Own a vacation home? Know your responsibilities.

Tis the season for beach vacations. If you are a vacation homeowner, you’re wearing the hat of landlord whether you want to or not. Whether you own a vacation home along Florida’s 30A beaches, on St. Simons Island, or somewhere in between, understanding your responsibilities as a homeowner can make vacation season a success. The laws governing home ownership vary from state-to-state. You need personal advice relating to your specific situation, but here are some general tips for you to consider:

Spell out your cancellation clause in writing. It should cover not only the period leading up to the rental, but also include other situations when the renter may want to terminate a stay, including during the vacation week itself. Ants in the bedroom? Broken air conditioner? Barking dog next door? A clearly spelled out cancellation clause can walk the traveler through the protocol of cancellation— including how, if, and how much — money will be returned.

Understand premises liability. Laws covering premises liability focus a great deal on the status of the person on the property. Were they an invited guest? Social guest? Trespasser? As a homeowner you can be liable for certain events that take place on your property. It is important that you understand the scope of your insurance. For example, in many cases, your homeowner’s policy will not cover acts on the property that pertain to “business activity.” Talk to your insurance agent to be clear whether “business activity” includes paying guests who stay in your home.

Require damage insurance. Many vacation homeowners today forego a cash or credit card security deposit, opting instead to require guests to purchase an independent third-party damage protection. One example is the damage protection policy promoted by CSA. Policies priced between $49 and $89 — a one-time fee, paid by the traveler direct to the insurer — can cover up to $5,000 in damage to your property.

Do you have a question about your responsibilities as a vacation homeowner? Contact members of the CNO team at 770-528-0150.