Managing housekeeping and maintenance from afar

    When making the decision to rent by owner, the first thing that most vacation rental homeowners ask is how do I handle housekeeping and maintenance from afar?

    If you live more than a few hours away from your second home, it's vital that you have a housekeeper who will look out for your property in your absence. Typically, individual housekeepers are a better lifeline than cleaning services; however, it really depends on finding the right person or company for the job.  When making the decision between the two, it's important to consider the pros and cons of each.

    Hiring an independent housekeeper


    The pros:

    • Consistency: Since you have the same person cleaning your cabin or condo between each renter, you know that the quality will be (close to) the same each time.
    • Thoroughness: An individual housekeeper may be more familiar with your property and knows which areas need special attention.
    • Willingness to multi-task: Since your housekeeper is there already, they could perform basic maintenance tasks such as changing light bulbs and furnace filters as well.
    • Communication: An individual housekeeper may be more likely to keep you in the know about what's going on with your vacation home and your renters.
    • Flexibility: He/she might be able to offer flexibility with your rental schedule and vacillating needs.

    The cons:

    • Difficult to find: Individual housekeepers can be harder to find since they're usually not listed in the yellow pages.
    • Difficult to keep: If this is just an "extra" job and he/she finds something better, you could lose your housekeeper without notice.
    • Longer cleaning time: It could take longer to clean the same space since they're only one person.
    • More expensive: Since an individual may take longer to clean your property, it could cost a little bit more than a cleaning service.
    • Less reliable: Housekeepers are only human, so you'll have to have a backup housekeeper in case of emergencies.
    • Less flexibility in scheduling: If you don't adhere to a strict rental schedule (Saturday to Saturday, for example), he/she may not be able to fit you in.


    Hiring a professional cleaning service


    The pros:

    • Easy to find and hire: Your local Yellow Pages probably hold the numbers for tens or hundreds of housekeeping/cleaning services.
    • Fast and efficient: They often come with a crew of two or more people, so they can quickly and easily handle a turnaround (when renters are checking out and checking in the same day).
    • Less expensive: A cleaning service is fast and efficient and will therefore usually cost less than an individual.
    • Multiple crews: If your regular housekeeper gets sick, there's always a back-up. Also, if you're unhappy with your housekeeper, they can always send a new one the next time.

    The cons:

    • Different cleaning crew each week: The crews won't necessarily have the chance to become familiar with your property.
    • Less attention to special needs: Since cleaning crews tend to clean a lot of properties each day, they have a set cleaning list and rarely deviate from it.
    • Lack of communication: Cleaning services may not communicate as often or as thoughtfully with individual property owners.
    • More flexibility in scheduling: Since the cleaning companies tend to employ their cleaners on a regular full-time or part-time basis, they tend to be more flexible.

    Whatever you decide, the key to success with either an individual housekeeper or a cleaning service is to clearly communicate your expectations. Be sure to leave a written copy of your cleaning checklist at your property for easy reference.

    *Last Updated April 11, 2018                                

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