The vacation rental industry has gone into overdrive in recent years reaching $100 billion in value. More and more people are turning away from hotels and towards home rentals for their vacations.
If you are thinking about entering this industry with your own vacation rental, there are a few things you need to do to prepare. One of the most important things you need is a vacation rental agreement.
This agreement will protect both you and your guests. Not sure how to get started? Keep reading for a complete guide to creating your rental agreement.
Why Do You Need an Agreement?
This agreement is between you the renter and any guests that decide to stay. It is a written document that clarifies the agreement made between the two of you.
This is the perfect place to have a complete list of the rules of the rental. You can also let guests know what the consequences are for violating these rules.
If guests choose not to follow the rules you have outlined, you can use the agreement to pursue legal compensation. You now have written evidence that your guests were aware of both the rules and the consequences.
Seek Legal Advice
A vacation rental agreement is a legally binding contract. Before you start writing up your agreement you need to speak with a knowledgeable attorney.
They can advise you on what is legal and not legal to include in your agreement. They can also help you put your desired terms into enforceable legal terms.
Who Is Making the Agreement?
A standard requirement for any legally binding contract is to include who is making the agreement. This means you need to include information for yourself and the guests renting the home.
Include both parties’ names, address, and phone number. If you want to be thorough, you could also include the names of all of the guests staying in the rental.
This is also an excellent place to include what the maximum occupancy of the home is. Be sure to define how many adults and how many children can stay. This clause is what will save you if your guests decide to throw a wild party with a lot of guests.
What Are You Renting?
You need to define what is included in your vacation rental. Start by adding the address and a short description of the property. Think about whether or not a pool, backyard, or other buildings are also included.
If there are areas of the property that are not included, then this is the time to list those. Clearly define the areas that are off-limits to guests.
Don’t stop with the description of the property. Include any amenities that come with the rental.
List out the towels and linens that you will provide. Create another list of the contents of the kitchen. If there are outdoor amenities such as bicycles or kayaks, include those too.
Many cities and states have specific rules and regulations when it comes to rentals. Be sure to review these with your attorney so that you know you are allowed to rent your property out as a vacation rental.
When Are You Renting?
Start by defining the dates that the guests have use of the rental. This means defining the arrival date and departure date.
Next, specify the arrival and departure times on their requisite days. If you charge for early check-in or late check out this is a crucial thing to include in this section. These additional fees will make the extra hustle worth it when you are booked back to back.
This is also a good place to define the procedure for checking in and out. Some vacation rentals use an in-person key handover method.
This is good if you want to have a personal touch. It also gives you a chance to see the guests and ensure they adhere to the occupancy limit.
Other rentals opt for an automated check-in system. All you need to do is give a code, and this provides access to the rental.
Grounds for Removal
No one ever wants to think about this part of the contract. After all, who wants to think about the potential damage guests can do to a vacation rental.
However, if you happen to have the dreaded nightmare guest, this section will save you from further damage and destruction to your rental. It gives you the power to have your guests forcibly removed.
In this section use plain language to describe what is not allowed. Then use simple terms to describe what will happen if guests ignore the rules.
Here are some common things vacation rental property owners have rules about
- No smoking
- No pets
- No parties
- Parking regulations
- Trash rules
- Recycling rules
Your consequences could be that the guests forfeit their deposit. You could impose an additional fee. For extreme rule violations, you can enforce immediate removal from the property.
Typically owners impose extra fees to cover cleaning costs if guests smoke or have pets. For things like parties or too many guests owners will want to enforce immediate removal.
This is one of the most essential elements of your agreement. You need to include how much the rental is for.
Include the rental costs, deposits, and cleaning fees that are required. This is also an excellent place to include any optional amenities that are provided for an additional charge.
Other Optional Items
There are some things that you don’t necessarily have to have in your agreement. Experienced renters will tell you that they are smart to have to avoid frustration on your part.
Cancellations and Scams
One of the most frustrating parts of managing a vacation rental is thinking you have your month booked, and then get a string of last minute cancellations. Now you’re scrambling to fill these last minute vacancies or risk your income disappearing before your eyes.
This section and its consequences will help deter unsavory renters from securing your rental. It also protects you when your rental is booked under false pretenses.
This section gives you the power to hold last-minute cancellations liable for their agreement. It also gives you the ability to last minute cancel on guests who turn out to be not what they represented upon arrival.
Maintenance and Cleanliness
There should be two parts to this section. The first will define the standard with which your guests can expect to find the vacation rental.
It will describe your duties as the renter. How will you prepare the rental for your guest’s arrival?
The second part of this section outlines your expectations for your guests. Define how you expect them to leave the rental. Many property renters will have guests put towels and sheets in the laundry before departure.
Try to be fair with your requirements. Remember, your guests are there to be on vacation. The last thing they want to do is clean your home.
This is also a good please to include procedures in the event that something should break. Do you want your guests to call you or a maintenance service?
You will also need to include how quickly guests can expect broken items to be repaired. If they are vital things like plumbing or electrical, you will probably need to comply with the municipal code.
This one may seem like a strange one, but you don’t want guests to refuse you access should there be an emergency. If you don’t include this clause, they will have every right to.
By having this clause, you can settle access disputes quickly at the moment and get to addressing the emergency. It is best to include that you will give guests 24 hours’ notice before entering the property.
Property Specific Rules and Requirements
The interesting thing about real estate is that no two homes are exactly alike. Because of this, your rental may have some weird quirks or characteristics.
You need to include these in the rental agreement, so there are no nasty surprises for your guests later on. This could be neighborhood specific rules about street parking. Or maybe the rental is a condo with assigned parking spots.
Your property could be not child-friendly or suitable for wheelchair users. Maybe the backyard floods during certain times of the year making it unusable as a part of the rental.
Fix Your Vacation Rental Agreement
Having an airtight vacation rental agreement is crucial to avoiding many of the pitfalls of renting. Make sure your rental agreement is well organized and transparent as to the terms.
This will ensure that everyone is on the same page. It will also give you recourse should your guests not follow your requested guidelines.