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So I spent 10 years fixing up my home to look great for my family and friends that join us. Now that the kids are older and we dont use it as much, Homeaway and VRBO, here we come. My first rental lied to me, said it was for a 25 year old group for a birthday party. Turns out it was 25 kids having a prom party, average age 17 years old. The contract was in an adults name, one of the kids aunt that did not attend. I had a talk with her, she said she would be there, she wasn't and is now on the hook. In a single weekend, the kids completely trashed my home. There was not a spot where liquor was not spilled including carpets, hard wood floors, furniture, pool table, air hockey table. My non smoking home and I mean for 10 years, not a cigarette, now smells like a drunken brewery with smoke so thick, you cannot breathe. Damaged ping pong table, damaged custom bar, broken stools, damaged stereo system, cigarette butts throughout the home dumped in my gas fireplace, sinks, dishes. Even an Egg fight in the kitchen, I just don't get it. Garbage not thrown in pails, but instead, all throughout the house. Bong water from smoking pot spilled everywhere. I learned these were kids from a catholic school. When I called the Aunt, she was in shock and a loss for words. The problem, she has no money. I have her credit card info, the contract states I can charge her card. The problem, her card has no money. I did not take a security deposit because the Homeaway site boasts about the $59 insurance policy that takes its place for $5,000 of coverage. Well, that's accidental damage only. They covered a big fat $0 because this was malicious. I got a hold of several parents phone numbers only to be barked out "NOT MY KID" and "MY KIDS A MINOR, DON'T YOU EVER CALL AGAIN OR WE WILL SUE YOU". I am just shocked and amazed how the parents feel this is ok to protect their kids. In a way, the only good thing about this is that I got real good experience on how this all works. Since then, I've had very good rentals with very little problems. You must ALWAYS take a security deposit and have it in cash or credit card but have it in advance. Always take out the $59 policy and have the guest pay for it. I already put in 4 claims in just 7 rentals. Yes, they do pay for accidental damage, but they pay you ACTUAL CASH VALUE. If the item was purchased for $1000 and is in brand new shape, but its 10 years old, does not matter. They depreciate it and pay you what they feel the current value is. Your $1,000 item can get you $250 for example. You MUST talk to all potential guests that will sign your contract. If they sound YOUNG, they are young. If you must rent to kids, make sure you get a huge security deposit. Make sure the contract is signed by somebody 21 years or older so you can legally go after that person. If you rent to a prom group, get every kids parents to sign the contract that will attend. You must take a video camera and film everything in your home including a current newspaper to show its current. Store this video elsewhere as its proof you did have these items in your home. I will never rent to any person that is under 25 years of age. I get a photo copy of their drivers license. I let each renter know why they need to treat this home like it was their own. I never talk to a potential renter by barking at them. Instead, I let every one of them know what I went thru, have them feel bad for me, and feel them out and hear what they have to say to make sure they will treat my home the very same as if it were there own. I also call text or e-mail every guest when they are there asking if they are having a great time and what can I do for them to make the stay better. All of this has helped me greatly and I hope my experience will help you.
I'm so sorry to hear of this horrible first rental experience. I would suggest you spend some time here on the forums and read the numerous discussions about renting, contracts, dealing with damage, insurance, etc. There is a wealth of information that might help you work through some of these issues. Come back and let us know if you have a particular question!
We have had request by parents to let their under age kids party at our places to which they get a big NO. We required the renting person be 26 or older and they must be present at check in. We physiclaly greet each one when they check in or at least sometime on the day the check in. Sometimes we have to juggle when we have multiple check ins on same day. On our larger properties we charge a security deposit and have only had to keep part of it once. We also call each guests after the first nights stay to see if there are any problems, which usually there are not. We have found all of this has helped keep customer's happy and our properties in good shape.
first - i'm very sorry to read about your situation and wish you the best.
second - i'd still chase the lady that signed the contract - i have a no subletting <sp?> clause.
third - i'm going to talk about the pink elephant in the room....so, they told you it was a group of 25yr olds having a party at your home and you saw nothing wrong with that? when i hear the word party, i shut down the request immediately. my place is connected to a very pricey resort on cape code - the weddings cost $$$ when i hear a party is interested in a short stay or for a reception i don't bother. think about it?...even if it was a group of 25yr olds? you're asking for trouble. prom??..i wouldn't let my own kids have a party at my home for their prom let alone strangers. i take cash deposits for security (twice the amount of the norm), one month in advance. i had one person challenge me on the amount - i told them my place is much nicer then the average condo in my area, and, if you don't like it or can't afford it, don't rent it (not in those words of course) maybe i'm being over protective...just my two cents.
