The moment you press “publish my website” you open your page up to exciting possibilities, potential guests, and bookings. It’s nice to think that all your website traffic will treat your page kindly and with the intended purpose, but unfortunately, that’s not always the case. The internet is littered with spam, bugs, fraud, and hackers. To prevent your website from being abused or misused, you’ll need to outline vacation rental terms and conditions for your page.
However, many of us aren’t legal experts, and those who are don’t particularly want to invest extra time in writing the terms and conditions for their vacation rental website. That’s where we come in. We’ve got the template you’ll need for your website so you can carry out all your online business activity without added stress.
Why do you need terms and conditions for your vacation rental website?
Prevent abuse of your site
Probably the most important reason for implementing terms and conditions would be preventing misuse. Where money is involved, there’s normally also foul play. As bad as it is to think, there are people (or competitors) who’d like to see your business fail. There are users that will willfully impersonate other users, send illegitimate booking requests, or try to hack your reservations calendar, just to name a few scary situations. When you clearly detail what online behavior is and isn’t tolerated you prevent others from misusing your site.
Abuse of your site could prevent legitimate users from making a booking or getting in contact with you. Even if it just seems like some of these website abuses or peskier than anything, consider that they could actually cost you money if not properly handled.
Terminate usage or accounts
Defining what constitutes abuse and fair usage is not always enough to keep your site safe. Fortunately, when you add terms and conditions to your site, you also create the space to terminate users and accounts. If something looks suspicious or you have the same user constantly creating false bookings, you reserve the right to eliminate their account if you included that clause in your terms and conditions.
With the right terms and conditions, you can terminate any account on any grounds. Of course, you don’t want to keep away potentially good customers, but getting rid of fraudulent accounts or scammers will alleviate the problem of having to deal with their foul play in the future.
Be in charge of your content
This is your website so you should really own the content that you create. It’s well known that the more content you add to your vacation rental website, like a blog, the better it will perform and rank on Google. With that said, if you don’t make it clear that you own this intellectual property, you run the risk of people copying and stealing your content.
Imagine if your competitor copied all your content and outranked you for what were actually your ideas. Under technicality, if you didn’t define this as your property and content, they could potentially get away with it. With the proper terms and conditions, you would be able to rightfully claim your content and prevent competitors from stealing your intellectual property.
Protect yourself from liability
The reasons thus far are more concerned with protecting your site from potential harm, but what if your website is the one affecting clients instead? Regardless of intent, you could find yourself in a situation where a website user is dissatisfied with the service your page delivered or even an error caused by your site. To maintain good guest satisfaction, you’ll want to resolve this with superb customer service, but legally speaking you can find comfort in knowing you’ll be safe under the terms and conditions you’ve set forth.
What do vacation rental terms and conditions include for a website?
You’ll want to have an exhaustive list of terms and conditions to include just in case. Some of the legal terms can seem daunting so we’ve outlined each subsection from the template and “translated” it into layman’s terms. Website users should know what they’re agreeing to, but also, as the vacation rental website owner, you should know what terms you’re referring to and what they actually mean.
This is exactly what it sounds like. The “definitions” section just defines and outlines who the stakeholders are and how they will be referenced. For example, you might not continually repeat your business name throughout the terms and conditions and instead opt for “we,” “us,” or other monikers, but you need to be clear that it still references the same person or group.
It’s important to weed out the users that have no purpose for using your website. Making and managing bookings, for example, should only be for users who meet a particular threshold. You wouldn’t want a sixteen-year-old making a booking on your account and that’s where the terms and conditions will be useful.
It’s not that you want to immediately disqualify users from accessing and navigating your vacation rental website, but you want to make sure that those who are on your page are legitimate users.
Limitation of business activity
This is where you’ll really separate your website from your business. Although your vacation rental website will be used to conduct business activities, such as reservations, guest communications, and marketing, it is not the same as your business and should be treated accordingly.
Let’s say, for example, you have a guest that had a canceled reservation. If left unresolved, they might blame it on the website and try to trash your online presence which will hurt your site. This section is intended to clarify what responsibilities your business has on and offline. You can protect your business one step further by implementing a vacation rental agreement for each reservation.
Use of the services
This is where you’ll protect your vacation rental website from any malpractice. The template specifically states that your website should be used for “vacation rental purposes” to prevent users from accessing your site for research or competitor analysis purposes.
The previous section details what is allowed and this section states explicitly what is not permitted. It’s not enough to state how you’d like users to interact with your website, you need to also be clear about what is not allowed. This will, again, prevent your page from being rid with scammers and hackers.
