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When the housekeeping crew left after our last renters, they informed us that the renters left the house a mess and the house smelled of dog and dog urine. In our rental agreement we state that pets are allowed only by prior arrangement and there is a $100 pet fee for the extra cleaning. The renters did not ask to bring a pet and no arrangements were made. We still have the security deposit. Based on the judgement of the cleaning crew, can we charge the $100 pet fee now or is too much of a case of he said/she said? We did incur extra cleaning fees, but they were nominal -- only $50 above the normal fee we charge.
Just a quick thought: if neighbors or cleaning staff actually saw a dog then keep $100 and tell them why. If no one saw a dog then we would keep $50 extra cleaning fee. Sorry this happened.
Thanks so much for the feedback.
I would e-mail the renter, tell them what your cleaning crew told you, and ask them if they brought a pet with them. I wouldn't say anything else to them initially. They may readily acknowledge that they brought their dog. If so, you can nicely remind them that there is an extra charge for pets and withhold the pet fee from their security deposit. If they deny that they brought a pet with them, you will have to decide whether you want to get into an argument with them about it. Personally, if they deny that they had a pet with them, I don't think that I would withhold the pet fee from the security deposit. Good luck!
I agree with mlbmaine.
If the renters respond honestly to your question about a pet on the premises you may tell them you incurred extra cleaning expenses and explain that is why the pet fee is in place. Cleaning a house after a pet has stayed requires more effort = higher cleaning costs = renter fee for pets.
If the renters deny having a pet, your choices are limited. You don't want to suggest they are liars. And, you probably can't, in my opinion, tell them you've asked the neighbors if there was a dog present because this communicates your lack of trust, which isn't a good position to be in to start a negotiation for punitive fees. They may respond angrily and that diminishes the chance for a reasonable discussion. I understand they have not been honest, if they did bring an unauthorized pet, but as an owner it's sometimes best to let a $50 - $100 fee go uncollected. The time, effort, and stress in righting the wrong isn't worth it, in my opinion.
Perhaps eliminating the pet fee and rolling any pet-associated expenses into your rent and security deposit structure would encourage renters to be honest about pets? Have you had other renters that "hide" pets? The fee may act as an unintended incentive.
I accept dogs on a dog-by-dog basis. I ask about breed, age, temperament, training, etc and ask other questions as potential guests tell me about their pets. I do not charge a pet fee - there isn't any reason for my guests to avoid telling me about their pet. I have an addendum to the lease for a pet on the premises that outlines house rules for pets and allows me to charge the house security deposit ($500) for any damages caused by the pet.
Good luck working this siuation out!
Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. I agree that if the renter denies the pet -- despite it be very obvious to the cleaning crew -- there is not much further we can take this. It does help to hear this from someone else and we will consider revamping our policy, but people have usually disclosed a pet right up front to make sure that we are agreeable to that.
Thanks so much. I will definitely get in touch with the renter and this is a good approach. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts.
I had a similiar experience with renters bringing an undisclosed dog in spite of our "no pet" policy when we started renting. I only found out when viewing the photos that they left on our FaceBook page--something we invite all guests to do after their stay. I was shocked when I viewed the images and saw the back half of a little terrier exiting one of the photos!
Since the same party was already asking to return for another stay, I simpy asked them to call me so that we could discuss. I then asked about the dog, which our renter admitted to with much embarrassment. Rather than get angry, my husband and I decided to change our pet policy and allow dogs.. I asked for payment of a pet fee from these renters when they returned. There were so embarrassed that they offered an additional pet fee payment from the previous stay--which I also accepted.
The fact that we are now a dog-friendly VR has increased our rentability significantly. I don't post a pet fee on our listings; however, I do indicate that there may be an extra fee. Often, however, I will waive the fee during the inquiry as an added incentive to renters. Also, we increased our basic rent fees $100-$300 per week when we started to accept dogs and have had no trouble renting at the higher rate. In fact, now that we accept dogs, our rental income now covers the annual costs for our VR instead of being in the red like we were the first two years. Our housekeepers don't mind either as they get paid more for cleaning when renters bring dogs.
So far, all canine owners have been great about cleaning up after their animals and not leaving any damage. Good screening during the initial negotiation, however, is critical to making sure that the canines in question are appropriate for our home.
You handled that very nicely. I enjoyed your description of the half of the dog in the photo. Oops . . .
I strongly agree that increasing the rent, or increasing the cleaning fee (if it's broken out as a separate fee), is best when renting to guests with pets.
And having a signed agreement that addresses withholding costs from the security deposit for damages caused by pets is imperative. My agreement actually reads that costs for damages that EXCEED the security deposit ($500) are the responsibility of the pet owner and must be paid upon presentation of receipts for materials and labor. It also states that I or my house cleaners will determine what "damage" is. I have never had any damages caused by pets (children, yes, but not pets), and have not invoked the agreement, but I've tried to anticipate the dog that eats the leather sectional, chews on the woodwork, destroys the bedding, etc.
Pet owners are often the most careful and reasonable guests. They are happy to be able to travel with their pets and their care of the home reflects their appreciation.
A final thought - I note which weeks will have a pet present in the house on the schedule I provide to my house cleaners, and have only had an additional hour of cleaning charged once over several years. It was an exceptionally rainy week and there was a great deal of sand and dirt tracked in the house - it was never clear to me if the culprit was the dog or the children that were visiting at the time.
Indeed, thaxterlane! What an Ooopsy Oops!! It's amazing how people forget and inadvertantly reveal what they are trying to hide.
In addition to a security/cleaning deposit, I generally ask dog owners to pay for the $39 damage insurance protection through HomeAway. That way we're covered in case one of the pooches messes or chews on our new Jordan's living room furniture.
So far though, I find dog owners have been careful and respectflul.