vacation rental house rules

Vacation Rental House Rules Template to Avoid Guest Trouble

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 vacation rental house rules in place for guests staying at their property.

You’ve got some ground rules for your own home, so why would your vacation rental be the exception? Being a host means interacting with people from all over the world, and with that comes varying expectations. Laying a foundation for how your home should be treated will keep things running smoothly and help to offset any vacation rental woes you may have. Property management isn’t always easy, but when you know that your guests are treating your home with care and respect, the job becomes a bit more manageable.

Most hosts agree that vacation rental rules are necessary, but then find themselves stumped with where to begin. How much detail do you need to go into for pool rules? Is it self-explanatory that guests shouldn’t wear shoes in the house? If you’re feeling a little lost or just need some help filling in the gaps on your existing house rules, we’ve got you covered. Download our vacation rental house rules template here:

Don’t see the form to download the House Rules Template? Click here.

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.

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What are vacation house rules for rentals?

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.

We have a certain way that we expect guests to treat our home, whether it’s your primary residence or your vacation house. The thing is, hosts can’t be there around the clock to monitor the behavior of guests, which is why vacation rental rules are so important. Not only does it create a clear outline of what’s expected from guests, but it also sets a standard of professionalism. Your vacation house rules indicate to travelers that your business has a high bar for excellence and holding them to that standard ensures a good reputation for you, your guests, and your business. 

Why do you need house rules for your vacation rental?

When you’re first starting out in the vacation rental industry, it can seem like there are a million things to do. The paperwork, challenges, and tasks that need to be done can feel insurmountable, so why would you add to the workload by creating custom vacation rental house rules? Sure, there are options you can find on the internet that outline your standard vacation house rules, but those don’t define your property. Taking the time to create and implement house rules for your vacation rental is more valuable than you’d think.

Vacation rental rules save you time

If you manage multiple properties or even just one, you might not have the time to answer every question, curiosity, or request during your guests’ stay. Receiving messages like “Is the hot tub off limits?” or “Can we have a couple of friends over later?” are questions that can be easily answered in advance with the use of house rules. 

You’re saving time for yourself and your guests. Remember that they’re on vacation! They’d prefer to enjoy it rather than having to send you a text message to ask for a million permissions. The most time-effective thing you can do is to outline and explicitly state the vacation rental rules for your guests. 

Adding house rules for your vacation rental protects you and your property

When you pass off the keys for the bachelor party weekend, you might feel a tinge of nervousness. You wouldn’t have to sweat it if you had a good set of vacation house rules in place! Consider that your house rules not only tell guests how to treat your home, it’s also proof of this expectation. You’ve made your guests fully aware of your expectations and if the rules are broken, you’ll have formal proof to back your case. These rules aren’t just a suggestion for how to care for your property, but rather an understanding between you and your guests with actionable consequences if they aren’t followed.

Be on the same page as your guests

At the end of the day, even if a lamp is broken or key lost, you want your guests to have the best experience possible. Even with mishaps, you might find yourself happily hosting these guests again. Or they might even leave a pleasant review if everyone is on the same page about property expectations.

Vacation rental house rules

When guests know what is expected of them and what they can expect from you, there’s a lot more clarity and comfort. Eliminate the need for an explanation by having a thorough list of house rules in place. Guests can carry on enjoying their vacation while you can rest easy knowing that your property is in good, knowledgeable hands.

What to include in your vacation rental house rules

If you’ve never written vacation house rules before, you might not know where to begin, which is why we’ve made it easy for you by creating this step-by-step guide to help! You can follow this house rules template to find out the most useful rules for your property.

If you want to succeed with keeping your house safe for your guests, we always recommend asking the experts –those who already have a long and proven experience in the rental market, who have seen many rules broken in their own properties.

That’s exactly what we did while writing this article. We got in contact with Alex Concepcion from Spire Vacation Rental Consulting, Evelyn from The Hosting Journey and Jasper Ribbers of Get Paid for Your Pad.

We asked them a few questions, to help you craft your own “house rules”.

Let’s get started!

Friendly welcome note and general rules

In order to set the tone for the rest of your vacation rental house rules, you need to open with a friendly welcome note which guests will read upon arrival. In this short introduction to your property, it’s important to highlight the general rules about your home.

