How to Prevent & Handle Neighbor Complaints for Short-Term Rentals

Reservations are coming in left and right, guests are happy, and business is good…then a neighbor enlightens you on a string of unwanted disturbances in the community coming from your short-term rental guests, like excessive noise, smoking, or trash in your yard. What do you do? To start, let’s rewind and look at how you can prevent this sticky situation. Then, we’ll share what you can do to address any vacation rental neighbor complaints moving forward and how our full-service vacation rental management program can help.

Whether you have a cozy mountain cabin, a high-rise condo unit in the city, or a beachfront townhome, you’re going to have neighbors. You’ll need to cultivate positive community relationships with residents next door — because your vacation rental neighbors will have the greatest chance to interact with your guests directly. And if you want your guests to receive warm and inviting vibes upon arrival, getting to know your neighbors is a crucial step. 

Best way to start? Be a good neighbor.

Pause — Check the Rulebook

Before typing in the vacation rental calculator, unblocking the calendar, and opening your vacation rental for business, check with the Homeowners Association (HOA) for any limits or even bans on short-term rentals. It’s also important to expand your research to the locality and town hall to avoid any zoning issues and acquire a license if necessary. 

After all the paperwork, filing, and licensing are squared away, you’ll enjoy peace of mind knowing you have everything in order to legally start raking in reservations. Not to mention, these documents can aid in any court hearing should your business be unfairly scrutinized. 

Build Good Rapport from the Get-Go

Whether your vacation rental business is your main source of income or a side hustle, it’s important to be neighborly! Building solid relationships with your short-term rental neighbors and gaining neighborhood support is vital to preventing issues or complaints down the road. Plus, if all goes well, you’ll have a kind set of eyes to watch over your property and greet guests with a smile — a wonderful start to any getaway.Have you ever been on vacation and had to deal with nasty neighbors? It’s the worst! 

How to Start a Positive Relationship with Vacation Rental Neighbors

  1. Greet your neighbors in person; gifts are okay.
  2. Inform them of your plans to make your property a vacation rental and why it will be beneficial to the community.
  3. Detail what they can expect (check-in and checkout times, seasonal expectations, etc.).
  4. Show them your house rulebook in an effort to prevent issues.
  5. Address any concerns brought up and discuss possible solutions.
  6. Give them your contact information and establish clear lines of communication. 

Starting with a meet and greet can help alleviate worries your vacation rental neighbors may have. If they don’t know your home is a short-term rental, they may be genuinely concerned for your safety or wondering why their “neighbors” keep changing. By letting them know ahead of time, you’re saving them the headache of curiosity and confusion. 

Don’t want to give out personal information to your short-term vacation rental neighbors? Give them your owner representative’s phone number instead. With property management at Cabins for YOU, every call is handled with care so you can rest easy knowing any neighbor complaints are addressed promptly. 

Convincing Neighbors to Value Short-Term Rentals

What about neighbors who simply dislike my vacation rental business, even without noise complaints, irresponsible parties, or parking issues?With a proper start, you can show them why it’s beneficial for the neighborhood and local community. Come prepared with multiple examples and numbers if possible — explaining how short-term rentals can directly benefit the neighborhood and why it’s important to you. 

For example, vacation rental properties help pour money into the local economy instead of a corporate hotel chain. If you’re partnered with a management company, talk about the many partnerships with local businesses. At Cabins for YOU, we’re partnered with attractions in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg to offer your guests discounts while supporting the local area. Who knows? Your neighbors could be invested in local businesses that could use the boost in revenue!

Set House Rules for Your Guests

Renting out your vacation home means guests need to follow any neighborhood rules and respect residential areas. Consult your HOA rulebook while jotting down house rules — be sure to lay them out clearly and concisely. 

Things to Consider for House Rules

  • Noise ordinances / quiet hours
  • Parking restrictions
  • Guest limit at your property 
  • Pet restrictions 
  • Instructions for common areas (resort pools, gyms, tennis courts, etc.) 
  • Resort/community amenity rules (use times, guest limits, etc.)
  • Proper garbage disposal 

Trust us…guests appreciate knowing the boundaries, and neighbors appreciate YOU — the responsible and neighborly property owner — telling them! Give your property its best chance to succeed by setting reasonable expectations from the start.

4 Steps to Handle Short-Term Rental Complaints with Care

Despite your committed efforts, neighbor complaints about your vacation rental can’t always be prevented. Neighbors are often greatly impacted by your vacation rental business and are just as important as your guests! And sometimes, the best you can do as a short-term rental property homeowner is prevent issues or concerns from escalating. 

