Do You Need a Short-Term (Vacation) Rental Agreement for Airbnb?

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Before deciding if a short-term rental agreement is needed, it’s important to understand what is covered by Airbnb’s standard agreement.

What Is Included in Airbnb’s Standard Agreement?

By signing up for Airbnb, a Guest automatically enters into a contract with Airbnb by agreeing to Airbnb’s Terms of Service.

Airbnb has developed standards based on their experience interacting with both guests and hosts. Theses standards cover the following topics: safety, security, fairness, authenticity, and reliability.

To help keep our community safe and trusted, we’ve published our standards and expectations for all hosts and travelers.


Their standards are organized into a simple framework that helps Airbnb community members better understand what Airbnb expects from them and vice versa. Hosts ultimately control their own refund policy and house rules, which a guest agrees to when they book a listing.

Standards are enforced by a team of experts focused on ensuring they make a fair decision. Airbnb strives to take the circumstances of each claim into account when reaching a decision. However, Airbnb explicitly states that in some cases, their enforcement decisions may be incorrect. This is where having your guests sign a short-term rental agreement can come in handy as it can help establish expectations between a host and guest. First, we answer the question, what exactly is a short-term rental agreement?

What Is a Short-Term Rental Agreement?

A Short-Term Rental Agreement is a written document outlining the legally binding relationship between two parties – an owner, or the person renting out the property – and a guest, or the person renting the property for a short period of time

When Is a Short-Term Rental Agreement Needed?

Although Airbnb’s standard policy covers hosts for most scenarios, a short-term rental agreement will give you another opportunity to make sure guests understand the rules and the consequences if rules are broken. And that’s really the key point to help mitigate the many risks associated with providing access to total strangers and increase the understanding of expectations between both parties.

An Airbnb Short-Term Rental Agreement helps reduce the risk of renting out your property by putting into writing the details of the agreement between host and guest, and any consequences if those agreements are broken.

If there are special rules, such as homeowner association (HOA) rules that aren’t easy to resolve on the Airbnb platform, then you should definitely consider a rental agreement.

What Should be Included in a Simple Short-Term Rental Agreement?

A simple Short-Term Rental Agreement will identify the following basic elements:

  • Owner: who owns and is renting out the property
  • Guest: who will be staying in and renting the property
  • Property: what is the property and where is it located
  • Rent: how much is the guest paying the owner and what are the payment terms
  • Term: how long will the guest be staying in the property
  • Other Occupants: who else will be staying in the property with the guest

Here are a few examples of what an owner or guest may include in a simple Short-Term Rental Agreement:

Guests may or may not:

  • Bring a pet dog or cat
  • Use the hot tub
  • Park in the driveway
  • Check in early
  • Throw a party
  • Play loud music after 11 pm

Owner will provide:

  • A bed, or two, or three
  • Linens, blankets, and pillows
  • Kitchen utensils
  • Television with cable or Netflix and Hulu
  • Wireless internet
  • Parking spots
  • Basic toiletries

Note: Allowing strangers access to your property for multiple nights creates the risk that the guest may be able to claim rights as a tenant to your property. The duration of stay required to establish tenant rights varies by state. You should be aware of this period in your jurisdiction as it could take months and significant cost to evict a guest that has established tenants’ rights by virtue of the duration of their stay.

Can Airbnb Hosts Ask Guests to Sign an Agreement?

Yes. According to Airbnb, a host can ask a guest to sign an agreement as long as they disclose the terms prior to booking. Airbnb recommends doing this by mentioning the agreement in your listing’s description and listing the terms in a message thread with the guest. However, Airbnb clearly states it can’t help enforce any special policies in your contract so you’re on your own when it comes to enforcement.

Short-Term Rental Agreement Download

Are you looking for a short-term rental agreement to download? You can create one to meet your needs using this handy rental agreement generator powered by eforms.

About the Author Kevin Kelsey

Originally from Connecticut, Kevin moved to Los Angeles in 2013 and worked his way up to becoming an editor on award-winning reality TV shows. Kevin owns 4 short term rentals in Southern California and founded AirHost Academy to help other hosts improve their business.