Lost and Found – What to do With Left Items

In a single season of rental it’s quite easy to amass a pile of left items – whether it’s pairs of shoes from the back of a closet; forgotten swimwear from a dresser drawer, or a much loved soft toy retrieved from the dryer where it had gotten tangled with the bed sheets when the guests were packing up.  What to do with the things can create a bit of a dilemma so here’s a few tips on how to handle the inevitable forgotten stuff.

Decide on your policy and put it in writing in your pre-departure checklist.  It can say something like this:

“We know how easy it is to forget things when everyone is packing up at the end of your stay, so please take a few moments before you leave to check closets, dresser drawers, and most importantly, under the beds, for things you may have left behind.  If we have to mail items back to you, we will need to collect the postage and handling charges from you as we will be charged by our caretaker for her time to package them up and send them to you.”

Informing guests they have left things behind

Some owners do and some don’t.  There is the (possibly apocryphal) story about the owner who wrote to a guest to let him know his wife had left behind some very expensive underwear and would she like it to be returned, only to get an emotional call from the ‘real’ wife to say her husband had been away on a business trip and she knew nothing about a stay at a vacation rental.  If it is clearly something of value, then a quick note or call to the guest might be appreciated but for an old pair of sneakers or the odd T-shirt, you may just wish to put the items to one side and see if the guests contact you to ask for them back.

Handling return of items

If you are clear in your pre-departure note how you handle returns and who is responsible for postage, then this may not be an issue, but it’s something you need to think about.  Owners who do their own changeovers and who live in the same city as their guests might take the items back to town with them and then arrange a mutually convenient time for a pick-up.  Others will leave them for the caretaker to look after who will co-ordinate their return with the guest.  Very large items may not be suitable for mailing and could require courier pick-up which is expensive so it’s best to have payment for this in advance.  On most occasions, when a guest finds out how much a return of an item will be, they usually decide to leave it and will ask for you to donate it to Goodwill when you have the time.

Just trawling a few forums found this list of lost property that vacation rental owners have been left to deal with:

-A wedding hat and full wedding outfit including shoes.

-A spade and axe

-14 credit cards

-A pair of chicken fillets (not for eating  - the ones you put in your bra to fill it out a bit )

-Various Game Boys, cell phone chargers, and MP3 players

-A Kitchen Aid mixer and an ice cream maker( the guest decided it would cost too much to have returned so donated them to the property)

-And of course the items left in the bedside drawer…usually with the batteries dead!

Have you had anything unusual left behind?  If so, let’s hear about it.