What to expect and what not to expect when you are renting a home for vacation

On this week’s episode of Vacation Rental Property Management Experiences: what to expect and what not to expect. It is surprising to me what guests and owners expect when renting out/renting a home for a short term-vacation.

I have been asked the craziest questions by both owners and guest alike. For owners who have decided to use their homes to generate money, they have these expectations of guests that are, at times, beyond attainable. If you are an owner who is deciding whether or not you want to use your home for short-term vacation rentals you will need to consider these things:

  1. People will be in your home, with their families and children. If you do not want your things to get ruined through accidental damage and/or wear and tear then either put less expensive things in your home or do not rent your home out. You need to understand that not everyone keeps their home as you do. This does not make them terrible guests, this makes them human. Things are going to break, things are going to get stained, it happens. Most vacation hosting platforms will provide some type of insurance whether it be a security deposit or accidental damage insurance that will cover certain things that get broken and/or damaged in your home by a guest. However, it will not cover “wear and tear” items like stained sheets/linens/towels, missing silverware, broken dishes/glasses, marks on walls. You need to be prepared for these things to happen and not expect us to put a damage claim in when a fork is missing.
  2. Housekeeping is a service that is provided to clean (and now with COVID) disinfect your home between guests, including laundry. The laundry takes hours to do. At times, this is being done up to 3 times a week. They have a very short window to get a house turned over. Providing 3 sets of everything is helpful. You should always have 3 sets of linens per bed, and enough towels for 2 per guest plus 6 extra x 3. This allows the housekeepers to swap the clean/dirty laundry so that they can cut down on the time that they spend on each house, focusing on the cleaning/disinfecting. Stop complaining about the fee. We charge $250 per stay for housekeeping to your guest. These ladies earn every single penny of it. It is not their jobs to deep clean your home after every guest, it is not their job to stage your home after every guest, it is not their job to respond to guest complaints or to engage with guests while they are renting your home. It is not their job to deep clean your barbecue grill or steam your carpets and curtains in between guests. If that is what you expect, then hire a property manager. Housekeepers have enough that they need to focus on in the house with housekeeping and laundry alone. You are lucky because you see the homes after they have been cleaned. You do not see the absolute filth that they encounter after some of these guests leave. And no, not every guest is like that but we have all seen our fair share. Stop expecting your housekeepers to do things that are outside of the job of housekeeping. They are human too and sometimes things do get missed/overlooked. Just communicate with them.
  3. Please keep in mind that you are not going to please every single guest that rents your house. There are going to be unhappy guests, disgruntled guests (especially when you do not allow them to check in early/check out late). They will take this out on your review and most often times their review is filled with silly things like the woman who was unhappy that one of our homes had a DVD player and DVD’s. Evidently this upset her because “there is a plethora of web based TV available and the DVD payer and DVD’s is just clutter.” Or the guest who was upset because the house did not have a garbage disposal. We had a guest that was upset because one of our house didn’t have a DVD player with DVD’s. Guests are fickle and in turn this sometimes comes out in their reviews. Don’t personalize it. Don’t internalize it. Take what you can from it, thank them for the review and move on.
  4. If you cannot reconcile with 1, 2 & 3, don’t rent your house out.

Now on to the guests who come to stay:

  1. You are using another person’s home. We use to say “treat the home as if it is yours” now we say “Treat the home better than you would your own.”
  2. Follow the rules, they are in place for a reason.
  3. Don’t smoke your cigarettes, hookahs, pipes, vapes etc. in their homes. Smoke in designated areas outside if permitted and please pick up your cigarette butts.
  4. Keep in mind that most properties have cameras outside, and we see everything.
  5. Please don’t sneak in extra people. These homes are governed by local law under hotel/hospitality/inn rules. As such there is a maximum occupancy that is allowed. Failure to abide by that, especially in private, gated communities can cause the owner to be fined and to lose their ability to rent out their home. A lot of owners’ do this to provide needed, relied upon extra income. We can see you on camera.
  6. Please do not sneak your pet in. Again rules are in place for a reason. Pet hair is extremely difficult to get out of furnishings and off floors. Guests and owners who are allergic will suffer coming into the home after a pet has been there. We can see you on camera.
  7. Please don’t use the dishwasher as a garbage disposal. It is not meant to wash an entire casserole out of a baking pan (true story, someone put their casserole in the baking pan in the dishwasher and expected the dishwasher to clean it. It broke the dishwasher). Rinse the dishes off before putting them in the dishwasher. Cascade is awesome, but it cannot clean an entire 4 course meal off the dishes.
  8. There is no concierge service (I’ll explain that in another blog)
  9. There is no turn down service (again, another blog)
  10. We do not put mints under your pillow/or provide daily housekeeping service (another blog)
  11. We do not provide a continental breakfast or bring you coffee in the morning (seriously)
  12. If you are renting in the mountains, please understand that there are bugs, especially near the lake, we do not exterminate them for you at 1 AM (wait until you read that blog).
  13. Read the listings, read the contracts, read the rules, it’s not going to help you when you say “uhh I didn’t read the contract I just signed it.”
  14. if you accidentally break something let us know. Don’t sneak the broken item off the property and then not say anything at all. We keep inventory of every item inside/outside that home. We will figure it out, especially when we can see you doing it on camera.
  15. These houses are booked constantly. Please don’t take it personally if we cannot accommodate an early/check in/late check out. We have a limited amount of time to get a house turned over for the next guest coming in. If we can provide it we certainly will.
  16. Don’t write crappy reviews unless warranted. Remember this will affect the owner’s ability to continue to rent their home. Communicate with the owner/property manager. I assure you they will take every step possible to rectify any situation that they can. Give them the chance to do so before writing a scathing review. If it is determined that whatever is going on interrupted or impaired your ability to enjoy the home and your getaway, most owners will offer some type of refund without you even asking.

I am sure that there are so many more things that can be added to this. I just wanted to provide a small list so that people who are thinking about hosting/renting will be aware of the expectations before they make the decision to move forward.

Until next week, happy hosting and happy renting!

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