Holiday Let Cottage Terms and Conditions Template
What is a holiday let rental agreement?
While most guests are perfect, follow your rules and treat your holiday let as if it were their own home, there is, unfortunately, a small portion who may not respect your rules. Since it’s impossible to know how your guests will behave until they arrive, the most popular solution to protect your property and avoid disputes is with a holiday let rental agreement.
They’re a professional way of stating what guests can or cannot do, their overall responsibilities, the possible consequences if the rules are disregarded and what happens if they cancel. If misunderstandings and breaches of the agreement arise, the rental contract can help you to demonstrate that guests knew the conditions and rules in advance.
However, finding the balance between keeping your guests happy and conveying your house rules can be difficult. You don’t want to put travellers off with a huge list of do’s and don’ts, but you still want your holiday home to be respected.
Below, you’ll find a general terms and conditions template that you can use as a guide. As all holiday homes are different, you will need to tailor it and add clauses for your individual property.
Are holiday rental agreements legally binding?
Although a rental agreement typically becomes a legally binding contract once the lead guest has signed/agreed to the booking terms and conditions, they must be reasonable and not breach consumer law to be enforceable.
It is important to understand that an unfair clause could invalidate either all or part of your rental contract. A legal expert should check that your rental agreement is lawful and fair before using or enforcing it.
How to get guests to read your house rules
Let’s face it, most guests will skip reading the T’s & C’s and house rules. So how do you get guests to read them?
Rules are essential but they should sound less like rules. Being too pedantic and strict may deter potential guests at the booking stage. Remember, you’re a host, not a dictator and your guests are on holiday to relax and have a good time. Who wants to go away and be constantly on edge that they must follow strict rules to the latter.
Keep rules light-hearted and add personality. Instead of “You must clean all dishes and strip the beds before the 10 am checkout”, try, “could you please clean up your dirty dishes before you leave, it’s a pain but I’d hate for them to go green, not that I’m not into recycling”. Inject some humour so the rules seem less like rules.
It also helps if you explain why the rule is there. For example, explain that pets aren’t allowed as you want to be able to accommodate future guests with allergies or that a family member has allergies.
It’s also worth limiting the number of rules, especially with regards to cleaning. Guests want to enjoy their holiday and relax. Don’t hound them to essentially spring clean your holiday cottage in the final precious hours of their holiday, is not their responsibility -especially if you charge a cleaning fee.
Try to avoid underlining, bolding words and putting NO in front of everything. The occasional word is fine, but too many can come across as if you’re shouting! Make it easy for guests to read them and get the information they need. A bulleted list will get your point across.
To encourage your guests to read them, present them at the right time. Including them at the booking stage and attaching them to a booking confirmation gives guests the opportunity to read them, understand them, and change their mind should they decide that your rental isn’t a good fit (e.g. no pets or parties).
You’ll also want to have a physical or digital copy easily available in your holiday rental, so guests are reminded of what’s allowed during their stay.
In the event of disputes, you’ll need to provide evidence that guests have been made aware of your rental contract (especially in the small claims court), so the more times you can present them e.g. in email signatures, the better.
Holiday let house rules to include
Within the booking terms and conditions, you must clarify the house rules and make the consequences of flouting them clear.
Ensure you clarify what would happen in the event of cancellation, property damage and any additional costs (if for example extra cleaning is required). You will also want to confirm the guest’s responsibilities concerning payment, check-in/check-out, maximum occupancy, property dos and don’ts, reporting maintenance issues, complaining and your right to access the property during the guests stay.
To encourage guests to follow the rules, some holiday let owners charge a refundable security deposit. If you decide to take one, include clauses in your booking terms that clarify under what circumstances it will be deducted from (e.g. for extra cleaning costs or damage).
Booking terms and conditions template
Disclaimer: This template is intended to be general information only. Professional legal advice should be sought to verify that your rental agreement is lawful and fair before using or enforcing it.
Please ensure you read and fully understand these booking terms and conditions. If anything is unclear, please contact us so we can explain in further detail to avoid any misunderstandings.
Bookings are subject to the following terms and conditions:
- A contract between you and the owner will come into existence when the deposit or full payment is received, and a booking confirmation is issued showing the confirmed holiday dates.
- The deposit/full payment must be paid within 3 days of the booking being placed.
- The contract binds you (the lead booker) & all the members of the party who are part of the booking. It is your responsibility to ensure that all members of your party accept the terms of the contract set out in these terms & conditions. Failure to disclose all relevant information or comply with these terms may lead to termination of the contract & loss of the booking.
- We require the names, ages, and contact details of all guests.
