Out your couch?

Looks at the pros and cons of lodg­ing web­site Airbnb.com

CityPress - - Business -

and shared or com­mon ar­eas), this op­tion is not yet avail­able to South African home­own­ers.

How­ever, even if it was avail­able, the Airbnb web­site clearly states: “The Host Guar­an­tee is not in­sur­ance and should not be con­sid­ered as a re­place­ment or stand-in for home­own­ers’ or renters’ in­sur­ance.”

Firstly, you need to check with your in­surer that you are cov­ered. Chris­telle Fourie, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer at MUA In­sur­ance Ac­cep­tances, says not all in­sur­ance poli­cies are cre­ated equal and many ex­clu­sions might ap­ply when rent­ing out a prop­erty. Fourie points out that not only is there the risk of fi­nan­cial loss faced by home­own­ers if prop­erty is dam­aged or stolen, there are sig­nif­i­cant li­a­bil­ity is­sues if a guest is in­jured on the prop­erty and the owner is proven to be at fault for fail­ing to se­cure the prop­erty.

Fourie says, in most cases, as long as the home­owner is still the main oc­cu­pant of the home, and only rents the prop­erty out on an ad hoc ba­sis, the li­a­bil­ity cover in the home­owner’s pol­icy should pay out for a claim. How­ever, if the home is mainly be­ing rented out to guests, the in­sur­ance provider will per­ceive this as a com­mer­cial risk and re­quire a com­mer­cial prop­erty in­sur­ance pol­icy to be taken out. When it’s time to claim, the in­sur­ance pol­icy is un­likely to pay out if the ap­pro­pri­ate cover was not taken out.

Another ma­jor prob­lem for home­own­ers rent­ing out their prop­erty is that most home­own­ers’ in­sur­ance poli­cies will re­quire vis­i­ble and forcible en­try to pay out for any theft while guests are rent­ing the home.

Fourie ad­vises hav­ing a writ­ten and signed agree­ment with the lessee so they are made aware that they will be held li­able for any stolen or dam­aged items if there are no signs of forced en­try. Some poli­cies of­fer cover for the per­sonal be­long­ings of guests, which is a good idea as the home­owner does not want to be held li­able for stolen or dam­aged be­long­ings in the event of a bur­glary or a dis­as­ter like a fire.

She says another im­por­tant con­sid­er­a­tion for own­ers is to look at the alarm war­ranty of the in­sur­ance pol­icy if for­eign guests are rent­ing the home.

“Of­ten, for­eign­ers do not un­der­stand risks in South Africa and might not set the alarm, even when in­structed to do so. If there is a claim and it is dis­cov­ered that the alarm was not set, the in­sur­ance pol­icy won’t pay out un­less there is a spe­cial ar­range­ment with the in­sur­ance provider.

“You can easily con­tact your bro­ker and specif­i­cally ask to waive the alarm war­ranty.”

Fourie rec­om­mends pre­par­ing a de­tailed dig­i­tal “welcome pack”, which is emailed to guests be­fore they ar­rive at the prop­erty.

“This pack can in­clude in­for­ma­tion such as di­rec­tions to the prop­erty, se­cu­rity tips, key emer­gency con­tacts, how the alarm works and the im­por­tance of set­ting the alarm.

“It is also a nice ges­ture to rec­om­mend some lo­cal at­trac­tions and restau­rants,” she says.

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