By Rowan Clifford
Author of Airbn’b’Smart and Smartbnb user
An Airbnb rental agreement is a legal contract between you and your guests, which sits outside of the Airbnb platform, giving you additional legal protection in any guest malpractice event.
But what should you put in the rental agreement? How do you send it to your guests? And what are the downsides?
Let’s find out, shall we!
What to put in your rental agreement?
The information you put in your rental agreement is going to vary from host to host, but there are some basic points that you’ll more than likely want to cover:
- Names: For any contract to be legally binding and effective, you must make sure that both parties’ full names engaging in the contract are present.
- Location: Address must be included.
- Booking details: The contract should outline the booking details; booking duration, dates, number of guests, check-in & check-out times, etc.
- Fees: Outline the booking cost and any fees associated, e.g., cleaning fees, maintenance.
- Parking: Add parking rules and instructions.
- House rules: This is where you want to get specific about the conduct you expect from your guests during their stay, e.g., no parties, no pets, no loud noise after 10 pm, etc.
- Landlord responsibilities: Outline the responsibilities and conduct you as a host will adhere to and uphold, e.g., what amenities you’ll provide, your commitment to responding to any problems, etc.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but it’s a good place to start – and obviously, to make your rental agreement legally binding, you’ll want to get it checked off by an expert to make sure it stands up to scrutiny in your jurisdiction.
How to send a rental agreement to your guests
Airbnb stipulates that you must make your guests aware of your rental agreement BEFORE they make their booking. Failure to do this will render them null and void.
This means that you’ll have to provide access to the rental agreement within your listing description.
Once you’ve covered that, and your guests are aware of the agreement they are entering into, you’ll need to send this to them once they’ve booked. This can be done as part of your message flow after a guest confirms their booking.
Plenty of messages to send to your guests.
Then comes the hard part. Getting your guests to sign the damn thing and send it back to you!
Once that’s done, the process is complete.
The downsides of Airbnb contracts
Adding a rental agreement to your booking flow on Airbnb doesn’t come without its pitfalls and downsides, which are well worth considering before you choose to proceed further:
Adding a rental agreement that your guests must sign and return to you adds considerable friction to the booking process. And, any additional friction will ultimately reduce your booking rate – which is worth thinking long and hard about.
How much friction will it add, and how many potential bookings will you lose because of it?
Who knows, but this is certainly worth weighing up before blindly plowing ahead.
Airbnb doesn’t have your back
This rental contract is between you and your guests and has nothing to do with Airbnb the company whatsoever.
Therefore you won’t be getting any help from them as an intermediary in the case of any disputes.
Instead, any disputes will need to go through the regular legal process, often involving lawyers and courts, which can get expensive.
If you’re a busy host (which I hope you are), then building a new contract for every new booking that comes in can be a bit of a headache.
Plus, on top of that, there’ll be a lot of chasing guests for signed contracts along the way too.
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Put off your guests
Nobody likes being told what to do, right?
And if your rental agreement reads like a textbook of rule after rule of what your guests can’t do, then you’re going to lose bookings to your competitors as a result.
Airbnb rental agreement; what are the benefits?
Ok, so we’ve looked at the downsides of Airbnb contracts, now what about the benefits?
Long term tenants
Did you know that after a certain period of time, your guest rights change from short-stay tennant to long-term tenant – with all of the rights that come with it?
Well, it’s true. Depending on your jurisdiction, this switch can happen in as little as 30 days!
That’s where an Airbnb long term rental agreement can really come in handy. Otherwise, you could find yourself with tenants in your property that you can’t get rid of.
Peace of mind
That’s right; you get to sleep at night knowing that you’re protected from any foul-play from guests.
When damages happen – which they inevitably will – you’ll have legal recourse to recoup the costs of these damages.
Sure, you get covered (to an extent) from Airbnb’s insurance policy, but having your own rental agreement in place is far more solid and robust.
Having a rental agreement in place will likely act as a screening process helping you to avoid troublesome guests before they ever even book.
What about VRBO rental agreements?
Just like on Airbnb, it’s possible to add additional rental agreements on Vrbo too.
In fact, with Vrbo, they even let you upload the rental agreement to their system, which is pretty neat.
All the same rules and recommendations apply, so what works for your Airbnb rental contract will work for VRBO, as well – you might just need to adjust a few bits here or there to make it fit for each platform, that’s all.
Sample vacation rental agreement
Alright, as promised, here’s a sample vacation rental agreement for you to download to help you on your way.
Go ahead and download it now.
*DISCLAIMER: This is a sample vacation rental agreement only.
Please ensure you seek the advice of an attorney before finalizing any legally binding document. Your agreement should be revised and updated habitually to adhere to any changing local or state laws.
Adding an Airbnb lease agreement to your booking flow does add a little extra friction to the process, and this is something to bear in mind – as any added extra friction will reduce your booking rate over time.
And it’s also worth remembering that the rental agreement is between you and your guest. NOT with Airbnb as an intermediary. Any problems/claims will have to be reconciled between the two of you amicably or in a courtroom.
But as with many things in life, the threat of legal action alone is often enough of a deterrent to make people compliant, which is what you really want, right?
So, should you add a short term rental agreement like this to your Airbnb?
That’s for you to decide, but here’s a sample Airbnb rental Agreement PDF for you to download to help you on your way.
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