A Short-Term Rental Agreement, or vacation rental agreement, is a contract between a landlord and a tenant that outlines the terms of a short stay at a rental property.
What is a Short-Term Rental Agreement?
A short-term rental agreement is a legal rental document that landlords use when renting a furnished property for less than six months.
However, most people use this type of lease to rent out their home for vacations or short visits of a few days or weeks.
Rental agreements clearly define the owner’s and guests’ expectations and protect both parties in case of damages or cancellation.
When to Use a Short-Term Rental Agreement
If you are using an online rental platform like Airbnb or Vrbo, you may have to create a rental agreement.
Even if rental platforms do not require a short-term rental agreement, it is always a good idea to provide additional legal protection in case of a dispute.
If you rent your property out for more than 14 consecutive days, you will need to pay taxes on rental income, so it’s essential to have detailed short-term rental contracts.
This is especially relevant if you need to prove tax exemption from some of your rental income or claim a deduction on business expenses.
What to Include in a Short-Term Rental Agreement
A basic short-term rental agreement should include the following:
- Property details (description and amenities)
- Guests (rental party)
- Rental period
- Rules and regulations
- Check-in & check-out procedures
- Rent, deposit, and payment details
- Cancellation policy
- Owner and guest signatures
Vacation Rental/Short-Term Lease Agreement Sample
Below you can find what a vacation rental/short-term lease agreement typically looks like:
How to Write a Rental Agreement for Vacation or Short-Term Stays
Follow these steps to create a short-term rental agreement for your property.
Step 1 – Check Local Requirements
1. Governing State. Make sure to check state and local laws regarding vacation rentals before you begin. Short-term vacation rentals are restricted, taxed, or held to specific requirements in some locations.
Some cities, like Austin, TX, require a short-term rental license to rent a property for less than 30 days at a time.
Step 2 – Assess your Liability
2. Assess Risk. With guests coming in and out of your property more frequently, ensure you factor in an increased risk of damage or degradation of your property.
Consider updating your insurance policy or creating an LLC for your rental property to limit your personal liability and protect your assets.
Step 3 – Fill in the Owner and Guest Details
3. Owner and Guest Information. Write the property owner’s name and the guest responsible for the agreement.
Step 4 – Describe Property and Amenities
4. Property Information. In your rental agreement, including the property address, property type (house, apartment, etc.), and private and public facilities guests will have access to.
Also, list the amenities included with the property, such as:
- Washer and dryer
- Swimming pool or hot tub
- Linens and towels
- Basic cooking supplies
Step 5 – Write Guest information
5. Guest Details. Write the names of the guest (the person signing the rental agreement with you) and all members of the rental party.
This helps ensure the property does not exceed the maximum occupancy and allows you to charge a fee or respond accordingly if any guests are not a party to the agreement.
Step 6 – Outline Rules and Policies
6. Occupancy, Visitors, Other Policies. Clearly state your policies regarding the following:
- Visitors (not members of the rental party)
- Maximum occupancy
- Damage to property and belongings
Include specific penalties (like fees or termination of the rental agreement) if the tenant doesn’t comply with a given policy.
Step 7 – Explain Check-In and Check-Out Procedures
7. Check-In and Check-Out Details. In the rental agreement, write the arrival date and check-in time, and explain how guests can gain access to the property.
Also, describe the check-out process, including check-out time, key drop-off, and any cleaning guests are expected to do before leaving.
If your guests require a physical key to enter the rental property, note any fees associated with lost keys in the contract.
Step 8 – Include payment details
8. Payment Details. Your short-term rental agreement should clearly state the rental cost (rate and total amount due), with a breakdown of local taxes, cleaning fees, and other applicable charges. Include acceptable payment methods (cash, check transfer, etc.), and the due date.
Depending on your cancellation policy, you may offer guests a partial or full refund of their deposit if they cancel with enough notice or unforeseen circumstances occur (like severe weather).
Step 9 – Sign the Agreement
9. Signatures. After the guest has read and agreed to the rental agreement terms, both parties should sign and date the agreement.
Give the guest a copy of the signed rental agreement and proof of payment for their security deposit.
Short-Term Rental Agreement FAQs
Who is the short-term vacation rental agreement for?
A short-term vacation rental agreement is used by a homeowner or property owner who rents rooms or a property on a short basis to visitors, usually on vacation. Short-term rental booking sites like Airbnb often require landlords to offer a written rental agreement as a condition of listing properties on the site.
There are also tax consequences for renting a property under the Internal Revenue Code, so a short-term rental agreement can prove useful for record-keeping.
In all cases, a written agreement can help protect the property owner and the visiting vacationer from legal disputes by setting forth terms, rights, and responsibilities.
Is a short-term rental agreement mandatory?
A short-term rental agreement might be required by the rules of a booking site that matches short-term vacationers with landlords. Local ordinances or laws might also require a short-term rental agreement.
Bearing that, the short-term rental will be governed by the applicable law of the state and the locality where the property is located. Depending upon the law, such an agreement might be considered a common-law lease governed by the landlord-tenant law of the state, or a hotel lease, governed by the innkeepers’ law of the state.
Since both of these sections of law can sometimes contain pitfalls or traps for unwary landlords, a short-term vacation rental agreement can protect both the landlord and the visiting vacationer from unwelcome surprises.