There has been a lot of interest in how I use PayPal to do security deposit authorization holds. So I am posting the instructions on how to do that. Feel free to reach out with any questions or feedback!
They are automatically is lifted (no sending it back) when a claim isn't made within 29 days. My original post has more information about the benefits of doing this. Processing fees are only collected for the specific amount that you make a claim on. If you don't make a claim and the hold expires there are no processing fees!
How to Set Up a Security Deposit Credit Card Authorization
1. Set up a JotForm account. The free version is what I use
2. Set up a business PayPal (not sure if this works with PayPal Personal)
3. On JotForm press Create Form
4. Press Start From Scratch
5. Select Classic Form
6. On the left select Add Form Element. You will need the following elements:
a. iFrame embed (under widget tab)
b. Full Name
c. Short Text
f. PayPal Standard (under payments tab) PayPal Commerce works as well but will show Standard as it might work with PayPal Personal but PayPal Commerce only is for PayPal Business
g. Unique ID (under widgets)
7. Go to Houfy and get the link for your photos iframe. You will find this under the photo section of your listing. Click Embed Photos and copy just the https link (where it says src= in quotes). Go back to JotForm and select your iframe. Select the wizard wand (widget settings). Paste this url into Frame URL. Select the gear (properties) and adjust width and height as desired. Drag it to be above your header so it functions as a banner
8. Select the Header and change the text from Form to Security Deposit. If you have named your place add it to the subheader
9. Select Full Name. Click on the gear (properties). Change question text to Booking Name. Optional – make it a required field
10. Select Short Text. Click on the gear (properties). Change question text to Houfy Confirmation #. Optional – make it a required field
11. Select paragraph. Click on the gear (properties). Change question text to include “This will put a 29 day authorization hold in the unlikely event that damages occur during you stay. Check-in instructions will be emailed to you when the hold is authorized” and any other information they need to convey
12. Select Email. Click on the gear (properties). Change the question text to What Email Should Invoice Be Sent To? Make this field required
13. Select Payment Standard. Click on the wizard wand (Payment Settings). Input your PayPal account email. Payment type should be Sell Products. Under Additional Gateway Settings:
a. Enable Users Can Select Multiple Products
b. Enable Show Total Price on the Form
c. Enable Authorization Only
d. Change Pending Payment Email to Notifiers and Autoresponders so both you and the guest get an email stating the payment didn’t go through
e. Press continue
14. You should be redirected to the products tab. Press create new product. Change name to “Security Deposit”. Change price to what you charge for a security deposit. Enable required so it’s automatically selected and cannot be removed. Press save product. If you charge additional deposits like for events or pets add them but do not make them required. But do add in the paragraph above that if they aren’t selected then the pet may not come or the event may not take place until rectified.
15. Optional – select the invoice tab and enable the invoice creation
16. Select Unique ID. Click the gear (properties). Under prefix input “# INV-“. Either select Sequential Numbers or Random Numbers depending on how you like to see invoice numbers.
17. Change from the Build portion of the form to Settings at the top
18. Change Title to Security Deposit
19. Select Emails
a. Click Notification 1 (the emails you will receive when a guest submits)
i. Edit email subject. From the drop down list select any of the fields you set up earlier to make it easier for you to identify the booking
ii. Under recipients. Change sender name to the guest name option or leave it as JotForm
b. Click Autoresponder 1 (the emails the guest will receive when submitting)
i. Edit Email subject as desired using drop down menus of the fields you added earlier to customize and/or by manually typing
ii. Delete the default email content. Change it to your custom welcome letter. Also include that an invoice (if you opted for this) and the check-in instructions are attached
iii. Under recipients. Change sender name to your name and/or your property Name
iv. Under advanced
1. Optional – enable the PDF attachment so the guest gets a copy of their submission
2. Upload your check-in instructions under Attach a File. Now the check-in information is automatically provided but only after everything is in order with the security deposit
3. Change sender email to your email so that guests can email you back with any questions. To do this you need to select add an email in the drop down menu. Under email type select verified. Then go to the bottom and add your email. Make sure to confirm the email address with the verification code
20. Select Thank You Page
i. You have two options to choose from
1. Show a Thank You page. You can edit and change what they provide to provide them with additional information and/or to remind them to check their email for the check-in instructions
2. Redirect to External Page. You can alternatively redirect them to your guidebooks on Houfy. Just input the link
21. Select Publish at the top. Edit your link using “security-deposit”. Now you and your guest can see what it’s for just by looking at the link. Press apply then copy the link for your records so you can easily send it as part of your “I’m so excited to host you next week you can get the check-in information by authorizing the security deposit at this link” message
1) Go to Edit > Pricing > Rates & Fees
Members with connected payments will have two options:
- Charge through Houfy
- Collected by Host.
