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I have been vacation renting my property since 2005, a total of 7 years. My original agreement was rather typical, short with the necessary information, (arival date, check out and amounts etc) plus a few cabin quirks such as an unfenced cliff location and our steep driveway. As I learned more about the vacation rental business, attended the HomeAway seminar, and dealt with guest issues I added more details to the agreement. The details not only include septic rules, water conservation rules, property quirks but it also informs and reminds the guests of the conveniences that we supply and where to find them in the house. For example I clarify that we supply condiments and basic items such as sugar and flour. This came about because a guest had said, "she wished she would have known that we supplied these items." It was on my web site but I just wanted to repeat it in the contract. My longest rental agreement is 6 pages in size 10 font. I ask that they print, read, and hand sign and they can either fax or email it back to me.
I just had a guest that created a huge fuss over the length of my agreement for only a 2 day booking. Over the 7 years and hundreds of guests I have had maybe 2 guests object to the information and house rules in the agreement saying they were offended at the detail of the contract and they would never damage a property. "See ya" This is my 3rd objection and his complaint is about the length of the contract for only a 2 day booking. I suspect it is actually the house rules and pet rules that he is concerned about.
In the end, he spent more time disputing the length of the agreement than it would have taken for him to read, sign and fax it. I returned his payment and suggested that he would be best booking a home without a rental agreement.
How long and how detailed is your rental agreement? I have attached a copy of mine if you would be so kind as to provide some feedback.
Here is ours. We've never had a complaint about the length or content. As for instructions for TV, entertainnent, etc, I keep several laminated copies of those instructions and DirecTV channels in the living room and bedrooms. Recycling and garbage pickup schedules are in the carport above the garbage cans, can't miss them. Anything else that I feel necessary, like THERE IS NO DISPOSAL in sink, KNIVES are SHARP, please never put them in the dishwasher as it will dull them, please shake all sand out of clothing before putting them in washer or dryer, etc, are laminated an placed appropriately.
If anybody has ANY objections to what's in the lease, we don't want them staying in our home.
I am an owner and have a detailed rental agreement.Although I think you meant well. you should remove the link you posted and instead post a template of your lease. It is wrong, IMHO, to post all the tenants information in a public forum.
BTW, I guess you wouldn't want me a a tenant. Knives are Sharp?? Well, DUH. I give my tenants credit for having some common sense.
Those are all fake names and addresses. Notice Smith, Jones, and Elm St?
I'll bet you that not 10% of cooks in this country know not to put their good utility knives in the dishwasher, and most people have DULL knives in their own kitchens. Heck, I know someone who is a terrific cook, and her husband thinks Cutco knives are the best you can get. They tried a couple of my knives and were astounded.
I'd love to have you as a tenant since you're kitchen savvy. In addition to leaving my equipment in good condition, you'd probably enjoy the high end equipment and herb and salad garden. See http://chatterbotoo.com/kitcheninventory.htm and http://chatterboxtoo.com/houseplan/garden.htm
Most of our tenants are 1-2 weekers and young families. One reason for choosing a house over a hotel is that they can save lots of $$ by cooking in with local seafood, and of course the rental cost is way cheaper than simple hotel rooms. People aren't born with common sense, it's learned over a lifetime. Many young mothers work outside the home and have precious little time or energy for dealing with culinary nuances. Most have written me that they appreciated the tips and tricks posted around the house.
We've stayed at probably about a dozen rental homes, some cottages, some condos, some cabins, some regular homes. Not a single one of them had a sharp utility knife, and most cooking equipment was Walmart quality and well used. After our first rental, I always took one good chef's knife, a plastic cutting pad, and a well seasoned 50 year old iron skillet.
Susan, You are right...I replaced the contract with a template with phony names. Linda, thank you for sharing your contract. It is pretty detailed with specific information and requests to your home too. How many pages is it when printed out? Thank you, Jan
Geez......mine is 11 pages long. I got it from a gentlemen on VRBO who posted it for everyone to use. It is very detailed and I have had no complaints yet and am pleased with my bookings. BUT IS 11 PAGES TOO LONG!?
I wouldn't replace it especially if no one has complained. After all we are renting out our homes to complete strangers.
I didn't shorten mine or eliminate any of the details as I felt I was justified. Since my original post I have had 2 guests renege once they saw the actual agreement. Both said it was too long and too cumbersome. Both had dogs that I am sure could not adhere to the pet rules. So I am sticking with my 6 page agreement and that is that.
Ours is 5 pages and I wouldn't make it any shorter. No one has complained except one man who told me it was "unfriendly" of me to tell people they might be charged if they check out too long after there check out time causing problems preparing the house for the next renters. He also didn't like having to strip the beds and collect dirty towels. LOL
I use a 2 pager, it works for me. Good guests don't need more than that and 10 pages won't have any effect on the (hopefully few) bad ones.
Since I am pet friendly I want to state up front, in the original response, that any pet damage will not be tolerated. So I use this line in my original quote. Believe it or not it has scared off a few irresponsible pet owners. Good riddance!
"Well behaved, well cared for pets are welcome at the cottage. They must be up to date on their shots and on some sort of flea/tick treatment. Pets should not be left unattended in the cottage. Should an accident or other damage occur, I would ask that you notify me at once so it can be taken care of quickly."
