In short-term property management, it's critical to ensure that all the i's are dotted and the t's are crossed before bookings roll in. This includes a clear outline of your policies and expectations in the form of a vacation rental agreement.
A vacation rental agreement is a contract between the property owner or manager and the renter, similar to a lease agreement in a more residential rental situation.
Your vacation rental agreement should clearly detail the terms and conditions of the tenant’s occupancy, including what is and is not acceptable in your property. Lay out the "house rules" you expect your guests to abide by, as well as any repercussions if these rules are broken. Every guest you accommodate should be required to complete and sign your rental agreement prior to the start of their stay.
Within channels, you should mention a rental agreement in your listing description or in your house rules so you don’t catch them off guard.
In general, a standard vacation rental agreement should include:
Property details, name of tenant(s) and occupancy dates
Physical location and main attributes of the rental property (such as bedroom/bathroom count, and amenities like pool, hot tub, etc.) as well as name and contact information for the home owner/representative or property manager. The names of rental occupants and designated length of stay per booking are necessary as well.
Check-in and check-out policies and procedures
Instruction on how to gain access to the property upon arrival and how to secure the property upon departure, including check-in and check-out times.
Outline your policies on early arrivals or late check-outs. Will you allow them? Under what terms, and with what fees if any?
Most places will have laws in place regarding rental occupancy. Detail the "beds to heads" regulations appropriate to your area.
This is a generalized area to advise guests of local ordinances, HOA regulations, etc. as they apply to your location, as well as any additional rules and expectations to keep your neighbors, your home, and your property secure and peaceful.
Rental rates and payment terms
Itemize the breakdown in costs that your guest has agreed to pay: nightly rate, applicable taxes or booking fees, and base cleaning fees, as well as the available options for payment methods and due dates.
Insurance and liability terms
Do you require a security deposit at the time of booking? Perhaps you require that tenants have their own insurance? Or would you prefer they pay a damage waiver in advance? This is the section to hash out the details of who is responsible for damages, breakage or injury to the renter and their guests.
Additional fees and optional services
Outline any available add-ons or additional services that guests can request for an extra charge. This may include pool heating, mid-stay cleaning, grocery delivery, BBQ grill, crib rentals and more.
Detail your standards to set guest expectations at arrival, and advise guests of the tasks you expect them to perform prior to check-out, like bagging garbage and taking it to the curb or gathering linens in a central location.
Advise guests as to proper procedures to report a maintenance issue, as well as the expectations they can have for a swift and complete repair. Include any responsible use standards the guest should consider in their use of the property and its amenities.
Under what circumstances may you need to enter the unit while occupied? Even if you will only attempt access with guest presence and approval, make that known. You may need to gain access abruptly in the case of broken plumbing, for example. While this may be common sense, it needs to be clearly stated in this section.
Cancellation policies and falsified bookings protection
To protect the homeowner, this section allows for the immediate eviction of tenants who book under false pretenses without penalty of repayment to the guest (i.e. booking under a false name, underage renter, over-capacity travel party). Detail any cancellation policies you have in place including timelines and fees associated as well as the circumstances in which a renter may cancel their booking without penalty.