Short-Term/Vacation Lease Agreement

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Upd. 27, Jan, 2023
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A short-term or vacation lease agreement is a legally binding document between a landlord and tenant that outlines the terms for the stay. They are similar to a standard lease but last only for a rental period of one to thirty days as the parties agree. Edit this Lawrina template to your needs and download the prepared document in minutes.
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Template Description

If you need a printable short-term lease agreement template, you’re in the right place. We have a simple PDF vacation rental contract template available to download. We’ve also compiled all the information you need to complete your short-term rental agreement form correctly and tips on successfully renting out your vacation home.

What Is a Vacation Rental Agreement?

family walking to the house with balloons

Rental agreements are legal documents that outline the agreement between the property owner or manager and the renter. They are usually for short periods (between one and 30 days).

If the structure was built before 1978, you must provide a copy of the lead-based paint disclosure form. The short-term rental agreement must comply with all state laws and Airbnb’s or other rental sites’s standard policies. 

With Airbnb’s standard policy covering most circumstances, hosts can provide guests with another way to ensure they understand what can happen if they break the rules with a short-term rental agreement. To minimize risks further, hosts can use a short-term rental agreement to fill in the gaps.

Warning

Guest rules should be outlined in a vacation rental agreement, along with the penalties for breaking them. In the case of a guest breaking the property policies and rules, the owner has the right to demand the guest pay for damages and cancel the booking immediately or evict guest and the rental party from the leased property.  

Parties of the Vacation Rental Agreement

  • The Owner Renting the Property –– The host at the property should provide his or her full name and contact information, plus describe the rental property clearly. 
  • The Renting Party –– The guests who will stay at the property during the rental period. Their full names and contacts should be mentioned in the document. You may also want to specify the effective date, which is the date that the lease agreement becomes effective.
  • Property Manager –– The person responsible for the property, if applicable, whose name, phone number, and email address should be in the contract. 

Key Terms

Although each short-term rental agreement should cover certain key terms, the specifics will vary, depending on the property. 

A vacation rental agreement should contain the following 15 key terms:

  • Details about the rental property – The description of your rental property should explain the amenities included inside. Make sure the language is clear and unambiguous.
  • Rental Parties Information – Your short-term lease agreement must include the names, addresses, and phone numbers of all guests who will stay at your property during the rental period. You may also want to specify the effective date, which is the date the lease agreement becomes effective.
  • Duration of rental – Short-term rental agreements must include the date of arrival and departure. If these dates change before guests arrive, they must sign an updated agreement.
  • Occupancy Limit – Make sure that you define the sleeping arrangements for each guest and include the fire code regulations that support your maximum occupancy.
Insight

You are protected under this section of the agreement if your guests bring unauthorized visitors to your property. The guests and/or the lessee also may be held liable for injuries or damage caused to leased property by unauthorized visitors.

  • Access and keys – Describe in your short-term rental agreement how guests will gain access to your property. If you have a lockbox or other key policy, be sure to describe that in this section. 
  • Restrictions and Rules for Rentals – In every vacation rental agreement, this clause is essential because it allows you to clearly outline the house rules. For example, you might include a no-smoking policy or a no-pet policy. It is also a good idea to highlight any penalties for breaking the rules in this section.  
  • Details of payment – You should include everything related to payment in this section. Include the agreed-upon rental rate as well as the due date for payment. Also, specify other services you provide. For instance, if you provide guided tours, transportation, or breakfast, include these details.
  • Security Deposit – The host will return the security deposit to the guest upon the guest’s departure, providing no incidents occurred. A security deposit protects you if a guest damages your property. Ensure that the amount of a security deposit you charge is on par with what other hosts in your area charge before choosing one.
  • Charges – Make sure you clearly define any additional fees you charge outside of rent and security deposit in terms of cost, purpose, and payment dates.
  • Cancellation – Include a cancellation policy in this section. Usually, guests must write a cancellation request to the host.
  • Cleaning – Outline the cleaning fee here, as well as instructions so that your guests know exactly how to leave your property. 
  • Furnishings and amenities – Include a detailed description of all the amenities in your house in this section of your short-term rental agreement, including furniture, linens, TV, and air conditioning. Make sure to mention any outdoor spaces your guests will have access to, as well.
  • Liability Limitations – No matter how well you maintain your property, accidents and injuries can happen. The limitation of liability clause helps limit your responsibility if such cases occur. In the event a guest suffers a loss during the course of a short-term rental agreement, the host may be liable for a limited amount.
Insight

A lawyer can review your terms of the lease agreement to ensure they are reasonable and carefully written. The liability clause, if drafted appropriately, can eliminate a party's right to certain types of damages. When negotiating an agreement and drafting these clauses, it helps to understand what damages might flow directly and indirectly from a breach of the agreement terms to protect your rights.

