Policy: Owner Bookings for Short-Term Stays
Property Providers vision is to “Help People Live Better” by being Sydney’s most flexible residential rental company. This vision is driven by three core values: Passion, Performance and Partnership. Importantly, we seek profit not through dollars and cents but through the pursuit of our guiding principle that all meaningful long-term partnerships have a strong foundation of mutual investment, respect, risk and commitment. We aim to create these virtues in all our relationships and touch points with long-term leasing tenants, short-term rental guests, employees, suppliers, partners and our property owner partners.
The purpose of this document is to clearly communicate the company’s policy as it relates to owner’s usage of their short-term rental property either for their own bookings (“Personal Owner Bookings”) or for friends or family usage or where Property Providers are not the exclusive agent (“Owner Bookings”).
Please note: This policy only applies to 0short-term rentals that we manage on a full-time or year-round basis and DOES NOT apply to seasonal rentals where the property is the owner’s primary residence and where owner is harnessing idle capacity (i.e. properties that are only available for holiday periods).
One of the benefits of leveraging a short-term rental strategy is that it creates the opportunity for owners to use their own properties for themselves or their friends and family. We also understand that some owner/investor/landlords also want to deploy short-term rental strategy because they are “timing” the market for a sales campaign, planning renovations, or may reside out of the area most of the time and therefore want to use their property for lifestyle purposes.
Short-term rentals give owners more flexibility to use their investment property as they wish to maximise their revenue, particularly when compared to locking a property into a fixed term tenancy. This flexibility doesn’t change the need to proactive manage the property to ensure it is guest ready, particularly if the person staying is the owner. This policy enables us to proactively manage “Owner Bookings” transparently to support the demand for greater flexibility by owners.
- To be clear, concise and consistent regarding what the company’s position is for:
- owner bookings, where the owner stays at their property or where the property is not available (e.g., renovations, repairs); and
- bookings for owner’s guests, this includes the owner’s family/, friends. or guests.
- To support the company’s guiding principal that all long-term relationships have a foundation of mutual respect, mutual reward, mutual investment and mutual risk.
- To implement a consistent and fair framework around owners using their own properties (which we encourage as this is part of our proposition and one of the key benefits of short-term rentals).
- To effectively manage owner bookings and property availability to ensure the best possible experience for the agency as well as the owner and their guests.
- To enhance communication, drive adherence with smart operating procedures and to provide appropriate consideration for when processes are not adhered to.
Owner Notification Policy:
- Owners are obliged to advise Property Providers in writing of changes to the property’s availability at least 30 days in advance. For high seasons, we ask you notify us of any changes to the property availability at least 180 days in advance. These dates must be accurate and reliable as our sales team will make reservations on any property which is shown as available in our system.
- If the owner is “planning” on the property being used (albeit for themselves, friends, family, renovations etc) an “owner” booking will be put into the system which will block out these relevant dates. This will avoid all other bookings for this time period to be taken thus eliminating conflict, overlapping dates and unnecessary costs. If plans change, the owner booking can be cancelled thus releasing the dates back to the market. Owners must understand that if they are cancelling an owner booking, the shorter the notice period, the less likely the property is to be rebooked for those dates. All pending bookings not confirmed by 30 days prior to arrival will automatically be cancelled and the calendar opened up for new bookings.
- Owners may use the Owner Portal to amend the property availability calendar to make owner bookings, and owner guest bookings, or to block out times for planned property maintenance. Written notice may also be provided to our Portfolio Manager.
- Where insufficient written notice is provided for changes to the property’s availability, Property Providers reserves the right to charge the owner the Property Management commission for any bookings impacted by this change in availability.
- For the avoidance of doubt, if a guest inquires on a property where any availability change has not been notified and the guest booking is within 30 days of arrival, Property Providers reserves the right to charge the owner the agency’s full commission if the owner is unwilling to accept the booking and the guest booking is lost.
- Please be advised that informing the agency “after the fact” does not negate this policy.
