Hi Ms. Nice Gal,
Your experience is not uncommon, and you should define your rules and include them in the rental agreement. However, before you set stone rules, put yourself in their shoes and consider the economic impact to you when making these rules. For instance, in your 1/1 apartment if they have 6 people over for dinner, it won't make much of a difference to you (they may be very tight around the dinner table, but that's not your problem). However 6 overnight guests for a week and you pay for the utilities means that your utility expenses just tripled!!!
My suggestion: set some general rules and be flexible based on the circumstance. As for your specific questions:
1. Is it OK for a guest to have an unlimited number of overnight guests as long as the maximum occupancy is not exceeded? I know they all should be listed on the contract in advance, but is this something that is OK to let guests do?
If your occupancy is not exceeded, and they are not permanent guests, I would not worry, so if your limit is 2 overnight guests, and she decides to have a boyfriend over almost every night, you rented for 2 people, don't worry, if some association rules require you to notify them, ask the tenant to provide you with the guest information in order to comply.
2. What do you do if you find that a guest is violating the policy and has more people staying than max. occupancy allows?
I have stated in my contract the maximum OVERNIGHT occupancy and the maximum OVERDAY Guests allowed, with specific fees for exceeding this. I have a large beach home that sleeps up to 20 people, I limit it to 14, above that I charge $X per night. The guests are allowed to bring a certain number of OVERDAY guests, above that I consider it a party and I charge a Party Fee and $X per overday guest is stated in the contract. I have no problem with space; my concern is deterioration and excess utilities. I make allowance for children and I won't charge if they exceeded the overday guests by one or two, but once I rented for 14 and they brought 25 people to sleep, I CHARGED THE FULL FEE (It is in CAPS because I was furious! )
3. What do you do if you find that someone is staying at a property who is not listed on the rental agreement?
I would notify them by email and deduct it from the deposit at the end of the lease. In your case for long-term rentals, I would make the deduction monthly and request to replenish the deposit.
4. Is it reasonable to ask a long term guest (3 months or more) to limit the number of overnight visitors?
Set your limits reasonably, and see previous answers. Remember, the contract must state that the tenant is responsible for all the actions of their guests!
Based on prior experience, I have two different fee structures, one is when I am notified in advanced and it is included in the contract, and the other is if I catch them abusing without my knowledge, the latter is typically twice the amount of the first one.
I hope this helps, best of luck.
If you find a guest is violating the terms of your rental agreement such as by having excessive guests your options probably are
- Ignore it and be glad your guest is having a good time. After all, happy guests are important for our business.
- Mention it and ask the guest not to take advantage of the situation.
- Tell the guest that she can have additional guests, but must pay an additional daily charge.
- Evict the guest for violation of the rental agreement. (However this is probably not a viable alternative for most short term rental violations; one may not simply toss the guest's belongings on the curb and change the locks to keep her out.)
Notice that I did not include withholding funds from the rental security deposit. Unless you are certain that under local law you would be authorized to withhold funds from the deposit for that reason, you could find your guest suing you and winning not only the amount of the wrongfully withheld deposit, but possibly some multiple of that amount and/or the guest's attorney fees. Gabriel, with his rental in Nicaragua, may very well be able to deduct all manner of charges from a security deposit when an owner subject to the laws of, say, Florida could not. The point is, one must know the law that applies to the area.
I know it is annoying to feel someone is taking liberties, but we are in the hospitality trade, and as Gabriel points out, the presence of extra people may not cause actual harm to you. Unless you gave her a special discount for being a single, and she knew that, I think your decision to let it slide was correct.
You are absolutely right that we are in the hospitality business and we want happy guests, that is why I always promote tolerance on behalf of owners to let go minor violations. But some guests are abusive and owners need to have some protection.
I am not familiar with Florida real estate laws, (or other states for that matter) and you may have a valid point of not being legally able to withhold funds from the deposit; however, if your contract states the occupancy limits, and the fee for exceeding it, I have seen other posts that most owners charge for these abuses as they have it in the contract.
It would be interesting to hear from a lawyer or real estate expert if it is allowed. After all, what is the deposit for if you cannot withhold funds for serious violations?
Here's what the North Carolina Vacation Rental Act says about security deposits. Note that both licensed real estate agents AND HOMEOWNER/LANDLORDS are required to comply with this law and to deposit funds in a trust account.