This section in vacation lease agreement should include the following:

  • It should state the guest's statutory rights to bring a claim against you for any damages arising out of injury or your property – a premises liability lawsuit. In most states owners that occupy property must make a reasonable effort to maintain a safe environment for visitors, failure to keep the safe property for visitors results in “premises liability”. 
  • Losses and/or damages should be defined with and without limits for each party.
  • It should specify the losses and/or damages that each party will not be liable for (specific losses), for instance loss of personal belongings or valuables belonging to guest or visitors, etc.
  • Agreement Violation – In the event that either party violates the terms and conditions, this section should explain what happens. You may be able to prove that you have the right to cancel their stay if they violate the agreement.
  • Extra provisions – Short-term vacation rental agreements can include extra clauses that will further restrict what your guests can and cannot do. Make sure you define your expectations in an extra clause. For example, you can say that guests cannot access a certain area of the house or the pool.

When To Use a Short-Term Rental Agreement

Any landlord leasing their property for a short-term duration, typically between one and 30 days should complete a vacation rental agreement form. The landlord and tenant can decide on any number of days or weeks that suits both parties. Always use a short-term rental contract template before the tenant arrives at the property.

Insight

Since these leases are for short-term stays, they are generally reserved for vacation lets or summer homes that are not intended to be lived in permanently. However, renting out furnished residential property for a few weeks or up to a month is also possible under these contracts.

Who Is the Short-Term/Vacation Rental Agreement for?

A short-term lease agreement template for rental property is for both the landlord and the tenant. The agreement outlines the terms of the contract, ensuring both parties stick to their rights and responsibilities, which will help to avoid legal disputes farther down the line. Here is a closer look at how these contracts benefit both parties:

  • Makes it possible for tenants to live in flexible locations without having to purchase a property;

  • Allows landlords to profit from homes where they do not permanently reside without putting their house up for sale and finding a new owner;

  • Protects the property by informing tenants of what is expected during the rental period;

  • Provides tenants with expectations for their stay, helping them decide whether the rental home is a good fit for their needs;

  • Lets the tenant know what to expect, helping to keep them happy when they arrive at the property and increasing the amount of positive feedback for the landlord;

  • Makes it easy for the landlord to collect any payments for rent or additional expenses, such as breakfast or towel hire;

  • Protects the tenant if they arrive at the property to find problems, such as no water or electricity, unreliable locks, etc.

Warning

Make sure you have insurance in place so you don’t end up paying out of pocket if anything goes wrong.

What To Include in a Vacation Rental Agreement

Our short-term rental agreement template includes all the necessary sections that must be included to provide the landlord and tenant with adequate legal protection. Here is a closer look at all the general sections you should have in the short-term lease agreement template:

1. Details of the Parties

Your vacation rental agreement must include the names of all the guests who will stay at the property. You should also ask for their phone numbers and current correspondence address. The landlord must also provide their name and address.

2. Rental Property Details

Next comes a detailed description of the rental property. Include the property address alongside a list of all the amenities included throughout the duration of the stay. It is essential to use specific language, so there is no room for misinterpretation.

3. Rental Period and Guests

family cycling on the beach

Detail how long the guests are staying at the rental property. You should include the dates of their stay and a precise check-in and check-out time. You must also provide the total number of guests (adults and children) and the maximum occupancy of the property.

4. Rental Amount and Fees

Specify the agreed amount of rent per day and the total amount for the duration of the stay. You should also include other fees, such as cleaning fees, services charges, deposits, and taxes. Finish with an overall total amount, an upfront deposit amount, and the dates payments are due.

5. House Rules

You can use this part of the short-term lease form to add house rules. For example, you might want quiet time after 11 p.m., no parties or events, and no smoking of any kind inside the property. Guests must abide by these rules throughout their stay; breaking them counts as a contract violation.

6. Limitation of Liability

Accidents can happen even in the most well-maintained homes. This section of the short-term lease form protects the landlord if accidents and losses occur on the property. You need to outline what losses you will be liable for and the statutory limit for guests if they make claims against you.

7. Cancellation Policy

For vacation lets and short-term leases, tenants are often given a period in which they can cancel their reservation. The details of these conditions are in this section of the contract. You should specify how long tenants have to cancel after booking and the rules surrounding refunds and deposits.

8. Violation Agreement

This section of your short-term rental agreement template explains what happens if either the landlord or tenant breaks the aforementioned terms of the contract. In an ideal scenario, no disputes will arise. However, this clause is essential for both parties in case things don’t go as planned.

