We simply chaulk it up the the law of averages. We have had some people leave the house nearly like it was when they arrived, while other times (like last month) we've had the place become a 10 hour disaster.
Since we clean the house ourselves, we're very particular about making the house perfect for each visitor. So even when the house is left "clean" by a guest party, we still clean every bathtub, mop all the floors, dust all the furniture and drapes. Our cleaning time is about 2 hours (2 people) if the house is "clean" anyway, so unless the group makes an effort to be destructive, we're usually done in about 3 hours on even a messy house. If the house was hardly used (overnight stay while skiing all day long), we might be in and out in just an hour.
We factor in having to do touch up painting (scuffs on the wall, wet towel marks behind a towel rack, etc) about once every 6 rentals, and a super-thorough cleaning 2 times a year. If we're coming up on that point and have a particularly messy guest stay, we'll use the opportunity to do the super clean at the same time.
Our rental rate is NOT per person, but just recently we did decide to add a $10 per person cleaning surcharge per person for groups over 6 people ($100 covers cleaning for 6, $140 for a party of 10). It just helps cover the extra time it takes to make extra beds, wash extra linens, and for the extra general wear and tear on the house that a larger group makes.
One other thing, we have had potential renters ask if we can waive the cleaning fee if they promise to clean the house themselves before leaving. The answer is ALWAYS no. It's not a matter of worrying if they will follow through or not - it's a matter of maintaining a consistent standard for how the house looks for each renter as they arrive. Regardless of how good a job they did, we would have to spend nearly as much time going through making sure it met our standards anyway.
We decided to change from calling it a cleaning fee to a guest service fee. We have a complete breakdown on our website showing what the guest service fee covers with a brief description and time estimate. Our Guest Service Fee includes: Preparation, Inventory, Laundry and Cleaning. Cleaning is very subjective so renters never stop to think about how long it takes to wash and clean so providing a time estimate really helped to put the fee into prospective.
We also place a small reminder sign in the kitchen with instructions on how the kitchen is to be left and what the excess hourly fee is so the guest has proper disclosure.
Arrival & Departure Preparation
Preparing the cabin includes spa cleaning and chemicals, blowing off the patio, decks and gazebo areas, verification of kitchen and linen inventory, checking the sound system, internet connection and testing all televisions to make sure they are all working properly. This fee also includes the caretakers time for arrival and departure inspections which includes a detailed written inspection report. Inspection reports are necessary to insure that the current guest is not held responsible for damage or missing items caused by a prior tenant
Inventory Verification Inventory Inventory counts include all towels, linens, bedding, accessories, artwork and a full accounting of the kitchen inventory
Laundry Services Laundry Laundry is one of the most time consuming elements of the guest service fee as we have different color towels and linens that require sorting and washing in separate loads, on a gentle cycle due to embroidery on towels. The fee covers the washing and drying of towels and bed linens according to the time allotment below. Sorry we are not able to accommodate requests from guests to launder themselves due to concerns with overloading the appliances and mixing of colors.
1 bedroom (2 guests) = 2 loads ~ 2 hours
2 bedrooms (4 guests) = 4 loads ~ 2.6 hours
3 bedrooms (6 guests) = 6 loads ~ 3.2 hours
4 bedrooms (8 guests) = 8 loads ~ 3.8 hours
5 bedrooms + sofa beds (10 guests) = 10 loads ~ 4.4 hours
Cleaning Services This The cleaning fee covers re-making of all beds, vacuuming, washing floors, bathroom toilets, tubs and showers, wiping out the refrigerator, microwave and oven, dusting furniture, light fixture, artwork and blinds, hot tub cleaning and checking chemicals. Also includes garbage can allotment based on number of nights and cleaning of fireplaces for guests that have purchased firewood.
1 bedroom = 3.5 hours
2 bedroom(s) = 3.9 hours
3 bedroom(s) = 4.3 hours
4 bedroom(s) = 4.7 hours
5 bedroom(s) – 5.1 hours
Caretaker Support Caretaker We have a very detailed guest service instruction book. This has been designed to answer questions and provide detailed instructions for operating everything in the home. If guests cannot find the answer to your question the fee includes one call to our caretaker to ask general questions. The fee also covers any house calls required by our caretaker for non-functioning appliances or equipment. This service is included in the guest service fee
The following items are not included in the Guest Service fee and will be considered to be excess fees.
- Dirty dishes and or silverware left in the sink or dishwasher or put away dirty in the cabinets.