House rules template

This will help guests understand from the outset exactly what is expected of them.

Example:

Dear guests,

Hello and welcome to our home!

We’re so happy you chose our property for your vacation.

Before you settle in and get comfortable, we would like to make you aware of the House Rules in place at our vacation rental. Understanding and complying with our house rules will make for a comfortable and fun stay for everybody!

Please read each of the rules carefully in order to avoid any danger or deductions from your security deposit upon check-out.

  • Please treat our house with the same respect as you would your own home. We’ve put a lot of effort into making this into a lovely space to be enjoyed by our guests.
  • Be sure to maintain a good level of cleanliness throughout your stay, this will make it much easier when check-out time comes!
  • In case of any accidental damage, we’ll look into the issue internally to decide if and how much the deduction or repair cost will be.
  • We hope you have lots of laughter and fun times during your vacation! However, we’d really appreciate it if you’re mindful and keep noise to a minimum during nighttime hours.
  • Please ensure you read and fully understand the house rules at the beginning of your stay. If anything is unclear, please contact us so we can explain in further detail to avoid any misunderstandings.

Have fun! This is your vacation time and we hope you make the most of our home, its amenities and your opportunity to relax and visit the surrounding area.

1. House map and rooms rules

Example: Here you can find a simple map of our home, where you can see the organization of each room and find out some details about their functions.

Vacation rental house rules template - house map example

Information and special rules on specific parts of the house are written below, so you can easily understand where things are located and how to use them safely.

  • The cupboard in the hallway is private and locked, please do not attempt to open it.
  • Cleanliness is a priority, so please remove shoes before entering this room
  • You will find the electric panel in the box next to the front door. Please only open in the unlikely case of a power outage.
  • Open windows can interfere with our home alarm system. Please ensure all windows are closed and secure before activating the alarm.
  • As this room borders with the neighboring house, please be especially conscientious about noise here.

Ask the expert: what do you think is the one, most important (but often overlooked) rule rental owners should give to their guests?

Alex Concepcion: I think the most overlooked thing with house rules is actually getting your guests to read them. How will you deliver the rules to the guest? Often when you have multiple guests, only the host will receive them on their app. Boring-looking binders and signs will get overlooked. Make your guests want to read it.

The sound of “house rules” alone can be a quick way to kill the vibe of a vacation. While you want your guests to understand their responsibilities, you also want them to have fun! Follow Concepcion’s advice and toss the binders. Opt for a sleek, digital rule book or present it in a clean, easy-to-read way when guests arrive. Concepcion offers two more pieces of advice for what to include in your vacation rental rules:

If you’re in an urban area, you should give your guests an easy way to be able to find their way back to your home. Sometimes their phone will die on them and they will forget how to return. Something like a business card with the home address would help. Also, asking your guests to switch off cooling/heating equipment will save you on electricity bills.

Evelyn emphasizes the importance of having both a house manual and house rules. The two are entirely different, but sometimes your guests aren’t aware of these distinctions. Breaking up this content makes it more digestible for your visitors and stands a better chance of getting read.

Evelyn: It’s important to remember that there is a difference between the two (aka, a house rule is something that, if broken, can be used to evict a guest). For example, here is the definition from Queenie, a member of The Hosting Journey Facebook group: Break a House rule, and I’m telling you to get out! Ignore the House Manual, and I may be irritated.

Space is another big one. Not all vacation rental owners allow full access to the property. Preventing guests from venturing into forbidden areas is up to the host. Here’s what Ribbers recommends:

Jasper Ribbers: I think what most hosts either forget or more often aren’t clear about is the areas that guests have access to and to what extent. This applies mostly to hosts who share their space. I think the reason they aren’t clear about it, is because they are not completely sure. For example, they want to allow their guests to use the kitchen, but at the same time, they don’t want them in there all night.

2. House rules related to inventory/supplies:

Example:  At our vacation rental, we like to provide our guests with some useful supplies as a starter pack, which they can use during their stay. You can find the complete inventory for the property in our Welcome Book. Here are a few rules to follow with regard to the items you’ll find in and around our home.

