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Can you manage my accommodation on a handshake?

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An Owner Pieter recommended Sandra and husband John. Around the dining table, they heard about the slug of money Pieter got renting his home over peak. 

The one couple got easy money over Christmas and the others wanted to be part of the rainbow. 

Sandra showed us their upmarket apartment close to the beach. It was not guest ready yet. But we assisted in staging the accommodation and the photos were really great. This is going to be a winner. 

We sent them the T&Cs to read, discuss, agree, sign and send back. 

Nothing. Eventually, we got an email;

We know Peter who has a property that you have rented over the high season period. We are comfortable with a similar arrangement with our property. 

Long story short; the: similar arrangement was based on a handshake. Although low incidence, renting out accommodation has various risks. And things had to change. Easy verbal arrangements are great and easy but…. 

Various parties with different expectations make it difficult to just shake hands on hope for the best:

  1. The owner has risks, fears, and needs. 
  2. Guests have high expectations. 
  3. The management agent must address the issues of the owner and guests. 
  4. The provider Airbnb, Booking.com or other third-party agents has its own set of rules. 
  5. And where there is money the one holding it is controlling the roost. 

The rare incidents can be severe. Let me explain:

Since starting out Cape Town Management Agency during 2009 we only had three cancellations due to extenuating circumstances. All during 2019. An insignificant issue as measured in incidence and 4% in value. 

The three owners feeling the burn and are now out of pocket. These cancellations occur last minute. And in most cases, guests book at least two months in advance. Meaning; we will not get another booking. 

Two of the affected owners, we paid a substantial amount, said they were not aware we market their home on Airbnb and did not realise the risk.

One owner asked us to share the risks in more detail. Obviously, this is one example of many. 

An agreement has various purposes:

  • It draws the lines within which the guest, owner, and agent plays the game. 
  • It sets out and explains expectations for parties. It shares timelines, responsibilities, and duties. 
  • It explains the risks in no uncertain terms. And owners have the right to know. 
  • It keeps all involved as honest as is possible. 
  • It indicates to us that we have the right to represent the owner and the owner is committed. 
  • In exchange for generating an income, for the committed owner, we brand the owner’s home with the trustworthiness we established over many years. These include being SuperHosts and having nearly a thousand 4.9 out of 5 Star reviews. And we cannot risk losing these with owners who say, “Sorry, we shook hands and you did not tell me about that!” 
  • Money complicates things. Example: we get paid by Airbnb, we paid the owner; what happens when there’s a refund or cancellation? Airbnb immediately takes the money from us. Now we need to recover the money from the owner. This can become a mess when based on a cordial handshake. 

Our Terms and conditions are general. It may not cover all your specific needs. Certain clauses are negotiable others not. We can add, and adapt some. 

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