How To Write a Rental Agreement for Vacation or Short-Term Stays?

Our simple vacation rental agreement template makes writing your contract easy. Download this printable PDF form from Lawrina, then complete the following steps:

Check Your Local Laws on Vacation Rentals

Before you rent out your vacation home, check the local laws of your jurisdiction. Some U.S. states require owners of vacation rental properties to have licenses for them to legally rent out their homes on a short-term basis, as is the case in Florida. Failure to hold a license can result in legal action and fines.

Other legal restrictions may also be in place, including:

  • Restricting the number of days landlords can rent property per year before paying fines;

  • Limits on the number of vacation rentals in a specific town or city;

  • Multiple dwelling laws to ensure families and local residents reside in apartment buildings.

The specific laws surrounding short-term lease agreements vary between states. Always check the legal requirements before letting guests stay in your rental property. If in doubt, contact a local lawyer in your jurisdiction to help walk you through the basics.

Decide Your Rental Agreement Terms

Once you’re up to speed on the legal requirements in your city, you can begin to define the terms of your short-term agreement contract. As the landlord of your vacation rental, you can decide on all the terms as long as you’re operating within the confines of the law.

Think about any house rules you want tenants to follow, the amount of rent you need and additional costs, and under what conditions you’re happy to cancel a booking. To help you out, here are some questions you can use as prompts:

  • How much do you want to charge for rental income per night?

  • Is there a minimum number of nights you want guests to stay?

  • How much time do you need between check-in and check-out to prepare the property?

  • Are there any additional charges (cleaning fees, taxes, etc.) tenants need to cover?

  • How much deposit do you want to secure the reservation?

  • Under what conditions are you willing to cancel a booking?

  • Is the deposit amount refundable or not? When are the clients liable to pay in full?

  • Are there any specific house rules you want guests to abide by (noise, smoking, etc.)?

Create a Property Description and Amenities List

Once you have established the basic terms of the agreement, make a comprehensive description of the property and its amenities. This description must include the property type (apartment, house, etc.), the rooms that comprise the property, and which areas are public or private. Decide whether the guests have full or partial access and make a note of this.

You also need to list the amenities that guests have access to during their stay. This might include some of the following examples:

  • Wi-Fi (including speed and access range);

  • Towels and bed linens;

  • Parking (paid or free);

  • Washing machine and dryer;

  • Hot tub or swimming pool;

  • Basic cooking supplies.

Assess the Liability of the Property

host cleaning his house pool

Landlords are responsible for ensuring their vacation home is safe for visitors. Examples of efforts include maintaining the condition of the property, repairing damages as soon as they are realized, and making guests aware of any potential dangers while carrying out repairs. 

Assess the current liability of the property and its assets and ensure you’re covered in the event of losses or damages, reducing your personal liability in the case of accidents. You might want to take out new insurance that covers any damages, the loss of rent due to repairs, and liability for any personal injuries that occur on the premises.

Once you’ve completed the short-term lease agreement form, sign and date the contract at the end. You’ll also need to get a member of the rental party to sign the agreement. The contract does not require notarization and becomes legally binding once both parties have given their signatures.

How To Use a Short-Term Rental Agreement

Below is a standard process when a short-term rental contract comes in handy:

  1. Find out what the local laws are;
  2. Make sure the property is prepared;
  3. Make sure you take high-quality photos;
  4. The property’s marketing;
  5. Publish on the web;
  6. Verify prospective tenants; 
  7. Print and sign the agreement;
  8. Close the deal;
  9. Tenant comes to stay;
  10. Tenant checks out (leaves);
  11. Cleaning, final checks, and the security deposit is returned (if applicable).

Common Use Cases

When renting your property to new guests, it is a good idea to use a short-term vacation rental agreement since it defines both hosts’ and guests’ rights and responsibilities for a specific lease term. Use the agreement regardless of the length of the stay. Use it even if the guests are staying one night and if you are renting to friends.

Airbnb recommends mentioning the agreement in your listing description before getting a guest to sign a short-term rental agreement. Your guest should also be informed of the terms of the vacation rental contract in a message thread.

When Not To Use the Vacation Rental Agreement

You should not use a short-term lease agreement when you plan to have a guest stay longer than 30 days. Then, you should draft a formal month-to-month or fixed-term lease agreement.

How To Rent a Vacation Home: Tips and Tricks

When you have your short-term rental contract template ready, the only thing left to find is a tenant. Finding your first guests to welcome into your home can be challenging for a first-timer, and maintaining a steady flow of guests is even more difficult. 