  • Tap water isn’t safe to drink. There are a couple of bottles in the kitchen for you, but we recommend stocking up on bottled mineral water from the local store.
  • We’ve provided dish soap for your use. If you run out, please buy the same brand as it’s eco-friendly and will cause less harm to our local water supply.
  • There are some canned goods and other imperishable foods in the kitchen pantry which you are free to use as you wish. Always check the expiry date before eating anything. We always make sure not to leave expired food in the house, but oversights may happen.
  • The candle lanterns on the balcony are for outdoor use only. Please be careful when lighting them and never light them inside the house.
  • Please don’t take any kitchen cutlery outside to avoid misplacing or losing it.

3. House rules related to noise and 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.

Noise rules vacation rental

Example:  Just like our vacation rental, our neighborhood is important to us. Most of the residents live here full-time, though there may be some other short-term guests staying occasionally.

Please be sure to respect the community and try to keep noise levels to a minimum, especially after dark. By respecting the people and property around you, your vacation will be more enjoyable.

  • Please try to avoid making any loud noise between 11 pm and 8 am to allow neighbors a peaceful night’s sleep.
  • If any neighboring residents report excessive noise or unruly behavior, we may have to evict you from our property and terminate the vacation rental agreement. This could result in loss of security deposit and rental amount.
  • In case of any disputes or neighbor complaints, it’s your duty to notify us as soon as reasonably practicable.
  • There are designated recycling and trash disposal areas. Please refrain from throwing any trash, such as bottle caps or cigarette butts into neighboring properties.
  • While we know there are some really cute pets nearby our property, their owners would really appreciate it if you don’t give them any food!

4. House rules related to children and safety

Example:  We try to keep our vacation rental as child-friendly as possible. That said, parents always have the final responsibility of ensuring their children’s safety at all times. If you find anything to be unsafe or that requires revision at our property, please contact us at your earliest convenience so we can address the issue. To maintain our property kid-friendly, we ask that you:

  • Never leave children unsupervised at our property without any adults.
  • The backyard is a perfect, safe place for children to play. To avoid danger, please don’t let them play out front.
  • Our vacation rental is suitable / not suitable for children under the age of …
  • Guests are fully responsible for the safety and security of their children at all times, as well as any disturbance caused to other residents in the neighborhood.
  • Please do not use glasses outside or in the children’s play area for safety reasons.

5. House rules related to friends and 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.

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.

Example:  We want you to enjoy your vacation and time at our home to the maximum, but we do have to set some restrictions on visitor numbers for safety reasons. As part of our vacation rental agreement, we need the names and details of each member of your traveling party. In addition, please respect the maximum number of visitors and rules regarding visitors as set out below.

  • Guests are allowed a maximum of … Visitors at any time during their stay.
  • Guests are responsible for ensuring that any visitors comply with these House Rules.
  • Any additional overnight Visitors must be approved in advance and are subject to an additional fee as noted in our rates.
  • Parties and large gatherings of any kind are strictly prohibited at our home. Any small gathering must comply with our other house rules regarding noise, the neighborhood and visitor numbers.
  • Guests are to allow the homeowner or service access to the property for purposes of repair and inspection. The homeowner will exercise this right of access in a reasonable manner and advise beforehand where possible.

6. House rules related to the kitchen

Example:  No doubt one of the biggest advantages of staying in our vacation rentals is our fully furnished kitchen. It’s perfect for rustling up tasty breakfasts, leisurely lunches and delicious dinners for all the family to enjoy.

We provide the basics such as cooking oil, simple seasoning and some condiments. Please treat our kitchen with the love and respect you would your own to keep it in great condition for other guests.

  • Please be sure to ventilate the kitchen after cooking anything that could leave a strong smell behind.
  • Be careful not to wash food that remains down the drain. Please throw any kitchen scraps into the container under the sink for organic waste.
  • To help the environment, please only switch on the dishwasher when it’s full and use the eco-program where possible.
  • To simplify the inventory process, please return any kitchen items back to where you originally found them.
  • Kitchen cleaning products are under the sink. If any products run out during your stay, please let us know so we can replace them for the next guests.

Kitchen rules vacation rental

Ask the expert: what is your opinion on giving guests a list of house rules? Is it only a positive thing, or could it annoy guests and lead to bad reviews/online reputation?