Once you receive a frustrated text, email, or call from unhappy neighbors, act as soon as possible. If your short-term rental neighbors start calling the police, filing official complaints with the HOA, or taking legal action with the local governance, things could get ugly fast…putting your vacation rental business in jeopardy.

1. Meet in Person

One thing’s for sure, talking in person is the best way to start a healing journey with your vacation rental neighbors. Let them know you are closely invested in the neighborhood’s best interest and appreciate them letting you know their concerns. Remember to express how sincere and sorry you are face to face. And make sure to listen and respond appropriately, giving them a chance to get everything out without interruption.

Honestly, your neighbors may just feel like they’re living among strangers, making them feel uncomfortable. Knowing there is someone (now a familiar face) overseeing the property and vetting guests before they arrive could be what they need to feel better about the situation. 

If you’re working with a vacation rental management company, now’s the perfect time for introductions. At Cabins for YOU, we can have boots on the ground at your Gatlinburg or Pigeon Forge cabins or condos in minutes if needed — often a great comfort for concerned vacation rental neighbors! But don’t take our word for it; see what our owner testimonials have to say about our services.

Before you end the meeting, be sure to swap contact info if you haven't already. With a person-to-person relationship, your neighbors will be more likely to come to you directly in the future, which is always a step up from starting with the local government or police…

2. Show Compliance with Regulations

So, you’ve reached a point where talking things out isn’t really working anymore. Maybe your vacation rental neighbors are complaining because they just don’t want you to rent out your home. It may be time to gently explain things from a legal standpoint — how and why your vacation rental business is approved by the local government and HOA. Some pro tips are below.

  • Have permits and paperwork ready.
  • Be informative, not pushy.
  • Show your compliance with all HOA rules and local laws. 
  • Express you’re happy to work on a solution to suit both sides (like age limits to avoid college parties).
  • Loop in the HOA or OTA platforms (like Airbnb or VRBO) if needed.
  • Prepare to show the steps you’re taking to remedy the situation with higher authorities.
  • Consider writing an email or letter with examples.
  • Keep a written record of every detail and complaint from the start for legal purposes.

Note: avoid getting blacklisted for repeat violations by staying on top of every complaint. Need assistance or someone to take over completely? Cabins for YOU can help!

3. Reassess House Rules & Check-in Times

Even if you chat face-to-face and prove your vacation rental business is in line with local regulations, it’s still helpful to reassess any house rules and/or check-in times to see if there’s something else you can do to help prevent recurring issues. Maybe it’s the late-night thumping base, loud voices on the decks, rolling suitcases at midnight, barking dogs, or limited parking that’s the root cause of your short-term rental neighbor’s frustration. Here are a few things to consider.

  • Reassess the number of guests allowed at your property.
  • Ban house parties/events.
  • Set age limits. (At Cabins for YOU, we recommend renters be at least 25 and present at the property for the duration of the stay.)
  • Add a noise clause; consider noise monitoring.
  • Add a no-smoking clause.
  • Set strict check-in and checkout times at reasonable hours.
  • Set a longer minimum night stay.
  • Reconsider making your rental pet-friendly.
  • Limit parking to your property.
  • Add appropriate penalty fees for breaking any house rules.
  • Check all language is clear.

4. Maintain Open & Honest Communication

To help minimize future complaints, consider closing the issue by letting your neighbors know you’re happy to keep the line of communication open and honest. Cultivating strong working relationships with your vacation property neighbors is critical to the success of your vacation rental business.

Be sure to follow up by checking in from time to time. If you can catch a complaint before it even comes to you, that’s a great step in the right direction! Preventative measures should always be your first priority. After all, having happy neighbors strongly contributes to retaining happy guests, fostering great guest reviews, and pushing future bookings.

Remedying Neighbor Complaints with Cabins for YOU

Don’t want the extra responsibility of managing neighbor complaints at your Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg cabins or condos? Let Cabins for YOU — a leader in vacation rental management — handle it for you. We have boots on the ground, a 24/7 call center, and personal owner representatives with your best interests at the forefront of everything they do. And those are just a few reasons why you should partner with Cabins for YOU.

With 20+ years of experience, we have had our fair share of vacation rental neighbor complaints and know how to mitigate, resolve, and prevent them. You can be involved as much as you like in the process to help maintain strong relationships with your vacation rental neighbors. Feel free to reach out whenever it’s convenient for you online or over the phone — at 1.800.684.7865.