21 Replies Latest reply: May 20, 2013 2:44 PM by stephanie RSS

    What is clean?

    rinaldomoon Senior Contributor

      What do owners define as clean and what do you expect from your guests?

       

      This is how I run my business:

       

      • I do not charge separately (or offer that option) for cleaning. By doing so, it gives people the idea: "I've paid for the service so I do not have to do anything."
      • My rental agreement says: "The accommodations will be clean prior to your arrival. We simply ask you to respect the property and amenities provided and to leave things in good and clean condition on your departure."
      • I take a separate security/damage deposit.
      • I am present when guests arrive and they see the state (clean!) the accommodation is in.
      • In addition to the rental agreement, I have guests sign an additional form on arrival. It reinforces the rental agreement with additional: "Report any breakage or damage promptly and not on the day of your departure" and "The kitchen must be clean on departure including the tiled wall, counter top, cooking hob, oven and microwave. All dishes, cups, glasses, utensils, cutlery, pots and pans etc. must be clean and put back where you found them on arrival. The dishwasher must be empty and clean (and not running) and the refrigerator empty, wiped clean and without food.
      • I never tell a renter to "leave the place as you would at home" instead I say "we clean the accommodation after your departure but we will not clean up any mess you leave behind"
      • The security deposit is returned in full minus any breakage, damage, exceptional/extra cleaning within 10 days of departure if without issue
      • I follow up any issue with details of problems found with photos if necessary. I give a detail of charges involved and let them reply before deducting any costs.

       

      Perhaps my experience and approach is different as I am an on-site owner/manager. The system has worked for me and I would say I have only needed to charge on rare occasions of "big breakage" (not an odd glass or two) and major cleaning which usually involves filthy ovens and/or unreported stains on bedding or furniture. These are the most time consuming issues!

       

      Interested in thoughts, experiences of other owners. What do you do and why it might be "better"...

       


        • Re: What is clean?
          harborfields Active Contributor

          we will not clean up any mess you leave behind

           

          Of course you will.

           

          If you don't clean up the messes that guests leave behind, how can you present the property as "clean" to the next guest to arrive?

           

          Perhaps you are trying to say "we will charge extra to clean up any mess you leave behind?"

          • Re: What is clean?
            New Member

            Hello rinaldomoon

            Do you not charge a separate cleaning fee?  Or do you just absorb that in your rental price?  We take the clean.fee from the deposit, and return the deposit within 14 days after they have departed.  Most of my renters are pretty clean, but I think a few have felt that they are paying extra for cleaning, so, they don't have to particularly be "clean" which is where your system is perhaps "better."  This is a good question.  And my worst irritations are staining to my towels, and some to my sheets.

              • Re: What is clean?
                rinaldomoon Senior Contributor

                We do not charge a separate fee. In principle the "cleaning" is included but we don't spell this out. Instead we make it clear verbally and in writing in what circumstances we charge for "extra/exceptional" cleaning.

                 

                Yes, stained towels are annoying... we take things case by case. When it is only one hand towel, for example, we may swallow the cost. When things add up... towels, sheets, broken things (often hidden), we charge.

                 

                When people are honest and report to us during their stay, we often let it go. On the other hand, when they leave without bothering to follow the signed agreement, we will charge for extra time/work.

                 

                Our principle and what we explain when needed is "We prepare and clean the accommodation for the next people, yourselves included when you arrived. We don't clean up for you or for what you have done during your stay."

                 

                It may appear "militant" but after 7 years, our accommodations including the equipment still looks "new" and many guests say so! It is only fair to give all guests a "spotless" place. It also eliminates those who might challenge you later to say it was like that when they arrived.

                 

                But it is almost always those who challenge you who are the "dirtiest" people. Back it up with a complete list and pictures when necessary.

                  • Re: What is clean?
                    New Member

                    Thanks.  If I were to include our cleaning charges in our rental  rates, that would really change them!  They would go up compared to  everyone else's rental rates.  And "everyone" around here has a separate  cleaning charge.

                     

                    Were you writing above that the  cleaning is included in your rental rates?  or are they are included in  your Deposit?  (sorry I am not clear).

                     

                     

                    And yes we  charge extra for extra cleaning --- however!  the one time I tried that  (two extra hours, extra sandy etc.)(extra $80+)(taken from the return of  his deposit) he got really angry, and we had emails back and forth.  He  also had already! given us a very nice Review ... so ... I relented and  sent him the extra $80 in another check.