Remember that vacation is a time for some guests to let loose. When you present them with a giant list of rules regarding what they can and can’t do they might think “what kind of holiday is this?” The experts weigh in on ways you can alleviate this challenge.

Alex Concepcion: The trick is to strike a balance between communicating that you’re operating a serious business while communicating your desire to provide an amazing experience for your guests.

I believe the solution is to communicate your house rules with good faith. This means giving guests the benefit of the doubt they will respect your property. I think the optimal tone of voice is 70% warm and inviting, and 30% firm. Try to have some fun with it. Make guests feel like they’re visiting an old friend.

This balance is what’s going to keep you and your guests happy. Concepcion notes the importance of being firm about your rules without ruining the guest experience. 

Beyond balance, specificity is important. You can’t get mad at your guests for a rule they didn’t know about. Evelyn shares what it means to explain the rules of your vacation house in critical detail.  

Evelyn: In my opinion, house rules are necessary and should not be avoided. A guest has to know what is allowed in our homes, from smoking to the number of people allowed in my home at any given time. In addition, Airbnb will not support a claim without very clearly written, specific rules.

If you’re afraid that your house rules are too in-depth don’t be afraid to present them in person! For those fearful of a list of commands, Ribbers suggests communicating the rules when you greet your guests face-to-face.

Jasper Ribbers: Instead of giving them a list, I would much rather go over the rules in person at check-in. The French say ¨c’est la tongue qui fait la music¨ which means it’s not what you communicate, it’s how you communicate it. In other words, a piece of paper with a list of house rules can come across as unwelcoming, but if you explain the situation in person with a smile then guests will be more understanding. If you’re a remote host, I’d record a video – that’s a lot more personal than a list.

7. House rules related to appliances and utilities

Example:  You’ll find all the electrical appliances you need for a comfortable stay at our home. Please use them responsibly and ask other members of your party to do the same. This means adhering to the few rules we outline below.

  • Please only use the washer/dryer during daytime hours between 9 am and 7 pm. This will help reduce disruption to neighboring properties to a minimum.
  • Please do not overload or underload the washer/dryer. Be sure to separate colors and whites, and wash on a low temperature (90°F) where possible.
  • The optimum temperature for the thermostat is between 75-80°F in summer (for air conditioning) and 68-72°F in winter (for heating).
  • Please make sure you switch off lights, fans or any other small electrical appliances when you go out. The same applies to air-con and heating – we’re an eco-friendly home!
  • In the unlikely case of a power outage, please call us before touching the control panel.
  • No compensation will be given for any temporary outage of electricity, gas, water, cable, satellite or telephone service.

8. House rules related to parking and vehicles

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.

Example:  We have parking space on our property for up to two large vehicles. There is also the possibility for additional cars to park along our quiet, residential street, provided they do not block any neighbors’ property access.

  • Please park your vehicles in the designated driveway space, ensuring cars do not block the sidewalk.
  • Please do not exceed 30 mph on approach to our home.
  • In case you or a member of your party has to park on-street, please be conscientious and do not block access to other properties.
  • The garage is off-limits for guests’ vehicles.

9. House rules related to 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.

Example:  We like to do our bit for the environment and we ask that our guests do the same! There are clearly labeled containers for separating and recycling different materials under the sink – along with the regular trash can for non-recyclables.

  • Please dispose of garbage and recycling in the proper containers.
  • You can leave garbage and recycling outside for collection on Monday evenings. If you check out before Monday, please take garbage to the communal trash cans at the end of the street.
  • Please do not flush any sanitary products down the toilet. We provide a bin for this in each bathroom.
  • Any food waste should go into the organic recycling bin, take care to use the correct compostable bin liner when replacing.

10. House rules related to 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.

sample house rules for guests

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.

Example:  While we have taken the necessary measures to make our vacation rental safe for incoming guests, you also have a role to play in ensuring the safety and security of your party. There are actions you can follow to keep the house secure during your stay.