42A-18. Applicability of the Residential Tenant Security Deposit Act. (a) Except as may otherwise be provided in this Chapter, all funds collected from a tenant and not identified in the vacation rental agreement as occupancy or sales taxes, fees, or rent payments shall be considered a tenant security deposit and shall be subject to the provisions of the Residential Tenant Security Deposit Act, as codified in Article 6 of Chapter 42 of the General Statutes. Funds collected as a tenant security deposit in connection with a vacation rental shall be deposited into a trust account as required by G.S. 42-50. The landlord or real estate broker shall not have the option of obtaining a bond in lieu of maintaining security deposit funds in a trust account. In addition to the permitted uses of tenant security deposit monies as provided in G.S. 42-51, a landlord or real estate broker may, after the termination of a tenancy under this Chapter, deduct from any tenant security deposit the amount of any long distance or per call telephone charges and cable television charges that are the obligation of the tenant under the vacation rental agreement and are left unpaid by the tenant at the conclusion of the tenancy. The landlord or real estate broker shall apply, account for, or refund tenant security deposit monies as provided in G.S. 42-51 within 45 days following the conclusion of the tenancy. (b) A vacation rental agreement shall not contain language compelling or permitting the automatic forfeiture of all or part of a tenant security deposit in case of breach of contract by the tenant, and no such forfeiture shall be allowed. The vacation rental agreement shall provide that a tenant security deposit may be applied to actual damages caused by the tenant as permitted under Article 6 of Chapter 42 of the General Statutes. (1999-420, s. 1.)
Lakeguy makes an extermely mportant point, there are differences from state to state in laws regulating security deposits. (Foreign property owners should also research legal requirements.)
Owners must research the pertinant laws, or consult with a professional, and be certain they are following the regulations.
In MA, security deposits associated with recreational leases of less than 100 days are exempt from state laws on the charging, handling, and returning of security deposits. (The penalties for mishandling of a security deposit can be very steep including fines of treble damages, attorney fees, etc.)
There are regulations in place for many, many aspects of vacation home rental and it is important to know the laws.
A difficult tenant could cause a great deal of distressing and expensive trouble.
Based on this and other threads and the fact that my rental that is suitable for 10 people recently had significantly more than that when I showed up to repair a running commode, I've added another step to my rental process. I ask the potential renter to provide the names and ages of all overnight occupants, up to the maximum number of guests that the house can legally hold. I point out that violating that limit can lead to expedited eviction as is noted in the contract.
I doubt that I would actually go through the eviction process, but I hope that the threat and the fact that I've gotten the names of the people in their party will reduce the number of unexpected guests.
My experience in Colorado. I currently have a guest who is in violation of the Rental Agreement for exceeding the maximum occupancy of my home. I confronted him about it yesterday morning and thought the problem was resolved until last night when more people arrived. After talking with the sheriff's department, this is what I was informed. This is a civil matter and the sherriff's dept. couldn't do anything because it was not criminal. Because the extra people were invited by the paying guest, they do not qualify as trespassers. Basically, my hands are tied for two more days until they leave. I do have a clause in the Rental Agreement that states that I can withhold the security deposit due to overcrowding but no amount specified per night. This seems to be my only recourse. Patience for two more days!!
Your experience is not uncommon, that is why I encourage you to read other posts about potential issues with tenants. That way you learn from THEIR MISTAKES and not yours, as in this case.
A simple solution going forward is to state in the contract a high fee for additional guest, say $50 per person per night. That way you don't argue, just bill them. I have a two tier rate, one if they tell me ahead of time of $10-$25 (depending on number of people, adults or children, etc). and another $50 for "GUESTS NOT LISTED IN THIS CONTRACT".
My house accommodates 14-16 people comfortably, but if they reserve for 9 people, my contract states 9 people allowed, any additional is $50 if they do not include it in the contract. That is done to deter cheating.
But for the urgent matter at hand, you can charge pretty much anything you want, as your contract states an occupancy limit, but it must be reasonable. A reasonable amount is somewhere between $25 and $50 per person, and is something you can defend against the credit card, charging $200 per person will weaken your case if there is a charge back.
I have found that when confronting a guest about violations and proposing a fair fee is taken well, they know they violated and they know that if they get caught, they have to pay. At best they ask for a discount in the additional fees.
Hope your issue gets solved without much arguments with the guest.
Crowded car1.jpg 54.9 K
Thanks to both gabriel and dwaldron124. I know the home is overoccupied because the paying guest maxed it out with his original inquiry. His rental fee was based on the house maximum. I do not accept credit cards; the security depsosit is my only sourse of recourse. I like the idea of agreeing on an additional amount per night per additional person. What do you think of writing an amendment to the original agreement stating an additional charge per night, having the paying guest sign it (just for documentation purposes in the event of a legal action)?
If they are over the lawful occupancy then you need to get some of them out right away. If it is just over your occupancy and you already had an extra person charge previously listed then yes I would confront the guest and ask for what is due to you.