- Ovens and Range top left excessively dirty.
- Gas BBQ Grill not brushed down and/or left excessively dirty.
- Hot Tub left with dirt and debris (normally caused by hot tub cover left open) which requires the hot tub to be emptied, refilled and new fresh chemicals added. Guest will be charged the hourly rate plus the cost of chemicals.
- Trash removal plus dump fees for sorting of trash, usage over allotted number of garbage cans also includes Christmas tree removal. Excess fees also apply to dump fee charges.
- Fireplaces(s) cleaning fee (applies to guests that have brought their own firewood).
- Window cleaning from excess dog smears or children's finger prints.
- Smoking on premises is not allowed, fees will be applied for any time required to pick up cigarette butts around the exterior of the property. If any cigarette smell is present inside the home the guest will be charged for costs associated with removal of the cigarette smoke which will include carpet cleaning, dry cleaning of bedding, shams, comforters, pillows, bed skirts, bed panels and the costs associated with rental of professional air fans and freshener products.
- Caretaker calls and or visits for anything reported by guest and after visit determination indicates that call was not warranted.
- Guest belongs lost and found will be charged a handling fee for the return (fee does not include packaging or shipping costs)
This is fantastic, vacationlady!
I need to put something like this together for our place and post it on our web site.
It usually takes us about 4 hours (2 people working) to get the place ready, including all of the cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, inventory, flowers, welcome gifts, personal notes, making the bed and setting up the towels ... we do towel and toilet paper origami and all of that ... we only have a studio, but it takes time. We don't charge a separate cleaning fee, as the cleaning fee is included in the cost of the rental.
But I like the way you describe all the things that need to get done in between ... I think if people see that a full written inventory is done between each guest ... it might make them much more careful about how they treat the place.
Great ideas, vacationlady, thank you!
- Dirty dishes and or silverware left in the sink or dishwasher or put away dirty in the cabinets.
I think you answer is excellent. I am a first-time landlord and had a guest insist that I waive the cleaning fee. One reason I objected is that I have to drive 125 miles each way to get to the rental (and back again to where I'm staying for the summer) and have to pay for gas. But your point is quite valid about no matter how clean they SAY they're going to leave the place, you would clean it again in order to maintain the same standards of cleanliness for all guests. Even if they are super-clean and fastidious guests and do wipe down the kitchen counters and microwave, I do NOT want them changing linens on the beds, nor towels in the bathrooms, nor doing any laundry before they leave. In fact, I instruct guests in the rental rules NOT to strip the beds or wash any of their linens or towels before departing. I take care of that and make sure it's done right. Plus, people can tend to overload my washer, which causes all kinds of problems, and I do not want guests to spend their vacation time cleaning or doing laundry! I also liked your point about charging per person for cleaning rather than a flat fee.
I am planning on expanding into property managment I curretnly own a housekeeping and carpet cleaning company in Panama City Beach, FL. I am not currently taking on new clients for housekeeping. Excessive cleaning? What this means to anyone is very subjective. We do not charge for taking out trash or washing a small amount of dishes picking up clothing tags and a small amount of trash around the unit. The only time we ever charge an extra cleaning fee is when the customer had a blatant disregard for the property. How much should one charge for extra cleaning. We say $35 per hour. That said If they did not wash the dishes did not take the trash out and got sand all over the place how long does that take. The reality is not long, 15, 20 minutes tops to get it to where they should have left it. Somethings we have charged for in the past. I have been doing this since 2005 and probably have not charged extra but maybe 20 times. We have recently charged an extra $50 to wash all bed covering in a 4 bedroom condo. They had urinated on every blanket sheets and mattress pad. I thought that $50 was not enough. We have a laundry with a 40# machine so we do not wash on site. We charged only $10 per load.
All in all I think it should be added into your orignal rate. If someone really leaves the place a mess do not rent to
them again. Charging little fees 2%-5% after people have left just creates a bad feeling on both sides.
Of course if the contract clearly states something that should be adhered to. Although I remember some years
ago going on vacation and we had a great time. Me being the clean freak made sure everything was in tip top shape
even better than when we got there. When I walked out, one of our party ran back in for a second and really it was like a second. Sometime later we received a letter informing us they were keeping our $50 deposit and we were not welcome again. Turns out the guy who ran in let loose on the toilet and did'nt flush. knowing this fellow it was
probably bad, but does having to flush the toilet a few times warrant taking someones $50?
