The Best Vacation Rental House Rules Template You’ll Find
If there’s one thing you want to make clear when guests stay at your rental home, it’s the house rules.
House rules aren’t about being strict or stern; they’re just there to protect your property, give reassuring boundaries to guests, let them know what might happen if things go wrong, and make sure everyone’s on the same page for professional and stress-free stays.
Guests agree to accept your house rules when they stay at your rental and accept that they may be liable to pay or rectify any damage if the rules are breached.
That’s why it’s so important to make sure your house rules are clear, easy to read, and easily found by guests, and that the rules are communicated at the right time and place to ensure that guests actually read and respect them.
A major way to do this is by sending automated messages by SMS based on vacation rental SMS templates, so that guests have the rules at hand easily, and so they don’t get lost in an overflowing email inbox.
After all, there’s no point keeping your rules on a dog-eared bit of paper on a table and praying they get read, only to discover, perhaps after a major rule is broken, that your guests never noticed them in the first place.
To help, in this post, we’ll cover:
- How to create house rules for vacation rentals that guests actually read.
- When and how to send the rules so guests read them, without extra work from you.
- How to deliver your house rules easily at the perfect time, with automated SMS..
- Our “copy-and-paste” template for the perfect house rules list you can use today.
RueBaRue is an intuitive tool that helps you create digital guestbooks in minutes and increase efficiency by sending automated text messages to your guests – including your house rules. Book a 30-minute demo to see how it works.
Why is it important to make your vacation rental house rules clear?
There are a number of advantages to being up front about your vacation rental rules rather than hiding them away and just hoping your guests see them.
1. Save time on guest communication
Having your guest rules and property information in one obvious place helps cut down the time you spend answering the same questions over and over. It also means your guests receive all the information they need automatically, without extra work required from you. Guests are reassured by your clear communication, establishing a good relationship built on trust.
2. Make sure everyone is on the same page
If the ground rules are communicated clearly from the beginning, it brings peace of mind by removing any uncertainty or grey areas from the rental. Everyone knows what’s expected of them. Rather than feeling threatened by rules, many guests will actually appreciate this clear communication from you and feel reassured to know that their host is a professional and will respond well to knowing what is - and is not - expected of them right from the start.
3. Keep guests accountable
Carefully laying out the boundaries and responsibilities expected of guests means there is far less room for error or misunderstanding if something goes wrong. With the rules clearly stated in the event of damage or dissatisfaction, guests cannot claim they were ignorant of them and try to escape responsibility. It also makes it easier to see who has liability and offers a clear line of sight to who will need to sort out or pay for any issues.
4. Protect your property
House rules are there to protect your property, and make sure that if the worst happens, you are not left with an unfair bill, damage to repair, or guests who disappear without any legal responsibilities. Your property is your major real estate rental business asset, so having rules in place to protect it is a good investment.
How can you make sure that guests read your vacation rental house rules?
Reality check for vacation rental property managers: even though guests are required to accept your house rules on platforms such as Airbnb in order to be able to book your listing, many don’t actually read them.
Many see them as the “boring small print” and just click through without checking (meaning they’re even less likely to actually stick to the rules once they’re staying).
And, on most standard OTA platforms, guests often never get sent the rules again, meaning you can’t be sure if they’ve actually read them, or - more importantly - have any intention of respecting the rental agreement.
This doesn’t start your relationship on the most trusted footing and can mean gray areas exist when it comes to protecting your property and ensuring everyone knows what’s expected.
Deliver the house rules at the right time
The solution is to deliver the house rules at just the right time, to ensure that guests are more likely to read -- and stick to -- them.
Generally, as a vacation property manager you want to communicate with your guests at these critical stages:
- Before booking - When describing your property and stay experience. The only rules to mention here are must-know or “deal-breaker” conditions such as no children or pets, or no wheelchair accessibility.
- Between booking and check-in - Ensure your guests feel good about their booking as soon as they confirm, with automated welcoming messages and need-to-know details.
- During the stay - Keep communication open and friendly, and answer any questions or deal with any problems quickly and confidently, to continue building guest trust.
- After the stay - Follow up with guest surveys to check if there is anything else you can help your guest with, thank them for their stay, and encourage repeat bookings later.
Now that guests have booked - and accepted any deal-breaker conditions such as no parties or pets - you want to deliver the rest of the ground rules.
This is ideally done at least twice, at two different points.
- Once in the confirmation email after booking.
- Once in the emails or text sent in the days immediately running up to the guests’ arrival.
This means that your guests will definitely see them as they prepare to stay.
This process can be automated and timed automatically with tools such as RueBaRue, so you don’t have to be waiting by your phone to hit send every time a new guest checks in.
Adding the rules in a physical or digital copy that guests can consult easily during their stay is a good idea too. Most guidebook tools such as RueBaRue allow you to send your guest a digital copy but also let you print your guestbook, so you can choose the option that works best for your business.
Deliver the house rules in the right way
Automated digital delivery
Tools such as RueBaRue can also send this important information via SMS as well as by email.
This means that the rules don’t get lost in the booking process or drown in an overflowing Inbox, and are accessible even if the guest is avoiding their emails on vacation, or doesn’t have an internet connection at your place.
Delivering the rules by text message also means you can automate the process, meaning you can make sure guests have everything they need, without any extra work from you.
Tone of voice and style
Rules don’t have to mean boring, long-winded, or strict. Increase the likelihood that your guests will read and remember your rules by:
- Keeping it simple. No one wants to wade through lots of text or unnecessary restrictions. Keep your rules easy to read and concise, and stick to the must-haves. Any other helpful tips or suggestions can be left around the property, not in the rulebook.
