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2668 Views 8 Replies Latest reply: Jun 9, 2012 5:55 PM by gabriel RSS
lrbaldwin Active Contributor 755 posts since
Feb 16, 2011
Currently Being Moderated

Jun 7, 2012 7:59 AM

Increased damage deposits for non US residents

Has anyone else done this?  The last non US residents in our home left the house a complete mess.  It took my husband and me along with the cleaner to get it ready for the next renters.  They did not even inquire about the $200 refundable deposit that we normally send back a day or two after renters leave.  It's obvious to us that they decided it was worth the $200 not to have to lift a finger to leave the house the way they found it.  It looked like the garbage had exploded all over the floors.  Anyhow, my husband decided that we will not rent to non US residents in the future.  Well, we got an inquiry for 2 weeks starting Mar 24, 2013, last night, two families, one from Canada, and the other from Germany.  Instead of turning them down, I informed them that our refundable damage deposit for non US residents is equal to the amount of the rent.  We take only checks, do not deal with VRBO reservation manager or credit cards/PayPal, so we have no way to charge extra when we run into problems.  Also, we don't deal with damage waiver insurance because we want our guests to have some skin in the game.  It's not just the money, it's the next guests that we want to have our place perfect for, and only 3 hours between check out and check in. We probably won't hear back from them, but early spring rentals aren't really important to us, and it's just not worth the stress.

 

Linda

Chatterbox Too in Duck, NC

  • mike-dfv Community All-Star 827 posts since
    Mar 5, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jun 8, 2012 8:15 AM (in response to lrbaldwin)
    Re: Increased damage deposits for non US residents

    I've had guests from the US, Canada, Argentina, and a few European countries. The guests who left the place the messiest were American and the guests who left it the cleanest were English. I've also had some clean American and dirty English guests. There's just no way to tell. There are good and bad apples in every country.

     

    Mike

  • anja Senior Contributor 1,555 posts since
    Aug 9, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jun 13, 2012 8:51 PM (in response to lrbaldwin)
    Re: Increased damage deposits for non US residents

    We've had some VERY dirty and messy guest experiences....it's soooo disappointing.  And, when it happened to us... the guests were usually "nice people"....so our disappointment with them was deepened by the obvious fact that they were not even embarrassed to show us how they "lived and left" our home.  No one is welcomed back after they've left  our place an utter mess.  But, it only happened a few times, thankfully. One time we cleaned for two days straight...inside and outside including all the beach equipment and lounge chair cushions soiled!    Not exaggerating.  Everything...including the dishes were grimey...dishes and pots/pans put back 'greasy'...appliances dirty...even food stuck on...cheese all over the cheese grater...refrigerator a war zone inside.....micro with exploded residue.  Oven grimey. Smudges on all glass items.  Mirrors dirty.  Food where it shouldn't be. Bathroom appalling ...looked like apes live there.  We are not the "anonymous" owner....we meet and greet all  of our guests, on arrival....so one would think that people would make a little effort to not embarrass themselves by leaving us with their  filth...after meeting us.

     

    Some people are not clean at home anyway, so it's their norm.  And, I do believe that there is a perception among some travelers that leads them to believe ...if they paid a fee for an exit cleaning...then they don't  have to worry about "cleaning" up after themselves during their stay...the owner is "covered".  So, they use it and leave it.

     

    I understand your anger....I've experienced this a few times....as well when we only had 4 hours before the next arrival.  We have never charged certain "suspect nationals" extra....but we did change our check-out time...so now we have 5 hours to clean before the next guests....just in case! Guests must leave by 10:00 a.m. ...unless we can permit them a later checkout.

     

    This is a sensitive topic because I'm sure that no one here wants to offend any one nationality...could be an Owner in this Community ...or a Traveler "lurking" here, could come from that country. People are easily insulted  -and- insulting in forums.  Personally, I think it's unfair to generalize about any nationality.....especially on an  open, public, internationally diverse forum.  That's something that irks me.

     

    It's been my experience that there is absolutely no way to know, by nationality, who will act responsibly and who will not...but having said that....there does seem to me that there are characteristics in lifestyles that appear to be "consistent" from some places.

     

    I do have my "pet peeve" about a certain country that we have A LOT of guests from....I won't say from where...I don't want to offend anyone....but those nationals ...in my experience...are the worse with "housekeeping".   Let me just say that they are not from the USA....they are not from Europe....they are not from Asia.  They have been...hands down....consistently dirty and very messy in our home....and we get a lot of travelers to Hawaii from that country.  We cringe and hope for the best from every new  booking we get from there...honestly. Our house "etiquette" rules are very clear!  But..... we have also had some clean and tidy guests from that country as well.  So, it's unfair of us to "generalize" and throw the whole country under the bus!

