I held off nearly a full year before starting to require a renter's agreement. Since I started about 2 months ago, I've had 15 bookings and 12 guests signed within 24 hours, most within 2-3 hours, and they didn't need any additional prompting. For the remaining 3 I had to repeatedly contact each.... Was kind of the same response with each case, I first sent a friendly email, then waited a few days, then sent another and called/left message. A few days later I called and then texted. In all three cases the text was what got it done, and each guest was apologetic about not doing it earlier.
I had been expecting there would be resistance at least some of the time to actually signing a document, but I have yet to see it after 15 guests.
So for anyone who is still on the fence about whether or not to use one, my experience says guests are okay with it. Of course I'll never know whether some person picked a different condo because I state that a rental agreement is required, but I suspect that's a pretty rate case.
I paid an attorney in Colorado, who I found online by google search, total cost was about $1,000. I did that because every state is unique, and I figured for a document I will use forever I might as well be confident that it's done correctly.
Not having a rental agreement would leave me with no recourse for pursuing a guest if damages had happened. And even for simple disagreements with the online booking sites like VRBO, having a signed agreement can be the difference between he said/she said disagreements. The agreement can clearly address cancellation scenarios, person limits and can establish penalties if they are violated.
Some final details - The folks at OR helped me get it set up with their electronic signature. Instead of initials on each page, the guest just signs once at the end. I did include a custom field where guests (mostly) put the names of their party which is useful.
I am going to be allowing same day bookings against my better judgment, and I am mulling having them sign it at check-in. There's no way to get them to receive and read and send it back to me in time. This is my first month and I need to get the revenue moving
I do same day bookings, haven't had a problem, did maybe 2 of them last ski season. But both were for 2 day bookings where I explained that they needed to book officially for 1 night (+24 hours in future) but once I saw the booking I'd import to "my management software" and they would see the correct dates reflected there. I imagine there might be a 24 hr wait period for vrbo for them to do some kind of background checking, or waiting for cc payments to process.
But as far as the agreement goes, I would just explain that I'm doing something outside of the normal guidelines for vrbo, and that the only way it will work is for the guest to book, and then look for and sign my rental agreement. And I'd explain that without the RA signed I won't provide the key codes. It shouldn't slow things down more than a few minutes.
Great write-up, Rich. Thank you very much!
Quick pro tip... You can see "which bookings have not signed" at any time by going Bookings menu > List view > Filter > Renter Agreement signed = no. It will show them on the ribbon view too if you're on that view. Great way of seeing which upcoming bookings are the deadbeats.