The Importance of Accessibility in Vacation Rentals

Crazy Vacation Rental Insurance Claims, Industry Insights, Short-Term Rental Insurance
The Importance of Accessibility in Vacation Rentals

When you buy real estate that you plan to use as a vacation rental, you will likely make updates to the property. Depending on the age or type of property, one of those updates may involve accessibility.

Any rental property needs to meet certain legal requirements for accessibility. But installing features that exceed those legal requirements can also benefit your guests and your business in many ways. Take a closer look at how you can deliver a more luxurious and enjoyable stay for all of your guests by prioritizing accessibility.

Ensuring Your Vacation Rental Meets ADA Requirements

The Americans with Disabilities Act  (ADA) regulates how to make a rental accessible to long-term renters. However, it also applies to short-term rentals and the guests who stay in those rentals for brief periods of time. 

Specifically, the regulations apply to any property owner who offers “places of public accommodation” under the Code of Federal Regulations. A place of public accommodation includes any rental that offers sleeping quarters for guests who stay for 30 days or less. 

The law stipulates that the guest does not have the authority to return to the same room or rental after the term of their stay concludes. The rental must also provide amenities similar to those offered in a traditional hotel or motel. These amenities include linen services, housekeeping, walk-in/call-in availability, and reservations without requiring a security deposit. 

In meeting the requirements outlined by the ADA, a new construction must be intentionally designed as an ADA-compliant structure. When modifying an existing structure to be ADA-compliant, the property owner must make certain updates to eliminate accessibility barriers. Some examples include:

  • Installing ramps and elevators
  • Cutting curbs on sidewalks and driveways
  • Repositioning furnishings, vending machines, and telephones
  • Adding raised markings or braille on elevator buttons, light switches, and signs
  • Designating handicapped parking spaces
  • Installing grab bars and safety rails in bathrooms, hallways, closets, and staircases

By understanding guest needs, you can discover more ways to exceed these regulations. For example, repositioning water fountains, cup dispensers, and other features for easier accessibility can make a more comfortable stay for all of your guests.

Benefits of Offering Wheelchair-Accessible Vacation Rentals

Why make a vacation rental accessible? Beyond meeting basic legal requirements, there will be benefits for your short-term rental business. 

Take Advantage of an Untapped Market

Many U.S. states don’t offer handicapped-accessible short-term rentals at all. Even in states that have handicap-accessible rentals, the options are few and far between. One study found that only 1% of vacation rentals in the country offer accessible units. By improving your rental’s accessibility, you can take advantage of a starving market.

Reduce Customer Churn

When a guest stays with you and never returns, you have lost a customer and increased your business’s customer churn. As this occurs more frequently, your churn rate can increase and take away from any growth you obtain with new guests. 

Making your rental more accessible can provide a fully enjoyable experience for everyone, leading to more returning guests.

Boost Your Brand’s Reputation

Your disabled guests will remember these experiences long after they check out, and you can feel more confident in requesting reviews for your business. As more people read those reviews, they may feel eager to experience your hospitality for themselves. Since there are 42.5 million Americans with disabilities, this can lead to a significant boost for your brand’s reputation.

Some accessibility updates may help you earn insurance premium reductions. Safely offers the best insurance coverage for short-term rental properties in the industry. Contact us to learn more, and we’ll help you explore coverage options to ensure you get the most value for your insurance costs.

How to Make a Rental Accessible for Disabled Guests

Taking steps to make your rental as comfortable and accessible as possible can help you avoid common liability issues. This might mean addressing sensory disabilities by ensuring interior lighting is steady and as close to natural sunlight as possible. Dimming switches and anti-glare window coverings can also help. 

You will want to consider how to make a rental accessible for guests with mobility issues as well. This includes modifying toilets and showers for easier accessibility. A roll-in shower can prevent many issues. 

Keep appliances and furnishings low. You can improve maneuverability in your rental by limiting clutter and leaving plenty of space around furnishings. 

Other changes to consider include:

  • Replacing steps with ramps
  • Installing safety railings and grab bars
  • Eliminating rugs and carpets
  • Removing traditional doorknobs and installing door handles

Some guests may have impaired hearing. You can install vibrating light switches and doorbell buttons, as well as subscribe to close-caption services for the televisions in each rental. Avoid installing noisy appliances that can become a painful distraction for guests with sensitive hearing.

As you look for ways to make your rentals more accessible, keep in mind that your guests may have ideas. Read their reviews for suggestions, or ask them directly during check-out. This can help you improve the experience for future guests.

Market the Accessibility of Your Short-Term Rental

Potential guests may not know you offer wheelchair-accessible vacation rentals unless you make it clear in your marketing campaigns. Here’s how you can spread the word about your rental’s accessibility.

Boast About Your Features

If your rental doesn’t meet the requirements for wheelchair accessibility, avoid mentioning it in your advertising. Instead, rave about the accessibility features favored by guests that you do offer. Highlight features that you feel especially proud to provide.

Craft Detailed Descriptions

If your rental has a special feature, such as an indoor wheelchair lift, describe it in detail. Providing more detail will encourage guests who want to experience the convenience and comfort of the feature for themselves.

Update Your Listings

As you add new accessibility features, it will pay off to update your marketing ads and listings. Rewrite your marketing materials to include new accessibility features that you have recently added. Making updates should only take a few minutes, and you can enjoy long-term benefits in return.

Get Superior Coverage for Your Short-Term Rentals

Safely offers commercial insurance for vacation rental properties. We can help you protect your investment with a variety of insurance coverage options, including liability coverage. We also offer guest screening services to minimize your risks of loss. To get started, request a quote today!

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Amber is the Claims Leader at Safely and has been with the company for over four years. She manages a team of claims adjusters, working with company leadership to improve processes, maintain accurate documentation and educate team members across various departments on best practices. Before joining Safely, Amber worked as a GAP Adjuster Supervisor. Her early career includes serving as a customer service representative and unit manager at Assurant Specialty Properties as well as business operations manager at Farmers Insurance. Amber was born in Dayton, Ohio and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance.

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