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When do short-term renters gain the same rights as typical renters?

When short-term renters gain the same rights as normal renters depends on local law and the  written agreement between you and your renter. For example, a tenant in a standard one-year lease would usually have full rights on day one. Local tenant protection laws may exclude, for example, rentals that are for 30 days or less. A written agreement may also state that it is intended as a short-term rental instead of a primary residence.

If you don't have a written agreement or the written agreement is unclear, your renters may gain full rights after a certain number of days — often 14 or 30 days — depending on local law. After that, you may need to go through the full eviction process to get rid of a short-term renter.

Can I lock out short-term renters?

You can generally lock out a short-term renter without going to court, but you should be very careful before doing so. First, you must be certain that they do not qualify as a tenant as you could face severe legal consequences. Second, you have potential liability for safeguarding their property and personal belongings.

Rather than just locking the doors, it is a good idea to call the police and ask them to remove the renters if they won't leave on their own. Be prepared to provide proof that this is a short-term rental.

Can I evict short-term renters without going to court?

In most places, you have the same rights to remove a short-term renter as a hotel manager does to remove a guest. You generally do not need to go to court to terminate a short-term rental that is not a tenancy.

Again, you need to be certain of the legal rights involved, both yours and theirs, and consider contacting the police for assistance if the renters refuse to leave when asked. Use the Eviction Process Worksheet as a guide for whether you need to pursue a formal eviction.

Can I charge additional fees on top of a deposit for damages caused by short-term renters?

Short-term renters are generally civilly liable for damage they cause to your property. For example, if they break a chair, you have the right to recover the cost of repairing or replacing the chair. If you want to charge the renter directly instead of going to court or sending them a separate bill, you should include the right to charge for damage in your rental agreement.

When can I inspect a short-term rental?

A short-term rental often won't have the required notice period of a long-term tenancy. For example, the landlord may not need to give even a 24 hour notice. Check your local laws or ask a lawyer, but generally the limit is only common sense and courtesy. The ideal time is during normal working hours, similarly to how hotel housekeeping operates. If the renters are causing an active disturbance and won't answer the door, you may consider calling the police rather than barging in to avoid the risk of a confrontation.

It does not hurt to give a Landlord Notice to Enter especially if the renter is staying for longer than a few days.

What terms should I have in my short-term rental contracts?

To protect your rights, consider including the following terms in your Vacation Lease:

  • Length of stay
  • Clear language that it is a short-term rental
  • Rental rate
  • Damage policy
  • Limit on guests
  • House rules such as quiet hours and what to do with trash
  • Cancellation policy
  • Cleaning services provided
  • Your right to terminate if the renters violate the rules

To get help writing your rental agreement or understanding your rights, ask a lawyer.

This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.

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