Vacation Rental House Rules: How to Make Sure Guests Read Them [+ Template]

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 the rules are communicated to guests at the right time and place to make sure they actually read and respect them.

Vacation Rental House Rules: How to Make Sure Guests Read Them [+ Template]

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 to hand easily, and 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 that you pray your guests read, only to discover later (maybe after a major rule has just been broken) that they never even noticed them in the first place.

To help, in this post, we’ll cover:


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.


RueBaRue Guest Text SMS Messaging Screenshot

Credit: RueBaRue.com

Why is it important to make your vacation rental house rules clear?

There are a number of advantages to being really upfront about your vacation rental rules, rather than hiding them away and just hoping your guests see them.

1. Saves 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 then reassured by your clear communication, establishing a good relationship built on trust.

2. Makes 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. Keeps 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 that way. 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. Protects 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 exactly start your relationship on the most trusting foot and can mean grey 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 at least:

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.

  1. Once in the confirmation email after booking.
  2. 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

RueBaRue Text SMS Automation Screenshot

Credit: RueBaRue.com

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:

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”.

RueBaRue Text SMS Automation Schedule Message Screenshot

3. Compose your message, name it, and set it to “active”.

RueBaRue Text SMS Automation Scheduler Writing A Message Screenshot

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”.

RueBaRue Text SMS Automation Scheduler View Macros Screenshot

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

1. Guests

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.

2. Cleanliness

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.

3. Property

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.

4. Security

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.

5. Surroundings

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.

Vacation rental house rules template

Dear [Guest first name].

Thank you so much for choosing our [property name] for your stay. We know there is so much choice out there, so we’re really glad you chose our place, and we hope you’ll enjoy the home and the surrounding area as much as we do.

It would be great if you could take a few minutes to read these house rules—and vacation rental welcome book—when you arrive, and stick to them during your stay.

If you have any questions or want to check anything, please just contact me so I can explain to avoid any misunderstandings in the future (we all know how easy it is to misread things over text!).

We love our space, and as hosts, we have worked to make it as comfortable as possible, so please treat it with the same respect as you would do your own home, and leave it as close as you can to the way you found it.

No Extra Guests

Our local rules [change as needed] mean that you are not allowed to have extra daytime guests in your rental. The only guests you may have on the property are those on the overnight registered guests listed on the original register.

Contrary to popular belief [insert your own joke here] in our city we do sometimes like our neighbors. Please be considerate when speaking, moving around, and playing music [amend depending on your policy]. We’d appreciate it if you could ensure no excessive noise between 11 pm and 8 am [insert hours], and do not smoke or drop cigarettes by any open windows.

If you encounter noisy neighbors, please call us, or call law enforcement for severe problems after hours.

Well-behaved pets are welcome [amend if needed], but please don’t let them climb onto the beds or sofas and make sure their paws are clean before entering.

Our Home

The Wifi code is [insert here].

You can use any of the stuff in the kitchen cupboards, shelves, and fridge [amend as necessary], and the shampoo and soap [amend as needed] in the bathroom.

Extra towels/[insert your extra touches or items here] are [on the shelves in the bathroom] (we’ve left them on the heater to make sure they’re extra soft and warm!) [insert friendly note].

The drawers next to the bed are free for you to use [amend as necessary], but please don’t use or open the cupboards in the living room [insert joke / your rules here].

No Smoking

There is no smoking inside the home at all, and please don’t burn candles or incense [change rules to fit] - fire risks are not fun. Sadly, if you are found to have been smoking inside the property, you may be financially responsible for all damage caused including any stains or burns and the cost of odor remediation and removal and replacement of damaged property [edit depending on your policy].

Cleanliness

We’d be grateful if you could leave the furniture where it is, use coasters for hot drinks, and wash your pots and dishes after you use them in the kitchen [amend as needed].

Please refrain from eating in the bedroom (who knows where those crumbs will end up…) [change to fit your rules here].

Please take out the recycling and trash can when you leave. Extra bags are [under the sink - change as needed].

Security

Please make sure you turn off the lights, air conditioning, and/or heaters [insert anything else here, such as saving water] when you leave the house to save energy and resources.

Please close the windows when you leave the house, and remember to lock the door behind you [insert anything else here] for your own safety, including at night.

You should not have any security problems, but if anything serious occurs, please call us during business hours, and/or contact the police after hours.

We regret that if law enforcement is called to the property as a direct result of any negative actions by you, this will lead to immediate eviction.

Surroundings

[City] is a walkable place with great public transport [amend if needed], and the nearest train station/bus stop is [insert here]. If you do need to park, you can do so at [insert here]. It costs [insert amount] for [insert time] and you need [this code etc].

It’s usually safe to walk around in the evenings but if you’re going to be returning home after 10 pm, we recommend taking an Uber [insert recommendation here].

Thank you so much in advance - we really appreciate it. Welcome to [the city]!

[Property Management Company]

Ps. If any of these rules are broken, this may mean we will need to ask you to leave, and you may need to pay an additional fee, cleaning fee, and/or forfeit any right to a refund. We really don’t want that to happen, so we hope you understand. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Pps. A list of emergency contact numbers is stuck to the fridge [insert where here] in case you need it. Please contact us too in case of any emergencies.

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: How to Make Your Digital Vacation Rental Welcome Book Shine

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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