Online sites like Bookabach and Airbnb are making it easy for homeowners to market properties online for short-term rentals. They are all for making your home work for you, but there is more to it than just listing it on the internet and then collecting the money!
Creating and enforcing a holiday rental agreement
When a house you own is used as a holiday rental, you are not covered by the Residential Tenancies Act meaning standard rental agreements don’t apply. Some hosting sites, include booking terms and conditions in your page listing. If terms and conditions aren’t included when you list your rental, you’ll need to create and enforce a written agreement outlining your terms and conditions.
The agreement should cover rules and expectations about:
- payments, including deposits and refunds,
- maximum number of guests,
- camping, e.g. extra guests can/can’t pitch a tent on the lawn,
- smoking/non-smoking, and
- liability, e.g. if someone has an accident on your property.
If you use a template provided by your preferred hosting website, make sure it suits your situation and covers everything you need it to.
Insurance, tax, customer vetting and the Consumer Guarantees Act are all important to consider.
Income you receive for providing accommodation, including through websites like Airbnb or Bookabach, is taxable. This includes any payment for one-off or irregular rentals.
Your usual house and contents insurance might not cover you if something happens while your property is rented out. We recommend speaking to your insurance provider—you may need to pay a higher premium or arrange extra cover, but this is better than finding out too late that damage isn’t covered.
As well as cover for the property and contents, consider public liability insurance. This is cover to protect you if a guest gets hurt while staying at your property.
Health, safety and consumer laws
Check whether there are any regulations you need to comply with—your local council is a good place to start. Examples include:
- Fit smoke detectors throughout the property and check these are in working order every three months,
- Any deck more than 1m high has a fence of at least 1m high right around it,
- Any pool deeper than 400mm is fenced,
- Hazardous items like chemicals and poisons are properly stored and kept out of sight, and
- Any kayaks or boats provided for use are seaworthy and life jackets are provided.
If you are considering renting out your home short-term, we recommended checking out the checklist on business.govt.nz and making sure that you have fully investigated if renting your house out short-term is right for you.