A Guide to Mid-Term Rentals for Short-Term Rental Owners
Mid-term rentals are emerging as another revenue stream for the modern property investor.
Medium term rentals fill the gap between short-term vacation rentals and long-term residential leases. They attract a diverse tenant base, have lower maintenance costs, provide steady income, and require less administrative/management work.
As the demand for flexible housing options continues to surge, mid-term rentals are experiencing unprecedented growth, and the modern investor seems to be capitalizing on this trend.
But what exactly are mid-term rentals, and are they worth exploring if you typically host short-term guests?
What is a Mid-Term Rental?
Mid-term rentals can span from the time frame of a few weeks to several months and cater to a growing niche of renters — from professionals on temporary assignments like travel nurses, or a remote worker looking for a new town to embrace, to families in transition needing a temporary home base. A mid-term rental provides the flexibility of short-term contracts without long-term commitment, making it an option for many in today’s fast-paced world.
Because of the flexibility this allows from the guest/tenant and the owner/host of the property, we’ve seen a growing trend of the modern investor’s rental property shifting back and forth more frequently than ever before.
For a short-term rental property owner looking to make the shift to a medium-term rental, this opportunity allows for the best of both worlds. For instance, if you have property in a tourist destination it allows for high revenue in peak tourist season and income stability throughout the off-season.
However, as a property owner it’s important to keep in mind that when a short-term guest transitions to a tenant there is a shift in responsibility both from a legal perspective with tenant-rights and with your insurance coverage in regard to liability.
Shifting from a Short-Term to a Medium Term Rental
Property owners may find advantages in transitioning back-and-forth between having a short-term rental and a mid-term rental property.
Mid-term rentals can provide many of the same benefits a long-term rental has, like income stability without the full commitment of year-long leasing. For owners seeking a “happy medium” between short-term and long-term, mid-term rentals are worth exploring. Reasons to consider shifting between short-term and mid-term rental terms include:
- Steady Income with Less to Manage: Short-term rentals have frequent turnovers, meaning more time spent on advertising, vetting guests, handling check-ins/check-outs, and managing regular maintenance. Mid-term rentals reduce this turnover, ensuring a steady stream of income without the need for constant management.
- Less Wear and Tear: With fewer guest turnovers, properties tend to experience less wear and tear. The reduced foot traffic means less cleaning and fewer guests to cause damage or mishaps.
- Predictable Utility Costs: Unlike the variability of short-term rentals, where one month might see high utility usage and the next might be minimal, mid-term rentals offer a more predictable utility cost.
- Longer Relationships: A longer stay often translates to better relationships with guests/tenants. It’s easier to establish communication norms and understand expectations when both parties know they’ll be interacting for an extended period.
- Filling the Off-Peak Gaps: For properties in seasonal destinations, there might be peak seasons for short-term rentals, but what about the off-peak times? Mid-term rentals can be an excellent strategy to ensure occupancy during these less popular months.
- A Different Guest Demographic: Mid-term renters, such as corporate employees or traveling healthcare professionals, often have different needs and behaviors than short-term vacation renters. They’re often more responsible, seeking a comfortable “home” for a few months rather than a fleeting vacation spot.
