Sample Policies and Procedures

Most vacations will go smoothly and guests will come and go without any issues and write a wonderful review.  However, even with the most organized of properties, things can go wrong and guests can get upset and frustrated if things do not go their way.  After all, this is a vacation they have worked hard for, and they have understandably high expectations.  Those expectations can also lead them to make demands for refunds, perhaps in what you may feel are unreasonable circumstances.  Being prepared for these eventualities and letting your guests know what to expect is the best way to approach a potential problem.

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.

Left Property

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.