15 Replies Latest reply: May 20, 2013 6:21 PM by lazym RSS

    Hourly Cleaning Rate

    Active Contributor

      I hope that I never have to charge this but I want the information just in case I have to, what is a reasonable hourly rate to charge for extra cleaning? 

       

      I know that for keeping part of a security deposit I should keep receipts for cleaning but I clean my own cabin so what is a reasonable rate to charge?  This is the first year that we have a security deposit but once last summer I spent over an hour just doing dishes from a couple who left chili sitting out for 2 days and if this happens again I want to be able to charge the guest because this is above and beyond what I should have to clean. 

       

      Thanks for the advice!

        • Re: Hourly Cleaning Rate
          Active Contributor

          I have never had to charge for "extra" cleaning, but if I did, I think I would charge $20 an hour.That being said, I don't think you can state that washing a few extra dishes and a pot is "extra" cleaning. Yes, it would have been nice if they washed the dishes themselves,

            • Re: Hourly Cleaning Rate
              Active Contributor

              Thank you for your response.  Just to clarify it was not a few extra dishes. It took me over an hour to scrub the pots and dishes clean of the chili that they had left sitting out for 2 days.  I would charge if I had to wash one of 2 regular dishes but I do think that if I have to spend an extra hour scrubbing dishes (and almost puking due to the smell) I should charge them.  The whole cabin takes about an hour, not including the laundry, to clean on a normal day.  If I had a house cleaner they would have charged me an extra hour to do the cleaning so why shouldn’t I charge them for my time?  

            • Re: Hourly Cleaning Rate
              rinaldomoon Senior Contributor

              I started a thread about "what is clean?"

               

              http://community.homeaway.com/message/59819#59819

               

              While my rental is in France where prices/hourly rates are different, I think the principle is that "extra cleaning" can be expensive... this does not necessarily mean the extra "time" you spent.

               

              A filthy oven can take 1 hour to clean. If this 1 hour takes away from the time of your turnover (we, 2 people, spend 2 hours each of our 3 accommodations from a 10 am check-out to a 4 pm check-in)...

               

              You cannot not always calculate a monetary value to "extra" time. If you spend extra time cleaning up after someone's "filth", it takes away the time you may usually give to give the accommodation the "special touches" for the new guests.

               

              I think you need to spell out the terms/rules and in the end come up with a "rate" that you feel you can take out of a security deposit... it is like working "over-time"... it is should not be a "standard" rate.

               

              Another example... if you have a strictly non-smoking accommodation but find someone had in fact smoked? Non-smokers will notice and it may take "hours" to clear... what do you charge? The hours it took to clear the air? How do you deal with the new guests who notice?

               

              I would set strict rules according to what you expect and set a "high" rates if those conditions were not met...

               

              Maybe you can add your thoughts here or on the thread above...

                • Re: Hourly Cleaning Rate
                  Active Contributor

                  Agree that this “extra” cleaning takes away not only my time but can also affect my next guests.  I have looked over your “what is clean” threat and agree with a lot of people on there.  Why I wanted to have this thread is to get ideas about what I should charge if I have to charge this extra cleaning fee.  I mean if I had a cleaning person they would charge me for an extra hour of cleaning so why as an owner shouldn’t I be able to charge a renter when I have to go above and beyond normal cleaning.  I am not doing this to nickel and dime guests but I do want them to be held accountable if they leave the property extraordinarily messy.  I just want an idea of what is fair to charge a guest out of their security deposit in case I ever need to prove it with some sort of invoice.  Our check out list now includes washing and putting away dishes.

                   

                  As for the smoking policy I would absolutely keep the security deposit (it is very clear that smoking is not allowed anywhere on the property).  Not only does it make our cabin smell but living in the mountains there is also a high wildfire danger which is why our policy is so strict.       

                    • Re: Hourly Cleaning Rate
                      sage Senior Contributor

                      why as an owner shouldn’t I be able to charge a renter when I have to go above and beyond normal cleaning . . .   I just want an idea of what is fair to charge a guest out of their security deposit

                       

                      Perhaps your local laws differ from those in most locations, but generally laws relating to security deposits do not allow an owner to withhold funds from a security deposit except for actual out-of-pocket expenses or if charges prescribed in the rental agreement remain unpaid after checkout.  This is not to say that one may not charge a guest for extra work that one personally does, however that charge would need to be billed separately to the guest while the entire security deposit is refunded.  If the guest failed voluntarily to pay that charge, one could sue the guest or refer the debt for collection. 

                        • Re: Hourly Cleaning Rate
                          Active Contributor

                          But if I had a cleaning person who charged me an extra hour of cleaning I could hold the security deposit because I have an recipt from my cleaner?      

                           

                          I do not have an additonal cleaning fee. 

                           

                          Honestly I hope that I never have to keep anyones money because they don't do dishes but I do want to know my options in case this happens again.  

                            • Re: Hourly Cleaning Rate
                              sage Senior Contributor

                              if I had a cleaning person who charged me an extra hour of cleaning I could hold the security deposit because I have an recipt from my cleaner?

