Thanks to Jess Ashworth of Lodgify.com for this guest post.
House rules are a professional way of stating your expectations for your short-term rental guests.
Whether you rent your primary home for a few weekends a year or rent your second home for weeks or months at a time, house rules for your short-term rental tell guests clearly what they can and cannot do. Rules can not only save you time by eliminating the need to have to repeat things over and over, they help to reduce damage and avoid other kinds of problems.
Send the rules to guests before they arrive so they can ask questions if necessary, and leave a printed copy for them in your home. You can decide how to write your house rules – whether that’s a friendly, talkative tone or a formal, more serious one. Whatever way you choose to write, there are certain things all hosts should consider including. This step-by-step guide will certainly help you to get started!
1. Opening Statement
In the opening paragraph, briefly explain that the rules are a requirement of the rental agreement and not complying with them might result in a penalty – such as deduction from the damage deposit.
2. General Requirements
This section exists to cover any topics that don’t really belong on their own elsewhere. For example, you might include a line about immediately reporting disputes with neighbors or one about contacting you (or your representative) before calling repair people in case the water heater goes out.
3. Noise and the Neighborhood
You’ve probably spent a long time building relationships with your neighbors – so it would be a shame to ruin them. Include rules regarding respecting the neighbors and avoiding anti-social behavior such as excessive noise late at night. It’ll help keep the peace, and your neighbors will thank you for it!
4. Visitors and Functions
Make it clear whether guests may have parties and overnight visitors during their stay. Spell out any limitations, such as how many visitors they can have in the home at one time and whether they need your written permission to have overnight guests.
If guests bring their own vehicles, state where – and where not – they are allowed to park, as well as the maximum number of vehicles allowed. For example, your house rules might state: “There are parking spaces for two cars at the back of the house. Do not park in or block the neighbors’ driveways.”
6. Garbage and Recycling
If guests are expected to take out the trash and recycle while they’re at your property – let them know. While filling the dishwasher after dinner is part of the home-away-from-home package, make sure it’s clear that garbage and recycling is their responsibility during their stay, too.
Guests will more likely than not treat your place like it’s their own home. However, it’s always worth mentioning that their belongings and valuables are safe (or covered under your rental insurance) only if they close and lock all windows and doors when they go out. It’s also a good idea to remind guests about energy-saving – e.g. “Close the windows when the air conditioning is on and turn off the lights when you go out.”
8. Hot Tub/Swimming Pool
If you let guests use your hot tub or swimming pool, include any restrictions (“Out of respect for our neighbors, use the pool only between 9:30 a.m. and 9:30 p.m.”), prohibited items (“Do not use glass or sharp objects in or near the hot tub”), or cautions (“An adult must be present when children swim in the pool”).
9. Balcony/Deck Areas
Balconies are great for watching the sunset, but they can be a major hazard zone for younger travelers. In apartment or condo buildings, balconies are also a major source of noise that can disturb neighbors. Include a line or two to describe your house rules regarding the proper use of these spaces – especially where children are involved.
If guests can’t smoke in your short-term rental, make it crystal clear to avoid any stinky surprises. Lay out your rules about whether and where guests are allowed to smoke (if at all).
Pet-friendly travel is a great niche market for short-term rental hosts to tap into. If there are any restrictions regarding pets at your property, such as how many pets are allowed at one time, or if pets over a certain size are prohibited, your guests need to know.
Summer at a short-term rental is all about outdoor life: relaxing, cooking, and eating outside. If your home boasts a barbecue or grill for those evening cookouts, leave clear instructions and rules on how to use (and clean!) it properly and safely.
13. Damage and Breakages
As a short-term rental host, you know more than anyone that accidents can happen. Don’t scare your guests into thinking they’ll forfeit their whole deposit over one broken mug! Make it clear in your house rules that they need to tell you about anything that might have been damaged or broken during their stay. Tip: One way to reduce the chance of expensive damage is to impose restrictions on moving furniture from one room to another.
While you’ll have sent guests check-out instructions in your correspondence and repeated them out in the Welcome Book, it won’t do any harm to reinforce them in the house rules to make sure nothing is forgotten. Mention the check-out time, cleaning, garbage disposal, key handover – anything you feel necessary for an effortless check-out process.
15. Emergency Contact
Your Welcome Book should include emergency contact details for the local ambulance, fire department and police stations, but it’s always useful for your house rules to provide an emergency contact number in case anything goes wrong.
The final section summarizes the conditions and what will happen in the case of a breach of the rules.
Have you written house rules for your short-term rental? We’d love to see them! Please share them in the Comments or on our Facebook page.