How to Detect Cigarette Smoke in Vacation Rentals: A Guide for Property Managers
Want to protect the value of your vacation rental? Read our guide on how to detect cigarette smoke and prevent guests from causing property damage.
October 17, 2023
It doesn’t matter how clearly you state it in your house rules: Guests may end up smoking in your short-term rental property, and by the time you find out, it’s too late. A lasting smell, burn marks on the couch, and yellowing walls mean costly deep cleans and unprofitable downtime.
You can try your hardest to vet potential guests and only accept reservations from nonsmokers, but there’s no way you can be entirely sure your unit is safe from the damage of cigarette smoke—unless you use a specialized cigarette smoke detection sensor.
In this blog post, we cover the following topics to help you prevent guests from smoking in your property:
Why you need to keep your short-term rental smoke-free
How to tell if someone has been smoking in your unit
How to prevent guests from smoking in your property
How to detect cigarette smoke with Minut
Why you need to keep your short-term rental smoke-free
There are a number of reasons you want to prevent guests from smoking in your short-term rental. Here are a few:
Maintain property value: Smoking damages an indoor environment by leaving a long-lasting smell, as well as yellow stains on ceilings and walls. Cigarette smoke can also damage the items inside your unit, like furniture and linens.
Lower repair costs: When you don’t have to repaint your walls because of smoke stains or fix a wooden table because there’s a burn mark on it, you can keep maintenance and repair costs to a minimum.
Reduce downtime: A deep clean to remove the smell of smoke isn’t just costly—it can also mean taking your unit off the market for a few days, meaning longer downtime between guests and a loss of revenue.
Minimize fire risk: A guest leaving hot ashes on a paper towel or a cigarette bud on dry grass could spark a flame, resulting in some damage to your property or, in the worst-case scenario, a major fire hazard.
Keep guests and neighbors happy: If your unit is located in an apartment building or multi-family home, second-hand smoke exposure can bother neighbors and guests (plus pose multiple health risks), which is another reason why it’s so important to prevent it.
“People…recently smoked cigarettes and weed inside our carpeted home. We not only needed to replace the brand new carpet and bedding, but our cleaners spent almost 2 days there cleaning. We have a lot of bookings and a lot of short turnarounds and we can’t afford to have someone complain after the last people smoked.”
How to tell someone has been smoking in your vacation rental
Sometimes it’s obvious someone has been smoking in your unit, while other times the signs are more subtle. But even if a guest doesn’t leave clear evidence of having smoked in your property, the effects are nonetheless harmful—if every guest were to do the same, you’d end up with a persistent smell in your unit and yellowing walls and ceilings.
Here’s how to detect indoor smoking in your vacation rentals:
Know what to look out for: When inspecting for evidence of smoking, keep an eye out for the obvious signs, like cigarette buds, ashtrays, burn marks, and smoke residue on the walls and ceilings. Also be attentive to the lasting smell of cigarette smoke, plus attempts to cover it up with candles or air fresheners.
Run regular inspections and maintenance: If you don’t inspect your unit frequently, you won’t know which guests (or how many) have been the culprits of smoking in your property. Even if you can’t personally make it to your properties after each check-out, have cleaners pay close attention to evidence of smoking during their turnovers.
Use a specialized cigarette smoke detector: The most reliable way to tell if someone has been smoking in your vacation rental is by using a specialized cigarette smoke detector that alerts you in real time if guests are smoking. We’ll explain more about how these work later.
How to prevent guests from smoking in your properties
Simply stating you have a no-smoking policy in your listing isn’t enough to protect your vacation rentals and business from the lasting effects of cigarette smoke. Here are some proactive strategies you can implement to minimize the risk of having guests smoke in your units.
Research potential guests before accepting a reservation
Being proactive about choosing non-smokers is the best way to prevent guests from smoking at your properties. So when a guest makes a reservation request, be sure to look at the reviews other hosts have left them and see if there is any mention of smoking incidents.
If you’re particularly worried, you can even send potential guests a message reminding them you have a no-smoking policy and asking if that will be an issue for them.
Educate guests about no-smoking policies
A mention of your no-smoking policy in your listing is a start, but be sure to educate your guests about your rules and guidelines after they book. You can do this by including your no-smoking policy in your house rules and sharing it with guests before they check in.
Additionally, you can send guests a pre-stay message that serves as a friendly reminder of the most important guidelines they should follow during their stay, including the fact that smoking in your unit is prohibited. Plus, be sure to include clear signage at your property that smoking indoors is prohibited.
Offer outdoor smoking areas
If you rent to smokers, even if they claim they don’t smoke, they’re going to find a place to light up. So while you can discourage smoking at your property, and even enforce penalties like fines and additional cleaning fees for guests who smoke inside, it’s not a bad idea to provide an outdoor smoking area.
This doesn’t have to be a big investment—simply provide a small table and some chairs, as well as an ashtray and trash can. That way, you give guests who do smoke a designated place to do it, and they’ll be less inclined to break your house rules and smoke indoors.
Invest in smoke detection technology
While the three previous strategies can play a big role in preventing smoking at your short-term rentals, they can’t guarantee guests will abide by your rules and not smoke in your units. That’s why you need to have solutions in place that alert you to smoking incidents.
Cigarette smoke detection technology alerts you if a guest is smoking in your unit, helping you address the issue in real-time. Here’s how Minut’s smart home technology for vacation rentals does just that.
