hi sophie, i'm a property manager (and homeowner too) in Colorado manging 200 properties for 6 years. was worried about this too when i first started out, but THANKFULLY it has never happened to me in over 20,000 rentals. I have had guests 'forget' on occasion (i don't think they really do forget), but when told politely that they have to leave, they always do and that only happens rarely.
My plan if it DOES happen is to call local law enforcement to emphasize the point. I have to say I don't know what their reaction would be though since I've never gotten to that point. I would imagine that the threat of that would be enough to get the guest to vacate.
On the fees, I put in my 'terms' that extra hours past checkin are $50/hr up to 4 hours, then it's an extra whole night so they know up front what the penalty is (or may even choose to stay longer and pay). We also have it in there that if it's past checkout, that we have the right to remove their stuff and secure it in our offices for them to pickup (handling the issue of them not being there). So we're covered if we take that step too.
I had this happen last summer for the first time in 31 years of renting our vacation home. My housekeeper called to say she was waiting at my cabin to clean, and that the incoming guests had already arrived and the departing guests had not vacated, but were not actually at the house.
I told her to send the incoming guests out for pizza (they had arrived a few hours early), and I called the departing guests on their cell phone. The woman told me that her daughter had talked to my husband and that he had told her they could stay another day. That was a good trick, since my husband died 11 years ago!
Then she said they were a couple of hours away from the cabin and it would take them some time to get back there.....and that the drive home was too far to leave so late. I told her to find a hotel once they had cleared out of the house.
She never returned the key, so I had the locks changed the next time I was at the cabin. And of course, the housekeeping bill exceeded what she had paid up front since my housekeeper had to hang around for several hours waiting for her to vacate, so I deducted the extra charges along with the cost of rekeying the locks from her deposit. She complained about both, but I sent her copies of the bills, and pointed out in her rental agreement where it stated that rekeying and extra housekeeping charges would be deducted from her deposit. It pays to have a good rental agreement!
I've had it happen a few times, even though their rental agreement, driving instructions AND the envelope with the key all clearly state check-out date and time. Guests are clearly having WAY to much fun !
If it's not a back to back I charge them for the extra night. If the cleaner were to charge me a trip fee I'd charge them that too.
On the back to backs: If the guests weren't there, I've called their cell phone and told them of their error. Usually they argue until I show them their driving instructions. Then they get to leave.
I had one instance (another back to back) that the guests left the door wide open, dog at the cabin, propane fireplace going, coffee pot on. I called their cell phone and they had left it at the cabin. At that point I thought something terrible had happened so I calle the local hospitals and police to see if there was an accident. I called their family on the cell phone. Police showed up just before the guests came back. The were having so much fun playing golf they decided to play the back nine! ACK! I was so mad! I charged them. Needless to say....they are not welcome back.
I would have a different strategy based on the occupancy:
1- If there is no incoming guest, do nothing, and if they extend their stay, charge them according to your contract either the extra hour or two or the full day. I am flexible with my guests if I am not pressed for time, and allow an hour or two at no charge, but I charge after that.
2- If I have incoming guests, I let them know as soon as they check in, so they are fully aware, and if they refuse/forget/are unable to leave, charge starting the first hour and let them know, if after three hours they do not vacate, they have abandoned their stuff and treat it as such moving it to another location where they will pick it up after paying the cleaning, removing and late fees.
Great question, Best of luck,
I phone my guests the night before checkout and let them know I will be over at 10 am to collect the keys( we have a 10 am checkout time). This has worked very well for us, guests are usually ready and waiting for my arrival. I also find they are eager to tell me all about the wonderful time they have had. I hope this helps. Minime