Safety Tips & Guidelines
Can Houfy hosts screen and vet travelers?
Absolutely! Book direct is all about open communication. Phone numbers and inquiry emails are never blocked nor hidden. This means you and the traveler get to freely communicate before accepting a reservation.
Unlike other platforms, Houfy encourages its hosts to know who is staying in their property. You are free to require a copy of ID and signed rental agreement from guests if you wish. It's entirely up to you!
A common misconception new hosts have, is the major platforms "screen" their guests for them. You'll often read forum comments like this:
"Airbnb will remove guests if they refuse to leave at check out."
"Airbnb will break up a party for me."
"Airbnb's attorneys will defend me in court if I have to sue a guest."
Unfortunately, none of this is true. Hosts often feel duped once they realize they have no ID information to provide the police, and Airbnb won't share the info with the host.
The name on the confirmation might say Paul Jones or Kermit.
Or it could just be the letter "Z."
But were Paul, Kermit, or Z–ever even at the property? Who knows..
Maybe their friend Beatrice stayed instead.
Surely Airbnb will help! After all, they "verify" IDs...right?
If you've ever called Airbnb to ask for your guest's ID information, you were likely declined the information due to "privacy" reasons.
Do your own due diligence and follow these best practices when accepting reservations.
1. Have a clear visitor policy
Travelers will often book, assuming they can invite over as many friends as they want. Include a visitor policy like this one in your rental agreement. Have the guest sign and acknowledge the visitor policy, in addition to signing the rental agreement.
2. Communicate and ask questions
Ask questions if you need more details before accepting a reservation. Just message or call the traveler! Click on your Houfy messaging inbox to pull up the booking inquiry/request. Or make a quick phone call–especially if the booking is time sensitive and another traveler can book the dates.
3. Make clear house rules
Travelers must agree to your house rules when sending an inquiry. Discourage partiers and event holders by placing rules like "no gatherings" etc. near the top of the list. Travelers who plan to party will likely skip over your listing.
3. Get a signed rental agreement
Hosts aren't required to upload an agreement, but if you have one, travelers must agree to it when sending an inquiry. I recommend putting the agreement in the credit card holder's name. Feel free to use any wording from these sample rental agreements. Here is a quick 2 minute read of why you should have guests sign a rental agreement.
4. Ask for ID
It's a good idea to collect ID and note it in your house rules if it's required. It's up to you how you want to go about collecting ID. I recommending requesting ID of the credit card holder. Some hosts only ask for ID of the guest who books, while others require ID of all group members. Here is an excellent blog post about why you should be asking for guest Id after booking.
But what about guest reviews?
While guest reviews can be very helpful, it's best not to blindly rely on them. A guest traveling with grandparents may be a 5 star angel, but with his college buddies, turns into a 1 star devil. The majority of platforms don't let hosts write guest reviews. Even Vrbo only allows a star rating with no written text. There's no shortage of Airbnb hosts who relied on previous 5 star reviews, only to discover the guest trashed their home.