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Vacation rentals and liability

All short-term rental listings must have a strong contract in place with guests to protect against liability. Fortunately, digital contracts are recognised in the state of Florida which makes it very easy to place on the online travel agency sites. VRBO/Homeaway has a nifty attachment for your contract. You will need to insert your contract under rules and policies of your listing with respect to Airbnb.

We start our contract with a paragraph that binds the guest to the document when sending through a booking request and we also make it clear that its a short-term rental to avoid any doubt or disputes if someone were to raise long-term renters rights.

The contract will have clauses with respect to payments, damages and similar matters. Vacation rental damages are particularly hard to enforce as we have found that guests almost certainly leave awful reviews in retaliation - knowing this we only go this route when damage is material and well documented.

The most important clauses are indemnity, waiver and release. These clauses should encompass all persons that will use the property and protect anyone involved with the property to the greatest extent possible. Particular care must be taken with known hazards e.g. a pool. We incorporate suggested best practice as well to prevent any accident. Pools also need to comply with state laws in respect of safety. We place signage at all our pools.

We always check that our contracts are well drafted by having them checked by a qualified attorney and suggest that you do the same.

Our current contract is worded as follows :

This Vacation Rental Contract is a legal agreement between Kissimmee Rentals and Property Management (also referred to as the “Property Manager”) and you, the Renters (also referred to as “Guests” or “Renter”). This contract is entered into agreement as of the date when Renters place their reservation online and reservation is screened and accepted by the Property Manager. The rental home is a transient public lodging establishment and is regulated by Chapter 509 of the Florida Statutes.

By clicking “Book Now” you are acknowledging and agreeing to the following for this specific property:

1. PAYMENT TERMS AND CANCELLATION: All rental monies are due according to the payment policy outlined on the website. Please review these terms carefully. You may cancel your booking at any time before your stay, however amounts paid may not be refundable.

2. HOUSE RULES: The property may have specific rules regarding large groups, parties, pets, smoking and other items. These rules are detailed in the property description section of the website listing and or attachments thereto and are incorporated into this agreement. Please review these terms carefully, as a violation may result in additional fees or eviction without refund.

3. ARRIVAL DETAILS AND CHECK IN AND CHECK OUT: You will receive contact information for the primary contact for your stay once the booking is made. Your contact will assist with arrival, check in and coordinate any maintenance needs. Please note that the checkout time is 10:00am on your departure date unless otherwise agreed in writing with your local contact. Vacation homes are often booked on a back-to-back basis with the next guest arriving on the same day consequently any violation of the checkout time will result in $100 being taken from the deposit for every hour after 11:00am on the departure date.

4. DAMAGES AND SECURITY DEPOSIT: Please check the home for any damage on arrival and report it to your local contact immediately to avoid any deductions from your security deposit. Any damage made during your stay must be reported to your local contact before checkout. The home will be inspected on departure and the security deposit refunded within seven days net of any deductions for damages if applicable. Note that additional cleaning fees may be deducted from your security deposit if the home is found to be excessively dirty.

5. ADDITIONAL SERVICES: Pool (and spa if applicable) heat is an additional service for the home and will be charged separately when required. Pools do take a few days to heat in the winter months therefore advance notice is required to utilize this service. Pools are heated to 88F. A BBQ is available as well and can be rented on a weekly basis

6. MAXIMUM OCCUPANCY: The maximum number of people and adults that may occupy the property is indicated in the listing. This rule applies to day visitors as well. Occupancy over the indicated capacity may result in eviction and forfeiture of amounts paid unless approved in writing by your local contact. The renter may not sublet or switch out with other guests without the written permission of the Property Manager.

7. MAINTENANCE – We care very much about our vacation rentals and strive to keep it in excellent shape. If you notice any problems or maintenance issues, please notify your local contact immediately. All electrical, plumbing and appliances should be in working order. We will do our best to have tradesmen attend to the problems but may not be able to fix everything over holidays and weekends. Utilities (power, water, gas, cable and wifi) provided to the home may be interrupted by service providers on occasion. Such interruption of service will not form the basis of a refund if it occurs through no fault of the Property Manager.

8. CANCELLATIONS BY THE PROPERTY MANAGER – You will be refunded 100% of any amounts paid if the Property Manager cancels your booking for any reason. We highly recommend that you purchase trip insurance to protect against certain types of cancellations, among other risks.

9. CLEANLINESS – You are expected to treat the property with respect, keeping in mind that this is an individual’s home, not a hotel room. Even although a cleaning fee is charged, you are expected to leave the home in a clean, neat and orderly condition.

10. WAIVER AND RELEASE - Please note that this property has a pool and has safety measures in place in terms of Florida statutes which we urge you to use at all times- we further urge that all children have constant adult supervision when swimming. You agree to waive any and all claims in the future against the owner, property manager, their agents, employees and representatives (hereinafter referred to as the "Releasees" in respect of the use of the pool and the pool area. Further you agree to release the Releasees from any and all loss, damage, cost or expense whatsoever that may be suffered by you and/or anyone you invite to use the home as your guest.

11. INDEMNIFICATION – You agree to indemnify and hold harmless the Property Manager, property owner, their agents, employees and representatives for any liabilities, damage, cost or expense whatsoever arising from or related to any claim in connection with your use and/or occupancy of the home and pool, including, but not limited to, any claim or liability for personal injury, damage, loss of personal belongings or theft of property which is made, incurred or sustained by you and/or anyone you invite to use the home as your guest.

12. ATTORNEYS FEES AND COSTS – If the Property Manager employs the services of an attorney to enforce any conditions of this agreement, you shall be liable to the Property Manager for reasonable attorney’s fees and costs.

13. FALSIFIED BOOKINGS – If your booking was made under false pretense, including, but not limited to, a falsified name, age, or size of party, you will be subject to immediate eviction and forfeiture of all amounts paid.

14. PROPERTY MANAGER ACCESS – If requested, you shall allow the Property Manager access to the home during your stay. The Property Manager undertakes to exercise this right of access in a reasonable manner.

15. GENERAL TERMS – If any section, clause, paragraph or term of the agreement is held or determined to be void, invalid or unenforceable, for any reason, all other terms, clauses or paragraphs herein shall be severed and remain in force and effect.

Acknowledgement and acceptance of rental agreement required in order to confirm booking.

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