I really went out of my way to make sure everything was really clean. As a much older owner now I would chaulk
this one up.
Our cleaning fee is included in our rent. This is standard on the Outer Banks. We have our house rules in the contract which includes washing and putting away dishes and sweeping or vacuuming the floors and carpets. We recently had a French Canadian family stay for 2 weeks. They will not get their deposit back.
1. In a conversation with the son-in-law, he told me there were 9 people staying there. The signed contract stated that there would be 8 people, and that is our limit according to the local law.
2. The floors, both top and bottom, looked like trash cans had exploded on them. It looked as if they had never swept or vacuumed for the whole 2 weeks they were there.
3. All the cushions on the living room furniture were stained so badly from food and people sitting on them in wet bathing suits that they will have to be professionally cleaned. Fortunately we were able to simply turn them over for the remainder of the season.
4. Both living and dining room rugs had to be taken out to be cleaned because of extensive staining.
5. They did not roll the 3 large (totally full) trash cans out to the street as required in the lease agreement.
6. I guess this doesn't count because we don't ask renters to clean toilets, but all three were lined with "number 2". I would NEVER leave ANYBODY'S toilets in this condition.
Our deposit is only $200, and that does not cover the costs from this filthy family. This is the first time we've refused to return a deposit. If they give us a bad review, I'll make my response and leave it at that. I'm not willing to pay for a review. They did not honor the contract they made with us.
Our cleaning fee is included in our weekly rent as is the cost of the laundry service at departure for household linens. One rate cover everything except the security deposit which is $500. I am thinking of ratising it to $1,000 since we have added new furnishings and electronics (2 large hdtv's) that would not be able to be replaced for $500.
My housekeeper/cleaning staff judge the state of the house when guests depart and determine the cleaning that needs to take place. The house is given a substantive cleaning each week - including such things as the interior of appliances, ceiling fans, outdoor furniture, and all glass doors and windows. There are not any extra charges to my guests for cleaining the interior of the refrigerator or removing fingerprints left by children. That's just part of the package, in my opinion and I make their stay an all inclusive one. In the many years we have rented we have charged the security deposit twice for additional cleaning. Our guests are well behaved and neat (I could claim excellent screening skills, but I hesitate . . . ) and my cleaning crew takes their work and the cleanliness of our home very seriously. They know I follow up with each guest/party to ask if our home met their expectations. They also have my approval to do whatever extra needs to be done to keep our home spotless.
We have a two page welcome/house rules document that is sent to each guest/party before arrival at our home. It includes very simple rules for maintenance of our home and the comfort of our guests. And it's worked.
Being a vacation home owner and also the owner of a houseekping business that services quite q few of rental homes. I would like to offer my opinion on this topic. I do this both with my rental home and with my business. I charge my clients a set fee which is enough to cover the turnover cleaning and also the cost of laundry services which also include ironing of the linens. This fee is usually worked into the rental fee and is not included in the security deposit. I upon entering a home do a complete walk through and photograph any damage or excessive messes. I also write my clients at the end of each turnover day a very detailed cleaning report and attach photos when needed. When there is an excessive cleaning situation or damages photos are taken and in some cases owners are notified immediately, If there is additional charges for cleaning it is then withheld from the security deposit. When photos are provided to back up withholding of any additional funds the guest usually cannot dispute the additional charges especially if the photos are time and date stamped within minutes of their departure. In my own home the security deposit is equal to half of the rental fee and is refunded within 24 hours of departure if all is well. Of course all of this does need to be included in the information packet prior to arrival or at time the rental agreement is solidified. Guests are asked to leave the home as they found it and are told if it is not there may be additional charges. Home owners should not be responsible for the disrespect of a renter.
I think everyone has a different perception of excessive cleaning.
I wonder, do bagfuls of popcorn emptied under sofa cushions count?
Do blood stains on bed linens count?
Do stains on entry door throw rugs count?
what about all of the jelly beans under the bed?
Or the sample the pet dog left behind in the corner of the dining room?
In each of our three confirming letters, we advise our guests of our "wishes". We ask our guests to leave the house as received, except that they please leave the linens and unmade beds, leave all soiled towels in the bathrooms. Love when the guests miss this point in each of our three letters, strip the beds and leave all the towels and bed linens in the doorway of the laundry room. Cleaning pople now need to sort through everything in order to launder.
We have been lucky. Most of our guests are really nice, respect our homes and leave it in wonderful condition. It's that horrible handful that we remember so well.
