Tips for renting your investment property to family members

Responding to friends and family who want to stay in your vacation rental


When you own a vacation rental, it’s natural to want to share your home with close family and friends—even make it available for family vacations, events, and reunions.

However, renting out your vacation home to personal guests—especially at a discounted rate or no rate at all—can be a gray area. What if they want to stay during 4th of July weekend? Or during peak season when you could otherwise generate more income? It can be uncomfortable telling your cousin to pay full price or your friend that they can’t use your home at all.

Here are 5 ways to navigate those tricky requests and still protect your home, your calendar, and your personal relationships.

1. Use a vacation rental agreement

Though it may be tempting to skip this step when dealing with friends and family—don’t.

All guests—even your siblings and closest friends—have the same responsibilities when they stay in your vacation home. It’s up to you to express what those responsibilities and expectations are. Like any other vacation home they’d rent, they have to be willing to sign a vacation rental agreement.

This short-term rental agreement should outline:

  • Your maximum occupancy
  • Any house rules
  • Payment terms and extra fees, such as cleaning fees
  • How to address maintenance issues during their stay
  • Check-out instructions
  • Any safety precautions specific to your property, like around pools, hot tubs, or outdoor decks

In case of any disputes or discrepancies, an agreement can possibly serve as a layer of protection for both you and your friends or family members.

Work with an attorney to compose all of your rental terms in the correct legal language. They can help you follow the proper city, county, and state laws around short-term rentals.

2. Invest in liability insurance

Insurance is essential for your vacation rental property, period. Even if your friends are responsible and you have airtight safety precautions in place, accidents can (and will) happen. Think broken lamps, spills on couches, and cracked TV screens.

At Vacasa, we urge homeowners to have adequate liability coverage for their vacation homes.

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3. Use your high and low seasons as a guide

Also known as peak and off-peak seasons in the travel industry—these periods when your destination attracts its most (and fewest) visitors can guide your response to personal requests. Every destination is different. Ski towns fill up with skiers and snowboarders in the winter, while coastal areas attract a large number of vacationers come summer. Some destinations aren’t so cut and dry. The blustery Oregon coast can still fill up in the winter, thanks to travelers wanting to storm watch.

If friends or family want to book during your peak season, you can politely inform them you are saving those dates for full-paying guests. Then suggest alternate dates during a slower period.

4. Remind family that your vacation home is a business

If your aim is to make money from your vacation property, it’s important to let friends and family know this. They may not be aware that your mountain cabin is anything more than a personal getaway spot. Running your vacation rental as a business means you’re operating on a different level. Now, details matter—like marketing to get maximum exposure, maintaining your home, and increasing your rental income. Personal guests mean more wear and tear, plus taking up vacancies on your calendar that could otherwise go to paying guests. A simple reminder to your friends and family can help to ease the blow when you deny any of their reservation requests.

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5. Communicate with your vacation rental property manager

However you decide to handle requests from friends and families, let your property manager know. For instance, you may want to reserve specific dates during your low season for personal guests. Or, discuss what will happen if any of your personal guests damage something on the property. Keeping your property manager in the loop about how you’ll tackle personal requests allows them to continue helping you get the most out of your vacation rental.

At Vacasa, we allow homeowners to hold dates on their calendars—for themselves, friends or family, or for maintenance work—ahead of time, whenever they’d like (as long as you honor existing bookings).

Your vacation home is a special place—one that you want to share with family and friends. However, when you’re treating your vacation rental as a business, renting your home out to personal guests takes a few intentional steps. These tips will help you plan ahead so you can handle personal requests easily, without ruining relationships or your bottom line.

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California licenses
Vacasa Seasonals Inc.
California DRE #02160171

Vacation Palm Springs Real Estate, Inc.
California DRE #01523013

Vacasa offers property management and other real estate services directly through Vacasa LLC and through Vacasa LLC's licensed subsidiaries. Click here for more information about Vacasa's licensed real estate brokerage/property manager in your state. Vacasa’s licensed real estate brokerages/property managers include: Vacasa Alabama LLC; Vacasa Arizona LLC; Vacasa of Arkansas LLC; Vacasa Colorado LLC (Micah Victory); Vacasa Delaware LLC, 302-541-8999; Vacasa Florida LLC; Vacasa Illinois LLC 481.014072, Micah Victory Managing Broker Lic# 471.021837; Vacasa Louisiana LLC, Dana MacCord, Principal Broker, ph 504.252.0155 (Licensed in LA); Vacasa Michigan LLC, 602-330-9934; Vacasa Missouri LLC, Vicki Lyn Brown, Designated Broker; Vacasa Nevada LLC; Vacasa New Hampshire LLC,45 NH-25, Meredith, NH 03253, Susan Scanlon, Broker of Record; Vacasa Minnesota, Broker: Micah Victory, license #40877637; Vacasa New Mexico LLC, 503-345-9399; Vacasa New York LLC, 888-433-0068, Susan Scanlon, Real Estate Broker; Vacasa North Carolina LLC; Vacasa Oregon LLC; Vacasa Pennsylvania LLC; Vacation Palm Springs Real Estate, Inc., California DRE #01523013, Mark Graham, California DRE #00700720; Vacasa Real Estate LLC (licensed in Texas, Debra Brock, Designated Broker); Vacasa Real Estate LLC (licensed in Washington, Robert Brush, Designated Broker); Vacasa Seasonals Inc., California DRE #02160171, Lisa Renee Stevens, California DRE #01485234; Vacasa South Carolina LLC; Vacasa South Dakota LLC; Vacasa Tennessee LLC; Vacasa Vacation Rentals of Hawaii LLC, 69-201 Waikoloa Beach Dr. Ste. #2F17, Waikoloa, HI 96738; Vacasa Vacation Rentals of Montana LLC, Terah M. Young, Licensed Property Manager; Vacasa Virginia LLC; Vacasa Wisconsin LLC; Vacasa Wyoming LLC. In Canada, this advertisement is provided by Vacasa Canada ULC, CPBC lic. number 75826, 172 Asher Rd. V1X 3H6 Kelowna, BC.