Welcome to the community! While every homeowner does things a little differently, we do have some sample contracts to help get you started. To answer your question about payments, you should see this article about setting up a payment schedule.
Hopefully you’ll hear from other vacation rental owners in the Community with some new owner tips and advice as well. Best of luck with your new venture!
HomeAway Social and Multimedia Specialist
swrenter, once someone agrees to rent my villa, I then send them my Booking Form Terms & Conditions. When I receive that back signed and the non-refundable deposit, then I mark the villa as booked in my calendars. I require payment in full, including the Refundable Security Deposit by 30 days from arrival. Some owners vary the timing, longer and shorter, and amounts.
The sample contracts Travis mentioned are very helpful and other members have posted theirs in other threads in these forums. Browse through, there is a lot of great information.
Welcome to the world of vacation rental
We've been at it for 10 seasons now, and have only had two problem guests in the whole time, which, IMHO, is a pretty good track record, especially seeing some of the stories on this forum!
I attribute much of our success to several things, but two really are the big ones:
- We price the property competitively. If you're hoping that your rental income will cover the cost of your property completely, well...it won't. We cover a tad over 60% of our costs, and enjoy the benefit of using the place for a couple of peak wees each summer, as well as some long weekends in the fall and spring. By pricing the property at a reasonable rate ($2250 vs $3000 in our case) and including cleaning in the fee, rather than doing the hotel trick of nickel and diming guests by tacking on the fee, we tend to get some pretty nice people to rent from us. That's pretty important, as when you get those who pay close to top dollar for a place, they inevitably feel entitled.
- The sample contracts in this area are great. Get a lawyer to look them over.
One who has expertise in housing law, which varies a lot from state to state and town to town. There invariably will be a clause or two that are either invalid or downright illegal under local laws, and it's a good way to become familiar with some of the legal issues. For example, local law requires that we rent for a 3-night minimum (we rent weekends in the off-peak season). This prevents competition with the hotels/motels/inns/B&Bs and the like. Who'd want toi rent a single or even two nights anyways? Anyways, I digress -- get a lawyer to look the documents over.
Hope this gives you a little insight...
Please remember that most of the inquiries come from people who don't know what the next step is. Most likely they have several inquiries out and you neeed to be as helpful as possible so they remember you. Take your time in responding. Offer to answer any questions.You will feel you are repeating but the response can be customized to the particular inquirer.Be sure to read thier questions in the comments and answer. ...even if it is something they can look up thierselves.They appreciate that.
My husband is really good at calling if they leave a phone # .That is rewarding and effective as they remember you if you get to them right away and thier desired dates are available.
Check your site several times a day.
There are available agreements from Homeaway for you to customize to your home.
We have our own which needs some simplification if you would like to view it.I have made it quite redundant but I find it clear.
Offer to send an agreement with thier costs and dates of reservation,cancellation policiy,etc. for them to review.Don't include anything that will allow them access to your home of course.
We send a Welcome letter after full payment is final that includes lockbox , internet access codes and details about the condo such as where the trash can be disposed and appliances,blender,towels,beach towels,etc. to ease thier packing distress.
We are also new to managing our our rental and have had several inquiries but no books. I have prepared a templates for the inquiry and manage the quoted rates in Excel to help the process. If they leave a phone number I do give them a call.
I have prepared a rental agreement based on various samples. Would you mind sharing yours with me? I want to have a simple but complete agreement that wont run them off!!!
Sounds like you have it more together than I.I do all my inquiry responses individually.They have different questions about the property or area. Sometimes they may be flexible to adjust thier requested dates...sometimes offer a small discount for changing.
You will get alot of non-bookers for lots of reasons, don't worry.Sometimes people are just shopping .Don't forget the audience for these websites are huge. You may even get a call from someone new,ready to book NOW.
My agreement is just OK but it has worked OK.
I find that sending them instructions on how to make the reservation as well as a quote in the first e-mail is key.
Wether it's sending them to your web-site or just asking wether they would like to reserve the dates, works, just make it so they don't have to do much work.
It took me a while to get a system, but now that I have, it's easy. I actually have it all automated and it saves me sooo much stress. I don't have to do much at all these days.
So, if you are not using an automated system, I would send them everything in the first e-mail so that they have the option.
By this I mean attach the rental agreement and instructions on how to send it back to you. Send the breakdown of cost for the nights they request and assure them that it is available.
Then tell them how they will get the keys, door code etc.
And have a button on how to pay. Credit Card, Paypal etc.
All this takes the guess work out of renting and makes for a non frustrated guest!
We have three properties that I manage. I fill out a contact form with each inquiry that I receive. (I don't require that my guests fill out an application.) My husband and I worked these contact sheets up years ago when we first started renting our first vacation property. I love having backup paperwork that I can refer to in case my computer has crashed, doesn't boot up right away, or if I'm away from it. The forms are color-coded to match a specific property and include client contact information, the specifics of the rental prices, discounts, deposits, final payments, cleaning fees, etc. I track how they paid, and when. The paperwork includes a check off list to help me make sure I've covered everything. Deposit in, calendar dates blocked, contract sent and received, final payment in, directions and lock box code sent, hot tub maintenance scheduled and if there are any special gifts for these clients. The back of my forms are printed with lists of various rental prices to make references to differing seasons easy to access and keeps me from quoting the wrong prices.
You asked only about the rental contract, which I send to each guest when he/she confirms that a deposit is forthcoming. After I actually receive the deposit, I will block the dates.