23 Replies Latest reply: Aug 20, 2019 10:54 AM by auntytammy RSS

    How are your guest induced property damages going this season?

    keepsmilin New Member

      We are relatively new to vacation rentals - 2 years in.

      We stopped collecting a few hundred dollars damage deposits last year - thought they were not worth the hassle at the time.

      Got to reconsider.

      Need to re-think allowing children in our place.

      We also need to reflect on the value, for us, of continuing to allow the general public to rent our cherished vacation home.

      Below is an overview of our summer fun - so far...


      Week 1 - Unsupervised kids obviously banging something on a brand new cherry coffee table; and giving it an unwanted distressed patina. The little troopers must have put quite an effort into their mission - they did a very thorough job.

      Week 2 - New family. Unsupervised kids again; demonstrating their profound lack of spelling and artistic abilities; as illustrated via their favorite medium  - ink on lamp shades.

      Week 3 - New family. Dad, or the family's pet gorilla, for some reason decided to remove a custom window screen from the master bedroom;  by ripping it out of the window frame and totally.trashing it.

      Week 3 - Same guests - complaint that the cloths dryer was taking forever. Our particular model is new, efficient, and drys much faster with good air flow... and also when the back of it isn't shoved hard against - and almost thru the wall; thus crushing the metallic dryer vent pipe; and blocking said airflow.

      Week 4 -  New family - Want to remove a hot tub cover. Don't waste time with those pesky buckles - just rip the straps off the cover - now its easy on / easy off...

      Week 5 - New family - Someone in your family with a gusher nose bleed during the night? Use our handy bed pillow and queen size duvet to stop it up...we will buy new ones.

      Week 6 - New family - Master bedroom dresser mirror found on the floor, not smashed, but the mirror was out of the frame. This is a hard one to explain.

      Week 6 - Same guests - We learned something new - kitchen curtains work remarkably well as vertical drop cloths - and keep the gravy, we think, splash from soiling the window glass...note to self... purchase replacement curtains that cover the entire wall... and cabinets.


      This is on top of the usual: spilled drinks, little hand prints all over the plate glass windows, Cheerios, puzzle, and game pieces liberally spread throughout, makeup wrecked towels, and the random items that go missing; like kitchen gadgets, cutlery, device cords, books, cds, etc...


      For folks that have been in the biz a while... is this type of stuff typical? Are there strategies or best practices to identify and screen out the house wreckers? Like jacking up prices and go for fewer renters but with higher margins? Thanks in advance to anyone that could provide insight.

        • Re: How are your guest induced property damages going this season?
          ohst8er Premier Contributor

          Wow.  I’m so sorry.  I’ve never ever had even .1% of these issues.  I don’t even know what to say.  Raise your prices, have a large security deposit, etc. 

          • Re: How are your guest induced property damages going this season?
            margaret CommunityAmbassador

            I believe a refundable damage deposit is a deterrent, I would suggest reinstating the DD. It appears you have had a long, hot summer.


            1 It appears wood tables don't do well in VRS, I often see post about damage to wood tables. Perhaps you can get a piece of plexiglass cut to size to protect the wood
            2 Drawing on lamp shades is not acceptable and I would have sent an invoice for payment to replace them.
            3 Ripping the window screen out of the frame also unacceptable. Once again, I would invoice. I don't understand why guest push the washer and dryer back up against the wall but I have also had this happen. I thought it may be a vibration that cause it to move but that is not the case, it doesn't move when I stay or when my family or repeat guests stay. This has only happened a few times and always with new guests.
            4 Ruined hot tub cover...invoice.
            5 Nosebleed, very inconsiderate but I would let this one go and add them to DNR list

            6 I would ask what happened to the mirror. Curtains-Again DNR list

            • Re: How are your guest induced property damages going this season?
              green_mango Active Contributor

              I've only been at this 5 years, but haven't had half of those problems listed.  We tend to get 1 group each year that I wouldn't welcome back.  I use property damage insurance for each guest, but haven't had any claims recently.  I "reserve the right" to require a deposit and have done so for a couple groups this year (when I'm at the max occupancy or many kids) - have only kept part of a deposit once, and would have kept all of it for a particularly bad group that rented when I wasn't doing deposits.  I just don't think the back and forth of funds and tracking for taxes is worth it 99% of the time, so I rarely bother (of course I wish I had aa deposit that time - so now I'm better at choosing when to require a damage deposit).

