In 2010, Dwell Safe® Founder and President Justin Ford received a call from a renter at one of the vacation rental dwellings he managed with the rental agency he formerly owned, On the Water in Maine Inc. based in Rockport, Maine. The renter called to report that a member of the rental party had been severely injured. Apparently, a guest had flopped into a hammock suspended from a rusty old hammock stand. The “S”-hook at the top of the stand popped right through the rusted out steel at the top of the stand and suddenly became a projectile. Hitting the guest directly in the forehead at a very high speed, the “S”-hook fractured her skull and caused permanent damage.
In the role as the rental agent of the rental property, Justin called the property owner, who also self-managed the home, to report the incident. Upon learning of the horrible accident, the property owner asked Justin, “What are you going to do about this? This is your fault - you put the hammock out.”
Indeed, because the property owner had neglected to set his house up for the summer rental season, Justin had taken the outside furniture from the porch. He had also arranged and put the hammock in place to use for the season. But how was this his fault? It wasn’t Justin’s hammock. Who is responsible for safety of renters in rental properties?
Over the next couple years, Justin came to realize, as he prepared other rental properties for the Maine summer rental season, that he, indeed, was responsible for ensuring the safety of his renters. In many cases, the property owners just own the rental dwellings - many never even use them for themselves. If the owner wasn’t going to check the hammock periodically and the rental agent wasn’t going to test it, while the guest was fully trusting that because the hammock was out and set up, it must be safe, a large trust issue existed. That is when Justin realized how important safety is for everyone involved with every aspect of renting a vacation home.
In 2014, Justin participated along with the Vacation Rental Professionals of Maine, of which he was a founding board member, to address safety concerns related to vacation rentals in Maine. From that grew an educational initiative to share with vacation rental managers around the United States. By 2016, Justin was a regular speaker on vacation rental safety at Vacation Rental Management Association (VRMA) and VRMIntel Conferences around the country. He also started writing for the professional vacation rental industry trade magazine, VRMIntel on safety.
Justin started his career in safety as a Boarding Officer in the US Coast Guard, mainly enforcing boating and fishery laws. Following that, he grew through the ranks of the Rockport, Maine Fire Department where his last role was as the Training Officer.
In 2016, Justin established a unique presence in the vacation rental industry as the only one advocating for safety in vacation rentals, thus leading him into the role of the National Expert on Vacation Rental Safety. He soon created a Facebook Page for Vacation Rental Safety where he shares some of the horrific news stories about injury and deaths in the vacation rental industry.
Dwell Safe ® is the result of Justin’s 20 plus years in rental management and safety work.
Here is a video of Justin Ford, Dwell Safe® Founder and President, being interviewed by Durk Johnson of the Vacation Rental Housekeeping Professionals…