Recently I had a potential guest ask me about our security deposit. They wanted to have me lower it or they wanted me to accept the Homeaway / VRBO Security Deposit Insurance in lieu of the deposit.

Summary

We collect a security deposit of $3,000 by check or wire transfer however you are free to purchase additional insurance to insure your deposit’s return.

I did research on a $49 security deposit insurance option. Basically this is a policy that will protect you against inadvertent damage. If you actually cause malicious damage or do something not allowed in the lease then the policy does not work. I have listed the exceptions found in one of the policies below. With that said you can still purchase this type of insurance to protect your deposit and maybe also protect the expense of the trip (trip cancellation insurance.)

From my point of view I like to have the guest be responsible for their guests and watchful over the property as if it were their own. The only way to do that is with your deposit being held by me. If you have insurance instead of your own money at risk then there is the moral hazard that you might not be as careful with the house.  If I am going to entrust this historic house full of antiques to you then I must have a deposit of some significance. $3,000 may seem like a lot but it is just 0.0005 of the value of the home.
Here is some history on my return of deposits just to give you an idea of how I have handled it in the past.

In 2016 I returned deposits to tenants who had no damages in as little as 3 days. A lot has to do with getting reports from my manager and cleaner. They are not always as fast as they should be. I try to get them back in 30 days. For guests that have no damage (13 of 16 rentals), they got their deposit back in an average of 10 days.

Where there was damage it often took time to complete the repairs and get the bills from the repair men. In those cases I communicated to the guest exactly what the damages were and included photographs, I gave the guest a chance to respond, and then returned the agreed upon balance within 25 and 55 days. I did 16 rentals in 2016 and 3 of them had deductions for damages. Seeing as we handle wedding parties and large families with kids I thought that was pretty good.

I am happy to provide references. I also think that our reviews speak for themselves.

Reviews and Comments

Two examples of websites providing insurance

VACATION RENTAL DAMAGE COVERAGE – INSURANCE EXCLUSIONS

(I thought you might like to see the typical exclusions written into the insurance.)
If you occupy an Accommodation and you damage the real or personal property assigned to that Accommodation during the Trip, we will reimburse you the lesser of the cost of repairs or the cost to replace the property, up to the amount shown in the Schedule.
Coverage is provided to you and all travelers under the Accommodation reservation during the Trip provided you are listed on the lease agreement. Coverage is not provided for loss due to:
a. inclement weather or natural disaster;
b. your intentional acts or gross negligence;
c. normal wear and tear of the real or personal property assigned to the Accommodation;
d. any damage that occurs if you are in violation of the lease agreement;
e. loss, theft or damage to any personal effects owned by you or brought on the covered Trip by you;
f. loss, theft or damage caused by any person other than you or your traveling companions with whom you share the Accommodation reservation unless substantiated by a police report.

CONCLUSION

We have been renting since 2008. Each year we do about 20 rentals. Early on we charged $1,000 but were advised to increase that to $10,000 but I thought that a bit much. We settled on $3,000 in 2011 where we have been ever since.

In that time we have only had one group complain about it but I won them over. Generally people realize that it is worth it and that I treat them fairly. My only desire is to make sure the house can be put back into the same condition it was before the rental started, wear and tear accepted.

Let us know if you have any other questions about our security deposit policies.