26 Replies Latest reply: Dec 1, 2014 6:20 PM by twobitrentals RSS

    advice needed for renting to a friend

    hkquinn Active Contributor

      I have an acquaintance who asked me to book a weekend for her and a group of friends. No problem. I sent her an invoice through VRBO/Home Away and told her I would reserve the spot on our calendar. That was a week ago. No response to the first invoice, so I resent it. Still no response. How do I tell her nicely, that unless I get a deposit, I need to open up the dates? This is prime ski season and I know I can get it rented. What to do?

        • Re: advice needed for renting to a friend
          msdebj Senior Contributor

          You'll find this is not an isolated problem. WE never knew we had so many friends/family until we bought a VR home!

           

          You can search on the field under under Forums for a lot of comments.

           

          We've had to make it clear that our home is not available to anyone at a discount during high season. If there is a last minute cancellation we might make an exception, but that doesn't happen often. Free? No.

           

          If they want to stay during high season they will have to abide by the rules our other guests do. Sign the contract, make the payments as required, etc. ( It's a tax and liability issue).

           

          If you choose to give them a discount, that's up to you. I'd make sure they know that they still need to sign your contract and make whatever kind of payment you're willing to work out with them. 

           

          Your home is an investment, and I imagine you may want the income it generates. You can be nice, but don't let people take advantage of you. They may not understand things, so it's a good idea to educate them in a nice, personal note or phone call. If they are real friends they will understand.

          Best of luck!

          debj   

          • Re: advice needed for renting to a friend
            anja Senior Contributor

            Hi hkquinn,

             

            Playing the "devils advocate"....she believes that the place is reserved and held for her. You said that you sent her an invoice *and told  her* that you would *reserve the spot on our calendar*.   So, she doesn't feel any pressure for follow up action.   

             

            I'm speaking for myself now (maybe other owners think and do differently):   For me, only a deposit received  *confirms a reservation* -- and this  is stated in my "offer" sent.  I do not mark the calendar "unavailable" right away ...I only mark it "tentative" for myself (the online calendar still views it as "available" ...as does the search filter). So, I will continue to "field" new inquirers...and if I get another opportunity to rent....I deal with the situation as it unfolds ....but I tell the first "prospect -- who has not PAID deposit yet" that their reservation is "pending confirmation" and they risk losing to someone who is inquiring after them...if the matter is -urgent-  I phone them with this information.  I go from there based on the circumstances...using more than my gut --- I rely on the character of the response I get   {During my "gentle reminder"...I once got sarcasism from "the husband" whom I was referred to speak to ...by "the wife".  I was waiting almost one month for a deposit.  It ended by my "retracting my offer"! Sarcasism prior arrival while being in violation of agreement doesn't demonstrate "good character", to me.} 

             

            I understand that this is someone you know and you are happy to rent to them. But, I think that makes it seem odder to me that this person is not responding to your payment instructions -pronto- because she knows you!  I would never hang up my friends, family, neighbours, acquaintances if I'm obliged to them for some reason --- and no one that I know, intimately or casually, has done this to me. Maybe it's just luck on my part...but I think it more that I am very clear about "how to confirm a reservation".  I get it across that the place remains "available" until confirmation is received  (= deposit)....now I would not "give away" the place to others if I have been in good communication with someone prior -- who is in the process of sending payment. But, I set a deadline for receipt of payment, too....so it's clear what they have to do to "secure" the place in their name....or risk losing it to others who act quicker.  And...this applies to anyone I know  personally as well --- because they do know that I have a business and the place is an income-generating property. If I don't make it clear, they do not have the "imagination" to understand the processes for me to stay in business.

             

            However, if your acquaintance thinks that you are holding the place for her...and there is no possibility to lose it ....perhaps she doesn't feel the rush to forward the deposit.   Of course, there could be other reasons --- maybe your emails end up in her spam folder, maybe she's too busy to even think about her ski vacation right now. Perhaps she has to glean monies from her friends who are sharing expenses. And, there are some people that are just slow to react to invoice noticesPerhaps she doens't really  understand the process.

             

            This is what I would do....

            I like to deal with this kind of situation in an email so I have a written record.  If this were my situation, I would send my acquaintance a very nicely worded *reminder* by email thanking her for her interest...and that I look forward to welcoming them...but stressing that I am feeling the pressure now to have to open up my rental as "available" due to the high demand for the ski season  --- and advise her to "confirm their reservation" by deposit before someone else does --- because you can not hold it "closed" longer without a "confirmation by deposit".  If that weekend she asks will be easy to rent to others, you could leave it "closed" on the calendar for her for a couple of days more to wait her reply.   

            • Re: advice needed for renting to a friend
              mlbmaine Community All-Star

              This is a ticklish situation.  My suggestion is to be polite, but firm.  I would call or e-mail her.  You could start by stating that you would love to have her and her friends stay at your property.  You could then add that you know how difficult it can sometimes be to get a group of people to make a decision.  Let her know, however, that the dates that her group has asked for are during your prime rental period and you cannot hold these dates for her group indefinitely.  I would give her a fixed date (perhaps 4 or 5 days from the date of your communication) by which you must receive the signed rental agreement and deposit or else you will make the property available to other renters.