Members who collect payment outside of Houfy will only have the Collected by Host option. You will invoice your guest directly the same way you invoice them to collect the rental rate/cleaning fee, etc.
Owners who have Square or Stripe connected will see this option.
Note: Only members who use the Charge through Houfy option will see "At Booking" in their drop down menu.
If you prefer to collect outside of these options, you can set up the damage deposit as a fee.
Log in>Menu>Manage Listings>Edit>Pricing>Rates & Fees
Calendar pricing removes the need to edit the beginning/end dates of each season. By using calendar pricing, you can leave the seasonal rates alone, and just override any rates/minimum night stays.
Once your calendar starts to fill, rates/min. night stays might need to be adjusted. (It's common for owners to lift minimum night restrictions, as to minimize 1-2 night calendar gaps). To do this, you can:
1. Edit each season's beginning/end dates and/or rates.
2. Override the seasonal rates with calendar pricing.
When editing one season's start/end dates, often the preceding/subsequent seasons will need to be adjusted as well. This can be time-consuming if you don't use a channel manager or dynamic pricing software.
A general (not literal) view when comparing seasonal and calendar pricing is:
- Seasonal rates = set it and forget it
- Calendar rates = manual dynamic pricing
But most hosts use a combination of the two, as they tend to overlap.
For example, in the Outer Banks, Jersey Shore, and Cape Cod it's common to require weekly reservations only, with a weekly designated changeover date. If each week was created as a separate season, then the host just edits the rate of each season as supply/demand fluctuates.
But in markets where the minimum night stay varies: reservations may range from 1 to 14 nights, calendar pricing is probably more convenient.
How do I add calendar pricing?
- Go to the calendar view in your dashboard: Manage listings > Calendar
- Highligh the calendar dates that need to be edited
- Adjust rates and minimum night stay in the left pop-up window.
You can also choose to display or hide the seasonal rates table on your listing's homepage.
This will likely depend on your market, minimum night stay, and housekeeper's availability. Below are some common scenarios of when hosts might use changeover dates.
In your market it's customary for travelers to book week-long stays. Let's say your minimum night stay is 7 days, and you don't specify a "check-in changeover day." Guests may book: Wednesday to Wednesday, Thursday to Thursday, Sunday to Sunday, and so on.
Now you have 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 day calendar gaps.
You can sell off the gap dates–or to avoid them altogether, select a check-in/check-out changeover day. The most common changeover days are Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Guests depart in the morning, with new ones checking in that afternoon.
Let's say you want two sets of week-long reservations over the Christmas/New Years holidays: One group will stay for a min. of 7 nights over Christmas, and another for 7 nights over New Year's.
Sometimes travelers will book 9 nights: checking in on Christmas Eve, and checking out on January 2nd.
To prevent this, you can create a calendar season called "Christmas;" then adjust the check-in/check-out changeover days and number of minimum/maximum night stays.
During the off-season, only weekends usually book and your min. night stay is 2 nights. Friday and Saturday are priced much higher than the rest of the week, and you'd like to keep those two days together.
To prevent a traveler from taking only Thursday/Friday OR only Saturday/Sunday, do not allow check-in/check-out on Saturdays.
Please select pricing at edit listing and select or remove the checkmarks..
There are several ways to add additional fees:
- One-time flat fee
- Percentage fee
- Per night fee
- Per person fee
- Optional fee
- Click on top right arrow to display Drop-down Menu>Manage Listings>Edit>Pricing>Rates & Fees.
- Scroll down and click Add a Fee. Complete information and click Save.
