Your short-term vacation rental property is ready for guests, from the beautiful decor you’ve painstakingly chosen and the comfortable furniture you’ve purchased to the extra games and amenities you’ve added to increase your rental revenue. Now what? You want those items you’ve purchased to last, and you want your property to stay in top shape for many years to come. Creating and enforcing specific cabin rental rules for your guests will help protect your property and assets.
In a perfect world, every guest would treat your vacation home like their home - with care and consideration. Unfortunately, many guests staying in short-term rentals don’t always think about how they are leaving the property for the next guest and want to simply do whatever they want while on vacation.
A vacation rental agreement with set rules is important for maintaining your rental home - and for safety reasons. Within your rules, be sure to consider things like overnight visitors, quiet hours in the neighborhood, occupancy, check-in and checkout times and policies, security deposits, hot tubs and swimming pools, trash cans, thermostats, and other amenities.
If you’re a vacation rental owner and not sure where to start with your vacation rental house rules, read on. We’ll offer some simple tips to get you started. And if you have more questions, give us a call! When you partner with Cabins for YOU, we’ll handle a vacation rental agreement based on our experience within the vacation rental industry.
Check-in and Checkout
Efficient check-ins and checkouts are key in ensuring your cleaners have plenty of time to get your property ready for the next guests. Getting the current guest out on time also allows maintenance to fix any small issues between stays and check that all items are in working order. And your next guest will appreciate being able to check in on time after a long drive or flight to your property. Property ready early? Bonus! Guests love an early check-in.
Just be clear in your cabin rental rules about check-in times, checkout times, what guests should do before leaving, and how to lock the property. Keyless entry is a great way to streamline the check-in and checkout process. Instead of stopping by an office, guests can just type in the keycode for the cabin (unique for each stay and shared right before they arrive) upon arrival and when leaving.
Noise Levels + Quiet Hours
Each cabin neighborhood has its own rules, but generally, most communities will have set quiet hours to ensure the comfort of all residents and guests. Be clear in your rules about quiet hours and noise levels, generally asking guests to keep the noise down between the hours of 10 PM and 8 AM. Also, be clear about the consequences if guests don’t abide by the rules - including the chance they could be asked to leave.
If you impose additional fees for anything, be upfront about pricing. Let guests know beforehand what they may be charged for. Include information about credit card holds, occupancy taxes, extra cleaning fees for excessive mess, additional charges for improper use of hot tubs, etc. Guests can and should be held responsible for their actions while in the home, but they also don’t want any surprises - and you don’t want to give them the opportunity to get out of any charges that they may be responsible for.
Hot Tubs + Swimming Pools
Hot tubs are a highly requested amenity, but they also require more maintenance. Include information about hot tubs in the rental agreement, including letting guests know that hot tubs are cleaned between stays and need time to heat up - meaning it may not be ready as soon as they arrive. Soaps and products should never be used in the hot tub or pool, and you can make it clear that guests will incur the costs of any additional cleaning needed if they misuse these amenities.
Rules for pools and hot tubs are especially important when it comes to guest safety. Include signs, and possibly wording in the agreement, that children should always be supervised. Pools should have locks on the doors/gates, and it should be outlined for guests that they are to use these. Also let guests know how to leave the pool/hot tub, especially if things like jets, lights, or covers need to be turned off or replaced before departure.
If your property does not allow smoking, be clear in the agreement. Have a specific fee (or minimum) you charge if a guest does smoke in the property, as you will likely have to deep clean it after the stay. Do you allow smoking outside but not inside? Be specific about where it is allowed. Provide an ashtray and remind guests to put cigarette butts in the ashtray. If you charge a fee if butts are found around the property, outline that in the rules.
Occupancy numbers for properties are based on local fire regulations, among other things. It is a safety issue to have more guests than the maximum occupancy, so be clear about that. Outline in the cabin rental rules for guests that if the number of people staying exceeds the maximum number of guests that the property advertises, they will be charged.
Is your property pet friendly? Set specific rules that help protect your property! Remind guests to pick up after their furry friends, properly secure them when they leave the property, and ensure they aren’t leaving a barking dog all day long. Residents in the community will not appreciate it - and you will take the blame. If you charge a pet fee, let them know ahead of time.
If your property is not pet friendly, be clear about it - and the consequences if they do bring a pet to a property that is not pet friendly. Some guests have allergies, and if you are advertising your property as not pet friendly, it can be an issue if guests are bringing them. You can charge extra cleaning fees for pets, but be clear about that in the rules as well.
Trash is a particularly important item to address when in the mountains where bears are present. In the Smoky Mountains, bear safety means safety for everyone - including bears and people. Your property should have bear-proof trash bins, and guests should be directed to use and lock them properly. If guests are to empty trash inside before leaving, lay that out in the rules. If there are specific places for them to dispose of trash outside (dumpsters, recycling bins), let them know where they can and can’t put trash.