- A 25% deposit of the holiday cost is payable at the time of booking.
- Bookings made less than sixty days before your arrival date must be paid in full, plus the £X refundable damage deposit (if requested).
- The balance must be paid no later than sixty days before the commencement of your holiday. If the balance is not received by the due date, then your holiday will be treated as a cancellation.
- All cancellations must be notified in writing and once received we will confirm the cancellation.
- The customer remains liable for a percentage of the booking cost when a cancellation is received, as detailed below:
Number of days before the holiday when cancelled The % of booking cost payable
More than 60 days 5% of the booking cost
45 to 59 days 40% of the booking cost
30 to 44 days 50% of the booking cost
15 to 29 days 75% of the booking cost
3 to 14 days 90% of the booking cost
0 to 2 days 100% of the booking cost
- If we are successful in getting a replacement booking, we will refund the total amount paid less a 5% booking fee and any difference in price between your original and the replacement booking.
- We strongly advise that you take out comprehensive travel insurance to cover cancellations. If you choose not to, then you accept responsibility for any loss that you may incur due to your cancellation.
- If your booking is cancelled due to circumstances beyond our control, notification will be given of the cancellation as soon as possible and we will promptly refund all payments made to us for your holiday. Our liability for cancellation will be limited to payments made to us.
- If our property must close due to government restrictions or your address is put into local/regional lockdown for your holiday dates and you are unable to travel, you will be refunded in full.
- The maximum number of persons occupying the property must not exceed (X persons) and only those listed on the booking form can occupy the property. If you wish to invite additional visitors to visit you during your stay, please ask us first.
- Please be advised that no extra overnight visitors are allowed to stay at the property.
- Bookings cannot be accepted from persons under eighteen years of age.
- The owner reserves the right to refuse a booking without giving any reason.
- We or our representatives reserve the right to enter the property at any time to undertake essential maintenance, repairs or for inspection purposes.
- Tenancies normally commence at X on the arrival date and guests are required to leave the rental by X on the day of departure. Failure to do so may result in you being charged a further day’s rental.
- You must not use the property except for the purpose of a holiday.
- Smoking is not allowed in the property.
- Pets (if not allowed), vaping or smoking anywhere inside the premises will result in immediate termination of occupancy and forfeiture of all payments. This must be strictly adhered to, and any damage or extra cleaning caused will be at your expense.
- Pets (If you accept pets then you should include your ‘pet rules’ here)
-We only allow 2 dogs maximum, no other kinds of pets.
-Dogs must be booked in and the cost is £X per dog.
-Please don’t let dogs on the furniture, especially sofas and beds.
-Guests are responsible for cleaning up after their pets.
-Please clean muddy dogs using the outside tap and the dog towels provided.
-Dogs must not be left alone in the property.
-Stair gates are provided which help control where dogs can wander.
-If the property requires additional cleaning due to excessive dog hair or if dogs have been in the bedrooms, or on a sofa, we will charge a £50 fee to cover the extra cleaning costs.
-You are responsible for your dog and you will be charged for any damage caused by your dog.
- Damage deposit (if taken) – In making a booking you accept responsibility for any theft, breakage or damage caused by you, your pets or any member of your party and agree to indemnify us in full for any loss that we may incur as a result. A security deposit of £X is required and will be returned within 7 days of the end of your holiday, less the cost of damage/breakages.
- Damages and breakages – please treat the facilities & accommodation with due care so that other guests may continue to enjoy them. If you notice something is missing or damaged in your accommodation, please let us know immediately so that we can take the appropriate action. If there has been any damage or breakages during your stay, we would be grateful if you could report them promptly, especially before check-out. The accommodation will be inspected at the end of the holiday & you may be charged for any loss, damage or extra cleaning costs. These are to be paid for in full within 7 days of notification.
- If damage occurs and the owner must cancel and/or refund subsequent bookings, the owner may bring a claim against you for any loss arising as a result.
- Please do not move any furniture from one room to another or any of the indoor furniture, furnishings or bedlinen outside.
- Please remove shoes before entering the house.
- Please lock the doors and close the windows when you leave the property unoccupied.
- Please make sure you switch off lights, heating, air conditioning or any electrical appliances when you go out – we’re an eco-friendly holiday home.
- Please don’t take any bath towels with you to the beach, use the beach towels.
- The owner reserves the right to make a charge to cover additional cleaning costs if the client leaves the property in an unacceptable condition.
- Please note that if any keys issued are not returned at the end of your stay, then the cost of replacement will be charged to you.
- The client may in no circumstance re-let or sublet the property.
