Roberto, you better read your contract with HA/VRBO closer.
YOU are responsible for YOUR contracts, payments, etc.
The reservation manager- as far I can see- is just acting as any other 3rd party that processes payments ( think bank with a high fee).
My suggestion is that you ALWAYS have your renter sign the contract and CC authorization you have outlined. In today's world dealing with online payments there is nothing that is redundant. The more documentation you have the more YOU are protected.
Best to you!
I think I have the same question? I have had a few guests pay with a credit card and then not fill out the credit card info on the rental agreement. They have already paid and usually write soemthing like "paid through VRBO" on the contract.
Do I need that info?
Also I used the standard rental form off the site with my own modification. it does not ask what bank the card is drawn on (B of A, Citibank) just what type of card (Visa, MC) do I need to know what bank it is drawn on? I asked for a copy of the front and back of the card, same people did not provide the card. Do I need to get it.
We use the HA reservation system and the HA payment system.
We always require a separate contract. This is where we define our cancelation rules, how we reimburse if the hot tub is broken, our no smoking rules, etc. Although digital signatures (and even check boxes) do have legal standing these days, we prefer to have something more concrete in our hands. We're happy with a faxed or scanned copy, but we want something with a signature confirming acceptance of all our terms.
Our process is (roughly) as follows:
- We keep a copy of our contract in Google Docs. It is a very modified version of the contract template in the HA library. It uses tables to format the layout with spaces for an initial by each line item, the renter's name, the dates, the mix of adults and children, and a breakdown of the charges. At the bottom is the renter's name again, their mailing address, a mobile phone # and a place for their signature and date. It does not include any payment info or empty fields for credit card info. The HA credit card system will take care of all that, collecting whatever card info, ID codes, etc. that are needed. I don't want any of it - the less I know, the less liabilty I have about it.
- I open the template in Google Docs, make a copy and rename it with the rental date and renter's last name - then update the fields in the contract to put in the specifics for this rental.
- I then tell Google Docs to download the document as a PDF. Wham-O - I now have a nicely formatted PDF file to send that anyone can read and print out that will always be formatted correctly, can't be edited, and can be opened without special software. I can also do all fo this from any computer, any where that has an internet connection, including my mother-in-law's old Gateway computer when we visit her for Christmas. I don't need any local files or programs to put it together.
Sending the Contract:
- I then send a separate email from our GMAIL account with the contract attached:
Thank you for choosing our Pocono Swiss House for your vacation.
This email and contract is not a guarantee of your reservation! Your reservation is not confirmed until we have received a faxed or emailed copy of the signed contract and your deposit!
Please sign the bottom of the attached contract and initial by each of the lines. Then fax back the rental agreement (all pages) to (fax number), or scan the document and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you fax the document, please also send me an email to let me know to check the machine!
The payment request will come as a separate email from HomeAway. Depending on how many days in advance you have made your reservation, it may ask you for half or for all of your rent. At 30 days before your arrival date you will automatically get another notice from HomeAway for the second half. And one week before your arrival you will get a request from HomeAway for your refundable damage deposit. If you make your reservation less than 30 days or a week before arriving, some or all of the payment request may be combined in one request.
As soon as the contract comes back I will also send you an email with your 4 digit door lock code, more info about the house, and attractions in the area.
We're looking forward to having you stay at our place!
My wife and my names
Pocono Swiss House, LLC
(our phone number)
HA/VRBO payment system:
- I go in and make sure the inquiry dates for the renter are correct. Sometimes it lets me correct them if they have changed, sometimes it doesn't. I also try to update the address, phone number, number of adults, etc. if they were not filled in. Again, sometimes it lets me, sometimes it doesn't (Bugs in teh software???). Often I just create a new reservation by hand to make sure it is right.
- I click the "Book it", and fill in the rental amount and cleaning fee, and add extra lines if I offer a discount or have extra fees. I ALWAYS check the Damage Protection checkbox and the Refundable Damage Deposit box ($500), and if I have told the renter that I require (and will charge them for) insurance, I check that too - typically the $49 policy.
- On the next page, if it is more than 30 days out I check the 3 payments box, otherwise just 2. Then I adjust the amounts so that the first payment is 50% of the rental total not including the damage deposit, and put the same amount in the 2nd payment - leaving $500 for the thrid payment. Or if less than 30 days out with only 2 payments, I put the full rental amount (not including the damage deposit) in the first payment field. I also adjust the dates due for each payment. It usually gets the first and second payment dates right, but I adjust the damage depsoit due date to be 8 days before arrival.
- On the summary page, I click the "Please refer to the owner's stated rental policy" drop down, make sure there is no uploaded contract, and type
"Renter will complete a separate rental agreement - Transaction is for payment of rental, cleaning fees, and tax only."
in the text box. NOTE: I DO NOT UPLOAD THE PDF FILE. I have found that users simply cannot find the link to it when they receive the HomeAway email (I've spend over half an hour trying to direct users to the correct link in their email and on the HA payment pages. It's just a crazy layout with orange boxes that link to HomeAway boilerplate, and blue link text elsewhere that links to the actual contract). WE SEND THE PDF CONTRACT AS A SEPARATE EMAIL TO AVOID CONFUSION.
- On the last page, I replace the boilerplate text with:
Dear (Guest name),
Thank you for choosing our Pocono Swiss House for your vacation. Your total rental costs will be $XXX. This includes the rental, the departure cleaning fee, local and state sales taxes - but not the refundable damage deposit.
This email is not a guarantee of your reservation! Your reservation is not confirmed until we have received your deposit AND a faxed or emailed copy of the signed contract!
To make your payments, please click the "Pay Now" button. Your payments are broken into 3 parts: The first part is half your rent (including rental and cleaning fees, sales tax) and is required at time of reservation to confirm and hold the house for you. The second payment is the other half of the rent, and is due at least 30 days before you arrive.
The other payment of $500 is a damage deposit of $500 US to cover any possible damages as outlined in the contract. This $500 US is due 8 days before your arrival date. It is refunded to your credit card within 3 days of your departure after we have inspected the house.
As each payment is made through the HomeAway payment system, you will receive a receipt via email.
You will also receive the contract via a separate email directly from ouremailaddress@Gmail.com
You can either fax back the rental agreement (all pages) to (ourfaxnumber), or scan the document and email it to email@example.com. If you fax the document, please also send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) to let me know to check the machine!
REMEMBER: No Smoking and No Pets Please. We want to keep the Pocono Swiss House a safe place for people with allergies!
When the contract comes back I will also send you an email with your 4 digit door lock code, more info about the house, and attractions in the area.
We're looking forward to having you stay at our place!
My and my wife's names
Pocono Swiss House, LLC
The only reason we send the separate email with the PDF contract is because the HA payment email to the renter is a confusing layout that is more trouble than it is worth. If they fix that, we would gladly upload the contracts in the reservation system and use that instead.
NOTE1: we do not use the HomeAway inquiry response system though. We do not use it because it does not support any formatting, and we use heavy formatting to highlight policies in bold, indent and bullet features of the house an the area, etc. If the HomeAway inquiry response system supported full formatting, we would probably use that too, and perhaps more of the reservation fields would be filled out for us when we click the "book it" button.
NOTE2: We keep all our boilerplates for cover emails, etc in Google Docs as well. That way we can get to them anywhere, and if we feel a need to update our boilerplate, we can do so at any time and not worry about having multiple copies of the boilerplate floating around on different computers or in different directories.