                              Yes, the problem generally is that the owner bears the burden of proving the amount owed by the guest.  A receipt showing payment provides good evidence.  In some places, an owner may prove a right to retain funds from a security deposit without producing a receipt, but in a court case it may be necessary to hire an expert witness to testify that a charge was reasonable (and the expert witness's fee would not be chargeable to the guest). 

                               

                              If one is wrong on the law, the consequences may be painful to an owner.  In some states, a tenant who successfully sues for return of a security deposit can be awarded a multiple of the amount wrongfully held; in some states that tenant can be awarded attorney fees.  I don't know where you are located, but you mentioned mountains so I looked at Colorado law -- it would allow a tenant who sues successfully to be awarded triple the amount wrongfully withheld plus attorney fees (offering a great opportunity for a starving young lawyer to pay off his school loans). 

                               

                              I do not have an additonal cleaning fee.

                              This could be problematic if one wants to charge for extra cleaning.  If there is a standard cleaning fee, one may have a sense of how much cleaning that payment reasonably covers.  If you testified that the place was left a mess and cleaning took twice as long as normal, that starving young lawyer would argue 'standard cleaning costs the guest nothing, two times nothing is still nothing, so the guest owed nothing  for cleaning, even if the court finds that it did take twice as long as normal.'  While I agree that building the cost of cleaning, along with other overhead expenses, into the rental cost can be a good business model, it is dangerous to try to use the security deposit to cover the cost of extra cleaning because it is going to be difficult to prove how the problem cleaning differed from routine cleaning.  But as I said above, you might bill the guest for extraordinary work even if you may not withhold funds from the security deposit.

                          • Re: Hourly Cleaning Rate
                            rinaldomoon Senior Contributor

                            I totally agree with you.

                             

                            But I think no matter what you "charge" someone (take what ever is necessary!), you are also sending an indirect message to them that you won't be having them back.

                             

                            But you will need to stick to your "principles" as from my experience, "these types" will be writing those negative review... more often than not, nothing to do with what they did but they will find anything to "hurt" you.

                             

                            Many owners are afraid of not wanting to do anything that may cause a "bad" review and I totally understand. Yet there are times when you have to stick to your principles. A professional response is also another "time consuming" task which is sadly often part of this business, especially in the world of "free speech" on the internet!

                              • Re: Hourly Cleaning Rate
                                Active Contributor

                                We have been in this business for over 15 years and have only had a couple of return guests (Yellowstone is on everyone’s bucket list so they see it once and don't come back). 

                                 

                                I don't care that much about the negative reviews, I know we have a great place and the right people will find us.  We are not the right fit for some people and negative reviews help to show that (like the women who thought she was staying at a 5 star resort and was angry when there were bugs outside and the grass was an inch long). 

                                 

                                Like I said before I do not want to nickel and dime my guests but if I have to spend an extra hour above and beyond my normal (extreme) cleaning the guest should be held responsible (especially if I almost throw up because of the smell of their 2 day old dishes)

                          • Re: Hourly Cleaning Rate
                            susaninrehoboth Premier Contributor

                            As stated by others, you need to be sure you can legally charge for extra cleaning. If you can, to determine the cost per hour, get quotes from a couple of local cleaning services to learn the hourly rate.

                             

                            Chosing the lesser of two evils, I wouldn't charge for an extra hour of cleaning, no matter how bad it was. To me, it wouldn't be worth the hassle of how the guests might retaliate, for instance, nasty emails and phone calls. I think you're wrong to not be concerned about the impact of a negative review.

                            • Re: Hourly Cleaning Rate
                              rinaldomoon Senior Contributor

                              Some important points and arguments...

                               

                              Yet the important question is, when is the "red-line crossed"?

                               

                              Do we owners set the rules or do we have to let some "bad" renters do as they please knowing they can "manipulate" legal terms or use "threats" of negative reviews?

                               

                              Things may be different here in Europe (with its own problems) but I think I prefer it to running a business in "fear"

                              • Re: Hourly Cleaning Rate
                                carol Premier Contributor

                                I think the only solution might be to call in a cleaning service if you walk in and find a mess.  Don't do it yourself, you can't charge for it. But if you could get a service in quickly, you'd have a receipt and could deduct it from the deposit legally.   

                                 

                                While you are waiting for the service to come, take lots of pictures. 

                                 

                                It all depends on how much time you have between rentals -- it might not be possible to call in the pros.  Having a good relationship with a local cleaning service ahead of time would give you a chance of getting extra help when you need it.  

                                  • Re: Hourly Cleaning Rate
                                    rinaldomoon Senior Contributor

                                    Ah! the business model in America!

                                     

                                    No chance here in France (in the rural sticks!)... 5-6 hour window to do a turnover (3 accommodations on a Saturday).

                                     

                                    When faced with a problem, quick photos and we simply get on with it! The new guests become the "priority". We "hold" the security deposit as per our conditions and deal with the problems later...

                                    • Re: Hourly Cleaning Rate
                                      Active Contributor

                                      Not a option for me either seeing as the closest town is 30 minutes away and nearest "city" is 70 miles away.  Can't call anyone up there last minute to have them look and clean.  In the summer I normally have guests coming in that day so it is not an option to have someone else come out.    

                                       

                                      Seeing as my parents actually own the property, I just oversee renting it out and cleaning it: can I write up a receipt and "charge" my parents for it?