By The Hospitable Team
Renting out your home or apartment on Vrbo can be a great option, no matter whether you just need extra income to pay bills or live in a popular travel destination. But before you create a listing on this well-known OTA website, it’s essential to review the laws that apply to short-term rentals in your area and understand Vrbo rules for owners.
Vrbo Rules and Regulations
As the vacation rental industry grows, we see an increase in the promotion of short-term rentals on websites like Vrbo, Airbnb, and Booking.com. That has caused controversy in many local communities. Local officials often have different ideas on regulations of short-term rentals, and many communities have now passed laws restricting the right to rent homes on a short-term basis.
Many large cities and tourist destinations tend to have strict rules and may place limits on the number of short-term rentals in any given zone. For example, New Orleans bans short-term rentals in the French Quarter, except for specific areas.
Some cities completely prohibit short-term rentals. For example, in San Diego, short-term rentals are prohibited in any zone. And in the City of Santa Barbara (California), short-term rentals are defined as “hotels” that are only allowed in designated zones and only if owners obtain all necessary approvals.
Some of the toughest restrictions on short-term rentals are in New York City. New York’s Multiple Dwelling Law only permits rentals of less than 30 days in “Class A” multiple dwellings (buildings with three or more families living independently) if a permanent resident is present.
So if you are thinking of listing all or a part of your house, condo, or apartment on any rental website, you should do your research ahead of time and learn about Vrbo rules and regulations in your state, county, and city.
These laws and regulations usually address such areas:
- A minimum number of rental days;
- A maximum number of days per year you can rent out your entire home;
- A requirement that you register your rental or obtain a business license from the city;
- Other regulations related to such things as parking, health codes, liability insurance, and building safety.
And don’t forget about taxes because they are a critical part of regulatory compliance. In addition to paying income tax and self-employment taxes, some local governments also may impose a short-term rental occupancy tax (lodging or hotel tax). So it’s better to consult your tax advisor to find out which tax deductions you can claim.
Most government websites include information about complying with local and state laws and regulations, such as tax instructions, licenses, and permits, health and safety standards. And if there are any rental restrictions in your area, they will most likely be in the city or county code, possibly in the form of a zoning regulation. You can’t list your vacation rental property in violation of state or local regulations because you may be fined or suffer other penalties.
If everything is okay, you can create your listing on Vrbo, set competitive rates, and start earning bookings and great reviews. You may also consider renting out your property on other listing websites such as Airbnb and Booking.com to reach more travelers and maximize your bookings.
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Vrbo Rules for Owners
Vrbo rules for owners emphasize the importance of responsible renting. You should be a good neighbor and be respectful of your neighbors who must live alongside your short-term guests. That means that you should encourage your guests to be good neighbors during their stay.
The easiest way to remind your guests about this responsibility is to create house rules. You should clearly explain all your house requirements and community regulations to your guests. Vrbo also recommends including your welcome guide when you list your property to tell them everything they need to know during their stay.
It’s also important to maintain the safety of your guests during their stay and ensure their well-being. Vrbo recommends that you should take these simple measures:
- Provide your guests with information on local emergency numbers, nearby hospitals, and how to reach you if they have any issues.
- Provide essential safety equipment and features in your property—carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, first aid kits, fire extinguishers, deadbolt locks, and outdoor lighting.
- Ensure you have a clearly marked fire escape route, and leave a map in your home.
- Keep your property clean before each booking—you should implement an enhanced cleaning process using the World Health Organization recommendations.
- Be mindful of your guests’ privacy and let them know if your rental has security cameras or other surveillance equipment.
The good idea is to create a rental agreement for you and your guests to sign. It should state that guests will avoid violating the local regulations and house rules.
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Vrbo Deposit Rules
To protect your Vrbo rental property from potential damage, you can require that travelers either purchase Property Damage Protection or pay for accidental damages if they occur.
If you choose to protect your property by setting a damage deposit amount, your guest will be responsible if they cause damages to your property. According to Vrbo deposit rules, you will have up to 14 days after a guest checks out to file a claim. Vrbo will charge this amount on your behalf to the traveler’s credit card that they used for booking.
In some instances, you may ask your guest to pay the damage deposit upfront at the time of booking or during the last payment for multi-payment bookings.
Vrbo Refund Rules
Vrbo lets their hosts choose their refund policies. You can set your cancellation policy choosing from 5 options, such as No-refund, Strict, Firm, Moderate, and Relaxed. You can do it in the Rules & Policies section of your account.
Guest will get refunds based on the cancellation policy you’ve chosen for your listing. If travelers cancel their booking through their traveler account, they’ll automatically get a refund based on the cancellation policy you set up.
Renting out property on Vrbo is a great way for homeowners to earn money. But be sure to check out the laws and regulations that govern the short-term rental market in your locality before getting started. You should revisit your local regulations often because they are constantly changing. It’s also vital to follow Vrbo rules for owners and be a responsible host.
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