27 Replies Latest reply: May 29, 2018 3:05 PM by bhorsnround RSS

    Guest Exceeding the Maximum Allowed

    royguti Active Contributor

      Hi guys,

       

      I think one of my guests might be having people sleeping at the house that are not on the list they gave me. I use the rental rules as my contract for now (I know, might be time to do a "real" contract), I asked the renter to give me a list of people staying at the house and she listed 4 women and 2 children, the maximum is 9.

       

      In my rental rules I have this:

      "Maximum Occupancy: The maximum number of guests is limited to 9 persons staying overnight. Agreeing to add additional guests is up to the discretion of the landlord and might incur additional fees"

       

      I'm checking my video and it seems a guy and a couple are also staying at the house, so technically they would below the max but why didn't the guest list them? I have to review the camera more closely to see if there are more, unfortunately I don't have anything saying what is the penalty for breaking this rule. Also some people on this group, 5 guys, were hanging out in front of the house by the sidewalk, talking and smoking around 11pm this friday, one seemed to have a beer in his hand, they went back inside the house then I saw 3 leave in a car; mind you this is a family oriented neighborhood, nobody hangs out by the sidewalk late at night, some people just lack education and respect.

       

      How would you guys handle this?

       

      Thank you!

        • Re: Guest Exceeding the Maximum Allowed
          db.meyer Senior Contributor

          I'm assuming you do not have the renter's signature agreeing to your rules and also advising them of the camera?  With no consequences to breaking your rules, I would turn off the camera and get to work on creating a new rental agreement.  There are examples of rental agreements easy to find here, on HA's website, and online.

            • Re: Guest Exceeding the Maximum Allowed
              royguti Active Contributor

              My contract is in the "House Rules" section, unfortunately with my current lifestyle I don't have time to send and receive signed contracts so just put it in the House Rules section,  which includes the maximum and advises them of the camera, I actually got the agreement from somewhere here but realized it doesn't spell out the penalty for breaking this rule. I got the people staying at the house thru the homeaway messages.

               

              In actuality my biggest problem at this moment is how to handle a bunch of dudes hanging out in the sidewalk on my residential, family oriented street at 11pm. The reason I'm so concerned is that 2 weeks ago I had my first complaint from neighbors in about 90 bookings (this house though is a part time VR, I live there and rent it sparingly here and there) and it comes at a time when I'm trying to be an advocate for VRs in my city, so horrible timing, I apologized profusely to my neighbors and promised it won't happen again and now this group is pulling this stunt, so in reality I can live with them overcrowding my VR or even damages inside, I can't live with another neighbor complaint that might kill my livelihood, I'm literally walking on pins and needles while I wait for this renter to leave! I totally get the drop the camera and do the agreement db.meyer, it takes something like this to get things done! I'm in the process of talking to a lawyer to create a VERY strict contract.

               

              Thank you!

                • Re: Guest Exceeding the Maximum Allowed
                  db.meyer Senior Contributor

                  If your rental business is your livelihood, in spite of your current lifestyle limiting your time to manage rental contracts, you must make this your top priority or you will continue to have these issues and you do risk losing your right to rent on a short-term basis/your livelihood.  Even if your initial contract isn't perfect, it will be better than nothing and you must have a signature to enforce your rules.

                  • Re: Guest Exceeding the Maximum Allowed
                    Senior Contributor

                    To help with the immediate, short term problem, here is a suggestion:

                     

                    Call your guest and tell him you had a neighbor complain about the noise from the front yard at 11:00 pm. Ask if they would be so kind as to do their smoking in the backyard and please adjust the noise level so it does NOT bother the neighbors. You might include the following in your conversation....

                     

                    "None of us want the police to come over and ruin your vacation."  That usually does the trick, from my experience.

                     

                     

                    Long term problem solution:

                     

                    Check with your local laws regarding any noise ordinance and insert that rule into your contract WITH consequences for breach.

