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Vacation Lease basics

Short-term Rental Leases are suitable for those wanting to rent vacation properties or residential properties for a few days or weeks at a time. A Vacation Lease offers protection for the property owners and clearly outlines contract expectations to the renters. These documents can be used alongside online hosting services.

Use the Vacation Lease document if:

  • You own residential property that you want to rent out short-term.
  • You want to rent all or part of your own home to temporary renters.
  • You want to rent property from someone who does not offer a written rental agreement.

Whether you rent numerous properties or just a part of your own home to vacation or temporary renters, a Vacation Lease can help protect your property and limit your liability. Agreements can also be used to detail owner and renter responsibilities such as check in / check out times, cleaning requirements, pet and smoking policies, and deposits.

Other names for this document:

Short-Term Rental Lease, Vacation Rental Agreement, Vacation Property Rental Agreement, Guest Rental Agreement

What is included in a Vacation Rental Agreement?

Short-term rental agreements include many of the same items as a standard lease agreement such as a description of the property, names and contact information for both parties, terms of the agreement, payment and deposit amounts, cancellation terms, inclusions and utility information.

Guest Rental Agreements may also include additional provisions, such as:

Check in / check out procedures

Often vacation rental check-ins vary from simply showing up at a front desk and checking in. You may need to arrange to meet your renters at the property. Or, you may have installed keyless entry devices, but you still want to review the property when they check out. You should also provide your preferred ways of being contacted, such as through a hosting app or directly by phone.


Information about whether they can use facilities such as hot tubs, pools, communal areas, recreational equipment and parking. You can include limitations on when the facilities can be used, who can use them and hygiene requirements. This section might also include passcode or key access instructions as well.


This is simply what is provided on the property for the guest's use, such as kitchenware, linens, electronics, cleaning supplies, appliances and furniture. You may also provide Wi-Fi passwords and instructions.

Cleaning policies

Short-term rentals are not usually regular hotel rooms. Most do not provide daily laundry services or room cleaning during stays. Here you can outline what is expected of guests such as whether they should strip the beds, take out the garbage, or clean out refrigerators and freezers at the end of their stay.


Most vacation property owners enforce quiet times and how many guests can be on the property. Some will even state the obvious such as "no parties" and require that all guests be listed on the lease agreement beforehand.

Host access

There may be times you need to enter your own property while renters are there. You can list the kind of reasons you may need to enter the property for and how you will inform guests about your access.


Many property owners do not allow pets. If they do, and it is included in the lease, they may also define cleanliness rules and whether the animal can be left alone on the property.


It is helpful to guests if you also include a bit about what is not included or not available such as toiletries, landline phones, cell coverage, Wi-Fi, AC or heat, charcoal for the grill, fire wood or televisions.

What is considered a short-term rental?

If renters only stay for a few days or a week, in most states it would be considered a short-term rental. However, some potential tenants may be looking for longer terms such as a month or two. In some areas, longer rentals may fall under laws designed to protect long-term renters. Which means you may need to follow local lease and eviction laws. For longer term rental agreements, you may benefit from creating a Lease Agreement. If you rent your property for more than 14 days per year, you may have to report that income to the IRS. You'll want to verify with your tax attorney to see if this applies to your situation.

Do I need a signed agreement if I use an online service?

With Rocket Lawyer, your lease agreement may be signed electronically. Many online rental services also allow you to upload a copy of your rental agreement that must be agreed to before you rent your property. Most hosting services provide a way for you to require guests to check a box to validate their agreement to your terms before they pay. Or some use wordage that says basically that if they pay, they agree to your terms.

What kind of insurance protects short-term rental properties?

You many find that your homeowners insurance does not cover short-term rentals. In most cases, you will need to purchase commercial insurance coverage. If you are renting a vacation property, it is considered a business activity, which requires commercial insurance. If your property is part of a group such as a condo association or community, you'll want to find out what the group policy covers. Sometimes commercial insurance may be called business liability or landlord policies. Most policies cover things such as liability, contents and structure, and loss of income. Some online hosting sites offer low-priced insurance options tailored for short-term rentals.

Can anyone lease vacation property to others?

Potentially, yes. However, some states or local governments may require you to obtain the proper permits or licenses to legally rent to others. Some local areas may have bans on short-term rentals. There may also be stipulations on the definitions of personal and commercial use. You can Ask a Lawyer to discover if your local area has restrictions that you'll need to adhere to. Once you start renting, you may also be required to pay local taxes. Additionally, in most cases, tenants are not usually allowed to rent their occupied property (sublease) to another without permission from the property owner unless it is specifically stated as allowed within their lease agreement.

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