With the help of a vacation rental house rules template, you can prevent many common issues that could spoil the experience for both the guests and the host. Even if your plan is to rent out your vacation rental only during the peak season, it is still essential that you take the time to write out your house rules.
The term “house rules” might sound authoritarian, but that does not have to be the case. Simply put, it is actually just a more professional way of explaining to your guests what they may (and may not) do during their stay.
Generally, you will want to include in your house rules list arrangements and requests about the check-in process, noise levels, pets, parking, and the checkout procedure.
It does not have to be all formal and serious. After all, your guests are reading it before a vacation. So, if you want to, you can make it more fun.
At the end of the day, your guests just need to know what is expected from them and have complete clarity over what behavior could land them in trouble (and potentially result in a fine, or, even worse, eviction).
Ideally, whenever possible, try to write the rules in such a manner that it informs guests what they may do, rather than what they may not do.
A welcome note can help to set the correct tone right from the start. It is a short introduction to your property that your guests will read after they have checked in. In this note, you can emphasize some general rules and share, for example, your emergency contact details in the event of an accident.
Here’s an example of a welcome note:
Hi [guest name],
Welcome to [your rental property name]! I hope your journey was pleasant and comfortable. Allow me to introduce myself to you – my name is [insert your name]. If you need to contact me, you can reach me on [insert number]. Otherwise, you can email me at [insert email]. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you have a question or need anything. I would be more than happy to help.
Before you settle in, I would like to make you familiar with a few of the most important house rules at our vacation rental. These are in place to ensure that your stay with us will be as comfortable as possible.
Please take a minute to read each of the rules carefully to avoid possible injury or deductions from your security deposit.
Past guests have mentioned how they love [insert property highlight] and [insert property highlight]. Some recommendations I could make are [insert recommendation], it’s great for [insert reason]. Another would be [insert recommendation], because [insert reason].
Check-out time is at [insert time]. Please ensure you check out by the specified time, as the cleaning team will arrive shortly after. Before you check out, please ensure that [insert request], [insert request], and [insert request].
Wishing you the best stay!
Be sure to include this letter in the information packet that you leave in your listing with your vacation rental house rules.
Here you can mention if there are any specific things that you expect your guests to do before checking out. You can, for example, include instructions for garbage disposal, key exchange, and general cleaning.
Your guests expect that they will have to do a few light chores, especially if you charge a cleaning fee. So, it is appropriate to include rules about cleanliness and how they should dispose of garbage.
Some Airbnb hosts have areas that are off-limits to their guests such as a particular cupboard or an attic. If you, for example, only list a room, you can also use this section to emphasize which areas the guest will not be allowed to access.
Accidents happen. That’s life. In the unfortunate event that a guest has broken or damaged something at your property, be sure to include in your house rules that they should please report it to you.
It is also a good idea to mention that if the cost of the damage is more than the security deposit or if extra cleaning should be involved, the cost incurred will be billed to the guests.
Here are a few examples of general rules that you might want to include depending on your listing:
Having a good relationship and understanding with your neighbors is invaluable. So, it is a good idea to include set hours during which your guests need to minimize noise. You can also include possible penalties that they could face if they break this rule.
Here are a few templates that you can tweak for your property:
Even if you don’t have an issue if your guests allow an extra visitor during the day, it is still good practice to limit the number of visitors. This way you can protect your property from extra wear and tear. It is also fine not to allow any visitors.
In fact, many hosts prefer this approach, while some are willing to charge an additional fee for extra guests that they approve beforehand. Whichever approach you want to follow, just make sure that you explain it clearly.
Here are a few examples of rules that you could include:
This is one of the most important sections of your vacation house rules. Be sure to include a rule that prohibits parties altogether to protect your property against damages and ensure the safety of your guests and neighbors.
Here are a few examples of rules that you could include:
While your vacation rental rules should include parking arrangements, it is a good idea to inform your guests about the maximum size and number of cars your property can accommodate before they confirm their booking. This is to avoid issues with arrival.
