Short-Term Rental Agreement: What to Include & Free Templates

January 17, 2023 | Hailey Friedman

If you’re a short-term or vacation rental property owner, it’s important to have a clear and legally binding agreement in place with your tenant or vacationers. A short-term rental agreement is a document that outlines the terms and conditions of the rental transaction. 

It should provide details about the rental property, the tenant’s rights and responsibilities, and the property owner’s expectations. This blog post will discuss the importance of short-term rental agreements and will provide tips on how to create an effective agreement.

What is a Short-term (Vacation) Rental Agreement?

A short-term rental agreement is a legal document that outlines the rights and responsibilities of the parties involved in a short-term rental. This agreement typically covers the rental period, payment terms, the rights of the tenant and the landlord, and other contract details. 

The agreement also outlines the tenant’s responsibilities, including cleaning, maintenance, and adherence to local laws and regulations. This type of agreement is typically used for vacation rentals, but it can also be used for other short-term rentals, such as Airbnb rentals. A short-term rental agreement helps to protect both the tenant and the landlord, and it should be signed before the rental period begins.

A short-term rental agreement can also be referred to as: 

  • Short-term rental agreement

  • Short-term rental contract

  • Vacation lease agreement

  • Short-term residential lease agreement

  • Vacation rental contract

  • Vacation short-term rental lease agreement

When to Use a Short-Term Lease Agreement vs Long-Term Lease Agreement

Regarding rental agreements, it is important to consider the difference between a short-term lease agreement and a long-term lease agreement.

Short-Term Lease Agreement

A short-term lease agreement is a great option for those who need to rent a space for a limited amount of time, usually under a year. This type of agreement is often more adapted to the tenant’s requirements and provides more security, as it can be terminated more easily if necessary.

Long-Term Lease Agreement

A long-term lease agreement is ideal for tenants planning to remain in a property for a year or more. This kind of agreement is more binding and offers more security for the landlord, permitting them to modify the terms or raise the rent with proper notification.

 Both options offer benefits and drawbacks, so it is crucial to consider the time you need the property and the desired level of protection before deciding which lease agreement is right for you.

Mid-term Lease Agreement

There are also mid-term lease agreements. Mid-length stays for rental properties are generally between 1-3 months or 30-90 days. Though some property managers would consider stays up to 180 days a mid-length stay, they are most commonly 3-4 months long.

Why Should You Use a Vacation Rental Agreement?

vacation rental

For Guests

The short-term lease agreement helps protect the guest and the property owner by clearly understanding their rights and responsibilities. This document is an important tool for both parties as it ensures that both are protected and that the rental process is fair and transparent. 

For Hosts

Hosts can collect their payments without any hassle. The rental agreement will state all the expenses the guests will be paying and include any additional charges for extra guests or amenities.

What to Include in a Short-term Rental Agreement

rental house

Rental Parties

In the rental agreement, make sure to list all confirmed guests that will be staying on your property. This should include the full names, phone numbers, and current addresses of each guest. 

Additionally, include the dates that the guests will be staying as well as when the rental agreement will begin (and end).

Property Details

It’s essential to include all amenities, utilities, and furnishings that may be included in the agreement. Amenities can include laundry services, a kitchen, fitness facilities, parking, swimming pools, and common areas.

Utilities such as water, sewage, electricity, and gas can also be part of the agreement. Furnishings such as beds, chairs, tables, couches, and other items should be specified as well. Furthermore, the property owner may also include electronics such as televisions, stereos, and other items in the short-term lease agreement. Therefore, all of these points should be discussed and agreed upon before signing the contract.

Lease Term

How long you want guests to stay is up to you, but the standard term for a short rental lease is under six months. When it comes to vacation rentals, short-term leases are usually less than two weeks and can be as short as one night. 

Make this clear by including check-in and -out times in your lease agreement. Check-in and check-out times are the windows of time your guests are allowed to settle into their rooms or leave the property. Make sure you include this in your rental agreement so that your guests know when they need to arrive and when to leave.

Maximum Occupancy

If you want to protect your property from potential damage, you should include a capacity, or maximum occupancy limit, in your rental agreement. This way, if something happens, you, as the owner, are held responsible.

Furthermore, you can use the occupancy limit to your advantage by charging extra for additional guests or making any other charges depending on the number of people staying on your property.

Rules & Restrictions

Short-term rental agreements typically include regulations and restrictions that define the rights and duties of both the landlord and the tenant. These regulations are in place to safeguard the rights of both parties and ensure a safe and comfortable living space. 

Common restrictions may include: 

  • Limits on noise levels.

  • Stipulations on proper maintenance of the property.

  • Requirement to keep the property in good condition.

  • No smoking on the property. 

  • No pets.

  • Pet size requirement.

  • Quiet hours in the morning and/or evening. 