Mandatory fees such as cleaning will be included in the total. Travelers can check the box to include any optional fees, and total will be adjusted.
I added my prices using seasons. We normally have people coming for a week (although we can be flexible on some weeks), seven night stay, so I added the prices this way. I am not showing up on bookdirect map unless I add seven nights as search dates and Sunday to Sunday. I would say this is not ideal, as perhaps people do not know my dates run from Sunday to Sunday. Is there some way around this...
Try removing the changeover day. (Changeover days require the guests to check in and check out on a specific day) - You can keep your 7 night minimum stay. This means you will only show on search results when guests look without dates or with 7+ night stays.
You can add any fees you want to your Houfy listing:
Menu > Manage Listings > Edit > Pricing > Rates and Fees
The reason people are drawn to booking directly on Houfy is to bypass all the fees on the platform, consider including the fee in your nightly fee.
It depends how badly you want to encourage travelers to book direct on Houfy. Keep in mind, one of the major reasons travelers are drawn to direct book is to bypass the high rates and fees charged on the other platforms.
Many hosts keep rates the same across all platforms: Airbnb, Vrbo, and Houfy. They prefer their most attractive rates to be on Houfy. And since they have to pay Airbnb and Vrbo 3%, they consider the 3% to Stripe or Square the cost of doing business. Not to mention, they get paid sooner when a traveler books on Houfy.
Here are some reasons why hosts choose to have the most attractive rates on Houfy:
- Airbnb can refund guests on day of arrival, even after holding the calendar for months. Some hosts consider this policy too risky.
- They prefer guests recommend Houfy to friends and family versus their Airbnb listing. When travelers book on Airbnb, it gives Airbnb even more leverage than they already have.
- Airbnb bookings tend to be time-consuming. Navigating the red tape and dealing with runarounds is something they want to avoid if possible.
- Airbnb is not host-friendly when it comes to allowing hosts to get signed rental agreements or ID. On Houfy, they can easily do this.
- Hosts with pet-free listings worry about guests bringing emotional support cats.
Many hosts refuse to open their prime calendar weeks on Airbnb. Instead, they only list their shoulder weeks or off season dates. And they increase rates by at least 10%, just to make up for the hassles of Airbnb policies.
Here is one way some hosts reduce credit card costs:
Allow a small reservation deposit by credit card. Require the balance by check. The traveler won't worry about losing dates, and your calendar won't be blocked while waiting for payment to be made.
Checks need time to clear so this works best for properties that book at least 45 days in advance. Here is how to set this up on Houfy:
- Go to Manage Listings > Settings > Payment & Policies.
- Describe your policy in the Payment Policy section and note when the check payment is due. If you allow the balance to be paid by credit card (if the guest pays the fees), note this as well.
- Select your reservation deposit amount. This can be a fixed $ amount, or a percentage of the total booking, such as 15%.
- Set the final payment due date.
- Update your rental agreement to reflect any changes. Consider reiterating the check payment in the cancellation policy and house rules as well.
The more places noted, the less chance your policies will be overlooked. If the person just left Airbnb, your Houfy listing might only be skimmed. Note: Always check your state's laws before charging consumers credit card fees. Some states make it illegal.
If you do want to charge more on Houfy, I highly suggest not charging a separate percentage fee, but increase your rates instead. Remember, the host still pays the credit card fee even if it's a separate line item. It's just semantics to say the guest pays it. The only time the guest pays the fee is when they have a choice to choose a lesser rate.
You can charge extra fees on your Houfy listing: Menu > Manage Listings > Edit > Pricing > Rates and Fees.
You can change the minimum night requirement at:
- Menu > Manage Listings > Edit > Pricing > Rates & Fees
- Menu > Manage Listings > Edit > Pricing > Seasons if you have any seasons
- Menu > Manage Listings > Edit > Calendar > Select dates and change the min. nights.
How to change minimum stay in the Houfy calendar
- Navigate to Edit listing > Calendar
- Click on any date or the date you want to change the minimum stay(On mobile click "Set price")
- Change the dates as required.
- Set the price and minimum stay and click Save.
- Right menu > Manage listings > Edit listing > Calendar
- Click on "Set Price"
- Change the dates if required, set price and minimum stay, and save.