No matter whether you rent your home for just a few weekends a year, or it’s a year-round business – all owners and managers need to have house rules in place for their vacation rental.
House rules are a professional way of laying out the land for all guests that enter your property. They present you with an opportunity to clearly state: what you expect of them; what they can and can’t do; and what penalties will occur if these rules are broken.
It’s up to you how you write your house rules – maybe you prefer them formal rather than fun, serious rather than silly – but when it comes down to it, there are certain areas all hosts should address.
What to include in your vacation rental house rules
If you’ve never written Airbnb house rules before, you might not know where to begin. We’ve created this step-by-step guide to help!
The best place to start with writing your house rules is at the beginning, right? In this opening paragraph, you can briefly explain why you have these house rules in place, and what will happen if they are not obeyed.
In this section, outline any overhead topics that don’t really belong in a clause of their own. This could include a line about reporting disputes to the property manager as soon as possible, for example.
Noise and the neighborhood
As a rental owner or property manager, the last thing you want is for your guests to destroy the relationships you’ve spent time building with the residents of neighboring properties. So use this as an opportunity to highlight rules regarding anti-social behavior such as excessive noise late at night. Your neighbors will be grateful if your guests don’t disrupt their peaceful night’s sleep.
If your guests aren’t allowed any extra visitors at the property during their stay – make it known. Equally, if there are any limitations on how many guests they can invite to the rental, this should also be crystal clear.
You might be open to guests holding parties and other events at your rental, but there are a lot of owners who aren’t. If you have strict rules and regulations about gatherings and visitor numbers, be sure to point them out in your house rules.
Can guests bring their own vehicles? Where can they park? What is the maximum number of vehicles allowed? Let guests know this information before they arrive by sending a copy of your vacation rental house rules – then you can guarantee there won’t be any issues when it comes to parking.
Garbage and recycling
Guests choose vacation rentals for the “home away from home” experience. That means, on the whole, they’re expecting to have to do at least some chores on their vacation. Stacking the dishwasher after a delicious meal is one thing – but what about taking out the trash? Include details of how to dispose of garbage and how guests should recycle if you don’t want to be met with a stinking pile of trash on check-out day.
Most guests won’t need a reminder to treat your place like their own home, but it’s always worth mentioning just in case. Point out that guests’ belongings are only safe and secure if they remember to close and lock all windows and doors when they leave the house. You could also use this as an opportunity to remind guests about energy saving – e.g. don’t have the air conditioning on with windows open, don’t leave lights on when you go out.
Hot tub/Swimming pool
If your guests are lucky enough to get to use your hot tub or swimming pool, make sure they know about any restrictions (such as time of day they can be used) or prohibited items (glass, sharp objects etc.). This will help you to have peace of mind and can save you from footing a very expensive pool cleaning bill.
Balconies are great when it comes to views over the grounds or the city, but they can also be a major hazard zone for little ones. That’s why you must include a line or two to describe any rules in place regarding the use of these spaces – especially where children are involved.
Can guests smoke in your vacation rental? Or is it strictly prohibited? Avoid any smelly surprises when you lay out the law regarding smoking before guests arrive!
If your property is pet-friendly, celebrate it! But if there are any restrictions, such as how many pets are allowed at one time, or if pets over a certain size are prohibited – your guests will need to know.
Spending the summer at a vacation rental is all about the great outdoors: relaxing, cooking and eating outside whenever you can. So if your property boasts a barbecue for those evening cookouts, be sure to leave instructions and rules on how to use (and clean!) it properly.
Damages and breakages
We all know that accidents happen sometimes, but rather than scare your guests into thinking they’ll lose their whole deposit for the sake of one broken plate, simply make it clear in your house rules that breakages must be reported in a timely manner. Imposing restrictions on moving furniture from one room to another can help avoid expensive damages.
Even though you’ve probably already sent these details in your correspondence and have them laid out in the welcome book, it won’t do any harm to repeat check-out arrangements to make sure nothing is forgotten. Mention cleaning, garbage disposal, key handover – anything you feel necessary for a smooth check-out process.
Emergency contact details
While you’ll have already provided emergency contact details of the local ambulance, fire department and police stations, it’s always useful to provide an emergency contact number in case anything goes wrong that’s specific to your property.
The final section will likely summarize the conditions of the house rules and what will happen in the case of a breach.
Conclusion: vacation rental house rules are really important
Not only can house rules save you lots of time by eliminating the need to have to repeat things over and over again, they also help you to reduce guest damage and avoid accidents. When your guests are all on the same wavelength with a clear picture of what they can and can’t do, it will help you to feel a lot more in control!
Still not sure where to begin? Download our free vacation rental house rules template and simply fill in the gaps to personalize it to your property.