  • Any time guests leave the vacation rental, it is their responsibility to ensure all windows and doors are closed and locked to maintain security and prevent rain and water damage.
  • There is an alarm to which you must set every time you leave the property. The alarm code is 997450.
  • We are not responsible for the loss of any personal belongings or valuables. In case you misplace something in the house, please let us know so we can look out for the item during the changeover and vacation rental cleaning.
  • Parents must not leave children unattended at any time. Any guest injuries sustained inside the house are not covered by our vacation rental insurance.

11. House rules related to the 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.

Example:  Our guests love using the swimming pool at our vacation rental! It’s a great way to spend summer days while staying at our home. There are a few things we ask you to bear in mind regarding the hot tub/swimming pool.

  • The swimming pool is open from 9 am to 9 pm daily. Please respect these timings for our neighbors’ sake.
  • Please avoid using glass tableware or glass bottles near the pool. You should use the plastic cups available for any poolside drinks.
  • Guests must shower before entering the pool to rinse off any sunscreen.

12. House rules related to balcony and 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.

Pool rules vacation rental

Example:  Our balcony and deck area is available for you to kick back and relax with your family or friends. To keep this space in the best condition for future visitors to our vacation rental, please follow the guidelines as listed below.

  • Please do not hang laundry off the balcony railings as it is not permitted by the local authorities.
  • If you plan to eat lunch or dinner outside on the deck, please do not use glasses and instead use the plastic cups provided.
  • In case of any bad weather (rain, storms, etc.), please ensure you close the deck umbrellas and store them securely to avoid breakage.

13. House rules related to 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!

Example:  Our vacation rental is a smoke-free zone inside. This is important to us in order to keep our property in the best condition possible. Guests can only smoke in outdoor areas such as the balcony or deck as long as they respect the rules we have in place.

  • Smoking is not allowed anywhere inside the property.
  • Guests can only smoke outdoors in the designated areas.
  • Please do not throw cigarette butts onto the property lawn. You should instead dispose of them in the ashtray provided. Failure to do so will result in a deduction from the security deposit.
  • Discovering guests have been smoking inside the property will also result in loss of the security deposit.

14. House rules related to pets

What can guests do with their pets when on vacation? 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.

Vacation rental property rules and regulations

Example: Pets are welcome at our home! If you’re staying here with your furry friend, there are some things we’d like you to help us out with to ensure a smooth stay for everybody.

  • We know you love your pet, but we ask that you please don’t let them up onto the furniture, especially sofas and beds.
  • Guests are responsible for cleaning up after their pets. Please ensure you clean the spending area daily and hose it down with water if necessary.
  • Pets must not be outside of the property fence without a leash.
  • It is forbidden for pets to be in the outside areas of the property during nighttime hours (e.g. 11 pm to 8 am).

15. House rules related to barbecue and other garden appliances

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.

Example:  Is there anything better than tucking into a barbecue on a sunny afternoon? We don’t think so! We provide all the necessary equipment to cook up a storm, please just be sure to follow the instructions below.

  • Please use the designated barbecue utensils and not the regular kitchen tongs.
  • Be sure to clean the barbecue after use, it’s much more difficult to clean the next day!
  • There is a bag of coal in the outdoor garden shed. If you run out during your stay, it’s your responsibility to buy a refill.
  • Please only use the barbecue until 10 pm to keep noise and smells to a minimum for our neighbors.

16. House rules related to 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.

Example:  While we know our guests won’t intentionally break anything at our vacation rental, we understand accidents can happen sometimes. Here is what you need to know about accidental damages or breakages during your stay.

  • Always report any accidental damages or breakages in a timely manner, especially before check-out.
  • Please do not move any furniture from one room to another without agreeing to it with us first.
  • Please don’t take any bath towels with you to the beach. There are beach towels for that!
  • In case any damage to the property or its appliances is not covered by our insurance, the guest will pay for the repair costs from the security deposit.

Compliance and final agreement

The final section will likely summarize the conditions of the house rules and what will happen in the case of a breach.

Example:  We’ve set out these house rules so that every guest visiting our property has a safe, secure and most importantly, fun stay at our place. Compliance with these rules is essential for every member of the traveling party. We hope you have a great time and find everything you need at

our home.