Agency Policy for Owner Bookings:
(i.e. the owner themselves is staying in their property)
- Owners are to advise the agency of their owner booking in writing at least five working days prior to their arrival. Owner bookings will be accepted where there is no other booking (either pending or confirmed) for the property.
- Where there is a cancelled guest booking and owners elect to stay/use the property during the cancellation period (i.e. across the dates of the original guest booking), owners will not receive funds for the cancelled booking that may be due to them for the time they are occupying the property. The agency’s booking commission will apply to this particular period (i.e. guest cancelled dates where the owner is occupying) as well as other owner booking fees.
- Any owner stays during a guest cancellation period would count as the property being “re-booked.” Therefore, guest funds held for this period would be returned to the guest as per our guest cancellation policy. The same applies to owner’s guest bookings.
- “Owner Bookings” will be charged Property Providers’ booking fee to manage the administration and calendar updates, scheduling of cleaning and other operational components.
- Properties will be left “guest ready” for owners (linen provided etc.) and a linen charge applies. Property Providers will not compromise on this policy, except under extenuating circumstances or as agreed as part of the owner’s contractual terms.
- A guest-ready initiation clean will occur on an owner’s exit. This is at full cost to the owner cleaning/ property preparation at the full cleaning hourly rate.
- The agency will not cancel an existing confirmed guest booking and replace it with the owner booking for convenience. We feel this is unfair and unethical to guests who have made the commitment to rent the property as well as the agency who has secured the client on behalf of the owner. In these cases, we warmly welcome the owner to book another property with us where we will do our best to provide the best solution at the best price.
- If cancelling the booking is unavoidable, the agency’s full commission plus any additional hard costs (e.g. merchant fees) will apply. These costs will be deducted from the owner’s ledger. If there are not enough funds in the owner’s ledger, an invoice will be sent to the owner for payment.
Agency Policy for Owner Guest Bookings:
(i.e. The property is being booked for family/friends use)
- We welcome your family and friends to use your property and understand if you want to let them stay there rent-free. All family and friends stays will need to be managed as a guest booking in the Property Providers booking system for ease of communication and cleaning scheduling.
- Family, friends and owner guests will be required to pay the “guest” rates for exit cleaning, linen, and our booking fee. This payment must be paid prior to their arrival and key must be collected from Property Providers offices as per normal key collection instructions.
- Owner guests not staying rent-free are subject to all guest fees and charges.
- We also recommend that they pay for the allocated security deposit which is refundable when they leave as long as there is no damage etc.
- Normal or “business as usual” processes such as arrival, key collection, departure instructions, etc. apply to owner’s guests/owner bookings.
- The agency will not cancel an existing confirmed/paid guest booking and replace it with an owner guest booking as we feel this is unfair and unethical to guests who have made the commitment to rent the property as well as the agency who has secured the client on behalf of the owner.
- Importantly, by making payment the owner’s guest is also bound to our Booking Terms & Conditions should anything unfortunate happen. This effectively protects the owner from uncomfortable situations and/or risks.
- Owners are to advise the agency of all owner bookings in writing at least five working days prior to the booking arrival date. Owner bookings will be accepted where there is no other booking (either pending or confirmed) for the property.
- Property Providers will accept up to three individual bookings for any given stay, up to a maximum of 30 days in total use by either the owner, their friends, family or their guests per calendar year. Any additional booked nights may incur additional charges or an appropriate and fair adjustment in commission. Within this allocation, the owner will be restricted to up to 14 days in one block of all high seasons. For owner bookings exceeding this allocation, we reserve the right to charge our regular property management commission (booking commission will be excluded) at the advertised rate for each additional night(s) booked if this is an owner-guest booking.
- All Owner Bookings are to be provided in writing and logged within our booking system by either the owner or the agency (no exceptions). Please request your log-in details and a tutorial on using the owner system if you do not know how to do so. this is to be done by:
- Logging in to our owner portal and logging the booking; Owner Login
- Or; simply email email@example.com (Subject – Owner Booking – Property Name – Owner Name).