              • Re: How are your guest induced property damages going this season?
                wildiris Senior Contributor

                I'm very sorry this has happened to you.  You've had a terrible time so far this summer.  I've been renting out our cherished vacation home for more than 10 years.  This sort of damage is not typical.  Here are the strategies that I use to try to prevent damage from happening to our rental:


                a)  I think that charging a refundable damage deposit provides guests with an incentive to take better care of your place because they want to make sure they receive their damage deposit back.  I don't think that having guests purchase Property Damage Protection provides the same incentive.

                b)  I try to establish a rapport with each guest.  After I receive a booking, I telephone the guest and talk with him to get the information I need for my rental agreement.  During this conversation we chat a little bit.  I can't tell from this conversation whether or not the parents will let their children run amok at my vacation rental.  Rather, the value in having this telephone conversation is that it helps establish in the guest's mind that I'm a "real person" - not a big corporation - and that the vacation rental is my cherished second home.


                c)  I have a one page list of "house rules" that are attached to and made a part of my rental agreement.  The things that I include in the house rules are the "biggies" such as no smoking, no pets, etc.  In addition to the house rules, I have a loose-leaf binder at the cottage with a lot of information in it.  (I have spent a lot of time over the years creating it and I update it every year.)  I include "positive" things in the binder such as restaurant recommendations, suggestions on fun things to do in the area, hikes they may be interested in taking, local equipment rental businesses, etc.  I also have a lot of "please do" and "please do not" things in the binder such as, "As your mother probably told you, please put a coaster under your glass or mug to prevent rings from being left on furniture."  (And I have lots of coasters in the living room and family room that are handy for guests to use.)


                d)  I limit occupancy.  My rental could accommodate twice as many people than my maximum occupancy number.  More people means more wear and tear.


                None of this is fool-proof.  I've had guests who have left the place very dirty or have caused some damage.  They are on my "Do Not Rent" list.  Most of the damage was minor and I didn't withhold anything from the damage deposit for it.   I've had two instances in ten+ years where I withheld money from a guest's damage deposit.  But, most of my guests have been wonderful.


                Hang in there!  I hope that the "tide turns" for you and that your next guests will be clean, careful and considerate!

                • Re: How are your guest induced property damages going this season?
                  bonesxxx Active Contributor

                  As some have suggested, raise your rates.  There is a sweet spot in there somewhere that will reduce the likelihood of getting disrespectful guests and without attracting the nitpicking Ritz crowd.  You just have to find it


                  And reinstate the DD.  I'd have kept it all for the table, screen, and lamp shades for sure.

                  • Re: How are your guest induced property damages going this season?
                    u0999 Premier Contributor

                    Yes this year there are more demanding, inattentive, p.ssy, and messy guests than usual. Often they are same ones giving mediocre reviews too. I cannot fathom NOT having a damage deposit. Nothing like having few hundred bucks on the line deters bad behaviors.


                    But as other have suggested, damage deposit is a MUST. Also consider other advice given (house rules, limit occupancy etc)

                    • Re: How are your guest induced property damages going this season?
                      hmmmm Senior Contributor

                      First question:

                      1. Are you on site or nearby?  If so greet them and or let them know you have someone who is nearby to "help" out.  Presence can make a difference for some guests.
                      2. Always, always, always add your own refundable damage deposit of $500.00.  Do not rely on the one time damage deposit from HA/VRBO.  People are very worried about their money more than your property.
                      3. Your contract should have a area that details how they will get the refundable security/damage deposit back....A list and they initial that area.
                      4. Someone should be there to take pictures when they depart.
                      5. Rules, Rules Rules.
                      6. When they book, call them personally and put a voice to the home.  Talk about your home.......
                      7. Get a complete name and ages of all guests on the last page of the contract before the signature.  Then get the emails for all adults and forward them a copy.


                      They somehow do not have the respect, for you or your home.  They are treating your home like a bad cheap hotel.  inexcusable.

                      • Re: How are your guest induced property damages going this season?
                        sanlord Active Contributor

                        So sorry you had so much trouble this summer. Luckily we have never had that kind of damage in the entire 10+ years renting our properties. We have only kept the entire or part of the damage deposit on 3 occasions and the guests did not question us (we did have documentation of the issues including pictures, which probably helped).  We were worried this summer because of a renter who was over our capacity but they left the property in pretty good condition, just a little more cleaning than usual.  I do think the damage deposit "inspired" them to take better care of the property than if there was no deposit.  Of course they are on our DNR list! I do speak with everyone before and after booking and also once they arrive which does help to build a relationship, of course every now and then one does slip through and make it to the DNR list!

