Deposits for your vacation rental

What you should know about deposits as a vacation rental host.

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Are you just starting out as a vacation rental host and wondering whether you should ask your guests for a deposit? In this article, you’ll find out the advantages of a security deposit for your vacation rental, what amount is appropriate and what else you need to consider.

The advantages of a security deposit for your vacation rental

For hosts, a security deposit is financial protection in case damage occurs to the property during your guests’ stay. The deposit therefore helps to minimize financial risks. It also ensures that guests take better care during their stay, as they want to get the entire deposit back and therefore take extra care to leave the rental in good condition.

When returning deposits, it is important to observe legal requirements: Hosts must return the deposit within a reasonable period of time after departure and may only withhold justified amounts for damages incurred. It is therefore important that the conditions for the repayment of the deposit are clear in order to avoid misunderstandings.

What do you need to consider when requesting a deposit?

If you decide to ask your guests for a deposit, you should consider the following:

  1. Put everything in writing: How much is the deposit? How will it be collected? When will it be returned? In which cases will the deposit be retained? Make sure your guests know the answers to all these questions and explain exactly how you will proceed. Also provide your guests with proof that the deposit has been received, for example if they pay in cash on arrival.
  2. Document everything: Document the condition of your vacation rental before arrival by making an inventory list and taking photos. This will make it easier for you to argue later if your guests cause any damage.
  3. Higher deposit for pets: Guests with dogs or other pets have a higher risk of causing damage to the vacation accommodation. You could therefore ask for a higher deposit for guests with pets.
  4. Withholding the deposit in an emergency: Unfortunately, you cannot simply withhold the deposit if damage really has occurred. You need receipts to prove the expenses incurred.

Is a deposit still up to date?

So much for the theory. Now to the practice. When was the last time you paid a deposit for vacation rental? I suspect it was a few years ago. That’s right, a deposit for vacation rentals used to be quite normal. Nowadays, it might put some guests off booking.

Alternatives to a deposit


It’s understandable that as a host you want to protect yourself against damage to your vacation rental. But you don’t necessarily have to ask for a deposit. Instead, you could clearly state in your house rules in which cases penalties are to be paid if guests do not comply with your rules or if major damage occurs that is not covered by the insurance.


If you use Smoobu, you can use a pre-authorization payment from your guests, which works similarly to a security deposit. With the help of an integration partner such as Swikly or Charge Automation, you can collect part of the fee at the time of booking.

How to manage your deposit with the booking portals

Deposit for direct bookings

For direct bookings via your own host website, you can set your deposit according to your own conditions. The important thing here is that you are transparent.
For bookings via booking platforms, you must comply with their regulations:

Deposit on offers you the option of setting a damage deposit. You can find this option on the extranet under:

  1. Accommodation
  2. Policies
  3. Other policies
  4. Policy options for damages
  5. click on edit

Further information in case of damage and how to set a damage deposit can be found here.

Deposit on Vrbo

Hosts also have the option of setting a damage deposit for listings on Vrbo. You can find out exactly how to do this here.

Security deposit on Airbnb

Airbnb prohibits hosts who do not use a channel manager from requiring a deposit from their guests.
However, Airbnb offers you comprehensive protection in the event of certain damages with Aircover.


So should you ask for a deposit for your vacation rental? That depends entirely on how comfortable you feel and how much risk you are willing to take. A deposit can give you peace of mind and protect you financially in the event of damage, but it can also deter some guests from booking with you.

If you decide to ask for a deposit, you should communicate your conditions clearly.

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