To put it simply, a rental agreement is a document outlining the dos and donts of your rental property. Some of you may be more familiar with the term tenancy agreement – same thing.
You’re reading this because you don’t know if you should have one for your rental property. Or perhaps you just want to know what yours should contain. Or maybe you want to know the legal implications of a rental agreement. Well, we’ll cover all of those questions right now.
Do I Need a Rental Agreement?
You don’t need a rental agreement to operate a vacation rental property, but it’s a good idea. For starters, a rental agreement will establish trust between you and your guests. It’s a good way to ensure they’re aware of the rules and that they’re expected to follow them.
Some people are comfortable just assuming that guests come equipped with common decency and respect for the property of others. And, for the most part, that is true. But your concern should be for the small percentage who don’t possess the aforementioned qualities.
What if it bothers my guests?
Unless your agreement’s terms are ridiculous, no one will be bothered by being asked to sign it. It’s a fairly standard practice in the vacation rental industry now, so it won’t be unexpected. Ask yourself who might be turned off by a reasonable rental agreement – do you really want them at your house?
Are Rental Agreements Legally Binding?
The short answer: yes.
A rental agreement becomes a legally binding contract once both parties have signed (tenant & landlord).
That doesn’t mean everything in a rental agreement is going to be upheld in court though. In the event that you end up taking a tenant to court for violation of a rental agreement, you should understand this. Each item in your agreement must be enforceable by law in order to be upheld in court.
Naturally, since most of the terms in the agreement are dealing with private property, you’ll probably have a good argument. Your terms must be seen as reasonable and you cannot enforce them outside of the law.
How to Write a Rental Agreement
OK, so now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about what goes into the document.
- Owner & guest details
- Booking details
- Property details
- Rental terms & property use
- Statement of guest’s understanding and intent to abide
- Signatures (both parties)
Some rental agreements include a section that attempts to free the landlord/owner of liability in particular scenarios. For example, a slip and fall in the shower, or an injury sustained whilst using the property improperly.
It’s debatable whether or not these clauses would actually make you legally exempt, but it may be worth including regardless. At the very least, it will ensure that your guest is aware of and minimizing situations that could harm them.
Implementing a Rental Agreement
So how do you go about this? You need the signatures for it to be a valid contract, so there’s two ways to go about it. You can print off a template and have the guest sign it when they arrive, or you can use an eSigning system. The latter is the preferred method for convenience’s sake.
Signature is one such system – it allows you to create legally binding documents that you and your guests can sign immediately from their computer. Using Tokeet, you can automate the sending of your rental agreement upon booking on any one of your channels. Once signed, the document will be returned to you and you’ll be able to carry on with some peace of mind.