Here are some tips to help you succeed and make a steady income from leasing your vacation home:

  • Always research the properties in your area before advertising your rental property. You can better understand the market and how much you should be charging per night.
  • Consider that you may receive more bookings during certain seasons and price your home accordingly. Dynamic pricing helps you capture more customers in low seasons while maximizing profits during the high season.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of photographs. Take good-quality images of every room that provide an accurate but appealing representation of your home.
  • Choose an appropriate cancellation policy for your property. It can be tempting to have stricter policies so that your property isn’t empty last minute; however, stringent policies can deter guests that prioritize flexibility in booking.
  • Don’t attempt to do everything yourself. Consider appointing a lawyer to help to navigate the short-term rental laws in your state, investing in cleaners you can rely on, and hiring a property maintenance partner.
  • Decorate your vacation home with everyone in mind. Opt for neutral color schemes and comfort that everyone can enjoy, regardless of whether they are traveling for business or on a family vacation.
  • Ask old tenants for reviews of your home and their experience at the property. The more positive feedback you receive, the more potential tenants trust your property listing.

State Law

To run a successful Airbnb or vacation rental, you need to be aware of all the applicable regulations and tax laws.

Tax collection authorities are becoming more aware of how much money hosts are making and striving to make sure they receive their cut as the vacation rental market matures.

Insight

To avoid fines or removal from vacation rental marketplaces like Airbnb, we advise you to make sure you know the rules of your property back-to-front and that you’re licensed and paying taxes

Make sure you are aware of the local laws in your city and state.