- Including safety reminders. Including safety tips, such as using a mat when getting out of the shower, or double-locking the door when you leave, helps guests to feel cared for, and also limits excess risk for you.
- Explaining why. Explaining the reason behind a rule means guests are more likely to follow them. For example, rather than just saying “close the windows at night”, you could write: “Close the window at night, unless you want to be eaten alive by mosquitoes and spiders.” This makes it clear that the rule is not arbitrary, and provides added incentive to actually follow it.
- Offering extra cultural context where useful. For example, you might ask guests to remove their shoes before entering, because it’s considered polite in the country your rental is in. This helps guests feel as though they understand where they’re staying, as well as making it more likely they’ll comply.
- Using humor or a joky tone. For example, “Please don’t play loud music after 10 pm. Our neighbors have kids and they get jealous if we have too much fun.”
- Add personal stories, and an informal writing style to show that just because there are rules, guests can still enjoy their stay. For example, “Please don’t eat on the couch. We are #obsessed with food too, but we recommend the terrace at the Italian restaurant down the street for that.”
Not only will this make your rules more readable, but it can also help your guests see you as a real human being with a property you care about, which makes them more likely to treat your place as though it was their own home.
How to set up an automated text message to deliver your vacation rental house rules
It’s easy to set up short-term rental SMSs in RueBaRue, so you can make sure you deliver your house rules at the perfect time, with every guest. Here’s how to set up an automated text message in RueBaRue
1. Once you’ve signed in, go to the Scheduler page.
2. Click “+ Schedule a Message”.
3. Compose your message, name it, and set it to “active”.
4. Then select “SMS” (rather than email) and set the rules, such as how many days before or after check-in you’d like to send it.
5. To personalize the message - for example, so it addresses your guest by their first name - click “View macros”.
6. Click to copy and paste the “macros” (computer code) directly from the bar on the right-hand side (the bits within the  brackets, eg. [FirstName]) to personalize your message
7. Click Save.
It couldn’t be easier.
(By the way, for more step-by-step guides like this, RueBaRue has a useful knowledge base that can answer questions in minutes, making set-up easy and simple.)
What to include in your vacation rental house rules: 5 must-haves
Address issues such as whether pets or parties are allowed, any quiet times (e.g after 10 pm), the number of guests allowed, what happens with any guests of the officially-booked guests, extra bedding, and anything to know about keeping neighbors happy. It’s also a good idea to let guests know about basic provisions, such as whether you will be providing sheets and towels, food or drink, and questions such as if there is a coffee machine (and if so what kind). This can help guests pack accordingly, make sure they know what’s included, and avoid them having to make calls, or call the property management office later on.
Let guests know about any laundry arrangements if there are any storage areas they can use, what to do about garbage and recycling, and what you expect in terms of cleaning the kitchen or bathroom before they leave.
Make sure you lay out rules for smoking, quiet hours, candles or incense use, food eating areas, if any hairdryers or iron/iron boards are included, what guests can use or not, and if any extras are offered, such as shampoo or olive oil.
Also make sure they know how to use and turn off the AC, and heat; and if there are any off-limit areas.
You might also add extra conditions here. For example, if you do allow parties, state if there is a noise limit or any time constraints guests should know about, such as “loud music and parties are OK, but only until midnight”, or “parties should be limited to no more than 20 guests”.
You might also let guests know what you expect from them if there are any accidental breakages or damage during their stay.
This is where you can ensure guests know the security set-up, such as whether to double-lock the doors, close the windows, or any alarms or late-night access rules they need to be aware of. It is also a good idea to make your check-out time, key and lost key policies clear here, and also to leave any emergency numbers, from your details, to local medical contacts, to emergency plumbers or electricians.
Leave any rules or extra information about parking here; the number of cars you are allowed to park; and anything else guests need to know, such as off-limit communal areas, or the best way to get home safely after dark.
Make sure they know if there are communal spaces they can use, such as a swimming pool.
Also make sure that your rules include the consequences for breaking a rule, including how they should proceed, and contact you if anything goes wrong. Don’t be afraid to be firm but fair; your guests have agreed to these rules before booking, so they shouldn’t be surprised to be held accountable.
Cheatsheet: Your vacation rental house rules
Before we leave you with a great template you can copy and paste for your rental, let’s just summarize what we’ve said above, in a neat cheat sheet to help you get started.
- Make sure you have clear guest rules for your vacation rental, beyond basic “deal-breakers” such as ‘pet-friendly’ or not.
- Deliver the rules at the right time: once after booking, and once just before arrival.
- Set up automated delivery for your rules to save you excess manual admin, with a tool specifically designed for this, such as RueBaRue.
- Deliver the rules by email and SMS so guests actually see them.
- Keep them simple, short, readable, explanatory, humorous, and “human”.
- Include rules in key areas such as guests, cleanliness, property, and security.
Vacation rental house rules template
You can also see a sample of a RueBaRue client’s rule book here, to give you some more ideas of what to include in your rules, and how to lay them out.
Related Article: Vacation Rental Welcome Book: How To Create One from Scratch
Long story short: It’s vital to make sure that your shooter-term rental guests read, agree to, remember, and abide by your guest rules. This means your property is protected, boundaries are set, and everyone is on the same page.
The key to this is delivering the rules at the right time, and in the right way - including via SMS, upon check-in, and writing them in a memorable way. Tools such as RueBaRue help you do this with ease, so you can send your rules at the right time, every time.
RueBaRue is an intuitive tool that helps you create digital welcome books in minutes, and increase efficiency by sending automated text messages to your guests – including your house rules. Book a 30-minute demo to see how it works.
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