     

    I think it's a question of   "lifestyle" and what is "norm" from whence people come...and  the  "perceived ideas" are about "renting" a vacation place,  too.

     

    My parents traveled with their three children on family vacations  all the time. Whether we stayed in a hotel, a family member's house, their friend's house, an inn, a resort or a vacation cottage .....we were told that we had to be "quiet"...."neat".  Even though we were on vacation, our Mother would tell us to "make our beds" every day...to pick up after ourselves..."put your clothes either in the hamper or in the closet". ....straighten the rooms...and we could never leave a sink of dirty dishes. We swept floors....we did the chores while we enjoyed the place.  Today, even  when I leave a hotel room, it's tidy and clean. I was raised that way.

     

    I live in a location that provides year-long great climate...which in turn....provides me with guests throughout the year. Our guests travel from near and very far to reach my location. I've taken a count:  I've welcomed guests from 41 countries, so far.  Many come from central Europe....northern Europe....Canada....USA....Australia....N.Zealand.   So, I've got a lot of "nationals" to experience.

     

    Where are they the  "neatest", "cleanest"?   Hands down:  Germany, Switzerland and Austria and Scandinavia!  It is hard to tell that anyone has even lived in my place after guests from Germany leave. {I advertise in Germany... I have a website in the German language...so we frequently have German guests.  I love, love, love my German guests}.

     

    My USA guests have been among the best...second to Germany.  I'll leave the consistently "dirtest" worse nationals unmentioned...not to offend anyone.

    • New Member 9 posts since
      Apr 14, 2012
      Currently Being Moderated
      Jun 8, 2012 6:58 AM (in response to anja)
      Re: Increased damage deposits for non US residents

      Due to fair housing laws I don't think you can charge higher depsoits based on non-citizenship in the US.

      Messy people come in all shapes and sizes and from all countries.  We recently ran into this after a very nice US family stayed over Memorial Day Weekend.  We put them on our do not rent list and revised our rental policy to add provisions to charge for excessive cleaning etc.  I also put up a notice in the House that reads:  We don't mind doing your dishes and taking out your trash, however this is not part of normal housekeeping.  There will be an added $150 charge to do this.

      • anja Senior Contributor 1,555 posts since
        Aug 9, 2011

        Hi suiteelevations,

         

        Discrimination....yes, a good point you've brought up.   But, I think your comment is for Irbaldwin/Linda as it is not I who was the originator poster with the question. I do not have different, higher fees for certain nationals...as I've stated ...never did...and would not.   It was just a question posed by Irbaldwin/Linda.

         

        I have a similar notice in my place, as yours....about leaving dirty dishes = a fee imposed.

         

        What I described, earlier, was my worse "dirty" guest experience...and that was one set of "four single women"  that did that to my house. I will not say where  from...but it's my "pet peeve" nation.   Only two other separate sets of couples ever left my place  is a seriously dirty state...from the same "nation".   But, then we have had  other consistently "messy" guests from that place.....too many makes it seem like a "norm lifestyle".  We get  a lot of business from that area and people are generally very nice and pleasant....but  terrible housekeepers...in our experience.

         

        In spite, I would not stop welcoming guests from my "pet peeve" nation. We've had so many good guest experiences as well from there.  I just step up my "communication" on "housekeeping" with a 'red flag' presents itself.....and we go from there.

  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jun 9, 2012 11:47 AM (in response to lrbaldwin)
    Re: Increased damage deposits for non US residents

    I agree with anja regarding nationality - though it's tempting to find a way to explain some people's behavior, blaming the country of origin just doesn't make sense.  Some people are pigs, some are infected with "vacation brain", some just do not live up to our own personal standards - unfortunately, it's all part of this business.

     

    Having just a 3-hour window for turn-over is stressful enough, even on a good day. Those of us who have dealt with this know what you are up against.  If you can't - or don't wish to - change the turn-over time, it would be best to try to "head 'em off at the pass". Having your guests sign a very clear agreement stating your expectations and their responsibilities regarding clean-up would be essential. Give them a checklist that must be handed in before they receive their refund.   If you already have this in your contract, you might give it a good once-over.  Some renters expect hotel-level maid service to clean up after their stay.  If you don't provide (or charge for) this, you should say so.  One of the most effective contracts I have seen was written by an Owner:  "I am happy to share my apartment with you.  I am also happy to personally clean up after your visit.  But I am not your Mother.  Don't make me punish you.  Clean up after yourselves."  She says it works for her!