Codcape is right, you will need to sue the lady who signed the contract. You really don't know the extent of her assets -- she may be playing the "poor card" while sitting on a trust fund or a big house herself. If nothing else, she may have a college fund set aside for her precious high schooler -- wouldn't that be a good lesson to the kid about responsibility, seeing the college fund disappear because of a wild party!!
I hope you documented everything and kept bills to prove the cost of cleaning and repairs.
You might also contact the local police department and file a complaint of vandalism. That, if nothing else, might get the attention of the parents of the little dears who had no respect for your place.
I am so sorry that this happened to you. Depending on how costly it was to repair and clean your home, you may want to sue. Obviously, you can sue the woman whose name is on the lease. Also, check with a local attorney. In most states, I believe that parents are legally liable for damage caused by their minor children. Those obnoxious parents who threatened to sue youbecause their children are minors don't know what they are talking about. You could have numerous defendants to the lawsuit - the lessee, and 25 sets of parents. Let them fight it out among themselves as to who pays what.
Thanks for sharing your experience. I have learned many lessons the hard way also. I love reading peoples personal experiences on this forum. I get great ideas and learn from others mistakes.
You've potentially saved me some $$ by posting this. I was considering not charging a security deposit anymore, in favor of utilizing the insurance you mentioned. I had no idea it would not cover deliberate damage by a guest! No idea at all. I think I'll stick with my security deposit for now. Thanks.
After reading thru a few of your responses, I would like to add a bit more information.
I've been lucky enough to get many inquiries and rent the home out to many people in such a short period of time. This is my first time doing something like this and without experience, you live and learn. I signed many contracts before my first rental arrived, so I could not know what was in store for me. You would think when a person tells you they are in their mid 20s and its for a birthday party, how bad could that be?
So here are my tips to any that want to listen. I feel like I am now a pro at this in such as short time since I did rent it out to many different age groups.
1. If they are 26 yrs old and younger, I would not rent it at all anymore. Every single young group that I had and I mean every single one, has caused some sort of damage. I know I can get things fixed and quickly, but when you have a real nice home that you put so much work into, you do not want to hear the cleaning service call and say:
A. They punched a hole in your kithcen wall
B. Beer is spilled all over the walls and floors and carpet
C. The new table or couch or some furniture was damaged
My neighbors that were once friendly and wonderful to me, now are disgusted with me. Every young group would blast music all hours of the night, blast rap music and sing out loud to it which many include cursing. There is just total disregard to the neighbors and kids that live in the area. Do not rent to kids, your problems will go away.
2. Rent to families. If there are parents there, then it does not matter how many of their teenage kids are there. The parents keep them in check. So far, I am 100% without incident with families as long as the parents are there. Now I dont mean a prom party with a parent or two there, I mean stick with families, ruenions, things like that.
3. Rent to business functions that are 30 yrs and older and want a retreat. Like the families, they just know to take care of your place. They do not need calls to their bosses about abuse and damage. So far, I am 100% without incident.
4. You MUST have the guest pay for the $89 insurance policy for $5,000 in ACCIDENTAL COVERAGE. You MUST also make sure you get a SECURITY DEPOSIT. You can get both, I have no problems getting both. If they dont want to pay both, dont rent to them. Only a few have asked why I charge both and its simple. Accidents happen. I know it, they know it. If they ACCIDENTLY break my $3500 LCD TV, let the carrier pay for it, not them. I explain I dont want to have to chase them or take higher deposits from them to cover expenses. They all agree. Just the fact that they know $500 of their money can be lost, they will make sure they treat your home with respect.
5. People Lie !! Imagine that? Make sure you call every single lead that wants to rent. First of all, its good business to get in touch with the guest right away. If they sound like they are a kid speaking on behalf of their aunt or parent, forget it ! There are parents and adults that will lie and sign contracts for their younger relatives. Make sure you are speaking to an adult. Let them know they must be there at time of check in or there will be NO check in and they lose their money. Thats enough to take care of a good percentage of those adults that do not care.