  • Designated parking, or requiring all tenants to get a parking permit. 

Payment & Fees

Payment and fees include all fees related to the lease. This includes the rental fee, any applicable taxes, pet fees (if applicable), utilities, and any other fees that may apply. You also need to confirm the acceptable payment methods as well. 

Cleaning fees will be due at the end of the lease unless otherwise agreed upon in the lease agreement. Pet fees (or security deposit) are often paid in full and before the start of the lease, if applicable. 

Cancellation Policy

The Short-Term Rental Agreement Cancellation Policy outlines the process for canceling a rental agreement without penalty or financial loss. It also identifies the remedies for any financial losses that may result from a cancellation. 

This policy provides both tenants and landlords with reasonable protection when canceling a short-term rental agreement and applies to all short-term rental agreements, regardless of duration.

Limitation of Liability

This provision typically states that the landlord will not be held liable for any damages that aren’t caused by their own negligence, and that the tenant will be liable for any damages that are caused by their own negligence. 

The provision will also often state that the landlord is not responsible for any consequential or punitive damages that may arise out of the agreement. This provision allows the landlord to protect their interests while still providing the tenant with an adequate level of protection in the event of any damages. 

Have a lawyer read your clause to ensure it has been carefully written. For a limitation and liability clause, you need to have the following:   

  • Statutory limits that can be made against the host. 

  • The losses that each party needs to compensate with or without limits. 

  • The losses that both parties are not liable for or can exclude. 

Violation of Agreement

Violation of agreement occurs when a tenant violates the terms of the rental agreement. This can include failure to pay rent, damage to the property, unauthorized subletting, or failure to follow the rules and regulations set by the landlord.

In some cases, the tenant may be evicted due to the violation. Landlords are also entitled to take legal action against the tenant if the violation is severe enough. It is crucial to make sure that both parties understand the terms of the rental agreement to avoid any potential disputes or violations.


A signature is a must when it comes to any rental agreement. This signature serves as a legally binding document that safeguards the rights and interests of both parties. It is of utmost importance to make sure that all parties comprehend the terms and conditions of the agreement and are in full agreement with them.

A signature also shows that both parties are held accountable for upholding the terms of the agreement. Both parties must read the agreement before signing it to ensure the terms are understood and agreed upon. A signature on a rental agreement is a key step in ensuring a secure and successful one.

Short-term Rental Agreement FAQs

short term lease agreement

What is the difference between a lease and a rental agreement?

The main difference between a lease and a rental agreement is that a lease is a binding legal document that requires whoever is renting to agree to certain terms and conditions, while a rental agreement is more flexible and can be terminated at any time.

What is Airbnb's short-term rental agreement policy?

Airbnb’s short-term rental agreement policy is designed to protect both hosts and guests. It outlines the responsibilities of each party to ensure a safe and enjoyable stay for all. Guests are expected to provide accurate information about themselves, their visit, and their renting property. 

They must also agree to follow any rules and regulations the host sets. Hosts must ensure that their rental property is safe and secure and that all necessary amenities are provided. The agreement also outlines the payment process, cancellation policies, and dispute resolution procedures. 

What is VRBO's short-term rental agreement policy?

VRBO‘s short-term rental agreement policy outlines the rights, responsibilities, and expectations of both the host and the guest and covers topics such as cancellation policies, damage deposits, and house rules. 

VRBO also reserves the right to remove listings that do not abide by the policy and to terminate bookings that violate the terms. To ensure that both parties are fully protected, VRBO requires that all short-term rental agreements be in writing and use the language provided in the agreement.

Are short-term rental agreements enforceable?

Yes, short-term rental agreements are enforceable, just like any other rental agreement. 

The agreement outlines the rights and responsibilities of both parties, including the amount of rent, the length of the rental period, any deposits, payment schedules, and other important details of the agreement. 

Short-term rental agreements must be in writing and signed by both parties to be legally enforceable.

Free Short-term Rental Agreement Templates

You can draft your short-term rental agreement with your lawyer or find a template online to download and then adjust with a lawyer. Here are a few places where you can download short-term rental agreement templates:   

Improve Your Short-term Rental Profits

Short term rentals are an excellent way of maximizing profits when renting out your property. And with a short term rental agreement, you can establish your own rental guidelines and make sure that you receive payment on time. It also helps you keep your property in great condition and make sure both you and your renters have legal protection in case of any issues. 

Ready to start boosting your short term rental profits? Get started with Wheelhouse. 

Take advantage of our resources, such as dynamic pricing, choose from three pricing strategies, get in-depth market reviews, and your portfolio competitive set analysis. Wheelhouse is the perfect pricing that will set you and your properties up for success. 

Try Wheelhouse for free. 


Blog search

Recent posts

Popular Tags