- The owners shall not be liable to you or your holiday party for loss or damage to property, however arising.
- All inventory must remain in the property and not be taken to another property.
- You are responsible for the supervision of all members of your party under the age of 18 at all times.
- Swimming pool/hot tub
-No children under 18 without adult supervision.
-The swimming pool/hot tub is only open from Xam to Xpm daily. Please respect these timings out of respect for our neighbours.
-Please avoid using glass in the pool/hot tub, use the plastic cups provided.
-Guests must shower before entering the water and remove suncream and makeup.
-No diving or jumping in the pool as it has a maximum depth of Xm.
-Please replace the pool/hot tub cover after use to retain heat.
- Please park your vehicles in the designated parking space, ensuring cars do not block access to other properties. Parking is limited to 2 vehicles.
- Please respect the community and try to keep noise levels to a minimum, especially between 11 pm and 8 am.
- We reserve the right to terminate your rental agreement with immediate effect where the unreasonable behaviour of the persons named on the booking (or their guests) may impair the enjoyment, comfort or health of others. You’ll be asked to leave the property, without any refund of the rental amount paid.
- Please use the designated barbecue utensils and clean the barbecue after use.
- Fireworks, Chinese lanterns, firepits, candles and portable bbqs are prohibited.
- Check-out – (remind guests of the check-out time and their responsibilities e.g. empty bins, strip beds, clean dirty dishes).
- If you want to use the services of a third-party supplier (e.g. a chef, beauty treatments) this must be agreed beforehand. If you bring a third-party supplier without consent, we reserve the right to ask them to leave. We do not accept liability for the activities of these third-party suppliers.
- Wi-Fi – the guest agrees to reasonable and lawful usage.
- Domestic electric vehicle chargers (commonly known as a ‘granny charger’ or a ‘trickle charger’) are not suitable for use at the property and are strictly forbidden. You are liable for any damage or loss suffered by us due to your unauthorised use of domestic chargers.
- Dedicated electric vehicle charging point (if you provide one).
-The charging point is for the use of the booking party only.
-We do not guarantee availability and unavailability shall not constitute a breach of our booking contract.
-Use is at the owner’s own risk and we do not accept any liability for loss or damage sustained by you or your EV as a result of using the charger unless the damage was caused directly by our negligence.
-You shall be responsible to us for any damage to the charging point or loss suffered by us caused by your use of the charging point.
- Any problem or complaint must be immediately reported directly to us/our representatives to allow us the opportunity to resolve it.
- Non-compliance with the house rules will be considered as a breach of the terms and conditions of the rental agreement. We reserve the right to terminate the booking with immediate effect and without a refund if they do not abide by the rules.
- This property is privately owned and is our home. We expect all guests to enjoy the facilities and treat the property with the same respect that they would with their own home.
Also, have a read-through holiday cottage letting agency booking terms and conditions for any points you have missed.
Other helpful information such as emergency contact details, bin collection days etc. should be included in your guest information.
Enforcing your terms and conditions
It’s important to ensure that your terms and conditions in your customer contracts are fair and that you act within consumer protection law when enforcing them. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has urged holiday letting businesses to make sure they are using fair terms and conditions in their customer contracts. Read more about The ‘Small Print, Big Difference’ campaign.
Be upfront and clear with guests about any charges and fees, especially in the event of a cancellation or cause to deduct from the security deposit. Any amount should correlate to your loss.
Ultimately, you will be the best judge of whether it’s worth charging a guest for not complying with a specific rule. Was the damage deliberate or an accident? For minor incidents and accidents, the chance of a bad review from an upset guest often means it’s not worth the hassle.
Also, ensure you are within your rights before you evict guests – here’s what could happen if you’re not. Holiday let landlord is ordered to pay £2,000 damages after forcing family out of their remote cottage.
When it comes to letting out your holiday cottage you must have clear and concise terms and conditions in place. A rental agreement will establish trust and protect you, your property and your guest in case of damage or dispute.
Unruly guests are few and far between. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared should you encounter the occasional ‘rotten apple’. Just remember to be tactical when it comes to rules. Don’t lose sight of the fact that guests are just that; guests and they want a nice, relaxing getaway. The last thing you want is to put them off with your list of demands.
Have an action plan should your rules be breached. However, address every incident on a case-by-case basis. A broken glass from an otherwise ideal guest warrants a different response to a damaged table from a guest who has been a problem from the start.
Don’t expect guests to know your rules – link to them in emails and place a copy of them somewhere visible in the property so they have a constant reminder.
Finally, revisit your rules from time to time and make adjustments based on your experiences as a holiday rental owner.