                     

                    Same with occupancy.

                     

                    Better yet, have an attorney draw up a contract with teeth. You need to be able to enforce what they'll signed and have confidence in your contract. Loosy-goosy (unenforceable) contracts are inviting problems.

                     

                    One more thing, I found it counter-productive to call a guest who was staying in my home to threaten with the police (or anything else) due to their bad behavior (especially if it upset my neighbors) because they could retaliate and cause damage after you've soured the relationship. This happened to me; I learned this the hard way.

                     

                    Better idea: Tell them the neighbors complained and you don't want their vacation ruined by this event, etc. This way you're on their side...and preserving the relationship.

                     

                    Sometimes guests need a wake-up call to behave. I found that the mention of an unhappy neighbor getting ready to call the police 'if it happens again' is an effective deterrent!

                     

                    We all want happy guests and for them to come again!

                      • Re: Guest Exceeding the Maximum Allowed
                        db.meyer Senior Contributor

                        I like your approach to appear to be on the renter's side (even though that is obviously not the case) due to Roy's non-enforceable rental agreement/rules.  If this doesn't work, Roy may need to get a bit firmer by letting them know that neighbor complaints are the main reason that cities/towns decide to prohibit STRs and that he doesn't want to see that happen for guests who want to rent in his town, and that he will lose his rental permit and income as a result.

                         

                        Since it is also the 4th of July w/e, it is very likely that this group will also be the type to set off noisy fireworks at all hours of the day/night.  I would let them know the local fireworks regs (many cities ban them entirely) but if no ban is in place, ensure that they have a bucket/hose at the ready to prevent any fires and do not make any noise after 10pm, etc.  All activities should be limited to the back yard (including smoking) and not on the front sidewalk!  Good luck!

                          • Re: Guest Exceeding the Maximum Allowed
                            royguti Active Contributor

                            Well, they left the first night and the next afternoon were the very stressful times, the first night the guys hanging out/maybe drinking in the street in front of the house and the second day an afternoon get together and about 10 cars, after that 3 straight days of events in other places, the day of the 10 cars, I asked her not to have anyone park in front of neighbor's houses (my house can probably accomodate 5-6 cars), I didn't realize the other cars all over the place were her guests, I decided not to push the issue, I don't think they were the type that would have respected me telling them that they're breaking a certain rule, I think it would have been a confrontation and that's the last thing I wanted under this particular situation for this house and my neighbors, so I let it go, they definitely used all the extra towels and sheets but they left the house in good condition.

                             

                            I'm creating new much stricter rules and I'm emailing my 2 future bookings (they due to come in about a month), I hope they agree with the new rules otherwise if we can't agree on a compromise I will have to cancel their bookings.

                              • Re: Guest Exceeding the Maximum Allowed
                                db.meyer Senior Contributor

                                Glad to hear your nightmare is over and they left the house in good condition.  Before you have your new contract in place, be sure you get their signature on your new rules.  I won't comment on any potential ramifications of your changing the rules 30 days before their arrival, but I hope that doesn't cause you any additional problems if you should cancel their reservation as a result.

                                 

                                In my experience with attorneys, I always come prepared with a draft that they can modify if needed and always saves me money in the process.

                                 

                                As I mentioned in previous posts, there are countless examples available on this forum, pick one that closely meets your needs, and then have your attorney use that as a starting point.  Here are examples found on this forum.  Hopefully others here will share other rental contracts with you.

                                 

                                Top 8 things you should include in your rental agreement

                                Sample forms and checklists

                                 

                                Template Rental Agreement 2015/07/01 thru 07/20 John Doe (to share on web) - Google Docs

                                  • Re: Guest Exceeding the Maximum Allowed
                                    royguti Active Contributor

                                    Thank you db.meyer, this is excellent! I noticed the templare rental agreement, doesn't specify penalties for exceeding the maximum as well, the format is similar to the one I got here last year, I like this one better though, it's cleaner and more concise, I can use this as the template and take it to the attorney.