                     

                    A broken  plate or glass here and there, broken glass coffee pot, even a broken  table lamp (from the above Mr. Messy Family) are just overlooked  (especially when they TELL me)(I really emphasize this point when I do  their check ins, esp. with children there (we all make mistakes, things  break, we don't mean to, but ...), because I too have had another lamp  broken, stacked back together, and I do not know who did it -- before  Mr. Messy Family). 

                     

                    I find that stains on towels (and  on sheets) can really get past me, especially if they might do the  laundry and fold and put away (I am the one who does the laundry, so, if  and when they do their laundry, I REALLY appreciate it!  Especially so  with these new washing machines which will take an hour or longer to do a  load of wash.  It makes a turnaround rental on the same day very  difficult.)  Then I am never sure who did the stain!  (There ARE times that I  will check and re-fold, but, quite an extra chore.)

                • Re: What is clean?
                  lincoln Senior Contributor

                  A few things to consider might be whether we in fact are charging the guest a higher tax by including the cleaning in the fee as in many areas, cleaning is taxed at a lower rate than lodging.

                   

                  Trends .... I'm noticing  a trend away from requesting guests on vacation to do things like "The kitchen must be clean on departure including the tiled wall, counter top, cooking hob, oven and microwave."  at least in the USA.  Some 'self-catering' foreign rentals may require it, but VR guests are trending towards expectations similar to hotels.

                   

                  To avoid shocks and or resentment especially from guests that have never encountered such requirements, I think that anything other than that, should be specifically clarified in the contract (complete with amounts that will be deducted should the oven not be cleaned to your satisfaction .... and do you supply safe to use oder free oven cleaner and gloves?) and at least summed up in the listing itself that guests are required to clean before leaving or will be penalized.

                   

                  Different areas of the world have different customs  ....... but there are trends we need to pay attention to.

                    • Re: What is clean?
                      Active Contributor

                      i've seriously been thinking of having my renter charge less rate as many times on a 5 bedroom house i only have a house with 2-4 people in so 3-4 bedrooms and bath never used. i did bring it up once and he said many times when you have 2 people more than 1 bedroom and severl bathrooms are used. plus he said many times during summer theres 10-12 in and its super dirty and takes longer. the problem i'm having on a 3 day rental the $160 cleaning fee is eating up a larger part of the total than a 7 day so i have to drop my price

                    • Re: What is clean?
                      Active Contributor

                      Lincoln, I agree that cleaning fees may be charged at a different rate than hotel/lodging fees, However, I have never stayed at a hotel/motel that broke out the taxes for cleaning and staying in the room. I have always had to pay the hotel tax on the total amount. Hotels have cleaning fees, they just don't tell you they do. Therefore I think it is much cleaner and simpler just to tax the total amount and send it on to the city and state. At least that is what I do.

                        • Re: What is clean?
                          harborfields Active Contributor

                          In fact, some jurisdictions may require that any and all fees associated with short term rentals of accommodations must be taxed at the same rate as the rent, including cleaning fees, pet fees, etc... Worth checking the rules in your area.

                            • Re: What is clean?
                              Active Contributor

                              Yes in fla i collect fees on cleaning fees

                                • Re: What is clean?
                                  lincoln Senior Contributor

                                  It can make a difference in the amount that a VR guest pays if the Lodging /TOT (transcient occupancy tax) iz  also being billed for pool heat, linens, cleaning, use of kayaks, firewood, and perhaps additional services like shopping  or event tickets-- especially for longer stays.

                                   

                                  Here's the wording on one county: If the charge made by any hotel to a transient includes an additional charge, then the portion of the total charge representing only room rental should be distinctly set out and billed to such transient as a separate item. If the room rental charge is not separately stated on the bill, then the tax must be calculated on the entire charge.

                            • Re: What is clean?
                              sapphiresteve Senior Contributor

                              To circumvent the "cleaning fee" question, I refer to it as a "turnover fee". If questioned, I reply that it covers the various expenses involved in preparing the (condo) unit for the next guests, and includes cleaning that we do not expect guests to do on departure (such as swabbing the floor) restocking certain consumables, laundering one set of linens,   bed-making and so on.

                               

                              BTW, I believe that cooking hob is a European term, and if you rent to visitors from the United States, they are unlikely to understand it.

                               

                              Steve

                                • Re: What is clean?
                                  rinaldomoon Senior Contributor

                                  Yes, "hob" may be a Brit or European (Englsih) term...

                                   

                                  However, the point is, a renter should not and cannot hide behind "words" or "definitions" ... leave something "clean" is a straight issue. One cannot say, "I did not know what a hob is so that was not cleaned."

                                   

                                  Another case in point... if you say please take out the "rubbish", will an American say "you did not say trash or garbage and we did not know what that word meant so it does not apply to us"??