6. Buy a combination lock for your entrance door. Get some 25 different key codes and mix it up when you have a guest arrive. Do not give out any keys. Change the key codes often, its easy enough.
7. I call or text every single guest the night or day after their arrival asking if all is ok, do they need anything, are they happy. This goes over real well and shows you care.
8. Make up a brochure for your home and its surrounding areas. Send this to your guests before arrival and have it also in a nice binder in those plastic sheets on the main table in the home where it can be found. I made up colorful photos of how to use the TVs, the remotes, the stereo systems, where the circuit breakers are, where the restaurants are, their address, phone numbers, a bunch of different places in the area to visit, shop and so on. Make it real easy for them and they will love you for it. Let the guests know that you are not just renting, but you want to make sure they have a great time and know all the fun things to do. Think about it. They know nothing. They are just renting this new home and have no idea whats in the area and start doing their google searches. Make this much easier for them.
9. The first page of my binder lets them know that accidents happen. It lets them know thats why you took out the insurance and you wont be upset or yell if something breaks. Let them know to contact you so you can have it fixed before the next guest arrival.
10. My next page in the binder is checkout procedrues. I let them know what we expect of them based on the cleaning option. After we added this in the binder, the dishwasher was actually turned on before they left and lights and air conditioning shut off.
11. Offer two cleaning service options. My option I cleaning service means I want the home back the same way you found it on arrival. Just leaves the beds and linens alone. My option II is more expensive and you with this, you do not have to do a thing. Many guests on their last day do NOT want to have to clean anything. They want their morning coffee, breakfast, read the paper, whatever and not have to spend the whole morning cleaning.
12. Ask your neighbors to store your phone number in their cell phone. To call you if the noise is too loud and you will take care of it. I have every new renters phone number in my cell phone and I carry my phone with me all the time and its next to my bed at night. I want that phone call if there is a problem so I can immediately call the guest and let them know they are being too loud. This worked every single time for me and I had to do this at least 6 times this summer so far. It works instantly and thats what you want. If the cops arrive too many times to your home, you may not be renting much longer.
13. If you have any neighbors that are getting tired of your rentals, its time to send over that pizza pie or gift certifcate to a nice restaurant. Even if you have to do it a few times, its worth it.
14. I supply liquid hand soap in every bathroom, 2 rolls of toilet paper in every bathroom, a roll of paper towels in the kitchen, dishwasher liquid and a garbage bag is in every single large and small basket. If guests arrive and they did not go shopping yet and have to run to the toilet and nothing is there waiting for them, they will remember these things.
Buying dishwasher soap is inexpensive and assures you the guests will use the soap in the dishwasher before they leave instead of just running the water.
No spider webs are allowed anywhere. Guests remember this and will hate you for it. Make sure your cleaning service does a walk thru before they are gone.
Buy those air freshners that popup and leave a great smell. We put one in every room of the home and in gathering areas, living rooms and things like that. You want the guests to come back, dont you ?
15. Take care of your cleaning service. See what the owner likes or the person that is always at the home. If they like the Yankees, buy them tickets. You dont need to give money, they will remember the gift far longer than they will the cash. You will be amazed at how much better a job they will do in your home.
I hope my experience this first year of renting will be of some help to others.
I appreciate your detailed list of advice. We also have a minimum age requirement of 25 yrs old unless accommpanied by a parent or legal guardian. This has deterred many partiers. We also don't allow bachelor parties because those groups no matter what age can get out of hand.
I have a question about item 7 in your list
"7. I call or text every single guest the night or day after their arrival asking if all is ok, do they need anything, are they happy. This goes over real well and shows you care."
Which method have you found most successful in reaching the guest (email/text/call)? I have thought about emailing on the day of check-in but figured that the guest might not receive it if they are away from the computer.
Hello Adriana: I am sorry I did not see your post until now. Lately, all I do is text AFTER the arrival. I dont like going to voicemail when I call and I know they are seeing my message for sure when I text. Everybody reads their texts and I think they feel they need to respond, where if I left a voice message, they can always say they did not get it till days later. To date, every single guest has responded to my text messaging. After the guest departs, if the cleaning service tells me the guests left the home in great shape, I send a personal email thanking the guest for treating my home like it was their own. Good luck!