For an owner or property manager starting out in the vacation rental or short-term rental industry, there’s a long list of things to take into consideration before accepting any guests to your home. Arguably one of the most important of these is the vacation rental agreement.
For every guest that rents your villa, apartment, chalet or even treehouse, a contract signed by both parties – guest and host – is not an optional extra. Instead, this document will protect both you and your guest in case of discrepancy or dispute, and will also give you extra confidence when renting your second home to strangers.
While we understand that all rentals are different, and therefore all terms and conditions vary from property to property, it can be difficult to know where to begin collecting all the necessary information you need to include in your document. But fear no more! We’ve created a free downloadable vacation rental agreement template to help all owners and managers get started.
What our vacation rental agreement template covers
Our editable, free template covers all the basics you need to include in your vacation rental agreement. While it provides a great basis to start writing up your own agreement, we strongly advise you have any legal documents verified by your business attorney before using them for your vacation rental.
As well as a one-page booking confirmation, providing at-a-glance information about the guest, their stay and any money paid or still owed, in this downloadable template, you will find space to include:
Property information (such as address, amenities, owner etc.)
Rental party details (including space to input their names)
Maximum occupancy limitations
Minimum stay requirements
Rental rates and additional fee information
Signatures of both parties.
Depending on the type of rental you have, it is highly likely you will need to add in other clauses that are specific to your individual property. This could include anything from weather-related particulars to the features of your vacation rental or even local laws and regulations.
Why do I need a vacation rental agreement?
This type of agreement is legally binding between homeowner and guest, and clarifies in writing any arrangements that have been made between the two parties. It is also the perfect place to reiterate house rules that are in place, and state any repercussions if these rules are to be broken. This will ensure both sides agree on what is and isn’t acceptable at your property.
Vacation rental agreements are especially useful in case of discrepancies between owner and guest when it comes to check-out time. It also helps lower the risk of renting your property out to unsuitable guests.
What do I need to include in my vacation rental agreement?
First things first, before you write up any legally binding agreement, you should always speak to your attorney.
Below you’ll find a list of the general questions you should aim to answer in your rental agreement. This will help you create a basic outline that you can then present to your attorney – they’ll be able to put what you want to include in the right legal terms for the document.
1. Who needs a vacation rental agreement?
Not just who are you, but also, who is renting your home? The agreement should state your full name as a homeowner, alongside the names of all guests who will be staying at your property for the specified dates.
It’s also wise to include the maximum occupancy in this section – and clarify how many adults vs. child guests your property caters for. In the rare case of guests throwing wild parties, a clause like this will allow you to stop them immediately.
What amenities does your vacation rental include – what can guests expect to find in your home and in what condition? Think about things such as linens and towels, number of beds, kitchen contents, backyard furniture etc.
The rental agreement should specify the arrival and departure dates and times of your guests. If you don’t rely on in-person key handover and use an automated check-in system for your property, you can also specify whether or not you allow early check-in or late check-out.
If your calendar is often booked back-to-back, be sure to include details of any extra costs that will be incurred if guests fail to check-out on time.
An absolutely essential ingredient for this contract – the whereabouts of your vacation rental. As some cities and states have their own rules and regulations regarding vacation rentals, it’s highly important to include location details in your draft before showing it to your attorney.
Moving onto the part no rental owner or manager ever likes to think about: why would you have to remove guests from your property? In what circumstances?
In this section, lay out the house rules in plain language and make the consequences of breaking these rules clear as day. This can include anything from no smoking, no parties and no pets, to parking regulations for the neighborhood, noise pollution, and local trash and recycling rules.
Or rather, how much? Be sure to include details of any costs the guest will be paying. For example, total rental cost, deposit, security deposit, cleaning fee. You can also list any additional (and optional) paid services such as catering, pet fees, or hot tub usage.
Other things to include
7. Scam bookings and cancellation terms
Not only does including a section on scam bookings help deter untrustworthy renters in the first place, but it also protects you and your property in the event the booking was made under false pretenses (i.e. for throwing underage parties, exceeding maximum number of guests, etc.).
A few legally binding sentences outlining the circumstances under which you can cancel a guest’s stay will give you right to evict these bad-intentioned guests immediately.
8. Cleanliness and maintenance
Outline the expectations for both parties – how clean and tidy guests can expect to find your property, and equally how neat you hope them to leave it. Remember your guests are on vacation and be fair with these expectations – sure they’ll be happy to throw dirty towels (and maybe even sheets) in the wash basket before they leave, but a full spring clean before check-out is not their responsibility.
Equally, you should lay out any presumptions you have regarding maintenance issues such as how guests should contact you and emergency numbers if necessary.
9. Host access to the property
This seems like a strange one, but in the rare case of maintenance issues or emergencies, you’ll need to provide a clause that mentions you might require access to the property during a guest’s stay. Be sure to state the notice you will give guests before entering (e.g. two hours/24 hours). This is to avoid any disputes or formal complaints when the time comes and you need to enter your property.
10. Rental-specific requirements
Every property is different – and your vacation rental agreement should reflect that. You know your property and its area best, so you’ll need to ensure you include anything specific to your property that won’t already feature in a downloadable template. Whether that’s regarding your local climate (e.g. monsoon season, blizzards) or your property itself (not child-friendly, suitable for wheelchair users).
Download the free vacation rental agreement template here:
So there you have it – our starter list of the items you should think about including in your vacation rental agreement!
DISCLAIMER: This is a sample vacation rental agreement.
Please ensure you seek the advice of an attorney before finalizing any legally binding document. Your agreement should be revised and updated habitually in order to adhere to any changing local or state laws.
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