I had an interesting discussion with a neighbor of a local vacation rental property recently regarding guest intrusion. Rather than complaining about noise, or overcrowding, or straying pets, he had what seemed to be a strange request. He wanted to know how he should approach a problem he experienced each summer – the knotty issue of over-friendly guests. What he wanted the owner to do was to speak to the incoming guests and explain that he lived in his property year-round, was retired, but he and his wife were not in constant holiday-mode and ready, or willing, to be entertained each week. In short he did not want to ‘make friends’ with a continuous flow of neighboring rental guests offering invitations for drinks or even a barbecue.
This was an unusual dilemma but I could easily see how the weekly arrival of yet another round of happy vacationers, eager to become locals for their short stay, could begin to become wearing after a while. The neighbor said that each week, at some point, the property guests would say hello over the garden fence or call to them as they sat on the deck having coffee. They would ask questions about where the nearest beach or dog walk was, how to get to the Farmer’s Market or even look for information on events in the area. The neighbor started to feel like an unpaid tour guide but did not want to be seen as aloof or unfriendly. He and his wife began to take their coffee indoors and only spend time on their deck or in their garden when the guests had gone out, until they realized this was not an answer to the guest intrusion problem.
I’ve stayed in vacation rentals in areas that have permanent residents as well as holiday homes, where the owner has given some pointers on respecting neighbors’ privacy and offered some guidelines on being a guest in the community as well as the property. In those situations we were gently advised in the Welcome Book that if we needed information on the area that was not provided in the copious tourist information, to call them and not seek answers from neighbors in the first instance.
As an owner myself, I accept a responsibility for protecting my close neighbors from any unwelcome intrusion by my guests whether it be from noise and disruption or from well-meaning overtures. Taking the time to talk to them and find out their expectations and concerns about your rental intentions is worthwhile and can create better relationships. Maybe they will enjoy the connection with visitors and welcome the diversion they bring, but if they don’t, finding out their views can be very helpful in addressing a potential situation.
This isn’t about telling guests not to be friendly to the neighbors – it’s simply about understanding the nature of a community and respecting that not everyone is on vacation at the same time they are. Addressing potential guest intrusion today, could save you headaches down the road.