4 Serious Vacation Rental Security Risks (And How to Address Them)

These four risks could threaten your vacation rental business—here’s how to prevent them.

Issues at your vacation rental properties can cause serious, lasting problems—think complaining neighbors, angry homeowners, and scathing guest reviews. Just one unruly group of guests out of a thousand reservations can mean:

  • A massive, costly clean-up
  • Carpet stains and broken glasses, lamps, and chairs
  • Damage to your relationship with neighbors
  • Loss of your SuperHost status because, on top of all the damage they caused, the unruly guest left a bad review
Image of Airbnb Community Center complaint about a guest throwing a party
Without the right preventative measures, five Airbnb guests can turn into an unruly, destructive party of thirty.

But, as you’ll see, the risks you face as a property manager aren’t limited to parties getting out of hand. In this post, we wrap up our STR Security Playbook series by looking at the biggest risks to vacation rental businesses and offering expert tips on how to prevent them.

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The biggest risks in STR security

No business comes without risk, but the specific threats that you face in the STR industry can get serious. As a property manager, you assume responsibility for both your homeowners and their assets, as well as your guests and their wellbeing.


The four principle risks of STR security are:


  1. Guest fraud
  2. Theft
  3. Property damage and bodily injury
  4. Breakdown in operations and communication

You need to be aware of these risks, which is why we explain them in detail, as well as offer suggestions on how to avoid them and prevent problems before they happen.

1. Guest Fraud

One of your biggest guest fraud risks comes in the form of chargebacks. With fraudulent chargebacks, a guest claims they were wrongfully charged in order to get their money returned by the credit card company, and you then lose out on that revenue. 

Another way fraud occurs in the short-term rental industry is with faulty payments, like a check that bounces or a wire transfer that never goes through. That’s why it should always be a red flag when a guest wants to use an alternative form of payment and refuses to pay through your normal system. 


Additionally, same-day reservations should raise questions: Day-of-hotel-bookings are 4.3 times more likely to be fraudulent than reservations made in advance. That’s because a guest booking with such short notice gives you much less time to detect fraud than if they had made the reservation days or weeks in advance. Fraud can seriously cut into your profits, damage your reputation with owners, and undermine your property management operations. However, there are preventative measures you can take to safeguard yourself from guest fraud. 


Use vacation rental guest screening strategies to verify guests’ identities before approving a booking. Doing so helps you confirm that the person making the reservation is real and hasn’t participated in fraudulent activity in the past. And to prevent chargebacks in vacation rental properties, establish effective communication with your guests and address their issues and inquiries rapidly. 


With an enhanced digital check-in tool in place, you can have two-way communication with your guests and automatically verify their ID before they gain access to the property.

Image of a mobile check-in sequence on the Operto Guest platform
Guests can provide personal info and verify their ID to streamline check-in right on the Operto Guest platform.

Use Operto Guest to verify guests’ identities at check-in, giving you peace of mind and reducing the risk of fraud.

Protect your property as well as your guest’s experience.

2. Theft

Theft is another serious concern at vacation rental properties, and a guest can steal a range of items from a vacation home, from a coffee mug to a television. But even the smallest of theft incidents add up and cut into your profits (as well as anger property owners). 


While you can’t place security cameras within the home to protect your assets, there are  short-term rental security measures you can take for increased protection and peace of mind. First, you can place a security system and cameras outside your property to monitor if guests leave the home with large items. This will also help protect against outside intruders. 


Additionally, vacation rental access management helps you ensure that only authorized guests and staff members are entering the property. With keyless entry, each guest or cleaner has a unique code to gain access. Be sure to use a smart lock solution with an access log so you can keep tabs on exactly who entered each property and when. 


Finally, use guest screening tools and techniques to identify guests with a history of problematic behavior and prevent them from booking to minimize the risk of theft.

Use Operto's integrations with smart locks and verification solutions to know that the right guests arrive at the right location.

With Operto’s smart lock capabilities, you can monitor who’s accessing your properties to protect your staff, your guests, and your business.

Operto helps you minimize mistakes and risks while enhancing the guest experience.
Operto helps you minimize mistakes and risks while enhancing the guest experience.

3.  Property damage and bodily injury

A big part of being a property manager is taking the right safety measures to protect your guests, short-term rental properties, and vacation rental business. That includes installing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your properties, carrying out regular vacation rental maintenance, and frequently inspecting your plumbing and electrical wiring. 


However, no matter how much you safeguard your property to protect it from damage, unruly guests can derail all your preventive measures, causing harm to your property and sometimes themselves. When parties get out of hand, guests can damage property and get injured, which hurts your relationship with homeowners. Plus, repairing damages can cut into your profits.


A noise monitoring tool is great for keeping tabs on unruly guests and preventing vacation rental parties—use a solution that sends you a notification when the noise levels at your property exceed a certain threshold. That way, you can reach out to guests and address the situation before it gets out of hand.  


But even with the best intentions, accidental damage and injuries can happen. It only takes a second to trip and fall on a crooked step, slippery tile, or the upturned corner of a rug. 



Collecting a security deposit is a good way to safeguard yourself against the cost of repairing minor property damage, but it doesn’t cover your guests from bodily harm. That’s where specialized short-term rental insurance can help, as it covers you for expenses related to both property damage and bodily harm incurred by guests during their stay.

Image of an Airbnb Community Center complaint about guests causing extensive damage
Even when the damages are serious, getitng reimbursed by OTAs can present challenges.

More positive reviews.
Less worrying.

Use Operto’s noise monitoring capability to keep tabs on guest activity and make sure the neighbour’s aren’t having a sleepless night.

4. Breakdown in operations and communication

While it may not seem as significant as the other risks we discussed, operational and communication issues can seriously impact the guest experience and, consequently, your business. For example, poor communication with guests can mean a fraudulent guest slipping through the cracks and hundreds (or thousands) of dollars in lost revenue. 


Or think about the impact of a missed clean—while it may not pose serious security risks to your property or business, a guest arriving to a dirty property can cause a breakdown in your guest relationship, resulting in a negative review and even lost business. 


To prevent these issues from arising, you need to be on top of your operations and internal communication. But when you’re stuck in the weeds of your day-to-day processes, you don’t have the bandwith to catch vacation rental security issues before they happen or address other business priorities, like expanding your portfolio and perfecting the guest experience. 


That’s why it’s so important to have a tool that helps you implement a solid communication strategy and run a smooth operation. 


So, use software that can sync all your bookings, cleanings, and maintenance tasks, and give you a clear overview of what needs to happen to keep your business running safely and successfully.

Save time, increase efficiency, and reduce stress with Operto Teams.

We’ll integrate with your PMS, automate your scheduling, and simplify your daily ops management.

Vacation rental safety for your business and guests

Security should be one of the top priorities on your vacation rental property management checklist. Not only for the sake of your guests, but also to protect your relationship with property owners and to safeguard your business. With the right tech solutions for STR safety, you can track who’s entering your properties, minimize the risk of fraud, prevent parties, and keep tight operations. 


You’ll see happier guests and better reviews, and you’ll also create a reputation as a professional, reliable property manager that homeowners can trust. That’s why using powerful, scalable solutions to security risks and operational challenges should form an essential part of your business: Use them to set the stage for growth, all while improving the guest and host experience.