Fees, payments, refunds
Money is a fragile, yet incredibly important, topic to cover in your terms and conditions. Payments made for bookings and services on your page are accompanied by sensitive information and sometimes apprehensive guests. Making sure you’re clear about how payments and fees are handled on your website will make your page more professional and ease any worries that guests may have.
When guests trust that the services your website offers are legitimate, they’re much more likely to book directly with you rather than going through an OTA. Having vacation rental terms and conditions on your website helps to solidify your professional image and bring you more direct bookings.
As stated in the purpose of having terms and conditions on your vacation rental site, one of the many benefits is the ability to terminate an account. You’ll want to be able to have full control over who uses your website, and terminating and canceling accounts is a large part of that. Keep your site clean and prepped for legitimate reservations by getting rid of any fake accounts, impersonators, or spammers.
Links to third-party websites and third-party services
Most vacation rental websites rely on third-party services to deliver the most professional product to their customers. Most Lodgify sites enjoy integrations with third parties, such as Reyvoos, PriceLabs, Mailchimp, and all the major channels. If your vacation rental uses any of these integrations or other third-party services, your users must be made aware of it.
Third-party services probably have their own set of terms and conditions in place, so by including a clause that details your third parties, you let users know that they must also adhere to those terms.
The disclaimer is going to be what protects you from your users. This clause will make sure you are not held responsible for anything you didn’t explicitly state and keeps you protected from users who might be looking to sue or take legal action against your page.
Limitation of liability
After the disclaimer, you’ll also need to include a section that details your limitations of liability. This basically states that you’re still liable for consequences caused by your vacation rental website. Even the best terms and conditions can’t protect you from all liability and nor should it.
If you had a guest completely destroy your property, you’d want to hold them accountable. Likewise is true for your website. In most circumstances, you won’t have to worry about the limitation of liability, but it’s still essential to include for the user’s sake.
Intellectual property rights and customer content
This clause is what is going to give you the right and ownership of your content. From your blog to your headings, you own this intellectual property and it should be made clear in the terms and conditions.
Beyond your own words, this section also protects the ideas and intellectual property of your guests. If you’re displaying their reviews or testimonials, this content needs to be protected as well.
This section is more for your customers than for you. It is what protects users from financial loss or burdens. Let’s say that a user experiences financial loss due to negligence from your end. If you used their credit card information from a booking made on your website to then go out and purchase a car, you, the Indemnitor, would be held liable under this clause.
The literal translation is “superior forces.” These would be the unforeseeable circumstances that prevent you from fulfilling a contract, or, in this case, fulfilling the terms and conditions.
Changes to the Terms & Conditions
You are well within your right to change your terms and conditions how you see fit, but you must make users aware of the potential for changes. This clause essentially just states that your terms and conditions are not necessarily fixed and might change.
On the off chance of a complex case, severance might save your terms and conditions from being completely null and void. For example, if a court of law determines that one clause in your terms and conditions is invalid or illegitimate, the other clauses will remain and maintain validity.
This clause states that just because you’re not enforcing these terms and conditions 24/7 doesn’t make them invalid. Your terms and conditions will hold validity regardless of enforcement with this clause. Let’s say, for example, you have a fake user on the website that’s making fake bookings. Even if you didn’t respond to the situation for two to three weeks doesn’t mean it’s not still a breach of the terms and conditions.
This applies to both the customer and you. The assignment clause forbids users from having other people act on their behalf without your, the website owner’s, knowledge. Likewise, the second part of this clause says that you have the right to have other members of your business act on your behalf as there is written notice that your business reserves this right.
As mentioned in the Personal Data section, third-party rights are extremely important to mention. Once you use, integrate, or have any third-party activity on your site, you’re bringing in multiple entities with terms and conditions of their own.
Customers need to understand that your vacation rental website uses third-party services and that these terms and conditions are only in relation to your website alone.
Governing law and jurisdiction
This clause is what helps to give your terms and conditions validity. Here, you’ll state which court of law your terms and conditions are subject to. This is going to be where you have your vacation rental business registered, not necessarily where your vacation rental is located. This lets users know what jurisdiction and set of laws these terms and conditions apply to.
Adding terms and conditions to your vacation rental website will give your business the extra legitimacy it needs while also legally protecting your site from potential fraud, scam, or malicious competitors.
The benefits of having vacation rental terms and conditions are huge and, with our template, the ability to add them to your website is easier than ever. Having terms and conditions on your vacation rental website is almost as important as having the website in the first place!
If you’re still looking for the perfect website builder for your vacation rental business, look no further. Try Lodgify for free with our 7-day trial and when you’re ready to publish, you’ll have the right webpage (and conditions) to skyrocket your business!