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6 ways to handle rental requests from friends and family

Are you a rental property owner who often receives rental requests from friends and family? Handling these requests can be a delicate and challenging task. On one hand, you want to maintain good friendships and help out loved ones, but on the other hand, you also need to consider the financial and logistical aspects of renting out your property. Striking the right balance is essential to ensure everyone is happy with the outcome.

By finding the right approach to handle rental requests from friends and family, you can maintain harmonious relationships while still running a successful rental business. Let’s explore how you can navigate this unique challenge with confidence, kindness, and professionalism.

Whether you’ve just started renting out your property or are a seasoned pro, we’ll look at everything from setting clear boundaries and expectations to establishing fair rental rates and terms. The goal: to provide practical tips and insights to help you make informed decisions.

1. Let them know it’s a special deal

When handling rental requests from friends and family, it’s crucial to ensure they understand that the arrangement they’re receiving is special and unique to them. Whether you’re offering your vacation rental for free or providing a serious discount, it’s important to communicate the significance of the gesture. 

By letting them know that this time away is a gift from you or that they are receiving a private offer due to their importance to you, you set the tone for a personalized experience. This communication helps establish that this rental arrangement is not just another business transaction but a meaningful connection between you and your loved ones.

Moreover, emphasizing the special nature of the arrangement can have additional benefits. When your friends or family members return home from their stay, they may feel compelled to share their wonderful experience with their friends and colleagues. By focusing less on the discounted or free rate and more on the exceptional quality of your vacation rental, you increase the likelihood of positive word-of-mouth referrals. Ultimately, this can contribute to the success and reputation of your rental business in the long run, and generate direct bookings.

2. Charge the minimum

No matter who is staying, you should charge them a minimum fee to cover your costs. This is even more relevant if the requested time slot falls within the high-season period. 

Offering a free stay may seem like a generous and noble gesture, but it can result in a significant loss for you. Not only do you forfeit potential revenue during a peak-demand period, but you are still responsible for the various costs associated with renting your space, such as maintenance and cleaning fees.

To ensure transparency and fairness, explain and show your friends or family the current market rate for your vacation rental. Once they have an understanding of the standard pricing, you can then offer them the best rate that you are comfortable accepting during their stay.

When initially setting your rates, you likely calculated the minimum amount necessary to cover your expenses and break even. While it ultimately depends on your personal discretion, it is advisable to use this minimum amount as your absolute baseline. Encourage your friends or family members to pay a rate that exceeds this cutoff point, providing a fair and reasonable price that still considers your financial needs.

3. Ask for paying referrals

While you may want to offer a discounted or free stay to your loved ones, it’s important to recognize the value of their networks and connections. By asking them to refer paying guests to your vacation rental, you can create a win-win situation for everyone.

When discussing the rental request with your friends or family members, express your gratitude for their interest in staying at your property. Let them know that in return for a free or discounted stay, you would greatly appreciate it if they could refer other potential guests who would be interested in renting your space at the regular rate.

Emphasize the benefits of referring paying guests to your vacation rental. Not only does it help you maintain your business’s sustainability, but it also allows your loved ones to contribute to the success of your venture. Explain that by referring guests who are willing to pay the standard rate, they are helping you cover the costs associated with maintaining and managing the property, as well as the costs associated with their potentially free stay.

To make the referral process easier, provide your friends and family members with any necessary information or promotional materials they can share with their contacts. This could include details about your rental, attractive photos, and positive reviews from previous guests. 

This approach leverages the trust and relationships you have with your friends and family, tapping into their networks and increasing the chances of attracting qualified guests who are willing to pay the standard rate. And by encouraging paying referrals, you can strike a balance between accommodating your loved ones’ requests and ensuring the long-term success of your rental.

4. Suggest alternate dates

Another effective strategy for managing rental requests from friends and family is to suggest alternate dates. This approach allows you to navigate situations where you may want to book nights with a higher nightly rate, but are happier to give up less in-demand nights which book for a lower price. 

If the requested time falls during a period when weekends are in high demand, you can suggest that your friends or family members pay the regular rate for weekends while enjoying the weekdays at no additional cost. This arrangement allows them to still experience their desired time off while helping you maximize your revenue during peak periods. Alternatively, you can offer a more significant discount if they choose to stay exclusively during the less busy weekdays, ensuring that your weekends remain available for other potential renters.

Moreover, proactive planning can come into play when you anticipate a specific event or period to be popular but haven’t received bookings yet. In such cases, you can propose alternative dates to your friends or family members, allowing you to keep that block of time open for potential renters who may be interested in the event or seeking accommodations during that particular period.

Engaging in open and transparent communication about the availability and pricing options will enable you to find mutually beneficial solutions. By demonstrating flexibility and considering alternative dates, you can effectively manage rental requests while maintaining a positive relationship with your friends and family.

5. Set time aside, then tell everybody about it

Taking a proactive approach to the situation can help streamline the entire situation and maintain fairness. One effective strategy is to set aside specific periods of time exclusively for discounted or free stays at your rental. By doing so, you create a structured system that ensures equal opportunity and avoids any potential conflicts.

To implement this approach, carefully consider your schedule and identify time slots that work best for you and your business. It’s important to strike a balance between accommodating your loved ones and maintaining a healthy balance for yourself. Once you have determined the designated time slots, communicate the dates, any conditions or requirements, and the preferred method for expressing interest.

When informing friends and family about these special periods, emphasize the importance of adhering to the established process. By providing clear guidance on how they can show their interest, you ensure that everyone is on the same page.

6. Try to barter with your friends

Similar to asking for a referral, often there are other things of value you can exchange with your friends or family. This makes the whole situation a win-win for all.

For example, if your friend owns their own vacation rental, an exchange is an easy way for both of you to get value out of the transaction.

Do they offer business or creative services that would be of assistance to you? Maybe they build websites and could build your rental a brand new direct bookings website in return for a free stay. There are plenty of ways friends and family can provide great, non-monetary value to your business. And bartering for something of value to you can make it easier to justify a deep discount.


Navigating rental requests from friends and family requires careful consideration and effective communication. By implementing these six strategies, you can strike a balance between maintaining relationships and running a successful rental business.

By implementing these approaches with confidence, kindness, and professionalism, you can handle rental requests from friends and family with ease, maintaining harmonious relationships and a thriving rental business.

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