How Minut helps you stop guests from smoking in your vacation rental units in 4 easy steps
Using a specialized device like the Minut sensor is the best way to be certain guests are smoking in your unit and address the problem as soon as it happens. You can do so by following these four simple steps.
1. Inform your guests you’re using a smoke detection sensor
Airbnb requires you to disclose the use of certain devices, like noise monitors, in your listing. We suggest you inform guests you’re using a cigarette smoke detection sensor in your unit for the sake of transparency.
Here’s an example of what you could say in your listing:
“This home is equipped with a privacy-safe device that monitors the environment inside the property (including noise levels, temperature, motion, and cigarette smoke) to ensure guests have a pleasant stay and our neighbors are not disturbed."
Be sure to clearly explain that this is different from a traditional fire smoke and CO detection device. Not only will potential guests appreciate your honesty, but knowing there’s a device in your unit that will detect cigarette smoke deters smokers from booking with you.
Also, as per our example text, underline that the device respects guest privacy and is just in place as a safeguard for the property. See our guest welcome letter to get some inspiration on how to best explain your Minut device to guests.
2. Install the Minut Gen 3 sensor at your property
Installing the Minut Gen 3 sensor takes just a few minutes. We outline the steps in detail in this help article, but here’s a quick breakdown of what you need to do:
Open the Minut mobile app and press Homes at the bottom of the screen. Choose the home you wish to install the sensor in.
Click on Sensors & Graphs
Click on the + sign and add the sensor to the existing home. Follow the instructions on the screen.
Select your Sensor (Minut Gen 3)
Turn on your sensor (make sure your Minut is glowing purple) and click Start Installation.
Join WIFI Network Point Configuration
Connect to your Minut to the WiFi
Select Location mode (in this case, Indoors)
All done! Just place your sensor on the magnetic plate.
At this point, you can configure your noise threshold, as well as cigarette detection, which takes us to our next step.
3. Enable real-time cigarette detection in your Minut app
To ensure your Minut sensor is detecting cigarette smoke in your unit, you need to enable the feature within the Minut app. You’ll have to turn cigarette detection on, and the sensor will enter a calibration mode.
Once the calibration period is over, your sensor will start detecting cigarette smoke. Easy as that! Be sure to switch on push notifications and email alerts so you’re automatically notified when cigarette smoke is detected in your home.
The best part is you don’t have to worry about any false alarms. The Minut sensor’s Cigarette detection feature, which has been developed using machine learning AI technology, is trained to detect the difference between smoke from burnt toast and smoke from a cigarette. That way, you know that every time you get an alert it’s because a real smoking event is taking place.
4. Monitor your notifications and track smoking events
As we mentioned, Minut notifies you when the sensor detects cigarette smoke within your property. So be sure to monitor your notifications so you can reach out to your guests if you get a smoking activity alert. That means you can address the issue quickly and minimize any risk.
Additionally, Minut keeps historical logs of all smoking data. Therefore, you’re covered in the case of a dispute with a guest who claims they weren’t smoking and doesn’t want to pay your additional cleaning fee.
You can access your log of smoking events within the Minut dashboard, meaning you can also track which guests you had problems with in the past so you can be sure not to rent to them again in the future.
Protect your property’s value and put an end to smoking in your short-term rentals
What was supposed to be an easy long weekend rental to a nice couple could end up with you having to pay for extra deep cleans and buy an ozone generator to remove the lasting smell of cigarette smoke. For property owners and managers, the risk of guests smoking in your units is an ongoing source of stress.
However, with proactive steps to prevent guests from smoking and measures to detect it when it happens, you can minimize this risk and start hosting with confidence. That’s why you need a specialized cigarette smoke detection device.
Minut is the best cigarette smoke detection device on the market because it gives you real-time alerts about smoking events, as well as a log of past incidents. It won’t confuse burnt popcorn for a guest smoking, so that means you never have to worry about false alarms either.
Best of all, Minut is a robust solution, offering a suite of features to protect your property, like noise monitoring, occupancy monitoring, motion detection, and a home alarm. By using Minut, you’ll have visibility across your portfolio and peace of mind, knowing your properties are well protected.
Frequently asked questions about how to detect cigarette smoke in a vacation rental
How can I tell if someone smoked in my vacation rental?
Some of the telltale signs of someone smoking in your vacation rental are the smell and visual evidence, including cigarette buds, ashtrays, and smoke stains on the walls and ceilings. But the only guaranteed way to prove someone smoked in your unit is by using a specialized cigarette smoke detector like the Minut sensor.
What are the best smoke detectors for vacation rentals?
While there are a few cigarette smoke detectors for vacation rentals on the market, the best, most comprehensive solution is the Minut sensor. The Minut sensor can detect cigarette smoke, will alert you if someone is smoking in your unit, and keeps a record of all your smoking incidents.
Additionally, Minut comes with other features that help you protect your vacation rental, like noise monitoring, occupancy monitoring, and a security alarm.
Are there any legal restrictions on smoking in vacation rentals?
There are no legal restrictions on smoking in vacation rentals. However, as a property manager or host, you have the right to set smoking restrictions for your properties and monitor smoking activity using a device like the Minut sensor. That way, you can prove when guests have been smoking, and take action to protect your STR business.