State Law
Alabama
  1. Written short-term rental agreement is NOT required.
  2. Vacation rental license is NOT required.
State Law
Alaska
  1. Written short-term rental agreement is NOT required.
  2. Vacation rental license is required in certain cities.
State Law
Arizona
  1. Written short-term rental agreement is required.
  2. Vacation rental license is required.
State Law
Arkansas
  1. Written short-term rental agreement is NOT required.
  2. Vacation rental license is required in certain cities.
State Law
California
  1. Written short-term rental agreement is required in certain cities.
  2. Vacation rental license is required in certain cities.
State Law
Colorado
  1. Written short-term rental agreement is required in certain cities.
  2. Vacation rental license is NOT required.
State Law
Connecticut
  1. Written short-term rental agreement is NOT required.
  2. Vacation rental license is NOT required, however, special local permits may be required in certain cities.
State Law
Delaware
  1. Written short-term rental agreement is NOT required.
  2. Vacation rental license is required.
State Law
Florida
  1. Written short-term rental agreement is NOT required.
  2. Vacation rental license is required.
State Law
Georgia
  1. Written short-term rental agreement is NOT required.
  2. Vacation rental license is NOT required.
State Law
Hawaii
  1. Written short-term rental agreement is NOT required.
  2. Vacation rental license is required in certain cities and counties.
State Law
Idaho
  1. Written short-term rental agreement is NOT required.
  2. Vacation rental license is NOT required, however, special local permits may be required in certain cities.
State Law
Illinois
  1. Written short-term rental agreement is NOT required.
  2. Vacation rental license is required in certain cities and villages.
State Law
Indiana
  1. Written short-term rental agreement is NOT required.
  2. Vacation rental license is NOT required but certain permits are.
State Law
Iowa
  1. Written short-term rental agreement is NOT required.
  2. Vacation rental license is NOT required.
State Law
Kansas
  1. Written short-term rental agreement is NOT required.
  2. Vacation rental license is required in certain cities.
State Law
Kentucky
  1. Written short-term rental agreement is NOT required.
  2. Vacation rental license is NOT required but the city permit is.
State Law
Louisiana
  1. Written short-term rental agreement is NOT required.
  2. Vacation rental license is required in certain cities.
State Law
Maine
  1. Written short-term rental agreement is NOT required.
  2. Vacation rental license is required in certain cities.
State Law
Maryland
  1. Written short-term rental agreement is NOT required.
  2. Vacation rental license is required in certain cities.
State Law
Massachusetts
  1. Written short-term rental agreement is NOT required.
  2. Vacation rental license is NOT required but registration and annual certification are required in certain cities.
State Law
Michigan
  1. Written short-term rental agreement is NOT required.
  2. Vacation rental license is required in certain cities.
State Law
Minnesota
  1. Written short-term rental agreement is NOT required.
  2. Vacation rental license is required.
State Law
Mississippi
  1. Written short-term rental agreement is NOT required.
  2. Vacation rental license is NOT required but the city permit is.
State Law
Missouri
  1. Written short-term rental agreement is NOT required.
  2. Vacation rental license is NOT required but the license application and approval are.
State Law
Montana
  1. Written short-term rental agreement is NOT required.
  2. Vacation rental license is required in certain cities.
State Law
Nebraska
  1. Written short-term rental agreement is NOT required.
  2. Vacation rental license is required in certain cities.
State Law
Nevada
  1. Written short-term rental agreement is required in certain cities.
  2. Vacation rental license is required.
State Law
New Hampshire
  1. Written short-term rental agreement is NOT required.
  2. Vacation rental license is NOT required but permit is.
State Law
New Jersey
  1. Written short-term rental agreement is required in certain cities.
  2. Vacation rental license is required in certain cities.
State Law
New Mexico
  1. Written short-term rental agreement is NOT required.
  2. Vacation rental license is NOT but permits in certain cities are.
State Law
New York
  1. Written short-term rental agreement is required in certain cities.
  2. Vacation rental license is NOT required.
State Law
North Carolina
  1. Written short-term rental agreement is NOT required.
  2. Vacation rental license is NOT required.
State Law
North Dakota
  1. Written short-term rental agreement is NOT required.
  2. Vacation rental license is NOT required but certain cities may have local regulations and requirements.
State Law
Ohio
  1. Written short-term rental agreement is NOT required.
  2. Vacation rental license is NOT required but permits in certain cities are.
State Law
Oklahoma
  1. Written short-term rental agreement is NOT required.
  2. Vacation rental license is required in certain cities.
State Law
Oregon
  1. Written short-term rental agreement is NOT required.
  2. Vacation rental license is required in certain cities.
State Law
Pennsylvania
  1. Written short-term rental agreement is NOT required.
  2. Vacation rental license is required in certain cities.
State Law
Rhode Island
  1. Written short-term rental agreement is NOT required.
  2. Vacation rental license is NOT required but state registration is.
State Law
South Carolina
  1. Written short-term rental agreement is NOT required.
  2. Vacation rental license is NOT required but specific conditions apply.
State Law
South Dakota
  1. Written short-term rental agreement is NOT required.
  2. Vacation rental license may be required in certain cities.
State Law
Tennessee
  1. Written short-term rental agreement is NOT required.
  2. Vacation rental license is NOT required.
State Law
Texas
  1. Written short-term rental agreement is required in certain cities.
  2. Vacation rental license is required in certain cities.
State Law
Utah
  1. Written short-term rental agreement is NOT required.
  2. Vacation rental license is required.
State Law
Vermont
  1. Written short-term rental agreement is NOT required.
  2. Vacation rental license is required.
State Law
Virginia
  1. Written short-term rental agreement is NOT required.
  2. Vacation rental license is NOT required but registration certificate is.
State Law
Washington
  1. Written short-term rental agreement is NOT required.
  2. Vacation rental license is required in certain cities.
State Law
West Virginia
  1. Written short-term rental agreement is NOT required.
  2. Vacation rental license is NOT required but business certification is.
State Law
Wisconsin
  1. Written short-term rental agreement is NOT required.
  2. Vacation rental license is required.
State Law
Wyoming
  1. Written short-term rental agreement is NOT required.
  2. Vacation rental license is NOT required but permits in certain cities may be required.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can anyone lease vacation property to others?

Whether or not you can lease a vacation property to others depends on your state. Many US states require homeowners to have a vacation rental license or a business license if they plan on renting their property. There might also be restrictions on the number of vacation homes within your city or apartment block. Check the local laws before listing your site online and taking your first tenants.

How to terminate a property management agreement for a vacation rental?

A property management agreement (PMA) is a contract between a landlord and a property management company that is looking after the vacation property. If you’re not satisfied with the work of the management company, you can terminate the contract by:

  1. Checking the cancellation policy and termination notice period
  2. Sending written notice to the vacation rental management firm of your termination
  3. Saving for and paying any termination fees and other applicable costs
How to back out of a vacation rental agreement?

If you’re looking to back out of a vacation rental agreement, check the cancelation policy outlined in the contract. This clause specifies if cancellations are permitted, how many days before the reservation either party can cancel, and how much of the deposit the tenant receives back.

If you’re within this cancellation policy, backing out of the short term rental agreement template is straightforward. Write to the landlord or tenant and let them know you’re terminating the contract. If the notice period has passed, things are a little more challenging. You are legally bound to uphold the contract and usually must pay a cancellation fee or the outstanding balance for the stay.

However, try writing to the opposing party and explain your reason for the cancellation. They might be understanding and cancel the booking without fees, penalties, or legal recourse.