     

    Raising your refundable deposit would definitely be something to consider - but one set amount should apply to all your renters, since you have no way of knowing how anyone will behave, no matter which planet they come from. When travelling, I have rented apartments with the option of having a sizeable damage deposit "reserved" on my card, or submitting a personal check for that amount, which would then be refunded to me if all went well. The amounts were usually equivalent to the weekly rent, which I used to think was excessive - until I began to rent out (and clean) my own property!  I don't accept credit cards or PayPal either, but do have the renters pay the equivalent of $750 in advance, which covers damage and cleaning.  Sometimes I have been tempted to withhold some or all of the deposit, but it can be difficult to argue with people about what "clean" means.  I have decided to just stick pins in a voodoo doll instead of trying to understand human behavior.

  • codcape Contributor 70 posts since
    Apr 3, 2012
    Currently Being Moderated
    Jun 9, 2012 1:45 PM (in response to lrbaldwin)
    Re: Increased damage deposits for non US residents

    Open the window for turn over (make it 5hrs)...I have a check-out of 10AM and Check in of 3PM.  Should it be avail sooner I call the person's cell - this seems to work.

     

    I did once have a lady say that her kids didn't get up till later, my response was, this is the norm and my process.  If you're looking for a later check out rent from someone with a later check out...She woke her kids up early that day ;-)

    • msdebj Senior Contributor 1,357 posts since
      May 25, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Jun 9, 2012 3:21 PM (in response to codcape)
      Re: Increased damage deposits for non US residents

      Codcape's right. You need a longer window (we have the same check out/check in times).

       

      Our fees are broken down as follows:

      Base rental rate

      Taxes (15%) of base rental rate

      BASIC Cleaning fees

      Damage Deposit

       

      I've posted an explaination of the kinds of things that will be deducted from the Damage Deposit. It's right in plain view in our kitchen.

       

      Sad as it is, some people are just pigs. I highly doubt their point of original has anything to do with it. 

      Debj

  • Currently Being Moderated
    Jun 9, 2012 5:55 PM (in response to lrbaldwin)
    Re: Increased damage deposits for non US residents

    Filthiness is not a matter of country origin but one of personal choice. I cannot draw a norm based on national origin, height, ice cream lovers or nice people. As my mother always said, you can't get to know another person until you live with him or her. It happens even in the best families!!

     

    For homeowners like ourselves we have to know how to select guests, how to prevent issues and then how to deal with situations once they arise. Here are some tips:

     

    DUE DILIGENCE:

    1. Talk to the guests over the phone, do they fit your traveler profile? You own an upscale home in a quiet neighborhood and they are coming to celebrate Woodstock 35th anniversary?
    2. Are the employed or college spring break students?
    3. Are they a group of close relatives or a loose group of friends?

     

    Depending on what your target segment is, only you can set your own acceptance threshold.

     

    PREVENTION:

    1. Is your contract well written, clauses stating the guest responsibility or a simple “You pay, you sleep”
    2. Do you establish clear penalties for violation? I have $500 smoking fee, $50 per night for guests not listed in the contract and $500 party fee plus $50 per person if not previously approved in the contract.
    3. Do you have clear deposit policies? I prefer to take a credit card that I can always charge the full damage than a $250 or $500 deposit, since significant damage is usually greater than that.
    4. Do you have the proper insurance? Damage protection from Homeaway gives you SOME protection, but will not cover contract violations.
    5. NEVER accept a reservation until your contract, including the clearly visible penalty clauses, is signed and the deposit or rent has been paid.
    6. Do you have their full contact information? Not just email, but physical address, home and business phone.
    7. How much after they leave can you, or a trusted person, inspect the home?
    8. Can they provide pictures (better than video as proof) over to you to determine the damage?
    9. Do you have list of typical costs? Excessive cleaning fee, new linens, new towels, new dishes, smoke and duct cleaning for smokers, etc.
    10. How fast can you turn your claim around to your guests? An immediate phone call is critical, as a claim 7 days later can always be contested as “It wasn’t us, it was the next guest”.


    CRISIS MANAGEMENT

     

    1. How much does it take you after the guests leave can you, or a trusted person, inspect the home?
    2. Can they provide pictures (better than video as proof) over to you to determine the damage?
    3. Do you have list of typical costs? Excessive cleaning fee, new linens, new towels, new dishes, smoke and duct cleaning for smokers, etc. Plus $250 handling fee.
    4. How fast can you turn your claim around to your guests? An immediate phone call is critical, as a claim 7 days later can always be contested as “It wasn’t us, it was the next guest”.
    5. How fast can you call the repair team to take care of the issue and be ready for the next guest?


    After all, renting vacation homes is not a job, it's an adventure!!!

     

    Have fun!

     

     

    Gabriel

    Pochomil Beach

     

     

     


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