- We highly recommend that the owner’s “Owner Bookings” do not commence or conclude on the same day (i.e. back-to-back) as other guest bookings. Same Day Arrival and Departure Policy This has created significant issues for the agency in the past and it is something that we would like to avoid in the future. If this is unavoidable, the agency reserves the right to charge a fair cost dependent on the particular circumstances to allow for resources to adequately manage it.
- If the owner is booking the property on behalf of a friend or family, the owner will provide the agency with the full contact details of their guest for the booking system, which triggers all the relevant communication to seamlessly manage the stay.
- Standard arrival time of 3:00 pm and departure time of 9:30 am will apply to all owner bookings unless advised in writing at the time of the initial booking. If early check-ins or late arrivals are required, the agency requires a minimum of two working days to facilitate this change in the operational or housekeeping schedule and owners must understand that this may not be possible depending on other bookings.
- If the arrival/departure day is on a Sunday and there is a guest arriving or departing on the same day, hospitality penalty rates will apply.
- Unfortunately, Property Providers are unable to facilitate owner bookings with a public holiday arrival and departure.
- If the owner does not have enough funds in their account to cover the booking fee and initiation clean, an invoice will be sent to cover these costs or the owner’s credit card on file will be charged.
- If cancelling an existing guest booking is required and unavoidable, the owner will be charged the agency’s full commission plus any additional hard costs (e.g. merchant fees) will apply. These costs will be deducted from the owner’s ledger. If there are not enough funds in the owner’s ledger an invoice will be sent to the owner for payment.
- Decreased Inventory: “Owner Bookings” directly remove availability/inventory from the agency’s rental pool. They circumvent our ability to earn income, which is something that we feel owners should acknowledge and respect. When deploying a short-term rental strategy, the owner is gaining the benefit of flexibility however, in all fairness, this cannot be at the agency’s expense. Simply put, our commission is not substantial enough to cover these circumstances. Unequivocally, the agency does not make any money from an owner booking and this is something that needs to be considered.
- Process and Procedure Consistency: To avoid confusion, conflict and unnecessary cost, when owner bookings happen, it is important that we use all the same policies and procedures that we would use for a normal guest. i.e. making the property guest ready and managing the stay through our booking system. Constantly managing exceptions creates far more work and is not scalable or sustainable. The business cannot be confident that it can/will deliver the same level of service if the goalposts are constantly shifting. By maintaining consistency, we are able to scale which keeps costs as low as possible for all parties.
- Booking Fee Cost: The booking fee charge is to cover the listing/calendar maintenance, housekeeping scheduling, preparation and delivery of linen and amenities, key exchange and general owner communication/touch points. It is not considered part of property management.
- Highest Expectations: Owners are often the most critical and cynical of all guests (as to be expected). Therefore, they are the most demanding and often request additional services and resources.
- System Flexibility: Our systems are only so flexible, and they do not account for endless special circumstances. The above policy aligns with our operational procedures and ensures that operations run smoothly and efficiently.
- Fairness: We believe that this is fair and balanced to all parties and is in the spirit of partnership.
- Corporate Culture: The impacts on individual morale and overall corporate culture are significant when there is conflict associated with cancelling bookings, moving dates, rejecting customers and the associated back-end administration. It is often more work to cancel a booking than to process the initial booking. We ask our owners, wherever possible to try and avoid cancelling a guest booking for their own advantage.
- Brand & Reputation: Wherever there is confusion there is inevitably conflict (especially when there is money involved). We care deeply about the customer/guest/owner experience and are focused on enhancing and elevating our brand. The cost to brand efficacy is significant when processes and procedures are not followed.
Property Providers’ positioning is to be “Sydney’s Most Flexible Residential Rental Agency.” In this regard, we really do want owners to enjoy the use of their own properties. We have found that often owners improve the property while they are staying there which ultimately enhances the guest experience and our joy in managing the property.
Importantly, however, we ask that owners understand that there is a significant amount of operational resources to manage any stay. We simply request that owners respect this and contribute. Lastly, we believe that the above policy has been developed with the spirit of partnership in mind and is grounded by our guiding principle of mutual respect, mutual reward, mutual investment and mutual risk.
Effective Date: This policy is effective April 2019