The following are some templates that you can adjust depending on the parking arrangement at your vacation rental property:
While some of these rules are obvious (and should not have to be mentioned), it is still important to remind your guests to pay attention to their surroundings and ensure that doors and windows are locked.
If you are fortunate to boast a balcony or deck where guests can soak in the views, it is important that you include rules for how guests should use these areas specifically. It can also pose a risk to babies and toddlers. So, if your listing is family-friendly, remind your guests to practice extra caution in these areas.
With regards to a hot tub or swimming pool, you should identify times during the day that they may access the pool. You can also include a list of items that aren’t allowed in the pool like glassware or alcohol.
If your property has a BBQ or other similar outdoor amenities, include in your house rules instructions for how to operate them. If there are specific cleaning instructions, you can include them here too.
Hosts who have child-friendly rentals should take care to mention which areas should be avoided. You can also use your house rules as an opportunity to remind parents that they have the final responsibility of ensuring the safety of their children when staying in your vacation rental.
There is nothing worse than being the victim of crime when you are on a business trip or family holiday. Even if your area boasts the lowest crime rate, it is still good practice to remind your guests about closing windows and locking doors.
Here are a couple of rules about general safety that you might want to include:
It is essential to prohibit smoking inside your property completely. It can be an impossible mission to get rid of cigarette odors in time for when your next guest is scheduled to check-in. Besides, it is safer and cleaner.
Here are examples of how other guests have approached this delicate situation:
As smoking can cause long-lasting damage to a property, it’s always a good idea to include these sort of vacation house rental rules in your vacation rental agreement. Trying to rid vacation rentals of the smell of smoke is nearly impossible.
More and more travelers are searching for pet-friendly accommodation. It can make financial sense for you to allow pets. However, you should consider that it can potentially increase wear and tear, and travelers with allergies may be reluctant to book your vacation rental. At the end of the day, as a host, you have the final say over if you want to welcome pets at your rental property.
Here are some rules regarding pets that you might want to use:
You can set custom house rules for individuals traveling with pets and staying in your short-term rental. The vacation rental industry is all about accommodating requests but it is still your vacation home, and you can set your own rules.
If you do decide to set vacation house rules for pet owners, be sure to state this in your short-term rental agreement.
Even though you might think it isn’t necessary to mention anything about appliances, you’ll be surprised by what guests sometimes try to do. So, it is a good idea to include rules about the usage of electrical appliances like a washer, thermostat, Wi-Fi router, and even lights. Not only can it help to prevent accidents, but it can also actually save you money.
The following are templates that you can adjust depending on which appliances you provide:
Increasingly more hosts have implemented easy-to-use recycling systems. In fact, your guests probably recycle at their own homes too. So, most guests will not find it strange if you ask them to be eco-conscious at your rental too.
Here are some examples of rules about garbage and recycling:
While you might not want to penalize your guests for breaking the rules, it is still necessary to explain what will be the consequences. You can also include that the house rules are there to ensure that their stay is safe, yet enjoyable.
Here are some examples of what you can include about compliance:
Rules are there for the protection of the homeowner as well as the guest. For example, if you are renting via Airbnb, the Airbnb Resolution Center can consult your Airbnb house rules in the event of a dispute.
At the end of the day, it is definitely worth the effort. If you take the time to write detailed house rules the first time, you can look forward to the peace of mind for all the bookings that follow.
Hosts can include their house rules in a vacation rental welcome book (house manual), which can be either digital or printed. This welcome book should be stored somewhere where guests will certainly see it.
You can, for instance, place it on the kitchen counter or coffee table. Also, remember to tell your guests where they can find this manual once they have checked in, just in case they missed it.
Vacation rental house rules can help hosts to keep control of their rentals and business. The most effective rules are simple and don’t leave things open for interpretation. Though, they are of no use if you do not communicate them to your guests and remind them to read them.
You can, for example, use iGMS to create a template message regarding your house rules. With the help of triggered messaging, this automated template can then be sent to your guests after they have settled in as a friendly reminder to read your house rules.
iGMS can also help you with your overall guest communication and many of your other routine tasks. These include:
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