Letting someone rent your home – or a room in your home, as discussed in the article – on a handshake is asking for trouble. A 2015 San Francisco Chronicle article, “Setting Up an Informal Rental,” is a good reminder that it’s good practice to formalize short-term rental agreements of all kind in writing.
One reason is that it’s all too easy for both you and the guests to remember the same conversation or interpret vague notes in an email message differently. You need a written short-term rental agreement that spells out the key terms, including the dates of the rental, when rent payments are due, how many people can stay in your home, whether you allow smoking or pets, and more.
You don’t have to hire a lawyer or use legal language. The primary purpose of the agreement is to avoid the misunderstandings that can leave you and your tenants disappointed, even angry.
“But I really like these people,” you think. That’s great. But no matter how comfortable you are with your guests and how much you intuitively trust them, no matter how long they’re staying, even if they have already paid the entire rent up front, put all the essential details you’ve agreed on and all the terms of the rental into a written agreement, to be signed by both parties. You may never need to refer to it, but if you do, you’ll be glad it’s there.
Have you ever rented your home to short-term tenants without putting the key rental terms in writing and later wished you’d had a written agreement? Tell us about it in the comments or on our Facebook page.