The Goldilocks Syndrome: Dealing with the Fear of Renter Damage (Part 2)

In Part 1 of this post, we opened a discussion of how to minimize the possibility of renter damage, a hurdle that many second-home owners have trouble getting over when thinking about offering their properties as vacation rentals.

Part 1 focused on preventive measures: (1) Adopting the mindset that this is your second home and not your main nest, (2) Furnishing it appropriately for renters, and (3) Establishing an owners’ closet where you can store things that are fragile and not easily replaceable. This part focuses on personal, interactive measures.

So here we go, with Strategies 4 through 6 for dealing with the Goldilocks Syndrome:

4. Set a realistic maximum occupancy number and stick to it. Don’t get greedy, in other words. More people means more wear and tear. Luggage banging against walls. Cars jockeying for position in narrow driveways. Increased possibilities of spills and breakage. Some owners go so far as to establish a “No Parties Policy,” which they publicize in their online ads and rental agreements. This is especially important if your location is popular with college students on spring break.

5. Collect a refundable damage deposit or charge for “damage waiver” insurance. There are pros and cons to both options. Assuming you accept credit cards, we recommend putting through the damage deposit as a charge. You’ll pay a small transaction fee. That’s a downside, but your guests will know that you have their damage deposit in hand. This tends to focus their minds, because it means they have skin in the game before they set foot in your second home. If instead you charge them for buying a damage waiver insurance policy, they may feel like some people who use rental cars—any damage they cause is “covered,” so what the heck!

6. Pick up the phone and have a friendly conversation with all prospective guests. This may be the most important step of all. The goal is to establish a bond so that your guests see you as a real, live human being. This makes it personal. If you are using a management company, ask them to give you the names and arrival dates of each set of guests. Give them a call shortly after they arrive to share your enthusiasm for your vacation property and to make sure they have everything they need. Your renters will feel much more of an obligation to take good care of your property while they are in residence when they see you as a person and not as an anonymous owner.


So there you have it. Six strategies for dealing with and overcoming your fears of renter damage. Above all, remember that this is your second home. As such, offering it as a vacation rental is like adding another wage earner to your household. Don’t let the Goldilocks Syndrome deny you this extra income.

Happy Renting,

Alfred and Emily Glossbrenner


Alfred and Emily Glossbrenner are the authors of the book/CD package How to Make Your Vacation Property Work for You! and the founders of FullyBookedRentals (, a website focused on helping new and experienced VR owners advertise, market, manage, and make money from their second homes.