               

              Couching it in terms of "the group" rather than "her" might also make the communication easier. It takes the responsibility off of her shoulders and puts it on "the group."  (She may be facing a situation where members of the group are hemming and hawing and she cannot get firm commitments from them.  Your phone call/e-mail to her may actually help her get the other members of the group to "fish or cut bait.")

              • Re: advice needed for renting to a friend
                sage Community All-Star

                "How do I tell her nicely, that unless I get a deposit, I need to open up the dates?"

                How would you tell anyone who had inquired that you need to receive the deposit.  Points were made above regarding the need to clear up any ambiguity regarding the reservation process. 

                 

                I suspect you are feeling uneasy about approaching this acquaintence about paying you for the use of your vacation rental.  Imagine that rather than a vacation rental you were operating a grocery store.  This acquaintence and her friends drop by and load up a couple shopping carts.  Do you let them go out the door without paying?  Even though the use of the rental may not be as tangible as a bag of oranges, you need and deserve to be paid.  Time--the periods your rental is occupied by paying guests--is your stock in trade. 

                • Re: advice needed for renting to a friend
                  codcape Contributor

                  just tell her what you just wrote - i'll have to open the dates unless you want it?

                  • Re: advice needed for renting to a friend
                    kiawahcottage Community All-Star

                    Hi Hkquinn,

                     

                    Could be totally wrong here but my take is that she might be having trouble getting her friends to commit and actually give her their share of the deposit.  They may have told her they would like to go but this far out it's hard to get a group fully organized.  You need to call and explain your situation and find out what's going on.

                     

                    Paul

                    • Re: advice needed for renting to a friend
                      hkquinn Active Contributor

                      Thanks everyone for your advice and helpful hints. I am going to put on my big girl pants and just talk to has as a business owner.

                        • Re: advice needed for renting to a friend
                          lrbaldwin Active Contributor

                          A couple of observations here:  A friend and a bunch of his/her friends?  Do you know all these people?  First, this person is obviously not communicative.  That's a red flag for me.  Second, what age group are we looking at? All singles?  I'm sure a ski area vacation rental is way different from our beach family VR, but we don't rent to froups of singles at all.  Again, the lack of communication is not a good sign.

                           

                          Many owners will not hold or block off a rental period until they have money and lease agreement in hand. Let your friend know this policy, and if the period is available when she gets her act together, she can rent the house if it's available.  This is one of the many reasons we quit using a rental agency.  They let people hold the place hostage sometimes for two weeks during which it was blocked off on their calendar.

                           

                          Linda

                            • Re: advice needed for renting to a friend
                              hkquinn Active Contributor

                              I ended up sending her a nice note asking if she was still interested as I had received another inquiry for the same time frame, which is true, and that if she wants to lock in the dates, I would need her deposit to hold the space. never heard from her so I unblocked the dates.

                               

                              I have never encountered that situation before. Usually people who know us and want to rent, are really fast about paying because they know I am giving them a good deal.

                               

                              I really appreciate all the advice and from now on will let people know, up front, that to hold their spot, they need to pay their deposit.

                               

                              H

                          • Re: advice needed for renting to a friend
                            native7 Contributor

                            Sounds to me like she expected to get it for free and when she got an invoice, was no loger interested.

                              • Re: advice needed for renting to a friend
                                New Member

                                Good going, hkquinn.  native7 sounds spot on, that this "friend" thought she could get free accommodations.  I charge friends, but generally give them enough of a discount so they feel more "special" than a standard guest.  For all other aspects it's business as usual (pay upon reserving, pay cleaning fees, conditions, etc).  For family members, I ask them simply to cover my expenses:  my on-island prop. manager's daily charge, the registration fee at the complex ($15) and the cleaning fee at the end of their visit ($85).  This means I'm still in the red for the pro-rated prop. taxes and HO fees, but that is my choice.  So far, everyone has appreciated that they are taking space I could otherwise charge much more for, and has never made a comment about what I've asked them to pay, other than "THANKS for the great deal!"

                              • Re: advice needed for renting to a friend
                                densheff New Member

                                This is a business and prime rental seasons are your life blood.  If friends want a discount they can come when it hasn't rented last minute or with you. Not sure where I came up with it but copy and paste this in an email to your friend; I mean this is nicely as possible, but unless I get a deposit, I need to open up these dates. This is prime ski season and I know I can get it rented. 

                                  • Re: advice needed for renting to a friend
                                    noel New Member

                                    Thank you for the info my best friends daughter wants to rent my place during high season and I know she wants to pay next to nothing I guess the best thing is be frank and tell her I depend on the income to pay my bills and that I would have to charge her the same as the other guests.

                                      • Re: advice needed for renting to a friend
                                        twobitrentals Community All-Star

                                        I don't feel like we owners need to go into any details, simply give them the rate as we would anyone else and let them decide what they want to do. That is what I would do!