The Differences Between Short-term, Mid-term and Long-term Rentals
When evaluating a transition to a mid-term rental model from short-term vacation rental property, or even a long-term rental property, here are the key differences between rental terms to consider:
|Short-Term (STR)||Mid-Term (MTR)||Long-Term (LTR)|
|Duration of Stay||A few nights to a month||1-6 months (often around 13 weeks)||6 months – several years|
|Tenant Type||Tourists, business travelers||Traveling nurses, corporate employees, interns, families||Individuals or families living long-term|
|Content||All furniture and décor provided by owner||Owner furniture with some tenant belongings||Tenant provides all furniture|
|Amenities||All amenities provided by the owner||Most amenities provided by the owner||Tenant provides all amenities|
|Utilities and Services||All included in rental rate (Wi-Fi, cable, electricity, etc.)||Varies, may be included or split cost||Tenant responsible for setting up and paying all utilities and services|
|Maintenance (like tub, etc.)||Property owner’s responsibility||Primarily the owner, could be shared responsibility||Tenant’s responsibility|
|Repairs (e.g. broken handrail)||Property owner’s responsibility||Primarily the owner, could be shared responsibility (e.g., tenant fixes minor issues, but major ones fall on owner)||Often tenant’s responsibility unless specified otherwise in the lease|
|Rental Rate||Highest per night, but could experience higher vacancy||Higher than LTR but lower than STR||Usually lower per month than MTR/STR|
|Frequency of Turnover||High (possibly every few days to weeks)||Moderate (several times a year)||Low (once a year or at end of lease)|
|Revenue Management||Dynamic pricing algorithms. Frequent rate changes.||Occasional pricing adjustments between stays||Fixed pricing for 12-month lease terms|
|Regulations||Can have restrictions||Residential||Residential|
|Risk Profile||High – Frequent turnover leads to increased wear and tear, property damage, liability claims||Moderate – Lower turnover than STR decreases risks||Low – Long-term tenants have vested interest in maintaining property|
|Insurance Needs||Most comprehensive coverage due to high turnover & risks||More comprehensive than LTR but may vary from STR||Standard renters and landlord policy with limited coverage|
|Check-in/Check-out||Frequently per month||Moderate throughout the year||Once at start and end of lease|
The Grey Area: Responsibilities in Mid-Term Rentals
Operating a mid-term rental can feel like a careful dance, balancing between a short-term and long-term rental. While this unique rental opportunity has its perks as we’ve outlined, the property owner/host must also learn to navigate the intricate nuances that come with both short and long-term rentals. The transition from guest to tenant isn’t just a matter of what we call the people staying at the property but can lead to complications in legal liabilities, rights, and responsibilities.
You can provide clarity in these grey areas by:
- Setting expectations
- Having effective communication
- Signing a written rental agreement
Who Cleans the Tub?
One of the biggest challenges in the mid-term rental space is determining where responsibilities lie.
Consider this example: Who cleans the tub at a mid-term rental? In a short-term rental, the responsibility is in the hands of the property owner or manager given the quick turnover of guests and the expectations and standards of hospitality law. For long-term rentals, tenants are responsible for cleaning the tub since it is their own primary residence.
However, in a mid-term rental, the line between the responsibilities a short-term guest has versus those of a long-term tenant becomes blurred.
When does that responsibility shift from owner to tenant? After a week? A month? And it isn’t merely a matter of cleanliness but also a representation of risk. A dirty tub might lead to a slip-and-fall accident. Who bears the liability in such a situation?
Maintenance Alerts in Mid-Term Rentals
Another example of a grey area is determining who holds the responsibility of alerting the property owner about maintenance issues that require attention — like a broken handrail.
In a short-term rental, the property owner, property manager, or even a property cleaner with a safety checklist would detect and report any repair needs. But for long-term tenants, it’s the tenant’s duty to notify the landlord of any fixes needed.
Mid-term rentals occupy a grey area for identifying issues that require the owner’s attention. If the handrail breaks, is the mid-term tenant required to alert the owner as in a long-term lease? Or will the owner conduct routine inspections to find repairs as they would in a short-term stay? The line is blurred without setting forth clear expectations.
Setting expectations in a written rental agreement can clarify the grey area. Both parties should understand who alerts who when repairs arise, so problems can be quickly addressed.
Comprehensive and Convenient Insurance Coverage
The changing nature of responsibility and risk in mid-term rentals also has significant implications for insurance coverage. Property owners need to be proactive, ensuring that their insurance policy is tailored to the unique challenges and requirements of mid-term rentals.
Proper Insurance is the nation’s leading short-term vacation rental insurance provider, with the most comprehensive policy on the market. Proper Insurance is built for the highest level of risk and has no defined occupancy restrictions, making our policy the perfect choice for a property owner who is looking to shift between a short-term and mid-term rental without having to switch insurance policies or relying on weak supplemental coverage.
Since we removed all occupancy restrictions this means that there is no limit on who can stay at your property (guest, tenant, family, and personal use) or for the length of time that a guest can stay at your property. If you choose not to upgrade your insurance to Proper’s policy, you will want to be sure to understand what that time limit is so that you are aware of coverage gaps in your policy, especially when it comes to liability.
Proper Insurance protects homes in all 50 states with unmatched coverage for your property, revenue, and business liability, customized to include guest-caused theft/damage, liquor liability, amenity liability (bikes, kayaks, hot tub, etc.), bed bugs and fleas, squatters, and more.