Writing your policies and procedures into the Terms and Conditions and including a friendly reference to them in your Welcome Book can make the difference between an amicable outcome, and one fraught with frustration and anger.
Here are some examples you could use.
Guests leave things and may expect you to send them back without charge, and this may be something you are prepared to do on occasion if the cost is small and the item easy to package and dispatch. However, this can become costly if you are doing it every week so set a policy about what you are, or are not, prepared to do.
Please check every drawer and cupboard carefully before you depart to ensure you have all your belongings. Don’t forget to look under the beds. If you get home and find you have left something behind, call or email to let us know. We will package the item/items up and let you know the cost of sending them so you can decide if you wish to have them returned. Unless you wish them sent urgently, we will wait until we are scheduled to visit the post office, so you are not charged for our caretaker’s time and mileage to make a special trip. We will either deduct the cost from your damage deposit or ask for a PayPal payment prior to dispatching the package.
Check out & damage deposit
This topic warrants an article to itself but if you have decided on your policy for check out and damage deposit return, make it clear how you expect the property to be left and under what circumstances you will make a charge. Here is one example:
We have left a departure check list and ask that you follow it and leave the property in a neat and tidy condition. We don’t ask our cleaning team to wash dishes, move large items of furniture around or clean up after pets, so request that you load the dishwasher and clear away all dirty dishes, return all furniture to its original location, remove pet hair from furniture, and scoop the poop in the yard. We don’t like to make claims on the damage deposit but if our cleaning staff has to spend additional time above and beyond their allocated hours, to make the property ready for our next guests, we will charge for the additional time.
Failure of essential and non-essential appliances and facilities
Things occasionally break down and often this is beyond your control. In the height of a heatwave, the fridge or air conditioning packs up; the TV breaks down just before the big match or the hot tub stops heating. Of course, this only happens in the evening or at weekends when there is no-one to call out so you will have to listen to disappointment, frustration and occasionally some pretty bad language. Being prepared for emergencies is part of the process – creating expectations is another. Letting your guests know what to expect if something breaks down is very important and although it may not prevent your guests getting stressed out and angry, a clear policy will guide your response.
Please let us know immediately if there is any equipment that is not operating correctly. We will make every reasonable effort to have repairs made as soon as possible; however, there are limited service contractors in our areas, particularly on evenings or weekends. If a breakdown should occur to fundamental elements such as water systems, plumbing and electrical systems, and major appliances such as stove or refrigerator, every effort will be made to repair or replace, or an appropriate refund will be made for the inconvenience caused. No reduction of rent, rebate, or refund will be issued for a mechanical failure of non essential appliances including but not limited to dishwasher, washer, dryer, entertainment systems or hot tub.
Please note: these paragraphs are examples of clauses you could use in the Terms and Conditions of Rental and/or in your Welcome Guide. They are not intended to be definitive or to imply any legally binding language. It is always worth getting legal advice on any policy that may be used in a potential dispute.
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include the dishwasher in the critical appliances list. We bought a brand new DW last year and it worked all during the spring cleaning. (Every dish, utensil and pot / pan gets the DW treatment). Then, one month into the rental season one of the motors broke. (ugh) And, the service provided by the box store where we bought it involved trying to talk to people overseas. We ended up 1) providing a gift certificate of $100 to 2 back-to-back rental families because of the inconvenience and 2) buying a wine tasting and bottle of wine at the local winery for the 3rd family who watched over the repairman who installed the new part. Lesson -- buy from a very local dealer even if the appliance costs a little more. The DW cost us twice what the selling price was because of this "infant mortality" on the water circulating motor.
We just had our first month vacation renters. She put away dirty dishes, recolored 2 of my brand new ivory bath towels, scratched up my frying pans, left left dirty towels in the washer, washed a bedspread and now the inner stuffing is all lumpy, removed my wine/screw and 2 door wedges, maybe the kids were using them as cars. We even gave directions on how to leave the house after check out too! I will add your idea for all future guest. Maybe, left it on the refrig. for each check in! Thank you for your insight, we need it!
Thank you for this wonderful paragraphing!! I've added most of the wording to my Directions,Rules and Regulations Letter that I send out to my clients before they arrive!
Excellent advice, I have added this as a page to our little vacation handbook binder we have for incoming guests.
Dr. Michael George
thank you. this was helpful I really like the way you mentioned the possiblity of additional cleaning fee and included the people who come on vacation and decide to "decorate" during their visit.
We had one where the renter was a chef. They called us said the oven did not work. We asked if the operated it correctly. They said yes the oven does not work. We said we will give a 100 for the inconvenience After the repairman charged me 70 to tell me they did not touch the start button. Nothing is wrong with the oven. Should I give them $100 Or charge them the $70?