                        • Re: How are your guest induced property damages going this season?
                          moosebigd Active Contributor

                          Just putting this out to get the opinions of other people...  We also had a season of less than desirable incidents ...  poop on sheets stuffed under the bed, Oreos smashed into the carpet, game cards ripped up and acrylic paint on a bed skirt, just to name a few.  I have wondered how appropriate this might be to include something of this nature with our listing on Vrbo:  "You [the renter] have invested much into this vacation to enjoy time with your family and friends.  We have also invested much into our vacation home to enjoy time with our family and friends.  If you [the renter] feel that you cannot respect our home please rent from someone else."

                          • Re: How are your guest induced property damages going this season?
                            calicalling Active Contributor

                            That is quite a list of horrors. I'm so sorry to hear that you've had such a terrible summer!


                            I agree that the quality of guests has declined. My guess is that as vacation rentals have become more transactional and the 'owner' has gotten more distant from the process, guests don't see it as owners sharing their homes, but as guests renting a 'property.' that they choose from a long, dizzying list.


                            I make a HUGE effort to personalize my interactions with guests. My hope (can't prove it but I think its true) is that this relationship building will lead to fewer damages. It definitely leads to more return guests and better reviews, anyway.


                            A practical strategy I have used is to charge a small fee to each guest (hide it in your rates if you don't want to add a charge) for a repair fund. I've been doing this for several years on all my properties. Now, when things go wrong or damages need repair, I lose less sleep knowing that I have a fund carved out for that purpose. I do ALSO charge a damage deposit, which I feel is absolutely necessary in order for guests to feel they have something at stake.


                            Hope that helps!

                            • Re: How are your guest induced property damages going this season?
                              auntytammy Contributor

                              As someone who has now been in the business for 15-years, I must say that while I have not experienced all the issues you have cited specifically, I have dealt with similar problems and losses. In fact, I believe they are more common than anyone ever divulges. I, personally, cringe when I watch HGTV shows touting the benefits of renting out homes--both primary and secondary residences--without educating Owners on the real costs of doing so. And, the list seems never-ending: higher (commercial) property taxes, higher utility bills, more wear-n-tear, and lest not forget ALL the hours you will expend on your business.


                              I, too, agree that more bodies in your home = more damage. It's simple math. Yet, the "experts" always stress the importance of creating more "beds"--even if the house cannot support them. And, I am not just talking about the available living space. Think about the size of your electrical panel, hot water tank, etc--all of which will be working overtime and may wear out before their time. Or worse, result in Guest complaints when fuses blow or the shower water turns cold.


                              Even though my own property could accommodate 14, I limit the occupancy to 10. And, I charge a premium for the pleasure. However, it was not always this way. About five years ago, I made a conscious decision not to try to be all things to all travelers and it has paid off. I seek to attract travelers who want a great value and experience for their money--there's a difference. And, I am okay not having a full calendar. I know that my property is priced at the top of my market, but I also am making more money and working less catering to a smaller Guest pool than I would otherwise.


                              So, raise your prices; collect a refundable CASH deposit--a Renters Insurance Policy alone is not enough (Guests need to have some skin in the game); and have a Guest Book in the house that reiterates your House Rules and the consequences for breaking them. For example: If we find sand in our spa upon Check-Out, you will find a $100 charge against your deposit. Don't be afraid to spell out your expectations.


                              Lastly, as outlined by Calicalling above, relationship building is key. And, is the reason this Owner does not allow Instant Booking.


                              Best wishes!


                              PS - Your No 3 (screen damage) likely resulted from your Guests locking themselves out of the house. ; )

                              • Re: How are your guest induced property damages going this season?
                                grant570 Active Contributor

                                wow....bit nuts.....biggest issue I've had is a lost steak knife from my knife block, I assume they threw it out by accident or lost it in a life and death struggle with a bear....

                                • Re: How are your guest induced property damages going this season?
                                  auntytammy Contributor

                                  As mentioned, Guests seldom read their Rental Agreements or your Guest Book from start to finish. My secret weapon: 5x7 picture frames!


                                  I create eye-catching "signs" that I place in colorful picture frames and display in the house as needed. For example, one features the Wi-Fi passcode and is on a book shelf near the router. Another, near the tray containing house keys, reminds Guests of the Check-Out Time, saying Housekeeping will arrive at 10AM ready or not!


                                  Guests respond favorably to these little framed signs cause they do not require them to do any work (rifling through docs) and are fun!