Creating a check-in policy
Creating a check-in policy for your vacation rental is simple but important. By clearly establishing a few basic rules up front, you can head off problems before they occur and address potential guest complaints before they escalate into full-blown disasters.
There are two major components involved in ensuring a smooth check-in process for your vacation rental guests:
- The pre-arrival packet (including complete directions and check-in instructions) that you e-mail to guests after you’ve received payment in full
- The welcome binder of house information and local attractions that you keep on-site at your vacation home.
The most important information about your home should be duplicated in both places so it’s accessible to guests both before and during their stay.
When it comes to spelling out the details of your check-in policy, you should reiterate the relevant check-in rules in your rental agreement as well. Those rules are:
- No Early Check-ins To avoid guests arriving before your home has been fully cleaned and prepped for their arrival, make sure to clearly state the check-in time, date and day of the week and to reiterate that early check-ins are not allowed.
- Check-in is on Saturday, June 14 at 4:00 pm. Early check-in is not allowed.
- Report Complaints Immediately Upon Arrival A crucial part of your check-in procedure should instruct guests to inspect the property as soon as they arrive and to notify you or your housekeeper immediately about any cleaning or maintenance problems (such as missing towels, a broken air conditioner, etc.) By addressing guests’ potential problems up front, you can help protect yourself from refund requests or negative reviews after the fact.
- When you arrive, please inspect the condo for cleanliness. If ANYTHING is not acceptable, do not hesitate to call the housekeeper at XXX-XXX-XXXX.
To ensure that guests remember to check for problems as soon as they arrive, you’ll also want to highlight this information in the welcome letter that you leave in an easy-to-find spot, such as a kitchen counter or entryway table (along with your welcome gift or basket, if you choose to give one.)
Creating a check-out policy
Not sure what check-out instructions to provide to your guests? Although you don’t want to overwhelm your guests with cleaning – after all, you do have a housekeeper – it’s perfectly acceptable to ask them to tidy up specific areas before they leave.
Here are some typical tasks you might ask of your renters before checkout:
- Take out all trash to the dumpster and place cans and paper products in the recycling bin.
- Place all used sheets and towels on the bathroom floor. (Another option is to ask your guests to start a load of laundry. If you go this route, be sure to provide enough laundry detergent.)
- Load and run the dishwasher.
- Remove any opened food items from the refrigerator.
- Turn off lights, ceiling fans or other electronics.
- In winter, turn heat to 58º F. In summer, turn air conditioning to 85º F.
- Lock the doors, close the windows, and leave the keys inside the lockbox. (If you have an alarm, remind your guests of the proper code.)
- Please sign our guestbook.
- Please depart by 10am so we can prepare the house for our next set of guests.
- Have a safe journey home!
One question we often receive is whether to penalize guests who don’t fully abide by the checkout rules. In situations like this, it’s important to consider your guests’ entire stay. If they were great renters but forgot to turn off the heat when they left, it may not be worth withholding money and lessening your chances of renting to them again in the future.
However, if you find that your checkout policy was completely ignored, that might be grounds for withholding a portion of the security deposit. But remember – you can only withhold the amount it costs to repair or replace a damaged item or address a specific problem. So, if your renters left the house messy and caused your housekeeper to have to clean longer than usual, you may want to bill your renters for the excess cleaning time.
Instituting a checkout procedure will alleviate confusion for your guests, and it could help save your housekeeper valuable time. While you don’t want to overwhelm your renters with chores, it’s reasonable to make certain requests to help you prepare for your next set of guests.
*Last updated April 11, 2018
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