                                          • Re: advice needed for renting to a friend
                                            noel New Member

                                            Thank you for your quick reply I purchased my home last year and am still learning how to be firm with friends that want to rent.  It's a lot of pressure I really would prefer not to rent to them to avoid the hassle. 

                                              • Re: advice needed for renting to a friend
                                                carol Premier Contributor

                                                I'm renting to a dear cousin and her family for a week next summer.  She insisted I charge her exactly what I would charge anyone, which I did.  The only exceptions I've made are to forgo a damage deposit and give her a more liberal cancellation policy. She's signed a rental agreement and everything.  We both feel good about this.  I know she'll leave the place better than she found it, and during that week, I know I can get into the house if I need to do any work.

                                                  • Re: advice needed for renting to a friend
                                                    noel New Member

                                                    i had a long discussion with my friend see my other reply.

                                                     

                                                    i see you're having your cousin sign the contract I don't feel it's necessary to have my friends daughter sign is that something I should do anyway.

                                                      • Re: advice needed for renting to a friend
                                                        carol Premier Contributor

                                                        My cousin wanted me to treat her exactly as I would another guest, so I had her sign.  I think it helps make responsibilities clear. 

                                                        • Re: advice needed for renting to a friend
                                                          mlbmaine Community All-Star

                                                          I would absolutely have your friend's daughter sign a rental agreement.  It sets forth your expectations and should actually help make the rental go more smoothly.  It also sends the message that you are a professional and that the rental of your vacation home is a business.  If you do not want to charge a refundable damage security deposit, that is your choice.  I think, however, that it would be wise to treat this rental as an arms-length transaction and charge your friend's daughter the same damage security deposit that you charge any guest.

                                                      • Re: advice needed for renting to a friend
                                                        Senior Contributor

                                                        Did your best friend mention anything about the daughter wanting a discount?  I'm curious to know why you know that the daughter would want to pay next to nothing.  I would be asking what the price is if I wanted to rent through my Mom's best friend.

                                                         

                                                        I would talk to your friend and say "Just wanted to ask you if so and so realizes she is going to be charged the same rate as anyone else who would reserve during the high season.  She isn't expecting a discount is she?"  If your friend says that her daughter likely was expecting a discount then just explain that you can't do that during high season and (only if you are willing to discount for her) you can only do that for last minute empty dates during the low season.  I would be firm that only last minute bookings can be made at a discount.  Even during low season I wouldn't want to offer a discount to someone reserving way ahead of time.  They will expect that rate anytime if it is out of high season.

                                                          • Re: advice needed for renting to a friend
                                                            noel New Member

                                                            Good Morning,

                                                             

                                                            i had a long discussion with my friend last nite going over operating cost Ect..I know I shouldn't have to explain but because we have gone on several vacations together with both our daughters for the last 20 yrs.  She now has a much better understanding and her daughter Is fine with the same rate I charge other guests.  She does have the benefit of not paying the security deposit.

                                                          • Re: advice needed for renting to a friend
                                                            dancingpines Active Contributor

                                                            It is important that all guests, even friends and family sign the rental agreement. Especially when money is involved.

                                                             

                                                            As others have stated, this sets the tone for your expectations about how they treat your home. Lastly, you will find out real quick who is going to take your VR seriously.

                                                             

                                                            I have offered our VR to a few close cousins. To be quite honest, it has never worked out. One kept dragging their feet on the deposit and the other neversions signed the agreement.

                                                          • Re: advice needed for renting to a friend
                                                            noel New Member

                                                            Thank you for your reply she's a good friend of mind I will talk with her.

                                                              • Re: advice needed for renting to a friend
                                                                twobitrentals Community All-Star

                                                                I know that many have told you to talk to her about your VR. I again, will probably be the lone voice that says, I wouldn't make a special effort to talk about why you charge what you do. If it were me, I would thank them for thinking of me and refer them to my website that has all the instructions and rates as to how to go about renting and then thank them again. The conversation could become awkward if you feel like you have to "defend" your position for charging the same as everyone else.

                                                                 

                                                                The only exception that I would make in talking with my friend or relative, would be if I "WAS" going to give a discount or something out of the ordinary. I am not even sure about the deposit. I mean, they get it back, right? So, that shouldn't be an issue. The reason I say all this......is this......the best of relationships have gone bad over "expectations" and not over actual understanding. What if your friends daughter doesn't treat your home well, are you going to tell your friend, her daughter, might you lose the friendship over it?? All good questions. Best to just treat it with professionalism and a true understanding. A contract, deposit, funds, welcome letter, etc. That way, everyone is on the same page.

                                                                 

                                                                There are very few people that I trust completely to stay in my home without any of the above, but those same people stay "FREE". They are also the same ones that would never "dream" of taking advantage, not leaving the home spotless, etc. You know who they are.....if you don't want people thinking you play favorites.....right back to top of this post and treat everyone as a stranger guest.