  • Breach of any of these house rules is a breach of the terms and conditions of occupancy, as per the rental agreement you have signed.
  • We reserve the right to evict any guests or visitors from the property who refuse to follow these house rules.
  • In any case, please use common sense while staying in our house. If you’re unsure about any of the house rules and require further clarification, please give us a call.

Ask the expert: working in the rental industry is challenging, but owners usually have at least one catastrophic story and one funny one related to guests breaking house rules. What story would you share with our readers?

One expert noted the struggles of check-in and check-out time. Be it traveling between time zones or just your average mishap, sometimes guests are unclear about when they can start their vacation. Worse yet is when your guests are still snoozing in their beds at check-out time!

Alex Concepcion: A good friend of mine in the industry had a group of guests arrive a day early by accident. The booking guest didn’t read the dates correctly and showed up to an occupied house with her co-guests while there were guests staying at the property. Things got very confusing for everyone involved. Luckily there was an emergency option nearby which saved the day. But sometimes things you can’t predict will derail your plans.

Maybe this should serve as a good reminder to hosts to always have a backup plan! Even with house rules in place, mistakes happen and a plan B is needed. 

Jasper Ribbers: The funniest story was when a past guest told me he lost a bunch of cash in my apartment, but he couldn’t remember where he put it. Eventually, my cleaning lady found the money in one of the kitchen cabinets.

If you’ve got a safe at your property or hidden somewhere in the closet, make sure you detail the usage in the house rules. Otherwise, you might end up finding cash in some pretty strange places, like the kitchen cabinets!

Evelyn: I always like to tell my avocado story. This story isn’t about house rules, but it is about boundaries and how to enforce them. I live with my Airbnb guests, and I provide breakfast items, which live in the same refrigerator as my own food. Well, my guest thought my beautifully ripe avocado was part of his breakfast as well. Yeah, no. Not the avocado. Now I make sure I’m clear on my house tour, but I don’t have as a house rule, “don’t touch my avocado,” even though I want to.

House rules are about boundaries too! If you’ve got food, valuables, or anything else you don’t want to be touched at the property, it’s important that you’re painfully clear about that. Lack of house rules leaves the door open for guests to eat up all your yummy avocados …and who wants that?

Uploading your vacation house rental rules to OTAs

So let’s say you’ve curated the perfect set of guidelines using our sample house rules for guests, but then what? Should you wait until the guest arrives at your property only for them to discover they shouldn’t have brought the dog because your property doesn’t allow pets? Or that the kitchen is actually off-limits? Letting guests know about your house rules in advance not only ensures that your property stays well-kept, but it’s also vital for guest satisfaction. Your visitors should know what they’re agreeing to well before they’ve walked into the property. If your reservations come from a listing site, you’ll need to publish them on those websites as well. Here’s how:

Vacation rental house rules on Vrbo

Vrbo has its own kind of vacation house rules template already in place. The common rules, such as minimum age requirements and pet policies have already been teased out for you, meaning some of those rules are already divided into sections on the settings page and made easily adjustable. If you want to stick to the basics, you can just specify your vacation home rules there.

  1. Sign in to your Vrbo account 
  2. Select the property you’d like to edit
  3. Once you’re inside the property tab, find rules & policies from the navigation menu
  4. From there, select house rules
  5. This is where you’ll implement the rules you want to communicate with your guests
  6. Press Save and you’re done!

It’s quite easy to communicate your house rules for guests over Vrbo. Still, if you want to dive a little deeper, you can always send a full copy or document when the guest makes the reservation.

Vrbo house rules examples

The rules you choose to display on Vrbo might be a bit different than Airbnb or Booking.com, for example. Each platform tends to attract different guest profiles and the policies for rules and regulations vary between each listing site. Vrbo has six predefined house rules (overnight guests, minimum age, events allowed, pets, children, and smoking), but it also allows for three custom house rules. So what are some examples of Vrbo house rules that you might want to add?

  • Amenity usage
  • Curfew or noise restrictions
  • Cleaning rules

These are all rules that you might find across the board regardless of where the reservation was made, but each rule book should be customized depending on the guest, trip type, and even the listing site. Maybe, for example, your Vrbo customers are mainly families. In that case, it might be wiser to detail the use of the patio and pool versus placing importance on your party and events rules.