                                      • Re: Guest Exceeding the Maximum Allowed
                                        Senior Contributor

                                        It's been my experience that oftentimes the 'responsible party' signing the paperwork is the ONLY person who has read your contract...and the 'House Rules'.


                                        Now if you have a party of six staying at your VR, and only one out of the six knows the rules, and the party gets going, well, you can see how that is a recipe for problems.


                                        So, I inserted a clause in my agreement - everyone who stayed at the VR had to read the contract. Does that mean that everyone will? Absolutely not, but it is additional legal leverage for you in case you have to withhold some of the deposit due to damage or breach.


                                        Suggestion: Post a few (of your most commonly broken) rules in conspicuous places through-out your VR so guests can easily read them. That might be the best way to ensure all know and understand.



                                          • Re: Guest Exceeding the Maximum Allowed
                                            thaxterlane Premier Contributor

                                            Agreed,  posting rules for guests is a good idea.

                                             

                                            My house rules, emailed to guests approx 2 weeks prior to stay, are posted on my refrigerator, with other condensed info about my home.  These sheets are used - by the end of the season the pages are creased and the clear sheet protectors are rather smudged.  Here's a photo:

                                            image.jpg

                                               The refrigerator is a good location for information you want your guests to see; as everyone manages to find

                                               the refrigerator . . . .

                                             

                                               I maintain complete info regarding all of these subjects in a ring binder, which does not get much use at all.

                                              • Re: Guest Exceeding the Maximum Allowed
                                                twomoreyears Senior Contributor

                                                We did much the same thing, after one group who smoked in our NO SMOKING property claimed they hadn't been told by the responsible party that they couldn't smoke.

                                                I have a one-page version of the rules on the refrigerator because I want everyone to see them, whether they want to see them or not. (laminated it and put it up with little magnetic clips).

                                                All the rest of the info is in binders, because it's mostly information they'll look for if they want to (restaurants, activities, maps, that kind of info)

                                  • Re: Guest Exceeding the Maximum Allowed
                                    psphoto Active Contributor

                                    Suggestion.....make the guest limit "at any time", not just overnight.

                                    Do you really want 20 people in your house in the daytime?

                                    I sure don't ...or the cars parked in front either. It's a good way to upset your neighbors.

                                    I too use a video camera pointed at me driveway to monitor both arrival and departure times, and number of vehicles

                                    out front.

                                    Pete

                                • Re: Guest Exceeding the Maximum Allowed
                                  thaxterlane Premier Contributor

                                  I have included the following clause in my lease: 

                                   

                                   

                                  Special events, parties and gatherings: Without prior written permission, TENANT shall not host special events, parties, or gatherings on the premises and shall not conduct any events or activities that might interfere with the peace and enjoyment of the property’s neighbors. Gatherings larger than the approved tenant list, unless given prior written permission, may result in cleaning fees deducted from the TENANT’S security deposit.  In consideration for the neighbors’ peace and harmony, no gatherings may be held outside the house between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m.

                                   

                                   

                                  Getting thread back on track, after I hijacked it to privacy issues . . . .

                                    • Re: Guest Exceeding the Maximum Allowed
                                      homeaway_community_manager HomeAway Employee

                                      thaxterlane,

                                       

                                      Thanks for getting it back on track! Much appreciated.

                                       

                                      Erinn

                                      HomeAway Community Manager

                                      • Re: Guest Exceeding the Maximum Allowed
                                        vrdoctor Senior Contributor

                                        We have a guest who booked for six, then became seven and now tells me that they are having a dinner with a few of their friends.  This puts them at 50% over our maximum occupancy for their dinner event.  They wrote and stated that they read our contract but did not think that dinner with friends counted as a party,  gathering or event.  They acknowledged that they read the agreement and were aware of our occupancy limits and policies but did not think that it would be an issue as they were not having a party and are responsible people.