Vista Cay Resort
It may be too late for an amendment. If I were a guest, I don't want to sign anything at this time, a simple email agreeing to your fee is enough proof for the claim, specially since you are withholding the deposit. He will want it part of it back so depending on the deposit amount and number of additional guests, you can define the fee.
For instance, if you are withholding $500 and he included 2 people for 5 days, and you decide to charge $25 for each extra person, then notifying him that you are deducting $250 from his deposit and getting him to agree via email will do. If he gave you $200 deposit, then state that the fee is $250 and you are withholding all of the deposit and calling it even. At this point, cut your losses and work on improving the contract for future guests.
It is very important to be familiar with all your local and state laws regarding vacation rentals. Also many times hotel laws are extended to VR's. Just because you put something in your contract doesn't mean that is enforceable or legal. A lot of times the law protects renters if they have not gone over the maximum occupancy. If they have people coming and going but stay under the maximum occupancy there is not a lot you can do about it or charge them for. Questioning anyone coming in and out can also fall under hotel harassment laws as well. My advice for owners who do their own rentals is to have a lawyer familiar with hotel law go over your contract. They are not emotionally attached to your unit like you are! Ms. Nice Gal, if they are over the occupancy limit then I would go after them but if not I would probably let it go unless the guests are disruptive.
This is precisely the reason we do not rent for more than 2 weeks at a time. It is very common, especially for 30 days or more, for renters to allow friends and relatives to come and go throughout the rental period. They may even be collecting "rent" from some of them.Fortunately our area is family oriented. We do not rent to singles and for the most part rent only to related members of a single family. We get the list of names and ages and relationships to lease signer before we even send out a listing agreement. We also include in the agreement how many vehicles they will be bringing, and have the following section in the agreement:
- PERMITTED OCCUPANTS. Lessee must take possession and maintain possession of subject property for the full leased period. The Tenant shall not permit the property to be occupied or used as a residence by other than the eight (8) people listed above unless, prior to possession, permission is given in writing by the owner.
Of course the number above varies with each renter. We haven't had any problem for the 2 years we've rented privately through VRBO and are able to do our own screening. We did have problems when using a property manager for the four years prior. So far so good......
I have a "concern"....
I booked a request with 4 guests, apparently they did not read the webpage, the contract, and finally read the welcome letter....which states that the number of guests are limited to the inquiry unless previously agreed to by owner.
I got an e-mail asking if they could have a sister, mom, and several cousins drop by (they are booked a few days after Christmas)....which to me means that they want to have a holiday party with their family. I sent them an e-mail telling them that webpage, contract, and welcome letter all prohibit gatherings of any type and that I charge extra for guests over my limit. I told them that I get a few requests for larger crowds and always refer them to another VRBO who encourages large gatherings, as I don't allow them. I re-stated, the limit was 6 overnight with 2 daily visting guests, but since their visit was nearly here to please call so that we can work through it together. That was the day before Thanksgiving.....so far no call..
I personally had 6 adults and 2 children for Thanksgiving and 1 adult and the 2 children had to sit on the floor in the living room.......thus the reason for the limit of guests.
My question is.......do I call her after the weekend, knowing that it is the thanksgiving weekend? Or should I just wait?
In my mind, the Thanksgiving holiday is over on Thursday, so it is not unreasonable or rude to proceed with a call to her to work this out this weekend. When I am aware that a renter would like to have a gathering with more people than are allowed in my home, I suggest a couple places that would accomodate them for a few hours. If the weather is nice we have a recreation area with playground equipment and bar-b-ques and tables next to the lake which is very comfortable for hosting. There are also local restaurants with smaller back rooms for a group to use. Just a couple of ideas....
Actually, I totally agree with your idea of finding a reception room of some kind and can't really understand how some folks who feel that they don't want a gathering in their own home and then try to book a VR don't consider this idea.
Why would any VR owner want a party or gathering in excess of their size, especially when the guests have family that live close by that don't want that same gathering in their own home?? That to me says that they don't want the wear, tear or possibly mess/damage in their own home and would rather use mine. I try to kindly say...no thank you..for the same reason that they don't want it in their own homes, I don't want it in mine.
I guess that some of us "could" find out how much a reception room would charge for a private party and then charge the same for the days that they would have increased numbers in the home for gatherings, but the reality is "for me"...this is my second home, not an investment and I just choose to limit the type of guests in my home when we are not there ourselves. I just spent 2 wonderful months there and am already wishing I was still there, close to my children. BUT...alas...hubby has to continue work for a few more years.
My sympathies -- this last minute change makes you turn into the "bad guy" when all you want to do is ensure a good time for your guests.