                                   

                                  If you come to Europe, you cannot and should not expect to American terms to apply to every argument. Everything does not boil down to legal terms or wording. It really comes down to principles.

                                   

                                  If someone signs a rental agreement or terms and conditions without asking "what does that word or term mean", that is their fault (would you sign a police confession in a country where you don't know their language?). We are not forcing or tricking people into signing something beyond their will. It is simply to protect the our business and costs involved if something goes wrong.

                                   

                                  P.S. Most of our guests come from continental Europe but also the UK and Ireland. We also get many from Canada, the US, Australia and New Zealand. We communicate predominantly in English but French is sometimes required. Having said that, it is a two-way communication by emails but also phone calls where any details or questions can be addressed. The key is to build up a trust and understanding so nothing is left to ambiguity/misunderstading later. Signing a contract/agreement is a "must" (in Englsih or French) but so is the initial dialogue.

                                    • Re: What is clean?
                                      sapphiresteve Senior Contributor

                                      I honestly didn't mean to offend. If someone had mentioned the cooking hob to me I would simply inquire what's a cooking hob?  I agree with your recent post 100% and I am sorry that I seem to have offended you.

                                       

                                      Steve

                                        • Re: What is clean?
                                          rinaldomoon Senior Contributor

                                          Hi Steve,

                                           

                                          No worries and no offense taken. I simply use your example (in reality not an issue) which renters may use to justify and make for an argument against paying for "damages"...

                                           

                                          I have read on some posts in the past that it may be important to include in an agreement something like "do not assume that something not written in this agreement is allowed" (there must be a better way of saying this... any good ideas?)

                                           

                                          I do like your term "turnover fee"... it may distinguish the difference between what we do for a arriving guests vs. departing guests

                                    • Re: What is clean?
                                      rinaldomoon Senior Contributor

                                      As per the original post, I would also like to hear about what other owners ask/expect VR guest to "do" before leaving...

                                        • Re: What is clean?
                                          Active Contributor

                                          We ask our guests to tidy up, turn the heat down to 62, take the garbage out to the bin, load and run the dishwasher and remove any food from the fridge.

                                          • Re: What is clean?
                                            Active Contributor

                                            We ask guests to leave the cabin in the same general condition as they found it (we don’t expect them to vacuum but they should clean up anything they got dirty). We ask that they wash and put away the dishes, turn down the thermostat, and leave the beds unmade (we have had a lot of people make the beds on the day they leave and it can be hard to tell if they have used the pull out beds).   Also we ask them to carefully put the furniture back (mostly to save my back from having to move the couch by myself).  Because we have to use a dump 4 miles away (it is on the way out) we do not make guests take the garbage out but many do.  

                                          • Re: What is clean?
                                            susaninrehoboth Premier Contributor

                                            My guests have to empty trash can, remove all food and start the dishwasher. We don't suppl;y linens so that's not an issue. The local cleaning service charges $75 for an 808 sq. ft. condo-Yuck! They cleaning is so-so aned every two rentals or so, I clean stuff the service misses.

                                            • Re: What is clean?
                                              Active Contributor

                                              Mainly, we want the guests to leave the house by 10:00 AM so our cleaner can get in!  Guests are supposed to take their trash to the dumpster, cleaning out old leftovers, etc., from the fridge.  We do not want them to do any of the house laundry - our cleaner knows the water situation and understands the best way to wash and dry everything, checking for stains or damage.  So, how clean the house is left by guests is variable, but since we (or anyone else) can't be there to check them out, it is what it is.  Typically, it is just fine.

                                              • Re: What is clean?
                                                Contributor

                                                We ask our guests to run the dishwasher, take their food out of the cupboards and refridgerator, wipe kitchen counters so we don't attract ants, lock all exterior doors and windows, leave beds unmade and used towels hanging in the bathrooms (not left in piles on the floor where they can touch wood and cause moisture damage), take all garbage out to the cans and pull the cans to the street for pick-up. Our home hosts 17 guests, usually for 7 mights so we also ask that they mop and vacuum as needed during their stay.  We have had occasions where the guest spilled soda and left it to dry into a semi-sticky mess on the floor or spilled bar-b-q sauce on the deck and then walked through the house.  I assume they thought that since they were paying a cleaning fee they didn't have to wipe up.  We now have in our contract and I verbally reiterate that we expect that with a group this size they will need to mop and/or vacuum at times throughout their stay.  I don't charge an additional cleaning fee if they don't keep up with cleaning their mess- but I don't accept a reservation from them for the next year either.  Demand is high enough that we can be a little choosey who we'd like to host and their are plenty of more conscientious guests to serve.  Note: 98% of our guests are fantastic and we are blessed to host them  :-)