Rules for your listing on Airbnb

Airbnb is used for a variety of trips, be it a romantic honeymoon by the beach, a treehouse adventure with the kids, or a girl’s trip in the city. Due to its versatility, Airbnb has many different types of guests meaning varying needs for house rules. We’ve explained the whole thing, examples and all, in our very own Airbnb House Rules Guide.

Booking.com House Rules

The house rules for Booking.com are quite simple and you’ll find that they follow the same logic as Vrbo. The major house rules are already predefined, you just have to adjust the settings. 

  1. Sign in to your Booking.com account
  2. Select the Property you want to edit
  3. Scroll down to the Policies page
  4. Once you’re in Policies, click House Rules
  5. Edit and adjust the house rules
  6. Press Save to finalize the changes

The house rules that you can specify are about children, pets, smokers, parties, and quiet hours. Any other house rules that you want visitors to know about will have to be directly communicated and sent to the guest.

Download our Vacation Rental House Rules Template

Still not sure where to begin? Download our template to write your own rules! We’ve prepared a handy file that includes all of these examples that you can easily edit. Simply fill in the gaps to personalize it to best fit the needs of your property.

This template is designed to help you create the best experience for both you and your guests. Feel free to add, subtract, and edit as needed. Remember that no two properties are created equal so customizing the vacation house rules template to suit your own vacation home is not only recommended but vital.

Add your house rules to the listing sites your property uses and your own direct booking website, too. Lodgify provides beautiful website templates that are completely customizable meaning you can add your vacation rental house rules wherever you please!

What do you think about this article?

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Show Comments (23)
  1. 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.

    1. 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

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

    1. 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

  3. I tried to download the form with two different email addresses, but it doesn’t work…it freezes 🙁

    Could you please send me the template via email?
    Thanks a lot!!!

    Deb

  4. It’s up to you how you write your house rules – formal or fun; serious or tongue-in-cheek. But there are certain areas all short term rental hosts should address.

  5. Hi,

    super post. Just wanted to let you guys know that as a guest, a property with a nice thick list of house rules immediately loses a star in their ratings.

    Furthermore, a rule book with something in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS (such as DO NOT EAT THE AVOCADO) will make me spend time to nitpick and remove as many stars as possible.

  6. I entered all my personal info – had to create an account and STILL couldn’t get to the template.
    Starting to feel like click-bate to me.

    1. Hey Jon, sorry for the inconvenience. We emailed you the House rules template a few minutes after this comment but I’ve just resent the email just in case! Let us know if you need anything else.

    1. Hi Regina,

      To download the template you’ll need to put your name and email address so we have somewhere to send it. You’ll find this pop-up at the top of the article where it says “Free Vacation Rental House Rules Template” or after the last paragraph. Hope this helps!

  7. I agree that the owner of the rental should have their rules laid out so that all of their guests are on the same page. As a potential guest, this would make me feel better. Mainly because I would know what is and isn’t allowed from the start.

  8. Without any doubts, renting a vacation house is a serious process which requires a responsible approach because it is connected with many nuances that you need to take into account in order to avoid some risks. It is so cool that you shared such effective methods to think over the proper strategy in order to protect yourself in some ways and be certain that you won’t face problems connected with your potential tenants. Really often people underestimate the creation of vacation rental house rules and neglect this thing but after reading your article I became even more convinced that it is necessary. I think you need to apply all these tips to implement it into a reality and provide you and your guests with comfort.

  9. I never knew that property management isn’t always easy, but when you know that your guests are treating your home with care and respect, the job becomes a bit more manageable. I should share this article with my aunt. Thank you for the information about the home rentals.

  10. I like how you mentioned that it is manageable if your customer is kind with the property. My sister mentioned to me last night she is planning to have a vacation in the holidays and asked if I have any idea what is the best option to do in choosing the best cabin for us. Thanks to this informative article and I’ll be sure to tell her that we can try to consult a well-known cabin vacation rental.

  11. I like how you mentioned that it is important to follow house rules. My sister mentioned to me last night she is planning to have a vacation in the holidays and asked if I have any idea what is the best option to do in choosing the best rental home for us as she wants to be in a gulf front. Thanks to this informative article and I’ll be sure to tell her that we can try to consult a well-known vacation rental.

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