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This question has a more complex answer than you might think.
Are Airbnb House Rules Legally Binding?
No, house rules are not legally binding. But Airbnb reviews your listing’s house rules if a dispute arises between a host and a guest. If you have clear house rules, you will have a stronger argument for damage compensation.
To make sure the contract is legally binding, you would need to have the renter sign a separate contract/lease, checked by an attorney to ensure it’s enforceable.
If the renter signs this contract, it is binding, and you can go to court for reparations. If they refuse to sign, you can simply not rent to them.
Is A Legally Binding Contract a Slippery Slope?
This is unfortunate when it comes to simple rules like, “Don’t wear shoes in the house” because this would never be able to be proven unless you were invading their privacy and filming guests.
So making this a rule only exacerbates the situation of having a contract at all.
The best way to make sure your rules are binding and that your renters want to abide by them is to simply add them to the Airbnb “About this space” section already established by Airbnb.
Renters do look at these and are aware of the rules before renting. Having this already in a contract that Airbnb can see makes it easier for them to help you arbitrate, should something go wrong.
Is There a Way to Enforce a Legally Binding Contract?
Enforcing those rules in a separate written contract would be a very difficult task, as you have the burden of proof.
Let’s say John rents to Jane. Jane decides to have a little party and gets wine on the sofa. You have a $250 deposit. But the cost to clean the sofa is $900. You can go to court for the stain, but any judge will favor the renter if she says it was already there. Why? Because you can’t prove it wasn’t. The judge will need proof to make this person pay you.
Would You Need Proof To Enforce The Contract?
The element of proof makes video evidence a must in this business. One way to provide this is to video your rental common areas (not bedrooms or bathrooms) with a time stamp added to the file. Having that snippet of a clean walk-through would force the legal system to enforce the extra costs you are incurring. If you are not near the property, ask the cleaning crew to do this once the cleaning is finished. Not only do you have proof of your belongings, but you are assuring that the rental is cleaned properly as well.
Know Your Local Laws Regarding Legally Binding Contracts!
One thing to be aware of is the local laws around your rental.
For instance, in some countries, it’s illegal to charge extra for service pets and illegal to refuse service to people with service pets. Breaking this law, even if you placed a rule about no pets, will not be enforceable in court and may lead to you being fined for illegally precluding a disabled person from their rights. This would be a disaster for your business. So make sure you handle this topic through a local attorney.
Be a “Bean Counter!”
Lastly, I always tell my clients to think like a “Bean-Counter” (aka an accountant). How much would this cost if things went wrong, compared to how much does it cost to not do anything at all? Knowing these things allows you to decide like a business owner, not a landlord.
Things To Remember When Drawing Up A Contract.
Note: This would typically be used for longer stays, not short ones.
- Names. Make sure the names are correct. For any contract to be binding, the names of the 2 parties need to be in the contract.
- Details of the booking. Duration, Dates, and Number of guests allowed. An outline of the booking should be kept including dates, times of check-in, check-out, and any other specific factors you want to adhere to.
- Location. An address should be used for clarity later should the need arise to use arbitration or small claims court.
- Fees. Outline the booking cost and any fees associated, such as cleaning fees or maintenance.
- Parking rules. Parking rules are one commonly missed rule some renters leave from a contract. If you have neighbors, this rule should be in your contract.
- Landlord responsibilities. Outline the responsibilities and conduct that you as the landlord will adhere to. What amenities will you? Your commitment to responding to any issues if the need arises.
- House rules. This is where you will add specifics. What rules do you want to add like no parties, no pets, etc?
Check out our article on critical Airbnb house rules for hosts here…