Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Protecting Yourself - Rental and Check-in Contracts

DisclaimerImage via WikipediaHi everyone,

I've seen that most people who run homestays don't actually have any legal agreement that is signed between themselves and the traveler. I felt it was important to touch on the same and while this is not legal advice at least provide an outline for the various things that need to be covered that you can share with your legal advisor.

1. Ensure that the agreement outlines the address of your property, your phone number as well as the check in and check out dates along with times for the same.

2. Outline all restrictions that you would like to impose during the stay at your property. For smoking, outline whether smoking is allowed in the garden etc.

3. Mention if pets are welcome or not. If pets are welcome, ensure you mention in the contract that their vaccinations need to be up to date and they must have had flea treatment / are well groomed. You may also want to impose some rules that pets are not allowed on the furniture or else that there is an additional fee for the pets.

4. Outline the payment terms and cancellation policy clearly. If you are charging a security deposit ( a must if you are not residing in the property and don't have a caretaker), outline specific acts when you will deduct from the security deposit. Also ensure that the security deposit is not the maximum that can be charged and that all damages will be billed on actuals to the traveler.

5. Outline the maximum number of people who are allowed to stay in the property and the additional charges that will apply in case of every additional person.

6. Cleanliness and Cleaning Service: Outline whether you will be providing housekeeping or a maid service and at what frequency. If this is not included/ needs to be paid for separately then outline the same too.

7. Overall disclaimer: Enter a general disclaimer to protect yourself from any injury, damages, burglary etc. that are incurred by the traveler during stay at your property. A good lawyer will be able to draft this.

8. Special disclaimers: If you have a swimming pool, bath tub, jacuzzi, barbecue or any place that can cause physical harm to the traveler, specifically put in disclaimers and rules for the same. Ensure you clearly mention that the traveler is responsible for his own safety and the safety of his children.

9. Disclaimers on use of kitchen, gas, stove: Outline all safety precautions to be used when using the kitchen equipment and put in disclaimers to ensure you are not held responsible for any accidents in the same.

This is not to be taken as legal advice and please consult a lawyer to draft something that will suit your requirements. However, it may be best to share this article with them so that they have something to guide them. I would be happy to review any agreements once your lawyer has prepared the same and give you my opinion.

Remember, these are most important if you are not residing in the property / if the guests will be there under the supervision of only a caretaker. In India due to our culture, servants and hired help tend to be submissive to people like us and will not be able to exert much authority. They may also not have the presence of mind at multiple occasions and hence you as an owner should take all steps to protect yourself legally. A well worded legal agreement will do this and let you sleep in peace.

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