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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.

To skip this article and download the free vacation rental house rules template directly, CLICK HERE!

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!

Opening statement

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.

General requirements

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.

Visitors

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.

Functions

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.

Parking

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.

Security

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.

Balcony/Deck areas

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.

Smoking

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!

Pets

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.

Barbecue

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.

Check-out arrangements

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.

Compliance

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.

What do you think about this article?

Vacation Rental House Rules Template to Avoid Guest Trouble
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(6) Comments
  1. Nick Marshall Reply

    Really helpful post, Jess. One of the most important items on your list is the reporting damage or breakages in a timely manner i.e. staightaway. I would add to this that guests should contact the owner/manager if anything is not working or missing.

    There is an important reason for this. We have noticed that whenever an owner does email a guest to say that some damage has taken place which will have to be deducted from the bond, the guest will usually fire back with all sorts of complaints about stuff not working or something missing. This is often a bluff or an implied threat to review the owner unfavourably. If an owner has made it quite clear that anything missing or not working should be reported immediately and that has not been done then any later complaint is effectively redundant. The point is that no matter how good your cleaner or house-keeper is, things occasionally get missed or time constraints might mean that not every device is tested to see that it is working. No one is perfect and an owner should be given the opportunity to fix anything which amiss.
    Owners need to keep their inventory list/photos updated regularly. It can save a lot of hassle if you have good photographic proof of your inventory.

    The house rules should be either attached to an email or a link provided to access them at the time of booking – preferably before. The problem is that many guests simply do not read stuff, especially if it is an attachment to an email that is being read on a mobile phone. We make it our business to point out the key issues in our emails, messages and phone calls to customers. Those key issues may vary a bit from property to property. Noise, for example, may be crucial at one home but not at another. We make absolutely sure that our potential guests know that none of our homes can be used as venues for a function and that there is a difference between inviting 4 people round for drinks or dinner and inviting 20 of your mates to watch the football grand final. Enquiries from locals are always a bit suspect. Often they will want to book for only a couple of nights. This is a good indication that they might be planning a party. We always point out the party rules to locals who make an enquiry.

    Many new owners are worried about turning away business by being upfront about the rules. Experience has shown us that being upfront is always the best policy and just because you turn off one customer does not mean that you won’t get a booking from someone else. Rules are helpful to everyone but it is important that your guests actually see them.

  2. tobi Reply

    Hi, the download is not working anymore!
    Please let me know when you fixed it.
    Thanks.

    • Jess Ashworth Reply

      Hi Tobi,

      Apologies about that – it’s now fixed! I have also sent you a copy via email in both English and German. I hope that helps! Let me know if you have any further questions.

      Best wishes,

      Jess

  3. Michele Reply

    Hi, thank you for this thoughtful list of information to include. The template doesn’t seem to be working though…

  4. Deborah Reply

    Hi Jesse,
    Not sure where you got these House Rules from ?

    We have a Lodgify site

    Regards
    Deb

    • Jess Ashworth Reply

      Hi Deb,

      We created this House Rules template based on the most common restrictions found at vacation rentals. It’s editable so you can customize it for your property’s specific needs.

      Best wishes,

      Jess

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