                                         

                                        I realize that we need to be even more specific with our contract and have not only the policy but also what consequences there will be for violating each specific policy and what counts as a violation.  I don't have a clearly stipulated charge for going over the daytime occupancy limit as we define our occupancy by nightly guest (although the contract references a maximum number of guests at any time, day or night). 

                                         

                                        I did point out in my reply that we have a maximum for a reason, that it was clearly stated in the rental agreement and that we do not have seating for the number of people they intend to have over for dinner.  I don't want to give permission to break the policy but I don't want to put off the guest either.  In the end I will only end up charging if there is damage, excessive cleaning or stains from their dinner party (if our cleaners catch the issue that is).

                                          • Re: Guest Exceeding the Maximum Allowed
                                            db.meyer Senior Contributor

                                            I state that the maximum is 8 guests in and on the property AT ALL TIMES DAY AND NIGHT.  I made the mistake of making several exceptions early on, once for a day-time BBQ for 2 extra and one for Thanksgiving for 1 extra.  It ended up being many more than that and other problems ensued.  I no longer make any exceptions and do not care if they are "put off".  They know what they agreed to!

                                             

                                            As to the penalty:  Any violation of the rules will result in the loss of fees paid and immediate eviction.

                                              • Re: Guest Exceeding the Maximum Allowed
                                                vrdoctor Senior Contributor

                                                Question for the group, has anyone had to immediately evict a guest?  Would you evict a guest for being over your max occupancy by 4 people (max is 8)?

                                                  • Re: Guest Exceeding the Maximum Allowed
                                                    thaxterlane Premier Contributor

                                                    In order to take action regarding retaining fees and evicting tenants it's important to know the law in your state regarding these actions.  These aren't actions which may simply be written into a lease and/or acted on.  It's imperative to know the law.  An owner could bring a great deal of trouble on themselves by taking imprudent action.  Evictions, in particular, may be risky.  Proceed with caution . . . .

                                                      • Re: Guest Exceeding the Maximum Allowed
                                                        thaxterlane Premier Contributor

                                                        Adding:  I recall a previous thread where it was recommended to avoid using the term "eviction" and instead refer to "removal" of guest.  I'm not sure why the distinction except an eviction generally has a very well defined set of steps and processes that must be adhered to through housing court.  In some states, I believe, short term rentals are not subject to the same requirements.  Hence a "removal" rather than an "eviction".  . . . . Although I could be wrong (I am not a legal expert).  Consult an attorney.

                                                        • Re: Guest Exceeding the Maximum Allowed
                                                          vrdoctor Senior Contributor

                                                          That was kind of my point, it sounds good in theory but in reality it would be a mess.  If we had a guest throwing a raging party, doing anything illegal or destroying the house I would ask the police to intervene and help remove but I would never throw a guest out for bending a rental policy.  It is frustrating and annoying to deal with but the only leverage we have is to charge for damage, excess cleaning or additional guest fees.

                                                        • Re: Guest Exceeding the Maximum Allowed
                                                          royguti Active Contributor

                                                          when I went to see a real estate attorney, I asked him and he said I couldn't evict the guest (here in michigan), next time I go back I will make sure that we were on the same page since this was a quick question/answer, I imagine there are variables that could make an eviction legal.

                                                          • Re: Guest Exceeding the Maximum Allowed
                                                            twomoreyears Senior Contributor

                                                            We require the names of people that will be staying and add those to the contract.  Then we state "we have the right to refuse lodging to anyone that is not in the contract".  I don't believe that "refusing lodging" is the same as "evicting".  If your situation is current, it won't help.  But it might in the future.  Of course, consult a lawyer

                                                    • Re: Guest Exceeding the Maximum Allowed
                                                      bhorsnround Contributor

                                                      I made up an agreement where they have to sign and return to me before I let them enter; in that occupancy clause it states clearly I will deduct from their damage deposit it there is over the occupancy allowed.  This keeps them thinking and respectful so far.