How do you handle friend/family wanting to use your rental?

How does everyone handle friends/family that in the past have used your “vacation home” for free, now that you’ve turned the “vacation home” into a “vacation rental”?

With the solar eclipse, grape stomping, festivals, and fall color approaching I know I’ll be asked and don’t want to be to far off base.

Offer them a friends and family discount if they want to use your place…whatever you feel would be fair ie 10 or 20%.

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Ahh, the family and friends conversation.

  • Make sure they will book and not cancel at the last minute. Yes, it has happened to me. For them, it’s just a getaway. For you, it’s your income.

  • What are their expectations? Do they want it for free? Are they going to pay the cleaning people? or are they going to clean after themselves?

  • Do they want to come on your busy time?

How will YOU feel if they don’t pay? If they don’t show up? If they break something? If they stain your sheets?


I definitely done friends renting my properties. So far, it has worked for me. I keep it very strict and friendly at the same time. I always have them book it through my website hosts… and then alter the price and provide a reasonable rate for them - depending on the seasons. Bottom line - you can’t shy away and make excuses for them IF you rely on that income. It is a business. Most folks understand that. If your friends and family can’t understand that - then ask them if they go to work for free. :slight_smile:


@Evelyn hit the nose on the head. The cancellations are the worst. I had an ex-co-worker cancel the very day they are supposed to arrive. We terminated our friendship over it when I responded “are you fucking kidding me?” and I wasn’t joking.

Offer only to very close friends - and for acquaintances, make them pay something - no freebies. Folks don’t value what they don’t pay for.


I have had one friend renting my listing, I offered discount and he paid me cash. But I never let them use the place for free before, so it was easy to charge them. Your case would be a bit complicated if you used to give them free accommodation. Anyway, I would only offer free accommodation to my parents in law (my parents own the place :slight_smile:). All other relatives and friends can have it at a good discount but not free.
My husband offered two of his high school friends free accommodation at our home (not the airbnb listing), since then all his friends expect to live in our home when they travel to Melbourne (from China). Last month, my husband declined one of them and asked him to book our listing if he wanted to, but never heard back from this friend.


Hitting a nose sounds eye wateringly painful :slight_smile:

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All our friends and family are welcome.
But they all know that during high season they pay full price, it is our living and I cannot let them stay for free.

During the low seasons they get a discount, or our best friends and close family can stay for free,


I face this issue with my sister every single year. I love having her come to stay because I get to see her, her husband and my nephew.
I’ve told them in the past, one weekend and total of 5 days is free.
This year, she literally tried to stay here from July 9th to July 22nd, with a few days not here as they would travel to a nearby state for a few days.
We’ve compromised–she is staying one weekend and a total of 5 days.
Oops–wait, that’s not a compromise, it’s exactly what I allow :slight_smile:


I feel like @Malagachica may have a good story to add to this thread!!

I agree with @CatskillsGrrl [quote=“CatskillsGrrl, post:5, topic:15403”]
Offer only to very close friends - and for acquaintances, make them pay something - no freebies. Folks don’t value what they don’t pay for.

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I don’t have a vacation rental so a little different here but here’s my two cents. My close friends use for free but I find that they buy me dinner, or booze, etc. If I’m not booked I’ve hosted friends of friends for free as well. However, if it’s booked or likely to be booked it’s just not available. One thing that works out for me is that friends come at holidays like Christmas when I’m not airbnbing anyway because I have too many dogs. So it works out all around. I even contact my friends and ask who needs it for Christmas and alternate years if more than one set would like to be here.

Friends and family should count their themselves lucky that they were previously able to use it for free but understand that now it costs you money to let them use it.


I usually ask friends/family to pay for the cleaning helper’s time, and yes, I limit the number of nights, which seems to work for everyone. If it’s a slow season, no problem/no charge. But if they want to stay more than a couple of nights during busy times, I do ask them to pay and give them a discount.

That said, the worst hosting experience I ever had was with friends of friends. I offered free nights to good friends who were getting married so friends from across the country could afford to attend the wedding. It was a nightmare, and the guests left the cottages trashed, the toilets clogged with diaper liners, and strawberry jam from one end of the house to the other along the walls. And they overstayed the agreed-upon checkout by hours.

I was lucky I had a two day break before the next guests arrived, because I kept noticing a bad smell and finally found a nasty diaper in the very back of the cabinet under the sink behind a basket of cleaning products. It was almost like it was hidden there. I don’t even want to know what was up with that.

Anyway, even though I THOUGHT I had made it clear about checkin, checkout, small cleaning fee, etc. they just ignored me. I’ve never been so relieved to see people leave. Now, I’m super-clear, even with (or maybe more especially with) family.

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If they don’t know you have converted it to a Vacation rental make sure they are aware of that so that they have been told it is your income.

As soon as I told my accountant I was buying a property to AirBnB, one if his first sentences was “Do Not rent for free to anyone. Its a business”,


Yes, giving away days or renting for less than the current market value will trigger the IRS to count those days as “personal” use. That can change your tax status.

Disclosure: this is for USA vacation rentals


Never again. Never, never again.


Ha!! Sorry, that was supposed to be nail! I will leave it as nose, though, for the laugh!


Once upon a time, a lovely time, my parents owned a house in Vermont. It started as a second home but during one of the big recession it morphed into a rental. And then the 10-day rule was the rule of the land. As an adult, they would allow me to use the house, but there was always a list of projects that we had to do during our stay. It was not a list that meant 8 hours a day, but it was a long enough list so that the IRS wouldn’t baulk.

Over the years, I became adept at putting up scaffolding to paint the cathedral ceiling and stain the siding. Over the years, I painted each of the rooms at least three times. I was devastated when they sold that house.


I’m the same way. Close friends and family stay for free. They usually end up buying dinner, drinks, and stocking the fridge- nice though not expected. If it were a former co-worker or someone I wouldn’t normally invite to my birthday party then they are charged full price to 10% off.

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But when they don’t (such as a recent relative) and just came and went like any set of guests… not even checking on me to see if we could go out for dinner or bring me something) I was pissed and after that point, no more relatives.

I can’t block off my calendar and pay for their lodging. That is essentially what they are asking you to do. So I don’t know if buying drinks or treating dinner really makes up for it.


Wow. That sucks!!! I can see your point. My parents just left 2 days ago and they left me a bottle of Rum :slight_smile: and basically paid for everything while they were here. Stripped the beds and started the wash right before heading off to the airport. Guess I’m pretty lucky!!!