One concern shared by many of our vacation rental homeowners on Cape Cod is that they get cornered into renting to young adults looking for a fun place to party together for a week. (Homes on Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket are at less risk due to the greater logistical and financial demands of getting there.) In fact, a seemingly responsible vacationer can rent a home on the Cape and then invite hordes of friends from off-Cape to come join them for a cookout or a few nights of partying.
What are your legal rights regarding who stays in, or even visits, your home? How do you say no? What can you do as a homeowner to legally protect your home from irresponsible parties?
You’re the boss!
You are not a public company and are not restricted in any way from picking and choosing whom you would like to stay in your home. Your tenants are essentially your guests. You can deny them for any reason at all. We only ask that you do so as courteously and diplomatically as possible.
How to say “no.”
If you are suspicious that some prospective tenants are young adults looking for a place to party, try to convince them that your home would not be a good fit for them.
- Explain that the home is in a family-oriented neighborhood, and neighbors are quick to call you or the authorities.
- Tell them that your home is an alcohol-free property (and you can even include this in your lease on occasion if you’re concerned.)
- If you happen to live nearby, make it clear that you do and that it’s not unusual for you to stop by in the early mornings.
- Require a limit on cars. An excessive number of cars is a sure tip-off of a large gathering, and anyone planning a party will reconsider if there is a 2-car limit.
The objective is to get them to back out without your having to turn them down.
Also, require a higher-than-normal security deposit. This may be enough to discourage them from renting from you. Or, if you do rent to them, you are better protected in case of damage or the need for excess cleaning.
The bottom line is that you should never allow anyone in your home whom you do not trust – young, old, or in between. And you have every legal right to make that decision.
Protect yourself legally
Just in case your best efforts to screen your tenants fall short, make sure your lease provides you with adequate legal protection. If you have a listing with us, ask us for a copy of our sample lease. In it is some very protective language such as:
- This property will not be used for functions such as weddings, wedding receptions, family reunions, or any other gatherings involving more than the maximum number of occupants specified in this lease agreement except with prior approval of the LANDLORD.
- The TENANT shall not disturb, annoy, endanger, or inconvenience neighbors, nor use the premises for any immoral or unlawful purposes, nor violate any law or ordinance, nor commit waste or nuisance on or about the premises.
You could also require that whoever’s name is on the rental agreement be present in the home throughout the stay, forfeiting the remaining occupancy and funds if they are not present.
See our other blog posts about some general advice related to screening inquiries from vacationers, or listen to our podcast.
Do you have any suggestions for other homeowners to help screen their tenants and protect against excess partying in their homes?