter or every six months). 


You might check for leaks, clean gutters, test appliances, check smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, or turn off the water over winter or during other long periods of inactivity.


You and your housekeeping staff can easily schedule jobs and communicate them to your team via an automated task scheduling platform that streamlines internal interactions, makes tracking tasks simple for management, and integrates with your PMS to auto-schedule cleans whenever there’s a new booking.

Easily track maintenance tasks and auto-schedule turnovers with Operto Teams.

No more spreadsheets and no more missed cleans.

5. Avoid chargebacks with security processes and guest care

A photo of a man holding out a card to suggest fraud
Chargebacks and credit card fraud can cause severe risk to your business, but software can help detect it

Chargebacks are another security risk to your business, as they can severely damage revenue. There are two kinds of chargebacks:


  1. Fraudulent – When the transaction is canceled and the money returned by the relevant bank, as the payment was made as a result of genuine fraud (such as a stolen credit card).
  2. Non-fraudulent – When a guest tries to get their money back, by claiming their booking didn’t live up to their expectations, or they didn’t get the service or experience they paid for.

The best way to prevent chargebacks is to: 


  • Screen guests – Use software to detect the risk of fraud or credit card misuse
  • Communicate responsively and address issues quickly – Reduce guest dissatisfaction
  • Document communication – Maintain a paper trail in case you need it later
  • Display your house rules clearly – Present expectations upfront and require guest agreement
  • Have a clear cancelation policy – Stop guests resorting to chargebacks after booking
  • Provide an accurate property description – Avoid guest confusion or disappointment
  • Establish smooth check-in – Ensure excellent service and boost security before guests arrive
  • Exceed guest expectations – Offer a fantastic stay so chargebacks are far less likely

Using dedicated STR technology such as Operto makes these steps much easier to implement, including tools for guest screening, in-app communication, and smooth smart check-in.


Short-term vacation rental asset protection: Reduce the risks with smart solutions

Keeping your properties secure is paramount if you want to stay ahead of current travel trends and prevent damage without compromising on excellent guest experiences. 


And harnessing the power of dedicated automation technology makes boosting security much easier, especially if you’re currently growing your portfolio.


From digital access management and fraud detection to party prevention and automated maintenance scheduling, centralize your security solutions alongside your wider tech stack to reduce risks throughout your business—for guests, property owners, and your management team.