Do you live near enough to monitor them? Because I suspect they may just go ahead and have their gathering with or without your permission unless you are nearby and watchful. I try not to make any rules that I can't enforce. If they booked for 4 and now want to add a sister, mom, and two cousins, that would fit into your 6 person plus two day guests limit. Unless you can monitor them, I suggest you agree to let them go ahead, after warning them that the space is tight, and then add a small charge for the party.
I have spoken to the guest and they are willing to comply with my limitation because they will only have 4 overnight guests, instead of 6 and are fine with having no more than 8 at one time overall.
However, she commented that she has never before seen a limitation on "visiting" guests and was taken back a bit with that limitation. She stated that she stayed in many VRBO/HA homes in the past and have never encountered this limitation.
I responded that I am on a community with other VR owners and many of us "do" limit the total number of daily guests as well as overnight guests, but that some encourage larger gatherings. I further explained that usually it is disclosed within the webpage, contract, etc.
How does everyone feel about limiting the number of overall guests? Most of the posts that I read here about additional guests of guests appears to be an unwelcome event. Thoughts?
Oh and no, I don't live near the property, but my son lives 3 houses away and will keep an eye on things.
So, this renter thinks she should be able to make your house party central - use your water, your electricity, your gas, your crockery, cutlery and glassware - and that this doesn't represent additional expense or wear and tear on your property? Never mind the impact on your neighbors of noise, parking, etc. Maybe they will bring along their dirty laundry and do that, too.
I recently became aware that this had happened at our property over the years, which helped to explain the large number of broken dishes. We had neighbors renting our place for overflow guests and then having everyone to our house for meals, because we have better facilities.
If you decide not to limit the number of day guests, then you need to charge for them. If nothing else than to reflect greater cleaning bills (think carpets) and higher utilities. I'm sure there are also insurance implications.
If what she says is true "I have never rented a VRBO/HA home that limited the number of visiting guests"......I am truly surprised. As you say, the wear and tear, etc.....is something that makes it just not worth renting to large gatherings....sleeping is the least of my concerns. It is the waking hours when damage, wear and usage occur. I try not to rent to anyone that lives in the area of my VR, as to me that is a warning sign that they are using the home, instead of their own for some sort of gathering.
As I write this though, I wonder if when she stated that she has never been limited in daily guests before, if it was even an issue. I mean if most of the family lives by my VR and not the others, then perhaps it wasn't something that she had to think about before. You know what I mean......vacation, as opposed to visiting family in an old home town? I don't know. She was very kind, but was dismayed about the limitation. I was dismayed that she didn't understand about my desire for just a small number of guests in my home overall.
I just spent 2 months there, re-painting the hallways, and master bath, steam cleaning the carpets, polishing the floors (hardwood), cleaning cupboards, replacing broken dishes, washing windows, etc. Things that the cleaning folks don't have time to do and needed to be done.
The guest inquiry that had to make me kind of chuckle to myself was the one with 3 children under the age of 4 that was surprised that children were included in the number of guest limitation. HUH? children create the largest mess most of the time so "YES" of course they are included in the limit. I mean seriously....finger prints on everything, spills, and scratches, spit ups, dropped food, etc. While I love children, I don't have any illusions about perfect little toddlers that don't make mistakes and aren't messy. I have had 4 children, and have 11 grandchildren, I am fully aware. I had just a few grandchildren visit and I was constantly wiping little finger prints, and putting little things back in their original place each time they visit concluded.
I'm new to VR, been doing it for about 2 years. Am learning along the way but I too agree that limiting the number of people permitted in your home makes a great deal of sense. Even very large homes must limit their guests to some number that makes sense to them. I'm not aware of a situation where anyone permits unlimited guests. As has been said many times, there are a lot of additional things to consider like water, propane, wear and tear, etc. I have a somewhat regular guest who stays at my homes and she gave me a good piece of advice; she reminded me that although this is our home and we care for it and take pride in it, we are in business. She is a high level marketing person for Best Western but prefers to stay in or homes when she visits our area. So I appreciate the advice. We have larger homes for our area and so attract bigger groups of people. We will permit visitors of guests if they don't max out the maximim allowable number. Then we permit only two and we charge them a fee for that. Honestly, we think that guests are having visitors and not telling us, but we are not able to catch them in the act so to speak. So what to do. I find it is helpful when initially talking to the guests to ask if they are planning on having visitors. This is the one thing they will not tell you until after you have given them a solid quote. Then all of a sudden, once they have that quote they begin mentioning their extra plans of having their freinds drive up for the day to visit but they'll only stay one night and oh by the way we're also picking up so and so for the afternoon and then taking her back home, and it goes on and on. Educating your potential guest without seeming like a lecture, I think, is key and do it up front even it they don't initally mention guests. For me at least this is a must in my area. I'm learning.