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Short-Term (Vacation) Lease Agreement

A short-term lease agreement is a rental contract between a landlord who rents a property for under 30 days to a tenant. Often for vacations, it is used to outline a broad agreement between the parties for a short-term stay.
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What Should be Included?

  • Start and End Dates;
  • Rent ($);
  • Property Address (full description)
  • Amenities (Wi-Fi, kitchen appliances, Cable TV, etc.);
  • Maximum Number (#) of Guests; and
  • House Rules

How to Rent a Vacation Home (8 steps)

  1. Find out the Local Laws
  2. Prepare the Property
  3. Take High-Quality Photographs
  4. Marketing the Property
  5. Post Online
  6. Verify Prospective Tenants
  7. Finalizing the Transaction
  8. Checkout (Tenant leaves)

1. Find out the Local Laws

landlord consulting real estate attorney

Due to certain communities taking a stand against allowing private residences to be rented, there has been legislation proposed in many areas of the country that prohibit or tax this type of leasing. Be sure to check with a local real estate attorney or real estate agent before listing your property for rent.

2. Prepare the Property

landlord purchasing pillows at store

In today’s rental market, tenants want to be provided with the same amenities and services as provided in a boutique hotel or bed and breakfast. This will involve providing:

  • Appliances (microwave, coffee maker, etc.);
  • Bed linens and pillows;
  • Cleaning service;
  • Internet (WiFi);
  • Cable;
  • Shampoo and Soap; and
  • Towels

The above-listed items do not have to be expensive, and due to the negligence of most tenants, the base or economy models should be made available.

3. Take High-Quality Photographs

person taking professional photos of property

A picture is worth a thousand words and can be the determining factor in a potential tenant selecting your property versus another. It is highly recommended to hire the services of a professional due to the potential amount of money at stake.

Be sure to have the photos focus on the positive aspects of the rental, such as views, landscapes, features, or any detail that could sway a potential renter.

4. Marketing the Property

landlord meeting with real estate agent

There are two (2) ways to go about marketing the property:

  1. Market the property yourself; or
  2. Hire a licensed real estate agent. If an agent is hired, all that will be needed are the photos taken and a leasing listing agreement will be signed between the parties.

5. Post Online

laptop screen showing booking.com homepage

If the landlord decides to market the property themselves, the Internet will be their best tool. It’s recommended to choose the website that best fits your needs.

Website Fees Upfront Costs Tenant Profiles Payment Types Best for
Airbnb 3% (*6% to 15% charged to the guest) $0 Yes At reservation shared rooms, rooms, and homes Seasonal rentals
VRBO + Homeaway 3% $499 No At reservation or check-in homes Year-round rentals
FlipKey (by TripAdvisor) 3% (*5% to 20% charged to the guest) $0 No At reservation or check-in Rooms and Homes Seasonal rentals
Craigslist 0% Free to $20 No Check-in shared rooms, rooms, and homes Long-term rentals
Booking.com 10% to 25% $0 No At reservation or check-in shared rooms, rooms, and homes Seasonal rentals

6. Verify Prospective Tenants

landlord reviewing applications from prospective tenants on tablet

If the landlord uses Airbnb, they can use the tenant profile feature. This will give the landlord access to reviews made by other property owners when they had hosted the guest. Otherwise, it will be up to the landlord to properly screen the tenants.

Unfortunately, most individuals will not consent to a background or credit check through a Rental Application for a vacation. Therefore, checking any available means online may be the only resource for a landlord.

7. Finalizing the Transaction

landlord's phone showing deposit in bank app

Once the reservation has been finalized, the landlord should try to collect the rent for the selected period. If the landlord used a website that collected the payment on their behalf, they are in good hands as long as the funds were processed accordingly.

However, if the tenant has not made payment to secure their reservation, an online processor such as PayPal, Venmo, or Escrow.com should be used.

If the landlord chooses to accept cash or payment after check-in, they should be wary that due to eviction laws in most States, once the tenant has access to the premises, it can take up to 90 days to remove them.

It’s recommended if the landlord has any valuables in the residence, a security deposit is recommended in addition to the rental payment. This guarantees that if any personal belongings in the home are damaged or missing, the landlord will be at least partially reimbursed.

8. Checkout (Tenant Leaves)

landlord checking out tenant using tablet

It’s important to properly check the tenant out of the property. This involves setting up a time and informing the repercussions, with late checkout penalties, if the tenant does not vacate.