Don’t get spent when you rent

May 24, 2013

BBB offers tips on using your home for short-term rentals

AUSTIN, Texas — May 17,2013 — Short-term home rentals are soaring in popularity amongst homeowners and out-of-towners. As the summer music festivals approach, and with the Memorial Day and Fourth of July holidays just around the corner, many homeowners may choose to offer their home as a short-term rental.

Better Business Bureau has these helpful and important tips to follow if you’re planning to rent out your home.

  • Decide who will manage the property. If you decide to manage the property yourself, make sure you live close enough and are capable of handling any emergency issues that arise. If you don’t live close, make sure you know someone who can help take care of your property and address any issues a guest may have.

  • If you decide to use a management company, research the organization first at Get all fees involved with listing your property and booking your rental in writing. Request detailed descriptions, in writing, of all the additional services to be provided and how and when you can expect to receive payment. Also, consider whether or not the company has its own insurance policy to cover any damages caused by the tenant.

  • Write up a contract. BBB advises having an attorney go over the details of the contract. The contract should include:

    1. Check in and check out times
    2. Whether smoking or pets are permitted
    3. Details of any security or damage deposits, whether they are refundable and under what circumstances
    4. A cancellation and rate change policy
    5. The maximum occupancy and any fees associated with exceeding the limit
    6. Parking restrictions
    7. The renter’s contact information 

  • Check state and city law. Various cities and states have their own rental and property laws. Check your city’s law on short-term rentals to make sure you’re not in violation. 

  • Research renters. Get the appropriate contact information for renters and check them out. Consider a Google search or use an online screening service. 

  • Check your insurance coverage. Ensure you have enough property or casualty insurance should anything go wrong. Also consider the costs of lost, stolen or damaged items and ensure your security deposit covers all the “what-ifs.”

  • Consult your rental agreement. If you rent your home or apartment, your contract could prohibit subletting. Be sure to check with your landlord or HOA about short-term visitors.

For potential home renters, BBB warns to be on the look out for phony ads on classified sites and other internet sources aimed at cheating consumers. In the past, scammers have copied property information and pictures,creating fake listings. They will accept all forms of payments to appear legitimate only to have the consumer find out the home was not for rent and their up-front payment is gone. Use reliable rental websites, with more safeguards in place, rather than free-listing classified websites.