I am aware that there is no "single solution" for all of us. We all need to find the right answer for each of our individual situations.
You know...your "line in the original quote" is almost exactly the line I use in my original quote for "children"....!! ....and it has the same affect!
Yup..... I'd like them to have their shots, be lice-free, mite-free, flea-free, bedbug-free, quiet, non destructive, well-cared for, never left alone in the house, and potty trained.
Mine is also two pages. I have a personal web site where I list all the staples, spices, and appliances in the kitchen, all the games in the game closet, all the types of soap and cleaning supplies, all the beach gear, etc. I have a guest information book with details about how to run the dishwasher and what not to put down the disposal and what gets recycled. Instead of putting details like that in a contract, you can refer to your guest information book in your contract with a clause like "guest will follow instructions in the book". This gives you the freedom to change the instructions at the last minute, something you couldn't do if the instructions are in the contract.
After looking at mine further I noticed that I also included our condo association rules and regulations. There are numerous things on it that if enforced are not covered under a standard contract. I keep reading over and over regarding credit card charge backs that it is very important to have it all down in writing in case it is needed down the road. For this reason alone I am just more comfortable with a longer contract but am sure a renter would want a shorter one.
We have a one-page legal size (8.5"x14") document, with all details of the guests, their stay, extra upgrades, payment & refund policies, and finally signatures (on the back we have a map of the large condo complex showing all units & facilities). I don't see any reason to include an instruction manual to your home in a contract. If you have issues or complex equipment around the home either supply manufacturer operating manuals, affix labels or post laminated signs, but I don't feel a contract is a place to include a manual to your house, especially when a guest needs to sign it and return it back via fax or e-mail. We've never had any issues as we account for operation issues separately.
Mine is 4 pages, but I did this for PDF, etc. printing purposes, since many people don't have legal paper in thier printers.. Each page is specific,numbered and the primary renter must sign each page.
Page 1: Basic guest information, # of guests, cost breakdown, form of payment, CC info.
Page 2: Damage Deposit (basic guidelines, how it will be paid -check or CC )
Page 3: Cancellation policy
Page 4: Hold Harmless Agreement
I used to have a simplier version, but on my attorney's advice I developed this system. I email it as a whole document and require the completed document, with required payment in order to confirm a reservation.
Specifics info about our home (check in & out, directions and general info of what we provide) is sent once final payment has cleared my bank.
1462 words, which I can squeeze onto 2 pages using about a 9 pt font. I keep it this short by incorporating by reference other emails and documents exchanged between me and the guest.
Since crescentbeach mentioned association rules . . . I do not incorporate the condo association rules because I am not going to enforce them on a tenant, but I do condition refund of the security deposit on there being no violation of the rules reported to me. (That clause would not allow me to withhold anything from the refund except to the extent that the association would assess a monetary penalty against me for a guest's conduct.)
I think it is more important to cover the essential points in a document the guest will actually read rather than to hit every possible issue in a document the guest will, at best, skim. And I consider that the main reason to have a detailed contract is in the event of litigation. All of my guests come from 2000+ miles away which would make it impractical for me to sue any of them, and difficult for them to sue me.
Good morning Sage,
The reason I included Condo Rules and Regs is from renters next door. Our complex is a totally non smoking complex and there some signs that state this. As my wife and I look forward to any days that are not rented in our condo we quickly fill those gaps up staying there ourselves. One evening we literally could not sit out on our balcony as the renters next door must have just issued the "If you got em, smoke em" order. I leaned over the rail and reminded them that this was a no smoking complex and they told me to go pound sand!
I started thinking about this further and found out later that their condo is also rented out by the same rental agency that rents mine in conjunction of me renting it out through VRBO. I called them and asked what they do to educate the renters on association rules and they told me that they did nothing but to tell the renters that there should be a Condo Rules and Regulations Sheet somewhere in the condo and ask them to find it and read it.
My concern is with PDP not covering the cleaning of smoke or other smells from the unit, and the actual costs to do so I decided to keep the Condo Rules and Regs in in my contract. At the end of my contract I make them initial a sentence that again emphasizes about 6 line items including "Not to Smoke" or they will be liable. I want them to absolutely make sure that they understand that monies will be withheld if this line item was not followed.
As mentioned in other posts, my contract is long but I have never had one complaint, all fantastic reviews and repeat bookings for next year. At this stage I can be picky, but maybe next year I might be forced to switch to a half page agreement just to get renters. Let's not hope so. So my personal journey pushes forward.
It's interesting what you say about smoking issues you have had. Luckily, even though our contract is only one (very-full) side of a legal size (8.5"x14") sheet of paper, it actually does specifically mention compensation due to violations such as cigarette smoking. Our contract has been amended, enhanced, clarified and tightened up extensively over the past 8 years. We finally have it to where everything is accounted for and we never had any questions or issues (at least not yet anyway).
Of course I personally check each guest in and go over both the paper work and the condo & property with them. I just had a young couple traveling from Cancun check-in about six hours ago, just before 11pm as they had missed their flight. I actually enjoy checking people in the most, when everything looks picture perfect and they can finally "settle in" after a long day of traveling.
Yikes, seven pages is a lot! I wonder what your contracts contain that we may have left out or do not include as part of the contract itself (specific home instructions, manuals, tips, etc.).