2021 Guide to Short Term Rental Agreements, Leases, & eSignatures

2021 Guide to Short Term Rental Agreements, Leases, & eSignatures

Should you be protecting yourself and property with a short term rental agreement or lease?

Rental agreements are standard for long term rentals but have never fully been adopted within the vacation rental industry. This is likely due to the masking of contact details on channels such Airbnb making it exceedingly difficult to send digital contracts and gain eSignatures. Despite these challenges, short term rental leases are worth considering since they provide an additional layer of protection and reinforce the importance of your house rules to guests.

Will Guests Sign a Short Term Rental Lease?

Some guests will be turned off immediately by the proposition of signing a legal document to stay at your property especially if they weren’t made fully aware prior to their check-in. Never blindside guests with a request for signature. If you do they may feel pressured to sign which almost certainly will be reflected negatively in their review.

Instead make sure the signature requirement is made clear to guests prior to them booking your property. Include this requirement on your listing, remind guests in your confirmation message, and any other check-in messages.

While difficult to quantify it is certain that a portion of guests will refuse to book a property with this requirement and instead make a reservation at a competitive property not requiring a lease agreement. Property managers and hosts will need to weigh the pros and cons of having a mandatory lease and signature requirement.

What are the policies of Airbnb & VRBO regarding Rental Agreements?

Airbnb Policy on Rental Contracts

Airbnb has rules that require hosts to disclose contract signing terms prior to booking on the platform. Undisclosed contract signing can be refused by guests and the reservation can be cancelled by the host (this will damage hosting status).

VRBO Policy on Rental Contracts

VRBO is more accepting of rental contracts between hosts and guests. Like Airbnb, VRBO has an expectation of disclosing the contract to guests prior to booking since this is best practice. VRBO has an advanced feature that allows the sending of contracts via the messaging app.

What should be included in a Short Term Rental Agreement?

What should be included in your rental contract is ultimately up to you but at minimum should include details about the stay and house rules. Below are some suggestions for items that could be included on your short term rental lease.

  • Contact details of owner(s) or property manager
  • Contact details of tenant(s)
  • Property Address
  • Maximum Occupancy
  • Visitor Policy
  • Check-in date and time
  • Checkout date and time
  • Rent and charges
  • Payment Instructions
  • Security Deposit
  • Parking Details
  • Amenity Use and Rules
  • House Rules

    • Pet Policy
    • Noise Policy
    • Smoking Policy
    • Age Requirements
  • Limitation of Liability Clause
  • Violation of Agreement Clause

Are Short Term Rental Agreements Legal and Enforceable?

A short term rental agreement is a legally binding contract between the homeowner/property manager and the tenant. Your agreement should be revised regularly to adhere to local and state laws.

Online travel agencies such as Airbnb and VRBO will not help in the enforcement of your rental agreement between host and guest. The enforcement of a breach in contract will need to be settled in court.

We recommend always having a lawyer review your contract.

How can I collect eSignatures for Short Term Rental Contracts?

Hostaway’s integration with Zapier allows property managers to send contract signature requests via eSignature software such as Sign Request, Docusign, and Pandosign.

This integration simplifies the process of sending contracts and collecting eSignatures between hosts and guests. The process can be fully automated with the use of Hostaway, Zapier, and your choice of eSignature software.

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