When millions of visitors descend on the area for Pope Francis' visit next month, many homeowners will use the opportunity to become temporary landlords.

Pope Francis (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

With the rise of sites, such as Airbnb, renting homes out for major events has become easier. It is expected to be a popular method lodging during Pope Francis' visit to Philadelphia and New York.

"It is going to be a popular trend because we are going to have millions descend on our tri-state area," said Tracy Noble, spokesperson AAA Mid-Atlantic. "We want homeowners to be as prepared as possible for strangers in their houses."

AAA is urging homeowners to take certain precautions and steps to protect themselves, their homes and their assets.

"You should take an inventory of the items in your home, take picture, take video," she said.

Before you hand over the keys, full-service insurance agency AAA recommends:

  • Inventory items in your home. Take pictures of anything inside and outside your home that renters will have access to, or that could become damaged as a result of negligence. This includes items in closets, cabinets, attics, basements as well as sheds, fences and outside doors and windows. Review the photos and video after your renters leave too.
  • Lock up or remove valuables from the home.
  • Find out what type of policy you have. Some policies only provide coverage on losses incurred to your property from hazards or events named on that policy.
  • If your homeowner's policy does NOT cover short-term renters, ask if an endorsement can be added to provide coverage. Many companies offer them and they may be available on a weekly or monthly basis.
  • Note in the short-term lease that the renter will be responsible for all property damage including theft. It's also crucial to get proof of the renter's home, auto and if they have it, umbrella insurance. It's best to get this well in advance of the rental date.
  • Specify your feelings about smoking and having pets inside the home.
  • Getting a security deposit is always a good idea to help minimize financial loss to you. Consider the minimum amount being enough to cover your deductible.
  • Make sure you have enough liability coverage to include any incidents. You want to have at least $500,000 in coverage, although $1 million is better, or an umbrella policy. This will cover personal injury, accidents and property damage that exceed what is covered by your regular policy.
  • Make sure to put your mail on hold while you're away.
  • When you move back into your home, change the locks and get new keys made.

Noble said it may seem extreme to change the locks, but it is better to be safe than sorry.

"You never know if people have made copies of your keys while you were away," Noble said.

Noble again stressed the importance of having the proper insurance to cover potential  liabilities. She also said its vital to set specific ground rules and have renters sign the short-term lease.

"So that they are responsible for any damage that happens while they are in residence in your home."

Additional Coverage from WPG Talk Radio 1450: