Customize your experience by selecting your role:
Owner, Property Manager, or Traveler
Ok....I guess I was going to have this happen at some point..... our current guests are nightmare guests. First of all...they have been very "needy" since the get-go. Two million questions that are answered everywhere (on our sites, on the contract, in the FAQ sheet I send out) but I answered them all again. Then after the deadline for cancellation passed, the guy called and said "is it too late to get our money back? We may not be able to come"
I said it was too late, by about 20 days, but that I would re-list their days as being open and if we could rent it, then they would get all their money back. Three days go by.....I get an interested party. I made up a contract for them, and emailed it to them. In the meantime, NEEDY MAN sends me an email and says "things change......we can come, afterall". So I call the other people and appologize profusely and explain the situation and they understand.
Three days before they are to check in, I get an email from the Mr. and Mrs. Needy that they are in San Diego and when can they stop by and pick up the keys? I live in Idaho, the house is in California. I had already sent them the information for the lock box, etc. in a very detailed print out. So I call them and say "do you have the printouts?"
Their response...."no....we forgot to look at those and didn't print them and bring them along". So I email them again and explain that I live in another state AGAIN, and that they don't check in for 3 days, anyway....so they better not go try to get the keys.
Once in the house, Mr. Needy complains that there is no WiFi....even though he's asked about it and had my answer THREE Times. My husband asks if the house looks clean, in order, etc. and Mr. Needy hims and haws around and finally when I call him to be sure they are ok with everything, he starts complaining that we have not spent money on things we should have, the house is too small (1,000 square feet, advertised quite clearly in our ads, and it's a COTTAGE!) and then proceeds to complain about the TV and all the appliances. I said "are they not working?" He said...."I don't know, we didn't try to turn them on, but if they don't work, you will hear from us!" I had a long conversation with this moron trying to make him happy and all he did was insult me and the house. When I got home I wrote an email to them telling them that I would find them another place to rent, and that they had till Thursday to vacate and we would over-night a check to them and not charge them a cent. I told them that we don't want them to have a "mediocre" vacation and that we would contact all the other VRBO rentals in the area and find a place to their liking. Of course, the next morning, we get an "apology" from him saying he was sorry he was insulting and demeaning and that he had just had a bad week. (how can you have a bad week when you are on vacation in San Diego?)
It still goes on.......they are complaining about everything under the sun!!!!! ("there is some water in the dishwasher.....is it dirty?" )
Has anyone ever had people like this who just moan and gripe about everything? We've NEVER had anyone say anything negative about their experience in our house, or the furnishings, etc. Now this guy is driving me insane!
And it is coming at a very bad time for me.....my Mom is literally dying of cancer and I will have to leave in a few days for a funeral and my patience is shot with Mr. and Mrs. Needy. What should I do? They are in the house for a MONTH!!!!! I wish I could charge them a "pain in the butt" fee.
Wow I'm so sorry! My only suggestion is to let them leave a message so you can decide if you need to get involved and either email yhem or wait a few hours and see if they resolve their own neediness. Standing up for yourself was the right thing to do. We as owners shouldn't have to be abused like that. You did the right thing! Hang in there
Sent from my iPhone
Trish, I'm so sorry for you. I lost my dad a few years ago from cancer and I know exactly what you are going through. I think that is good advice from dava. Don't immediately answer their calls or emails. Maybe tell them you won't have access to email, etc while you are dealing with your tragedy. If you have information sheets that you send to the renters before they check in, send them again. Barrage them with tons of information on the rental through email and tell them you will be un-available and they can refer to the information sheets for any questions.
And yes, I've had horrible complainers. A pair of sisters complained that there were open condiments in the fridge (ketchup, mustard, etc,). The coffee didn't last their entire stay. One of the DVD's was missing the movie (out of about 60 cd's). They couldn't find a place to put the hot pots and pans. Duh, maybe on the top of the stove or on the granite counter tops.
I had a girl call and said she said there was no hot water. We just replaced the hot water heater a year before. I asked her what happened and she said "Well I took about a 20 minute shower and then my boyfried tried to take a shower and there was no hot water!" I suggested she might let the hot water tank fill back up since she used it all! The same girl called and asked what it meant that some channels on the TV (pay per view, adult channels, etc) said "Not Authorized" and she thought the TV was broke.
Just remember "This too shall pass". I'll be thinking of you and your journey ahead.
I have come to believe that in a very few circumstances, guests use this tactic to get a refund or discount on their reservation. In 11 years of hospitality we have only refunded a guest once - just to get rid of them. There was almost a beneficial entertainment factor for us - listening to them rant...
I have found it helpful to take a step back and let minor complaints work themselves out - as they often do. You can acknowledge a complaint without really providing a solution; just thank them for their observations.
It also is important for you to have someone, housekeeper, maintenance staff, etc. who is trustworthy and available to handle true emergencies when you are managing from afar.
These people go above and beyond minor complaints. He's insulted us, told us that we have " have skimped on things vital to guests" as well as "there's nothing anyone can do now that we are here. It is what it is" As though this was some terrible ordeal he and his wife need to suffer through for the next 4 weeks. He admitted in an email that he had demeaned me and the property and had a bad attitude. I am not going to thank him for his observations in this case.
We've got an excellent housekeeper, our attorney and best friends live next to the property and our maintainance guy is a block away and comes at the drop of a hat. So there is no lack of help when we need it.
What I would love is the license to go down to San Diego in this instance and throw these morons suitcases onto the sidewalk and tell them good riddance.
I hope you plan to save that email. I have started saving all emails and stapling them to the contract. It sounds like not responding right away or at all if it's not an emergency is good advise too.
It's hard not to. I have had guests ask my housekeeper/gardener for little things they could easily do themselves, and of course she charges me. I now have it in the contract that room service is 35.00 per hour and will be deducted.
The good news is that you will probably not get another guest like this again. We had a couple of guests like this in the first few years of renting and now when they act petulant, entitled or needy, or pick apart my rates I simply do not rent to them. Someone asked how do you get out of it? I basically don't cave in to their demands and they find another place.
Yep...my needy tenants arrived the 3rd week of August during the summer that I was in the hospital after having had a mild stroke. I still remember them calling my cell and demanding that someone change the lightbulb in the hallway. Then, about a month after the rental (I received at least 15 calls over really inane stuff), I get a letter from a lawyer looking for a partial refund of the rent paid. The lawyer committed suicide a couple of weeks later (an unrelated matter, I assume) and I never heard from the clients again.
We try to take into account a lot of factors when speaking with prospective guests, but you can just never tell. It's a bit of a crapshoot, but in eight years of renting, we've only had this one party that was inappropriately needy. Everyone else has been solid.
I guess with that kind of percentage, we're doing pretty well, from what I read here. The important thing is to spell out EVERYTHING - IN WRITING. That way, you're at least protected in case they decide to take you to court. Make sure you have an attorney review everything. It really can make a difference.
I am very sorry to hear about your experience.
My feeling is is you do not have to take any guff from anyone, EVER! It is your house and because you are kind enough to share it with others, your guests are not entitled to be abusive nor are they entitled to anything other than what general hospitality is warranted. You provide a good home with nice amenities. You are polite and helpful, kind and considerate. If you don't get that in return, show them the door. Up to you whether you give a refund or not. I'll take the review hit if necessary to preserve our owner dignity.
Let it go, some people simply complain about everything, dont read instructions, dont care about other peoples feelings and dont appreciate the fact you are allowing them to use your home. They simply see you as a hotel and when they complain at hotels they receive instant gratification because the hotel wants them back. You are NOT a hotel and I assume you dont want them back so let it go. You have provided everything they agreed to in the rental contract so a refund is not necessary and its highly unlikely they will pursue legal action because their case would be weak. They simply want you to buckle under pressure and give them money back. DONT DO IT. If they post a bad review you will have the opportunity to respond and I am sure future guests will see your side of the story. We have all had these guests, fortunately not often, but their bark is worse than their bite. Hopefully they will stay in a hotel next time.
Solutions for Renting Your Vacation Home
I am so sorry for what you are going through, and you do not need any more stress than you already have. I can almost forsee when a rental will be needy or a complainer when I receive an inquiry, or soon after they book and send a deposit. They question you about everything from what we will do about a refund if there is bad weather, to just like your needy person, wanting to know, where to get the key, can they get it 3 days early, and all of this after you have sent them all of the information, probably twice, because they didn't read it the first time. I think the funniest thing was when a renter called me and said that we did not give them the combonation to the LOCKS that were on the bicycles in the LOCKED shed. If we are lucky enough to only have this once in a season, it just makes us appreciate the good guests even more.
Wow - you have my utmost sympathies! I experienced "the couple from Hell" a few years ago, with a rental in New Orleans. On the surface, nice older couple from San Francisco, well-educated and well-travelled...however, their "true natures" soon appeared. The first night, they moved all the furniture in their room, for the correct feng shui. The bed was placed under the window, thus blocking access to their bathroom. They had the nerve to ask for another, more convenient bathroom, since theirs was now inaccesible. Too bad, they had to "make-do" with the one adjacent to their room. Though it was the end of August, about 87 degrees and 99% humidity at night, they closed all a/c vents - in their room as well as those they could reach in the common areas - then slept with their door open. Each room featured a private door opening directly onto a heavily-planted patio, thus, the next morning, they complained bitterly about moths, giant flying cockroaches and flies (I did not tell them about the river rats that run about everywhere at night...).In addition, the stifling heat prevented them from sleeping! All that considered, they (and I) lasted one more night before abruptly informing me that they were cancelling the rest of their stay, and did not even want a refund for the balance of nights missed. I did not bother to ask why, but found out for myself...they had spent their last night prowling through my bookshelves, looking for lord-knows-what inside all books, magazines, etc. When I was straightening up, I noticed that the lid of a decorative box was ajar...turns out they had discovered the ashes of my dearly beloved cat, whose name was "VooDoo"! Perhaps a little New Orleans "gris-gris" was what I needed all along...
Whoa......that is unreal!!!! They must be Mr & Mr. Needy's cousins!!! Maybe even worse!
What on Earth do people like this think they are doing? And why do they think it's ok to do it?
You should count yourself lucky that they left before their time was up....who knows what they would have done given a bit more time in your place. VooDoo probably haunted them right out of the house
Our Needy couple just left yesterday and my husband was there right after, to do some work in the house and make sure things are up to par. They did no damage and left a nice note in our guest book.....I am sure now that all the complaining a day after they arrived was their attempt to get a discounted stay. They mentioned in the guest book that we are the best place they've stayed in San Diego because of the convenient location, etc. and hope to return. Oh..........I can't WAIT till they call and ask to stay there again. Me thinks the house will be 'busy' whenever they want to return. I don't need to deal with people like that again.
I am definitely with you on the "sorry, my house is busy" tactic - no
matter when people like these plan to grace us with a return visit. They
should be so lucky...I keep a running "Turkey File", just so I will never
forget those I would prefer never to see again.
In my opinion, every rental home could use a little VooDoo as a backup -
never know when it might come in handy. She was - and remains - an
Keep the faith...manouche
Depending on what is written in a bad review, try to be polite , but not too apologetic or defensive. The house next to me is a two family house that has been split into two condos with separate owners. Upstairs is a vacation rental. Downstairs is owner occupied. The upstairs owner received a bad review by a renter when the renter claimed that they had a problem with the downstairs owners dogs and that the downstairs owner became rude and threatening. I happened to be staying at my house that weekend, and know that the downstairs owner had to go upstairs at 2am and ask the renters to keep the noise level down, more than once, and complained to me about it. Too bad neighbors can't write rewiews about other renters.
First of all, God Bless You in your current time of need yourself. I have been a Manager for over 6 years for dozens of rentals and you always get people like this. I truly could write a book about it. You eventually learn to have thick skin and get a sense of humor about it because the complaints are never the same. I have had women call me about 3000 sq.ft. lake homes saying they "couldn't stay because they saw a spider...." to people that called every day saying "they thought the cottage had an internet connection", the "dishwasher is too small", "I don't like stackable washers and dryers," to "I didn't know it was on a corner lot and my dog is afraid of cars going by." This last lady is lucky I even accept dogs at some cottages. Unfortunately the most common complaints are from JUST PLAIN UNHAPPY PEOPLE that will complain about everything, probably because they hate who they're spending their vacation with, and most of the time, it is because they didn't read either the website or the contract or the emails. I ACTUALLY HATE IT WHEN PEOPLE DON'T EVER READ THE WEBSITE!
Keep your chin up and remember that this just goes with the territory. We all had romantic illusions about renting when we first put our place up for rent and those illusions go away quickly.
I just had one like that. The rainy weather drove ants into the house. We have a monthly pest control service. tThe ants came anyway. It's unfortunate but not the end of the world...but you would not know it by the several calls and appeals from the guests to let them stay free. To bolster their claims they took photos of dust up on ledges rarely accessed and found a few rare dust bunnies under the bed that happened to escape an otherwise perfect cleaning crew. Sometimes you just want to scream: "Arrrrggggghhhhhhh""""
I'm really sorry to hear about this nightmare renter. I know exactly how you feel, we have just had a renter
leave an awful review on our page - a lot of the comments were very hurtful and untrue. He complained about
finding spiders in the garage - in Florida! - who'd have believed it. The part is missed out was the damage he caused
whilst there. He also omitted the fact that he dismantled the waste disposal unit, incorrectly putting it back together, thus causing a leak so we have to get our home manager in to fix it. He also started tampering with the air conditioning unit in the loft and we had to get the aircon guy out to fix that.
This is the first time I have ever posted on a community page, and reading all the other messages I'm so pleased I did. I am not on my own, it isn't only happening to me other owners have pain in the bum renters also.
Keep you chin up Trish
Hi all, Dawn & Trish,
Nope, Trish, your not the only one. I am happy for this forum as well.
I am sorry for your damaged properties.
Just a quick aside about the spiders, I had one of those too- she wanted her money back because there were mosquitos in Key Largo! And for extra spice, since I wasn't located in Ft. Lauderdale she wanted her money back- after she stayed in my home- in Key Largo for a week!!
I hope discussing my recent experience can help you too.
The nasty review- full of their 'misconceptions'- in other words, lies, I try not to obsess on why. I first make a cup of tea, take the nasty out of the review, look at the facts & see if there is a way to avoid the problem for the future, and then, either remedy it or chalk it up to people that I am glad I'm not married to and never have to see again!
I keep in mind, some people are NEVER happy, will ALWAYS complain, and some, just plain vindictive!
I keep counting my blessings on the fabulous renters we have had the honor to host, the new friends we made and the slew of giving, happy people just traveling through our lives on vacation! Those are the kind of renters I am sure we all want:)
I had a couple other thoughts:
Prevention is the best medicine is Pretty standard fare we all know & love:
We provide LOTS of information, informational blog/web, form letters with each step of the process, agreement. We talk with all renters first, to get a feel of who they are and what their vacation goals might be.
And yes, In spite of that, some people just won't know where they are going, won't read or look at your photos,
won't be happy no matter what, will sign the agreement, don't want to see what is good,
AND they want it for free:) These describes my recent guests.
In my humble opinion, the recent renters had a few problems:
1. They showed up complaining about what my place not being on the bay, we are ON a canal with a bay VIEW.... They said they didn't have time to look at the photos or go to our blog.
2.They showed up with a LARGE boat rather than a FLATS boat, which is what I stated would fit through the mouth of the canal even though it is a deep, good for swimming canal, etc. They said they never read my 2 line email about type of boat that fits through the mouth of our canal. Photos and our blog would have also clued them in.
3. We offered to switch their location to another one of our properties where their boat would fit. They said they were HAPPY & wanted to stay.
4.Then 2 days before the end of their vacation, they wanted to stay longer, "loved the place". However, they wanted to stay for FREE. (I was already giving them a discount for what I would charge on the extra days.)
Enrico, even without ants, some renters will want to stay for free, just 'cause!
5. Then a nasty review with lies to boot. oooiiiiyy:) Time for another cup of tea & chocolate
You can provide people with the necessary information, doesn't mean they will read it! Like a horse you lead to water but you can't make them drink:)
Just wanted to thank Janefrank for her post:)
Just to end on a good note, our renter just before, was so happy, she left a thank you note and she painted a lovely oil painting for us:)
The good renters happen too:)
I will say for anyone who is an absentee owner or owner who does not clean and check their property them selves after each rental, you need to test your cleaning and management people. I did this a few years ago by not telling my cleaning people when I was using the house. When I got there in July, the house was not as clean as I would have liked. I brought this up to her, and she was a little insulted that I had not told her I was comming that week. That should have been my first clue. I tested her again Labor Day weekend. Whe I got to the house, it was filthy, and there was a big burn hole in a lampshade, rug and bedskirt in one of the bedrooms. I called her and didn't let on that I was there, asked if everything was OK at the house, and made like I was giving her the September schedule. When she said the house was clean and no damage, I asked her if she had even been at the house, and told her what I had found, that if she had been there at all, there was no way she could have missed it.Now I had a few problems, I didn't know which renter did the damage, and had already sent back security. Who ever burned the lampshade, I didn't want back in my house, as they could have burned the house down. And the house was so dirty, I was embarassed, that my renters must think I didn't care. I contacted everyone who had rented during the time that she was working for me and explained about her not showing up to clean, and maybe when she did, she skimed over lightly, and hoped they would understand,and I had found a VERY reliable person to take her place. I still don't tell the new girl when I am comming, as I was burned (LOL) once and don't want it to happen again. Sometimes if people complain, it could be valid. No one did, but when I wrote the email I had a few people tell me they were suprised, because they had stayed there the year before and it was so clean then. I am just thankfull no one wrote a bad review.
Wow! What a story! I do check my housekeeper also. I live in the same city so it's easy for me to check on all her cleanings. Thank goodness she is good. Sometimes not 100% but close to it. It's just because I'm a bit of a perfectionist!
Yes, it is much easier when you live in the same area as the vacation rental. And, the best when people helping to manage/clean are honest. I have multiple backups checking up on our properties when we are not in town. I also touch base with our guests the first or second day to make sure all is good. I am glad terrirusso that you did not receive any bad reviews- and were able to remedy with a good person!
We only live 50ilrs from our property, so distance isn't much of a factor. That being said, we shopped around for an agency after having had a horrible experience w/a local cleaner. It solves the backup issue, their work is guaranteed, eberyone's bonded & insured, and they use the debit card # we gave them @ the beginning of the season to pay 4 each turnaround.
We looked @ 9 agencies, all except 2 were local. We asked each for 3 references, & CID all to see if they were on Angie's list. In general, the quotes from the nationals were 30% higher than from the locals. We spent 6 weeks researching interviewing and running reference curcuma b/4 selecting a local outfit that appears 2 b highly reliable & meticulous
Sent from my iPhone
First, my most sincere condolences about your Mom. Also it sounds like there is more sadness for you if you are going to a funeral. I can't say that I know exactly how you feel, but we have been having a very bad year with two deaths in the family, and I sympathize about having to keep a business running when you are under so much stress.
My first advice to you would be to take care of yourself, and your Mom first. If Mr. and Mrs. Needy have something they need (no pun intended) well... too bad. If you haven't explained to them your personal situation, I would, and the very next time you get one nasty word from them I would just say that you are sorry that they seem to have more needs than you are able to give at this time, offer again to refund the remainder of their stay, (I truly believe that no amount of money is worth our health and emotional well-being) and suggest that they find a hotel or some other place to finish out their vacation if they are so unhappy. I would tell them that you have tried and tried to make their vacation be as nice as possible, but that it seems that you just can't make them happy, so maybe it would be better to part company with no hard feelings. In other words, I would try really hard to get rid of them. You need to focus on your situation right now and put yourself first.
If they don't bite, and go back to being Mr. and Mrs. Apologetic, I would end the conversation by again reiterating your situation, and tell them that if something serious happens (such as an appliance breaks, etc.) to please call ___ (some support person you can use) and aside from that, you apologize, they caught you at a bad time, and you are just not going to be available any further for any more issues about things that are simply a fullfilment of their rental agreement as it stands for the duration of their stay.
I don't know what your check-out procedures are, but you could add that you will see them at check out, or that _______ will meet them at check out, but in the meantime you need to spend your energy being with your mother, and that "surely, you can understand."
As someone else said, if you take a hit with a bad review, you will have an opportunity to formulate a response that any reasonable person would understand, so just don't worry about it. In the grand scheme of things, these awful, mean people are just not worth increasing the stress and pain you are already experiencing.
On a note along these lines, I think we had Mr. and Mrs. Needy call us about the first of the year to rent from us. Our first clue was that they were in town staying in another VRBO property that they "got burned on." They wanted to come by and see our place as the place where they were currently staying wasn't "kept up" and "wasn't clean," and "didn't look anything like the online photos." So we showed them our home, and they booked with us for next year on the spot. It was a $5000 per month lease for two months, so the deposit was $5000. The next day, they called and said that they had talked to some friends "during dinner last night," and weren't sure if they wanted to book it after all, and wanted to cancel. After some discussion, we decided they were going to be more trouble than they were worth, so we credited their credit card, and refunded their deposit.
The next day, they called back, and said they had thought more about it, and they were so sorry, and had made a terrible mistake, and would we please, please, please take them back... sound familiar? Well, I said that I didn't think that we would be a good match and that perhaps they should look for a different property. I flat out told them that I had concerns that two months from then that they might wake up one day or have dinner with someone else, and call and cancel again. In the meantime, our property is off of the market, and from a business stand point, it was too risky to me.
Well, unbeknownst to me, they then called my husband on his cell, who is a softy, and he didn't know that I would not have taken them back, and he booked them again, and charged their credit card again!
Now, we could (and may) start an entire thread about the risks of doing business with Visa and Mastercard, but again, long story short, sure 'nuff, they called about two months later and said they wanted to cancel if they couldn't have March. I told him that March was already booked, and that it was from some very firm people, (Mr. and Mrs. Needy had only booked for Jan and Feb 2012.) He said he wanted his deposit back, and this time we said no, because we had a contract, and he was absolutely familiar with our cancellation policy having been through it once before! So the guy went to Visa and we received a notice that there was a Chargeback against our account with our CC processing company. We could repond and defend our position, or return their money. I put together a 30 PAGE reply with all kinds of documentation, e-mails, statements from our telphone conversations, etc. and in the first go-round, our processing company found in our favor.
You would think it was over? OH NO! Not even close! He continued to complain, so it went directly to VISA, and VISA has a policy that we (and I kid you not) had to have had him initial within 1/4" (specifically!) of the cancellation policy (even though it was in our contract which he had signed on the last page, in addition to initialing the bottom of every other page of the contract. Also, we have yet to have anyone be able to show us where it was in writing from VISA that we were required to do this.) We were not only required to give him back the $5000, but we lost all of the time the house had been off of the market at a time when snowbirds are in Phoenix looking for a place to stay next winter. But on top of all of that, our processing company dropped us because they said that our business was too "risky" and we had to quickly find another company right away as we had other guests we needed to charge right away. (We are now asking for Cashier's Checks for deposits until we figure out the best way to accommodate everyone.)
ANYWAY, what this was all leading up to was that in one of my 50 or so calls to the CC company, one man actually told me that he would give them their money back, get them out our life, and then "black list" them. I was so upset at the time, I neglected to ask what he meant by "black listing" someone.
Does any one know anything about a "Black List?" If there is such a thing, we would definitely put Mr. and Mrs. Needy and Mr. and Mrs. Flaky AND Vindictive at the top of the list. As an aside, the whole time this was going on for us, one of our dogs was dying, and Trish, I don't mean to compare this to your situation with your Mom at all, but if anyone has read any of our posts they know how much our dogs mean to us, and we were dealing with all of this at the same time we were trying to save his life. He didn't make it, although he might have, and this awful man made the whole ordeal all that much more bitter and devastating. It was sudden, potentially curable, he wasn't that old, and we were literally sleeping at the vet's office for almost two weeks. Mr. Vindictive knew we were going through this, and even though we told him we would refund his money when the months got re-rented he wanted his money NOW, and couldn't have cared less about the pain we were going through.
As everyone keeps telling us, "what goes around, comes around," but at the time that doesn't really help much, does it?
So, like I said Trish... look out for yourself, and take care of yourself first. No renter is worth causing us all that much grief.
Oh my Goodness!!!!!! Your story is unreal! What total jerks. And I completely understand about losing a dog....we've had dogs, horses.......and I work with 26 birds of prey I adore......so I know how devestating it is to lose one or see them suffering and not knowing if they will make it or not.
I had one more incident with Mr. & Mrs. Needy.....after they left, we returned their security deposit and they sent an email asking "why did you deduct $20?" I said "you told me to......you said you wouldn't have time to put linens in the washer and asked me to have the cleaners do it and to just take the $20 out of your deposit"
Of course, she got all nasty and said she sent no such letter! Well.....happily...we keep very good track of everything said, everything sent, and all email conversations. I sent her her own handwritten note asking us to deduct the $20 for the laundry fee.....and I attached a check for $20. just to let her know that I would rather get her off my back than keep the $20.
They are officially on my black list!
The whole thing with VISA/MC charges scares me, too...my husband always says "what is to stop someone from saying something went wrong and getting the CC company to give them their money back?" Yet when we wait for checks, they take forever to arrive, and you never know till 3 days after depositing it if the people have sufficient funds. You gotta trust someone some time, I guess.
So, thanks, aznative, for your kind words and advice. Unfortunately, my Mom passed away 4 days after I made that post, my best friend died (also of pancreatic cancer) 20 days later. It's been a trying winter/spring. Now the family house in San Diego...our vacation rental will be sold because my brothers want to sell rather than continue the vacation rental business. That's like another death in the family...our little cottage has been in the family for nearly 60 years......I hate to have to sell it. So....if anyone knows someone looking for a vacation rental that's always full......Hummingbird Cottage will be available soon, sadly.
In my reading of posts, someone mentioned badvacationrenter.com. I signed up for it - it's free. But when I checked the "bad" listing, there were only 7 people on it. However, were I Trish, Mr & Mrs. Needy would be at the top of the list!!
Hi Trish- sorry to hear of your bad experience- the deaths in your life and having to sell your cottage. We are new in the business- we have cabins for rent- we started the business with my mother- then she died unexpectedly. We had to finsih building the cabins, renting them, and moving forward, all while grieving really horribly. We had our first nasty people- I should have taken a step back- when the guests we had broke a bed and gouged the floor. I said I might take their deposit to help cover the costs- and then it began. All of the defensiveness and denial- saying the bed had been broken, accusations flew- I back tracked and apologized- saying we would cover it- did not believe it was intenetional, and so on. Then they wrote a review- saying our dog growled at them-that he was part Chow- which was totally untrue(-he is a mix of golden and St. Bernard)- that our hot tub was at 107degrees- and too hot- when it does not go beyond 104 degrees, and more convoluted stuff. Fortunately, they tried to post the review- and it was regarding a cabin I did not have on VRBO, therefore, VRBO would not post it. I was hurt by their meanness- but agree, you have to develop a thick skin! We had another experience with our hot tub provider- the hot tub did not work properly, and the guy refused to come and fix it. We went to small claims court- which included mediation- the order was to fix the hot tub. He did not comply. Then we had to go back to small claims court and the judge ordered him to fix it by June 24th- he again, did not comply. He came unannounced after June 24th- took our motor, and then put it back totally wrecked- so the hot tub doesn't work at all- now we have to go back to small claims or get an attorney. All of this is on us- any ideas or opinions regarding service people and court?
Wow! Talk about stings of bad luck...and I'm reading this at the start of our summer rental season and now getting paranoid!
We've been renting out our summer place for about eight years now...mostly 'cuz it seems a shame to let a waterfront place go unused in the summer, when we like to travel. So...we use the place a couple or three weeks in the summer, and weekends in the spring and fall, and rent it otherwise.
Except for a misunderstanding about our liability regarding the changing of lightbulbs a few summers ago, we've had pretty good luck with tenants and have never had to withhold a damage deposit. Let's hope the luck continues this year!
The hot tub episode sounds like a nightmare! We're lucky in that we have someone who does all our work. We don't have a hot tub, but if we did, he'd be the one who'd install it, and as we have him handle all maintenance on the property, I can't imagine having to chase him into small claims court to have him ignore a court order (very nice, BTW...doesn't this genius realize that he can get jail time if he sufficiently ticks off the judge?).
As for damage deposits, we advise our guests three times: at time of booking in writing, when we send a confirmation a week or so before they arrive, and verbally when we place a welcome call to the house: If you find something broken, notify us immediately or you'll be charged for it. We also have a pretty good turnaround crew who checks everything out between rentals while cleaning, so except for little things, like missing facecloths, lost keys, a broken dish, it's rare that we ever have to concern ourselves over things.
I think documenting your damage policy is critical. The time for you to have discovered the broken bed and gouge in the floor was when they checked in, rather than you having to battle them. Think about renting a car -- wouldn't you report any damage when you picked up the car? Many places do a walkthrough when picking up a rental car. Unfortunately, most of us can't do the same with our rental properties, but the standards should still be the same....
Jim VanAvondale Properties
Thank you for your input! You are right, we need to develop a policy regarding damage. Honestly, we have been so lucky with some great guests- we had one couple bring us a bottle of wine and some beer for my husband to thank us for letting them stay at our place! I think us being so new, we probably don't have enough in writing to present to our guests! Yes, the hot tub thing is a night mare- the owner of this business does not feel he has to be accountable to anyone, not even a judge. We have to write a letter to the courts to let them know the order was not followed, and from there, we don't know what will happened. My guess is the courts won't follow it thru- I hope I am wrong!
We are now in the middle of our 7th year of vacation rentals. It never ceases to amaze me that no matter how much effort you put into giving your guests as much information as you possibly can, they call with the most inane questions. I send information in the first mailing w/the contract, again just prior to arrival with the keys, and have even prepared guest handbooks that are in EVERY room in the house. I know, I know - I'm type A, anal rententive, obsessivley organized. Just this week we had another incident where guest left garbage cans out at the end of the driveway instead of in the garbage bin, and yet again, the animals got into the cans and garbage was strewn about the front of the house. I heard from my neighbor across the street and immediately dashed off an e-mail to guest and reminded him to review the documents that were sent to him or the handbooks for the proper procedure. (And I told him to pick up the garbage and dispose of it properly!) I've learned that I might as well get used to it. It's just part and parcel of vacation rentals.
Good luck to you! I've found this site very helpful - have picked up great suggestions and a LOT of support!
Sounds like there have been many troubles for some of you. I own a cabin on a lake in the woods. It is a camp like many of the others on this lake, but very nice. I have always had good reviews and no complaints. This year, my first renters checked in. I came down to meet with them and the place was already a mess and they had only been there two hours. Everything was fine for 4 days and then they called to say that they had large ants in the loft bedroom. It turns out that this time of year these ants after a lot of rain will swarm inside. They went to go site seeing and asked if I could do something about the ants. I got advise from several people about what to do, including professionals and vacuumed the ants and cleaned the room, even changed the beds and sprayed everywhere. Did not hear anything else until next afternoon late. They called to say that they found a few more ants, which I told them would happen, as they came out from the spray, and that they would be dead or dying. They said that there 12 year old girl did not like the ants and that the wife wanted to go ahead and leave. I said ok, and went down. They still had two nights to go, and I refunded two nights. Before I left I appologized and asked if they were going to stay somewhere else, his reply was that the weather was supposed to be rainy anyway, so they were going on home. While they were there, they had moved the furniture around, and there were always clothes all over the floor, including a dirty diaper left in the living room. I could not see everything because of the mess. When they left, it was ok, but not cleaned up like most people do. All towels were dirty, which is there responsibility. I noticed that the painted wood floor was very scratched and the paint was off. It looks like their little one maybe took a toy and scratched it in circles. I have other guests coming right away and have no time to repaint the floor. Do you think that I should send all of there 250.00 deposit back to them? I refunded the two nights before they left, but always send deposits back within 7 days of departure. My neighbors don't think that I should send all of it back. Not sure what to do! Thanks!
Hmm...sounds like another nasty tale....not sure if I'd necessarily hold back their deposit, unless the scratches are really extensive. If it's a question of just applying a patch of paint to the damaged area, I'd probably take the minor loss and move on.
As for the ant problem, we learned a few years back that the best way to deal with various insect and rodent problems is to nip them in the bud. We have an annual contract with an exterminator, Terminex in our case, who we have come in three times in the pre-rental season: once to check and set traps for any rodents, once to clean out the traps and do a basic insect spray inside and out, then a repeat in early-mid may. We then have them do an exterior treatment in mid-summer, and that seems to do it. Since we started using them a few years back, we've heard nary a comment from our guests. The cost: about $230/year, which is well worth it to us. Given the lean times, one could perhaps degotiate a different rate, but we're fine with what we have.
As for the messy guests, we're fine with that, as long as they aren't destructive, and put the furniture back were they found it when they checked in. We actually have a clause in both, the rental contract and the house 'manual' that states that if they don't, then the turnaround crew will charge us to rearrange things, and we will take it from their damage deposit. In eight years, we've never had an issue with that.
I've said this before: it's really important to spell out everything in writing prior to the guest taking occupancy of the property. As much thought as I put into the contract and written material, as much as my lawyer reviews it, there's always an addition each season. Fortunately, we've been very fortunate, and have had great renters. Let's hope for a good group this season!
Thanks Jim! I have back to back people and the exterminator said that he
would be doing just what I did until the place was going to be empty for a
while. That is good advice to hire them for yearly service. Right now all
I can do is wait until my last guest is gone this fall. The cleaning lady
went in this morning and immediately commented on the floor. It is so
obvious. We have never had anyone do this. It was not from moving the
furniture, but from someone using something to scratch the paint off in a
circular pattern. It really shows loudly. Others who have seen it are saying
that I should hold some back. I am not upset about the messiness, although
most of my renters leave the place very nice. They are supposed to wash
their towels during their stay and we take care of the ones from their last
day. The cleaning lady has to wash all of theirs this time and I am going
to have to pay more. It was obvious after seeing that there were only a few
dead ants left, that because the weather is to be rainy they decided to
leave early. The husband actually made that comment a couple of times, that
it was to be rainy here, but nice where he lives. They got a two night
refund, which I could not afford, but I felt that I should do it because of
the initial ant problem. Oh well. Thanks for your advice. I really
Have a great weekend and 4th!
Too bad -- it's true that it takes a couple of days after spraying before the house can be used, which is why we do a pre-season spraying, actually sprayings. And I'd imagine that being in the woods, exterior spraying would be an exercise in futility, or you'd have to hire a full-time exterminator....
We always permit tenants to leave early. They just lose the last day(s) of what they paid for the rental. Unless there's a tsunami, locust invasion, raining frogs, etc., we're pretty firm about a one-week minimum rental, and to date, we've only had one family leave early, and with good reason, so we prorated their rental fee.
It does sound like the ant thing was more of a weather-related excuse. What -- they're in the woods...did they NOT expect insects? Gads!
Jim VanAvondale Properties
MaryM: It's true...no matter how hard one tries to dot the i's and cross the t's, there are always guests who will call with the most inane questions. We also do a handbook, though only a single copy (I'm more of a type Z:)), and I can't begin to tell you how many times I've wanted to respond "It's on Page 7, cretin!", but, I just breathe and answer their question with a smile.
We've actually been pretty lucky with guests, except one who was a tad over-demanding. Otherwise, most people are delighted with the property. It helps, I'm sure, that we're reasonably-priced, unlike some listings in the area, and therefore attract a different, more down to earth clientele....
Oh Jim - that's too funny! Like you, and undoubtedly because of my western PA mentality, we also feature our VR as more reasonably priced among many upscale beach houses. Occupied is always better than empty, and we are trying to cultivate a family-type atmosphere that inspires return guests. Perhaps what is frustrating is that some guests tend to forget that we're renting out a home, not a hotel room. Although we have good people in place for cleaning, repairs, etc., they can't be considered "staff" who drop everything to address issues that may arise. For just as many knuckleheads that we get, we get many more good people, who aren't afraid to pitch in and help and promise to treat our home as if it were their own. Those words are music to my ears!
Well, we had one couple who were "the renters from hell" and hope to avoid this problem in future. We have a rental manager as we live 1800 miles from our island vacation home. These people were booked while we were on island due to miss-communication with the manager, but a friend let us stay at her rental place. (That worked out great for us as it was more like a vacation - no maintenance!)
This couple were already on the island and wanted to come earlier than the usual check-in and we cleaned the house ourselves. We have 2 bedrooms, one in a separate pod which can be locked. The guests knew they were getting the advertised 2-person rate which means only one large bedroom, in the main house, was available to them. The manager met them at the house and was carrying their groceries upstairs for them when they disappeared. They had made a beeline to the separate pod and demanded to know why it was locked (it was where we left our personal effects for the 4 nights they would be in the house). She reminded them that they were only using the other bedroom and they demanded to use both as "they couldn't sleep together." They were a married couple and the bed was king size. To make a long story shorter, for a couple of hours in person and then by phone they complained about everything under the sun, threatened to leave and tried to get a further discount as they couldn't have the other bedroom. At least it was the manager they complained to, but she immediately put them on her blacklist and will never rent any house to them again. Once they had departed we found they had left 8 (8!) large bags full of trash in the entry room. They obviously had brought garbage from their previous rental. These were college professors! Weirdly, they wrote nice things in our house book!
I think some people just complain and try it on to get some kind of discount or extras they feel they deserve. You have to be firm about the agreement you and they have made and then usually, they will back down as these people finally did.
Mary - that's exactly what we strive for: to offer a family-oriented rental with lots of repeat guests. We've been lucky: 4 of our guests have been with us at least 3 years, one for 5 now!
And I'm convinced that the type of guest we get is directly related to the price/value of the property. The vast majority of our guests are 'normal' people - small business owners, professional services types. And I think their expectations are more in line with the experience we offer,so that makes for a better experience for everyone involved.
Thus far, we've had a half-dozen great reviews on our listing, which is good for prospective renters to see, and so nice of guests to do. Hoping we pick up one or two more this season:)
Jim VanAMaryvondale Properties
To Trish: As soon as people start asking too many questions you know there's a problem. You should have cut them off and gotten rid of them.
I recently had a potential guest call up and state he was "suspicous" because there wasn't any pictures of the bedrooms on VRBO. It was clear that all the pictures were of an updated unit that had just been painted and the ad clearly stated everything new. However this individual was "suspicous." I explained to him that I only alloted a certain amount of money for advertising and that extra photos cost extra money. At that time he still insisted he was "suspicous." I then stated, "Well, you got me, I waited all my life to sink $12,000 in repairs into a unit just so I could leave the bedrooms messed up and trick unwary travellers. Since you caught me on this issue I know you wouldn't be comfortable renting my unit so goodbye." I then immediately hung up and made a note of his phone number. The short version is be on your toes. If they ask ridiculous questions, then most likely they are idiots or cheapskates. Politely inform them your time is important. Also, when they called back and cancelled you should have overnighted their money and forgotten about it and stayed with the other rent.
I don't put up with ANY abuse. I used to but not anymore. I use guestchecker.com and screen every single one of my guests before I take the res. The site is free, so why not???
You mentioned using Guestchecker.com and another poster suggested using badvacationrenter.com. This sounds good in theory, so I checked the websites. The only thing is that in order to become a member, you have to place a disclosure on your own website that all renters are subject to having their personal information shared with these websites before, during or after the rental. In these days of identity theft issues, I would think that would be a definite turn-off, even to valid potential renters. Certainly, potential long term renters go through background checks and don't blink an eye. How would one word this so that it might not appear offensive? Still, I don't think there is any way one could sugarcoat "badvacationrenter.com"!
I had some real winners this year. Even my repeat renters. We had extenuating circumstances with Hurricane Irene, but it was just a crazy year. No one reads the instructions. The garbage is piled up because they dont put it out on garbage days. My last renters lost a day because of the Hurricane and want a refund for the day, but my cleaning girl called me to say that there was 6 big black garbage bags full of garbage in the middle of the driveway on Saturday when she got to the house to clean. Garbage day is Friday. They obviously didn't put the garbage out for collection, but they want money back when it cost me extra to take the garbage to the recycling center so it wouldnt sit until Tuesday and I wouldn't expect the next renters to put out that much garbage.
This is just the tip of the ice berg.Like the people with 2- 65lb dogs and 1- 85lb dog when they were supposed to have 2 40lb dogs, broken washer because they washed the queen sized comforter in a stackable washer (dog probably threw up on it). Oh and they never put the garbage out for collection either- they left it behind the grill. Like longtimelandlord, I should have told them no when they ammended my lease and sent it back to me with changes. I refused to initial what they changed and told them to take it as is or I would find someone else, but they took the house anyway. My mistake, I should have walked away. They are lucky that I didn't find Guestchecker.com before.
If they dont want to rent my house because they are afraid they will be "black ballled" for bad behavior, I don't want them.
Hi all. Just found and joined this forum. I'm glad you're here. I too now have the renters from hell. Booked at the last minute 2 days before Labor Day weekend (we had a last minute cancellation) and right after we were devestated by Irene. Our house was untouched except for a flooded basement that did not affect the house. They have been complaining and insulting me from the minute they stepped on the property while I was just finishing the last of the basement trash removal. Took me about a half an hour past their check in to finish. They wanted a refund immediately and tried to bully me for it. They accused me of putting pictures of a different house on VRBO among other crazy things. Truth is, they didn't realize that the entire area had been flooded and many homes had trash on their lawns. They said it looked like "Appalachia"...They wanted to leave with a refund for the remainder of the days. I had turned away other renters for them. I offered to have them leave and replace them with other renters at which point I'd refund their money on a pro rata basis. They refused. Tonight at 10:40 I got a call from what sounded like a very drunk person complaining that the rain beating on the air conditioner was too loud, and how did I expect her to be able to watch a movie or fall asleep. She asked me to call her back immediately! You can't make this stuff up. Complaining about raing beating down on an air conditioner!
I'm always nervous with crazy renters, that they won't get out when they are supposed to. I had renters I had to practically force out once. They used my house as a sick bed during a bout of Lupus! I was 6000 miles away and they kept begging me to keep renting them because their "house wasn't ready yet" and the wife was sick with Lupus and couldn't get out of bed. We had to keep billing them on Paypal and they played around with the payments and paid at the last minute. You can't make this stuff up! Has anyone ever had to call the cops to evict unwanted or squatting renters? When you have a long term lease, you have to take them to court and go through an eviction proceeding. How do you do it with a horrible vacation renter who won't leave? (my worst nightmare was the movie Pacific Heights)!
I think it has been the year of renters from hell for a lot of us. I don't know if it is the economy, more people who've never rented vacation homes, or that people are just ruder these days.
As I 've said before, check with your local law enforcement re: eviction proceedings. It's going to vary from area to area, even from local police to local sheriffs.
Rain on an A/C? Now THAT is the craziest one I'VE ever heard. Too bad you didn't have some earplugs stashed somewhere in the house.
Good luck with this nut job.
Wow, I have just had my second set of renters from hell. North Carolina people that are still complaining and they have been gone for three weeks and their security deposit has been reimbursed. People are nuts !
They obviously want it all back. I think that what has happened is that in the last three years the vacation rental market has seen an ever increasing number of out of control cheapskates. Your only defense is to rent at higher prices and don't discount if you can avoid it. I only do weekly rentals which attracts mostly families. I get a lot of requests for 3 or 4 day rentals and I won't do it. I also skip the security deposit now and buy the $39 policy myself. I only do that in the case of major damages. Other than that I cover the small stuff and make more than enough to cover the small repairs. The best way to handle renters from Hell is to not rent to them again. I have about 10 renters on a Do Not Rent to list and the other owners of the condos have other names which we share.
We have a previous guest that booked on our cabins and paid half of the total to reserve it. 29 days before their arrival they call to cancel because they couldn't make it. If it is within 30 days of check-in we can't refund them anything but I was nice and decided to give them a 25% refund which I told them was about $100, no problem they said. The guest wanted to take the 25% as credit for a future stay so I told them to call me or email when they decide on their dates and I would send them a quote with the 25% credit included.
When I sent their quote they were furious because they decided to take 25% of the total amount instead of what they already paid then use the cancellation policy guidelines on our faqs page to try and shake me down for more money. They felt that their refund should have been closer to $300 because that was 25% of their total. At this point I thought you know what I am going to refund your money and be done with it. Then the calls began and the emails. Unfortunately the emails have no threats what so ever but the phone calls..I don't even pick up anymore.
We've already been hit with one bad review because a guest broke our TV so we kept the $100 deposit, the guests then wrote a horrible review in retaliation, this guest even went so far as to say in an email: ...[return my deposit] or I will take matters into my own hands. After providing VRBO/HA aka Nadia with all of our correspondence she concluded that the guest just wants their deposit back and since the words "I will right a bad review if your don't pay" weren't evident, there was nothing VRBO could do, the review stayed.
I decided to take a preemptive strike, I emailed VRBO to let them know what was happening. I got a long canned response back telling me that I'm basically SOL unless this person in an email states “I will write a bad review if you don't pay me”. So I decided to share my knowledge with the community encase this happened to anyone else.
Maybe I will get in trouble for this maybe they will just remove the post but I will like to show you all how easy it is to alter an email without anyone knowing. An email is basically just a document, if you drag it on to your desktop (or save it on to your desktop) then right click it and choose Open with..then choose a text editor (ie wordpad, ms word, wordperfect) any is fine. When it opens scroll down, the giberish at the top are the headers, this is what VRBO/HA aka Nadia takes as an “authentic” email. As long as that stuff is there, they will consider it “real”. Anyway, scroll down past the headers (giberish) and eventually you will find the meat of the message, where you can change anything, add, delete, whatever you want. When your done, all you have to do is hit file (or round button at the top for ms office) Save As...then make sure at the end of the email title, it says .eml. Word may try to change it to .doc or .txt, but you can remove that make sure the end is .eml. Once you saved it, open an email to VRBO/HA aka Nadia, attach the .eml you just saved and done. You can do this to any email and I would be happy to help anyone with troubleshooting or better instructions.
Also VRBO/HA doesn't seem to care if reviews are real so why not just start making some up. VRBO/HA can't know it's you posting your reviews. So make an email address, go to Mcdonalds wifi and post away. Of course I would never do this, wink wink, nudge nudge, but if I did, I would know that the only thing VRBO/HA could see if my IP address, which is basically like your “street” address online. The only thing they know is which IP address a review is coming from so as long as your noting submitting a ton of reviews from the same Internet connect (ip address) VRBO can never know. So head down to wifi hotspots or wherever you can, you can also look into Proxy serviers which are so easy to use once you start. They basically “hide” your real address by routing you through another. So if you wanted to use a proxy server you can do this from the comfort of your own home and VRBO/HA aka Nadia will never know. VRBO/HA definetly sides with the guest no matter what so we need to protect our businesses, I'm happy to answer any questions or help anyone out.
And don't forget- YOU as the owner can surely respond to the "bad reveiw" right underneath it.
Maybe something like ' We're so sorry you did not find our home the right fit for you. We're also sorry you are disappointed we had to withold a portion of your Damage Deposit for the damges incurred during your stay."
VRBO/HA Employee right THERE( caps really?), probably nadia. Yeah I know I can respond but the point is I shouldn't have to. Being blackmailed isn't fun and VRBO/HA always sides with the guest. When someone is wrong and enough people get angry enough it will change.
Please stay in touch with me. I like the way you think. I do not care about posting my own reviews but if there is a way to clean up a stupid review, I would be thrilled to be able to do it. Thank you for your advice.
I had a guest like that last year and yes - we did move them to a very exclusive resort - on my nickle. I paid more money out than he had paid us. Now, he is writing all of the vacation rental sites bad mouthing us. When I read your story, I relived it again. I am extremely careful now. If anyone is negative in any way, they are history. We do not need the hassles or any bad reference that has cost us a lot of rentals. He actually put his email address down for people to contact him and it shows up how many people have - hundreds. We have lost renters from our most popular site. Makes you want to get out of the business.
Did anyone see the community blog that these owners had their attorney do a clause to put in their agreement that they had to agree to not send in a bad reference or pay $500 in damages. I wish I had that clause now.
Before we refund any money, we have the renter sign a release form stating that they will not discuss this with anyone or disclose anything within the release. In the event they do, they will need to refund the "refund" and we will sue for damages. In 11 years, we have had to use this release form only twice. In both instances, the renters were just looking to get a reduced rental rate (they had asked for this at the beginning and did not give), so they felt they could get it after their stay.
After 11 years in the rental business, I have stopped accepting abuse. If a renter starts abusing me, I tell them that perhaps my property is not right for them. If they are already renting, I state that abuse is not the best method of discussion. If the abuse is continual, I am no longer available to them by phone or in person during their stay. We make a note of the renter, and will never rent again to them. Funny, this year, one of the abusers emailed us asking to stay at one of our homes. I stated, "why would they want to stay there again, since they were not happy last year". Their answer, "we were only kiddimg, loved the house". My answer, sorry we are fully booked.
I realize that your post is a couple of months old, but the only time we ever had to deal woth something like this, the renters were offered a full refund and asked to vacate the next morning. They apoplogized as well, but seeing the writing on the wall, apology was accepted, and they were asked to leave any way. Maui is a small island, and apparently they made the next owner upset enough to kick them out of that unit within 24 hours as well. You can never be too safe, and if it costs a deposit and rent for the unit, it may be just as well.
Sorry to hear about the personal stress you've been under but glad that they left with no further issues. Like yourself we try to be upfront about everything our condo and the area offers. My only review that was less than 5 stars was a complaint that we didn't have a swimming pool. Sorry you'd think if they needed a pool that bad that they would have looked for a place that did have one. Wierd thing is, there are two pools within walking distance that only require a small fee for use but because they didn't bring it up with the manager or myself, we didn't know to tell them.
Hi! I am back again to share my latest experience. If it was not for this community site, I may have made a very serious mistake. Recently, I rented a WEEK to a woman from NY. I spoke to her for quite a long time on the telephone and felt good about her as a person. I had her send a deposit on-line and, as we always do, my Property Manager sent her a Date Confirmation which is a template that I found on HomeAway.com. In the confirmation, it was laid out with her name, place for her address, her phone number & email address. She had been asked to send all contact information. She was also sent a Rental Request that asks for a list of all occupants of the house and their home information - which would have been in this confirmation.
Because she did not send this information to us, xxxx were in place for her to fill in. When the email was sent to her, she was asked to check everything over carefully and make changes to anything that was missing or in-correct, because our entire agreement had to agree. (We do not believe in surprises of any kind therefore we attempt to cover any chance of a problem arising later). This woman was being notified that her deposit was received in a certain amount, on a certain date, etc. It also listed all dates and times for check -in, check-out and all costs agreed to in our estimate. I could not believe that because she had called and left 2 messages during a 2 hr time period that my property manager was in meetings - and not received returned calls IMMEDIATELY, she was livid. (She was called back immediately upon the calls being received).
This was considered an insult to her and she called HomeAway.com and complained about us and the poor way we did business. She also misrepresented that we had not filled in the paperwork correctly - making it sound like we were trying to scam her with different numbers - which was not the dates or costs - but her personal info we did not have. The address was missing - and the phone calls were not received within her certain period of time. It was crazy!! We received an email from HomeAway.com the next day suggesting that we might want to call this person who was making a complaint about us; she did not feel we were reputable. Keep in mind these were 2 minor things that she could have called or texted me about. Obviously she was into drama; it would not have been fun to call me. Immediately, we had a meeting and decided that we could not afford a trouble maker like this. We sent back her deposit and suggested that she probably could find another house that suited her better. She actually called us and begged saying she really wanted that certain house. When we did not give in to her she sent a scathing email to us and how she was going to make sure everyone knew about us and not to rent my property. She probably sent the same complaint to HomeAway. At least we canceled a problem out before it began. I really do not care if that week is ever rented rather than have someone in my home who can destroy me and my rental. My suggestion to everyone is to learn from other's mistakes and experiences. Best wishes to everyone and I love this community site.
I am so glad you stood up to her. You made the right choice and as an owner, I thank you that you didn't allow a renter to walk all over you and treat you like that. You are correct, much better to be vacant than to have someone who can destroy your or rental.
I think this lesson is a live and learn kind of thing. When you see someone with issues, letting them into your personal home or property will only make the issues worse not better. Last year we had a couple months that we did not have the condo open for rental due to a ceiling problem in the front room. We got the ceiling fixed, were there to inspect the work and then opened the dates up for rentals but it was late in the season.
One renter popped up immediately, (we had already discounted knowing that most people would have booked already) and he immediately asked for even more money off. We said no, feeling that we'd rather leave the place vacant. He booked the dates and then after three weeks into the rental started complaining about the range our wifi had. Well it did at that time have a limited range (which we would have told him if asked and we've replaced it since) but I wasn't going to give them 20% off which would have meant a total of 40% off because he found out you could barely use it in the downstairs bedroom that he wasn't even using. The amount he wanted for damages was exactly the amount he asked for initially. He threatened to file complaints about us but we felt we'd rather weather the storm than to give in to his demands.
If he filed a complaint, it never reached us. Will we rent to him again? No, because despite having replaced the Internet service he was simply looking for a deeper discount and if not that then it would have been something else. There is no sense in having renters who will use complaints to try and force discounts. I don't suppose there is a place to note down bad renters so we have a list to check before renting?
I've been following this discussion and overall I think travelers and guests are just getting more difficult. I've been renting my house out for 7 years now. For the first couple of years it seemed like I got a lot of guests who were either really NEEDY or Botton Feeders looking for a deal. After a few rounds of that type I decided to get more picky about who I rented to. If guests pushed for a deal or were in any way rude or creepy during the initial interview I didn't encourage them. As a result things got better and we seemed to be on a pretty good roll.
Then in the last year the economy has been sooo bad for us in Vermont with Irene and then the "no-snow" season and the flood of guest homes due to the housing market, the inquiries are few and it seems like most inquiries are looking for a deal.
Even with that, I still maintain that my worst guests were just like the people that tipped off this discussion to the point that I wondered if they were the same people~ Complained about everything and in the end I believe it was just what they did. I mean I think there are people that do that because they are so cheap and so inconsiderate they don't care how much you do, they just want as much as they can get for as little as they can pay. They booked for 3 weeks, had a hissy fit when my mgr was ten minutes late unlocking the door, then another one when they found something else wrong at which point I told them they could find another place (full refund), then they begged us to stay, said it was a much nicer/bigger/better place than they were being charged for. Then decided to leave a week early and accused us of renting them a toxic house. It was the wettest summer in 27 years and there was a lot of airborne mildew, but our house had zero. He tried to blame his wifes cough on the house and threatened to sue. I kept negotiating with them until they dropped it all.
I do have an issue I'm currently dealing with. The last guests checked in 2 hrs early. They had booked three nights, cancelled the first night and sent an email saying they might have their in laws take their place that night..the inlaws were actually on the contract for the next night. I told them I needed confirmation from them for exactly who was coming to go over check in policies and times. They never confirmed. Got to the house early, after calling my mgr to ask where the key was. Who assumed it had all been cleared with me.
Then after checking out they emailed for their cleaning deposit refund saying they left the house cleaner than found, listing the things that were undone when they got in (two hours before their stated check in time, and actually a day early considering no one confirmed they were taking the place of the family that had booked that night but cancelled.
I always tell my guests that if they want to come in early they have to book an additional day. I also had their check in time on the contract. So, I charged them for the hour of cleaning even though they felt they shouldn't have to leave the house perfect since it wasn't perfect when they checked in, and the most moderate check in fee of 50. per hour instead of taking a whole day rate. We got an irate phone call when they got their refund check and letter, but no real intelligent response to our reasoning for these relatively minor deductions.
I am only writing this because I just found it so amazing that people could be so dense, so lacking in simple communication skills and consideration. What kind of people ignore the check in times on a contract then complain the house wasn't perfect? I feel like I'm living in an insane world sometimes. Thanks for listening and for this forum.
I've spent this past week at our VR home & was reading our Guest Book comments that I've collected over the past few years. ( It's a real "positive mood booster!")
I've also noticed a shift in the quality/kindness of our guests. recently.
I am now making it a priority to personally discuss and STRESS that this is our beloved home and we making it available to them because we love our Island &, neighborhood and are offering a unique opportunity for them to enjoy the locale in a quiet neighborhood while being close to ALL things local. If I get bad vibes during the conversation I nicely suggest that they look elsewhere ( and have referred them to local Prop. Management companies several time)
Income is great, but I 'm coming to the realization that the industry has changed BIG TIME,.
Not that I don't think we should have the right to allow or disallow anyone to rent our homes if we don't want them to. I truly believe that we should all have the right to say "No" to anyone or any group we feel is not a good fit for our personal property we are making available for vacations to guests. But here's my question.....on other forums on this site, I've read that it's illegal for us to deny people staying at our vacation homes because of the age of their children, or number of children, etc. So where is the line drawn? I get someone on the phone I think is a lunatic, or sounds like they are running a scam, and I am NOT legally permitted to choose not to rent to them?
The whole issue of not allowing certain people to rent from us is a huge gray area. For instance....the people in our place now I probably would not have rented to originally. She gave me the 3rd degree about the quality of our water, then she asked about why this and that was in the contract. Then she said "is the house really this nice, or are these pictures of another house?" First off, she called our number after 10pm; even though our listing says NOT to call after 8:30pm, and that email inquiries are answered within 3 hrs in most cases, and that's the best way to contact us. She appologized for calling so late, but she just HAD to know if our water smelled like sulfur, and if the house was really this nice, and why we say that the refundable security deposit will be returned as long as the stipulations in the contract have been met. I had already emailed her a copy of the contract from a prior inquiry she'd made. At any rate, I would not have rented to her because I had a RED FLAG moment when she called. They got in and caused us to miss a nights sleep because they arrived at 3am instead of 8pm, they didn't read the information I sent her, etc. So is it DISCRIMINATION to tell someone like this "I don't think you are a good fit for our house"? Reading the stories about others' near-legal issues regarding telling people they don't want them to rent their house, it makes me wonder. A vacation isn't like a permanent home. I can see that you can't tell people with kids not to rent a house on a permanent basis...or someone of a certain age, etc. Everyone needs a house to live in, but a vacation isn't a RIGHT. It's something that people don't have to have, and there are lots of choices on the market. So why are we not allowed to say, for instance....."children 8 and above welcome with supervision". ?
Whether or not they have children with them doesn't matter if your cancelation or refusal is based on other factors. But I would assume in our law suit filing country that you'd want to keep good records in case they did file some sort of complaint. Also with supervision is pretty vague as that's pretty much open to interpretation.
We've had great renters with kids and our worst renter was a single male. You can't tell from emails just how they'll turn out. The great renters had no references, the guy did.
It's not the "with supervision' that an attorney on another site said was illegal....it was setting an age limit. With water features, we feel it's safer and makes more sense to have older kids. They also don't tend to smear mac and cheese on the windows and on the walls, as we've had once this year. But on another site, someone said "you cannot tell people with children under 8 that they can't rent your place.". It just seems crazy that we cannot decide, based on any factors, (teen agers having an after prom party, a family trying to cram 20 members of their extended family into the house, or folks with 4 kids under the age of 8 who may get into the water feature or fall off the porch somehow) that our house isn't what they want.
You're right, sway......with the litigeous society we now have, people can take offense to anything. On another topic you mentioned.....does everyone ask for references if they have guests who have rented a vacation home before?
One of our competition houses here where I live asks for a drivers license before people can rent. I think that's sort of invasive, but maybe I'm the only one who doesn't do this sort of thing. Thoughts?
Good question Trish, we normally do not ask for references, the renter came with a referral who said he had rented from them before but their place wasn't available... looking back, they probalby didn't want to rent to him again and didn't care if someone else suffered due to his actions.
I really believe this is a live and learn business, for instance I like the idea of asking for ID, in our case a copy of the clients passport. We keep a copy/printer there so it would be no big deal and could be done at checkin as our manager has to be there to show them around.
Verrry interesting. Maybe I should do that. Never did when we ran the vacation home in San Diego, but I can see where it would be an extra barrier for protection in case the people are unscrupulous. My husband could do it during walk through.
Thanks! Dontcha love the fact that we can all discuss stuff like this? It IS a live and learn business and it's nice to have others to bounce ideas off of and see things in a new perspective.
Eagles & Antlers Retreat
Maybe you can't tell people with kids they can't rent or teenagers they can't rent but you can put clauses in your lease that are restrictive to the point that you are protected and they will get the idea that they have to leave your house as found or risk loosing their deposit and more...
Always interview people before quoting the rate and sending off the contract. If you hear comments that lead you to believe that they may trash the place or have a party you can state your terms and put clauses in the lease that restrict anything you don't want to happen. In my lease I list the types of damages that the guests will be charged for...stains on the upholstery, scratches/stains on the walls. The people that walk away from a too restrictive lease are likely just the guests you don't want in your house. That's not discrimination that's your right as a property owner from my experience.
I have people return a copy of their driver's license with their signed rental agreement. So far I have not had any issues with this. I believe in fact it was a Homeaway community article that recommended we do this, but it's been several years now so I may be mistaken.
==> Obviously she was into drama; it would not have been fun to call me. Immediately, we had a meeting and decided that we could not afford a trouble maker like this. We sent back her deposit and suggested that she probably could find another house that suited her better. <==
?? Anyone has a statement in their Rental Agreement that allows an Owner to cancel a reservation like this, please share. If and when I find a need to do this, I will feel secure in the knowledge that I have an iron clad agreement that allows me to cancel. Thanks. ??
I've said it before & will say it again. You have the right to simply say " Our home is not available."
BUT, if you've gotten to the legal aspects - signed contracts, $$ received, etc. - it could get wonky, fast.
I 'd also like to see if others have an "idiot clause".
Yes, make sure you have a clause in your contract to cancle a reservation.
Like this: Owner reserves the right to cancle guest reservation due to unforseen circumstances(This would also include bad, disresepctful behavior, but you don't need to state that). Act of God or other distress making the property unrentable. If this arrises, guest will be 100% refunded.
Nothing there that they can do.
I hope this helps!
I agree with the right to cancel the res, and as Diver had stated "Its your house"!
Your way or the highway! You have been nice even though you were going through tremendous personal loss, and this bozo had a bad week and thinks he can take it out on you? Fools like these need to be put if their place, if they write a bad review take the time and write a well thought out owner reply and forget them forever.
My complex requires all cars to have parking passes in them. In the past the renter would drop by the office to pick this banner up. Trying to get as much information that I can on the renter I have asked during negotiations for the renter to supply me with a copy of their drivers license, car, etc only to find out that they got uncomfortable. Then I switched my tactic and after a contract has been signed I said that my complex requires all visitors to register their autos and get a parking pass on them. With this in mind I inform them that I need this information to give to the property manager so that she can prepare a pass. I did not know how the PM would take this proactive approach but found out that she actually loved the idea as it gives her more time to prepare these passes instead of being bombarded with renters coming into her office on Saturday morning.
Also the benefit to this approach is now I have a copy of their drivers licence and car tag information on file if ever needed or want to verify the potential renter more. I have not had a single renter question this approach. Go figure!
I am replying to the suggestion that you put a clause in the contract stating that you have the right to cancel their reservation.
I think there would be alot of people that would not sign a contract that had that clause. Home owners can be just as opportunistic and eccentric as guests.
I also believe that if you have a clause like that you need to make it reciprocal...if you can cancel their reservation up to the last minute why can't they?
I have used this explanation countless times when booking. Because we have such a short peak season in Vermont I require full payment at the time of reservation for the peak weeks. Some folks worry about doing that. I explain that I am committing to them just I am expecting them to commit to us. Neither party can cancel at the last minute because something better came along.
Having said that, you could elaborate a bit on your contract. You could be very clear about your boundaries (terms) and state that the contract is void if renter breaches the terms...
So far we have been very fortunate and I think it is because I interview everyone in person before reserving. Lots of people want to do it all online and I refuse. I may loose a few but in the end I think it's been to our advantage.
Most of the time you can tell if someone's going to take advantage and you can start putting them off. Often they are wanting more than your place has to offer from the get go. There is also no law that says you can't add clauses to your contract to address each party. If a family is coming to the area for a wedding you can strengthen your clause on house parties and number of cars. If there is a family member camping near by and they want to park their camper on your property that should be a red flag that they're looking to get more out of the rental they're paying for.
Also, about discrimination laws. Craigslist has a series of links that will take you to each state's housing discrimination laws.
hope this helps.
I've been cautiioned that copying a drivers license either with or without the driver's permission is a possible violation of privacy laws. Check out the situation in your state.
It's nice to see a place where we can vent and hopefully learn from each other. I swear, sometimes I think I'm turning into Basil Fawlty from Fawlty Towers, and I really don't want to get that way. But it is so hard. I will share a couple of things that I've learned in the hopes it will help anyone else. I have three rental cottages along the same block, and I live at one end.
1. If you live on the property where your rentals are, be clear that your house is off limits. Give them specific directions about how and when to contact you and stick to it.
Last year I had one guest walk right into my house twice the same day without even knocking. She'd been here the season before and felt a sense of entitlement. See #2 and 3 below for more. I'm actually considering not telling the guests where I live at all. As long as they have clear contact info and I get back to them right away, I see no reason why they need to come into my home.
2. I no longer socialize with guests
I am such a friendly and social person and I never thought I'd say this. But I have learned that I cannot make friends with guests. It leads to privacy problems and a situation where they call you for every **** little thing, day in and day out. I had one woman this year treat me like a surrogate family member and thought I should be at her beck and call for everything she needed to do. It really got ridiculous. She also went through personal possessions I store in my shared laundry area and kept pushing that she wanted to help me "organize" these materials. She'd find things in my storage that she would take and use in her house. She rented two different houses from me because one was rented for a month during season, and she moved some of my household items between houses making it very difficult for me to keep track of what was where.
3. Long term repeat renters tend to develop a sense of entitlement, especially if they book repeat visits. The ones I've had have asked for special favors because of the length of their stay, they start taking liberties with the propery and furnishings because they bring a carload of stuff with them (for no good reason, my places are turnkey.) They try to lobby for improvements every year without paying for them (one woman negotiated with me to convert a non-working fireplace to a gas fireplace, which she never once used...in Florida we have maybe three days a year where it would be useable. It cost me $350 to do and she wanted a discount off her stay that was $300/month under my published rates.) This same woman actually went into another guest's fenced back yard to take a bicycle that she thought they were not using. The guests had checked it out for the full day, and when they saw it gone, they thought it had been stolen. Until this other guest came back with it, we had no idea where it was. I've had to strengthen my contract to stress rules and regulations
4. I now won't allow dogs unless they are crate trained and under 30#. And even then, I'm careful to screen the owner. EVERYBODY says their dog is well behaved. I've had major problems with dogs barking and howling when the owners leave them in the houses to go shopping, etc.
5. I will get references when I can and have red flags about guests who complained about previous lodging.
6. I will not respond to inquiring potential guests who won't provide telephone numbers.
7. I tend to discourage renting to folks with children younger than teenagers. I try to explain the the houses are vintage cottages and not child-friendly and usually this discourages them. In my state, I learned that if you do your own renting of your own home, you can pick and choose who you want to rent to. But if you go through an agent, like a property manager or a realtor, you cannot discriminate regarding children. Luckily two out of three of my cottages are small with max occupancy of 2, so this usually isn't a big issue with me.
8. Seasonal renters do not have automatic right to return the following year unless they pay me a deposit. Otherwise it's first come first served. It is amazing how many people book ahead for the following season while they are here on vacation. One of the problem ladies I mentioned above had a fit two years ago when I rented to someone else for the following season without giving her first right of refusal. This year I gave both of those wack job women the first right of refusal. Luckily one of them decided to buy a house so she's not coming back. The other decided to come back (the one who trespassed and took the bike) but when she was late sending me a deposit despite me giving her an extension of a month, I cancelled her reservation. I expect that she'll be leaving me a blisteringly nasty review any day now. She had no idea how many rules she broke and how annoying of a guest she was.
I hope some of this helps. I wish I was more positive about this business but now I sort of dread when season rolls around. People are definitely getting more difficult to deal with.
Ok, I am going to add to this. After 2 years of terrific rentals, we finally got the renters that you are all talking about here. Our house was gutted and redone in 2011, so you would think that everything was in perfect order, right? Well, here is a list of complaints in the 1st *WEEK* of their stay. Water comes out too slowly in the clothes washer, come fix it. ??? How fast should it run? Can someone tell me? I can't turn off the fan. Did you pull the cord on the fan? No..oh is that how you turn it off? Daylight savings time started, can you come over and change the clocks in the house? There is a loop in the rug in the office that has come up, it needs to be glued down. The box of baking soda in the refrigerator needs to be changed. The filter on the vent on the microwave needs to be changed. There are ants outside, you need to call an exterminator. Yes, I know there are ants outside, that is where they live.One of the many plugs in the house doesn't work, and we need "that" plug to work. Ok, it wasn't working, the connection was loose so I give them that one. Now, I live 60 miles from this house, and have gone over 3 times to take care of these items. My handyman went once, for the plug, and to make sure that eveything else was ok, just incase, for which I get to pay him $80 for the service call regardless. I go over the house with a fine tooth comb before I rent, but rather than be on vacation it seems that they have found time to serch the house for problems. This morning I woke to find another email about something else that needs to be replaced. They know I am going on vacation and said it was no rush, but as soon as I get back, could I come over and fix it. (The microwave air filter replacement). I imagine as I am on vacation that I am going to get a slew of things that need "fixing", like oh let's see...the leaves need to be raked, the gate creaks when you open it, the flowers need water...I don't know. Thank God they are only here 2 more weeks and I am on vacaiton for 10 days of it. Out of the country. I am going to have to go over my rental agreement and try to find a way to include things that are "emergency" fix it items and things that will be taken care of within, let's say 2 weeks, if it does not "adversely" affect their vacation stay. I am really afraid of asking for a review of the house when they leave. I think I will just skip it.
sliver2907 - Sounds like you have a guest that just isn't going to be satisfied with anything. However, one thing I do is keep extra lightbulbs and extra filters in easy access. My guests have the IQ to change them theirselves and do so. Yours don't seem to have this quality and I don't think they would do it anyway. Know this is rental 101.
Now be prepared for the discount question. How much are you going to refund them for their problems and inconvienece.
I have found that when you have guests who vacation at your home and spends their days looking for any little problem whatever, their ultimate goal is to get a reduction in rent.
I once had to vacuum an outdoor floor mat to please a guest. After I finished they wanted to know what I would refund them for the dirty outdoor mat. Would love to hear what your guests will do.
That is my biggest fear, that they are making a paper trail to get a refund, or God forbid, a dispute with the Credit card company. Lucky for me they paid last year, so they may be past the CC limit for dispute and anyway, what are they going to say to them? We rented and the baking soda needed changing so we want our money back? Not going to happen. Anyway, with my job, I have free time to go to small claims court should any renter pull that trick on me.
Unfortunately fighting the credit card company may not be in your favor unless you have detailed stipulations in your rental agreement. It is your word against theirs and unfortunately, the credit card company vies with the card holder most of the time. We do not take credit cards for this reason. In another business I have seen how easy it is for a card holder to dispute charges whether they are right or wrong. I would rather lose the rental than to fight the charges down the road . 99 per cent of my rentals have no issues, it is the one percent that leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
Wow, and I thought I had it bad! One thing I'm strongly considering is hiring an experienced local property management company to help me with emergencies and little nuisances like this. I have spoken to one and they will handle this for 10% of the rental fee. I do the booking and initial communication, but all "problems" are turned over to the local agency. This might be an option for you if you can find someone like this. The one agency I have spoken with has experience with "needy" tenants and knows how to explain what is reasonable and what is not. It might be something for you to consider as well, especially since your rentals are at such a distance.
The baking soda in the refrigerator is bad. Really!? Good grief.
I got lost in the stories on this thread , so many profound issues it is hard to comprehend!
I realize that I am posting long after this original post, but I just wanted to comment for those who are doing this business while going through difficult personal or family situations. We need to let our guests know that we are people not a hotel with no one specific to talk to about their vacation stay. I share when I have something going on with potential and contracted guests to give them a heads up that for example: maybe I can't answer email for the day because I will be at the hospital with my father, or I am giving them my daughter or housekeeper's number so that I can go to a funeral. Usually people are immediately kind and respectful. Their complaints seem petty and they realize how fortunate they are to be enjoying their family.
Our heads need to be clear to deal with real family crisis AND our guests and business, so the family needs us, try to have a back-up person who can deal with things while you take a very needed break. Let the person covering for you introduce themselves as standing in on your behalf because of a family emergency and that you have given them the authority to act on your behalf...knowing that they will talk with you if anything out of th ordinary arises. We have done this once and it did work out beautifully...but the person standing in for us realized this business is work!