Very true, Marilyn !
We had a guest who left the place in an incredible mess. It took the maid 5.5 hours to clean the place when it normally only takes 2.5 hours. In addition, I was there putting away all the trash and cleaning out refrigerator (full of moldy food, including food left in our dishes), etc. So our usual $80 - $100 cleaning bill became $216, but that doesn't count the unpaid time that I was also there cleaning. We deducted $80 from the security deposit for the extra cleaning (being generous, didn't deduct for the entire added amount). But .... our guest wrote us a very defensive e-mail, explaining how she thought we were overcharging for the cleaning, etc. It was so lame !!! She knew the kind of state she left the apartment in. She even left a note to the maid, which said "Thanks for cleaning my mess. "
UGH! Anyhow, I have mixed feelings about the whole thing. Honestly, the extra $120 for cleaning bills wouldn't have broken our bank account. So we could have cheerfully refunded the full amount of the $500 security deposit, and just went along our merry way, without deducting anything. That would have been the best option in term of generating "positive feelings" for everyone.
But ... dang ... the whole reason we collect a security deposit is to prevent these kinds of abuses. So ... I don't know. This was the first time (and so far, the only time, thank GOODNESS!), we've had to deal with something like this.
Oh, also the guest accused us of being persnicketly / counting pennies / etc, when we said we'd charge her for the extra cleaning amounts. We are not stingy or miserly at all for our guests, in fact we provide lots of welcome gifts and tons of freebies (free transit passes, free bike to ride, free package pick-up, etc) that you don't normally find at other places. We often hear from our guests that we are spoiling them, and I guess you could say, that's true, yes we pride ourselves on how we roll out the red carpet for them. So ... I thought it was WAY LAME that, after everything we had done for this guest, she accused us of being stingy. And also I felt it was a terrible display of disrespect for her to leave the apartment in that condition and expect us to go through it all. She left 12 bags of garbage INSIDE the apartment. ETC. We paid $67 for a pest exterminator to come in after we saw the mess, and we didn't charge her for that either. ETC.
Anyway, I just want to say, we are the opposite of stingy !
But ... at some point, this guest may decide to write a bad review for us, even though she had a wonderful stay at our apartment. So ... as I say, I have very mixed feelings. I don't know if we did the right thing by deducting money from her security deposit. Even though we were quite generous and the deduction was obviously warranted. Thoughts, anyone?
I, for one,think you did the right thing and I think she got off easy with you only witholding $80! 12 bags of garbage for one person?! Good night! What was she doing?!
I am one who charges a cleaning fee on top of the rental rate - $75 which seems to be standard in my area, but I'm beginning to wonder if I should increase my rental rate slightly and include the cleaning. Most of my guests have been super about leaving the place clean. It turns out that the worst guests as far as that is concerned was the daughter of some friends of ours. They are elderly and wanted to have their daughter and her family visit them so they wanted to book our place for a weekend (they were paying for the daughter to visit). I charged them the rental and the cleaning, but no security deposit because they are friends. Well, of course you know the story, they left the house a mess that took me two days to get back to ready condition for the next guests when they finally did leave. They decided on their own to have a late check-out of 5:00 pm when check-out is at 11:00.
I know the reason they treated the home so badly is that they didn't pay for it, so they had nothing to lose. I couldn't withold anything from the security deposit because I didn't have one, but in all honesty, I wouldn't have anyway. I didn't have the heart to tell these people that their daughter was a pig who took advantage of their generosity. Needless to say though, if they ever want to have them visit again, they won't be staying here!
Thus far, we have not run into excess cleaning, but if we did, I would deduct whatever our cleaning service charges from the security deposit with a copy of the cleaning invoice and an explanation of the service. Our service does charge an extra fee when we have renters who bring their dogs. The renters pay that fee up front as part of their rent and it is non-negotiable.
I can't tell you how many times I have found breakfast in the microwave. Occaisonally there are some dishes or a pan in the sink. I can charge for this, but I don't. How much would I charge $10?
Considering these people pay good money for a week, I try to keep an open mind. Its great to get those renters that you look around and say "Wow this place looks great" but we can't expect a perfectly cleaned house everytime.
Sounds like fair policy to me. We have so many renters who leave the house so clean it appears spotless. Once in a while the home is left messy but not often.
I believe in a one price policy and do not charge for cleaning. I expect a certian level of cleaning to be required and nobody has exceeded that yet.