25 Replies Latest reply: Sep 13, 2014 5:35 PM by skiandglee RSS

    What to do when guests break into owner's closet?

    New Member

      Would love some thoughts on this.  We have a rental that has a garage that is locked and our private things (including a golf cart) are kept in the garage.   Our last guests broke into the garage - they must have picked the lock, took out our golf cart which was evident by the sandy footprints left all over it, used all of our beach accessories - which our housekeeper witnessed when they arrived.

       

      They didn't actually damage anything but I feel quite violated that they broke into our private space.  I'm not quite sure if I can withhold money from their security deposit for this since there wasn't any acutal damage.  However, our housekeepers did charge an extra $100 due to the extreme mess they left in the house and grounds which I will be with-holding.  

       

      Thoughts??

        • What to do when guests break into owner's closet?
          mike Contributor

          THIS IS UNEXCUSEABLE!  This is breaking and entering, trespassing and illegal. Withhold their ENTIRE  DEPOSIT! If they complain inform them if they prefer you can file a police  report and they can discuss it with the local police department. If I were to  break into the managers office, pool area or bar of a  hotel while a guest, I am pretty sure the cops would be involved.

           

          I hate to hear stories  like this, it’s different than guests causing damage  either by accident or simply being irresponsible. These guests knowingly and  purposely violated a home owners privacy and trust and  feel absolutely no remorse about it as if they were entitled. Do we as  homeowners have to explain what an owners closet is?

           

          If HomeAway and the "indusrty" continue to spend millions of dollars to lure travelers from hotels to vacation rentals, we have not heard the last story like this. How about spending a few bucks informing these travelers they are renting PRIVATE  HOMES and they are expected to treat them and their owners with a little respect. ANY  effort from HomeAway in the way of helping to establish education, code of conduct,  guest etiquette etc. in the booking and use of vacation rentals I assure you  would be appreciated by the owners. The sheer amount of stories in this  community about “guest behaving badly” I think indicates there is a need for it.

           

          Mike  Cushing

          BookbyOwner.com

           

              

          • What to do when guests break into owner's closet?
            stjvilla Active Contributor

            Sorry you have had this awful experience.  There are just some renters who feel they are somehow overly entitled and not subject to normal standards of behavior and these folks are some of those.  I would keep their $100 for cleaning as planned and in future have a special clause in your contract saying that the garage is private and off limits and if anyone disturbs that space will forfeit their entire damage deposit.  And maybe a sign on the communicating door to the house, if any.

             

            I really don't think HA or VRBO can do anything.  Be they condos or single homes, all rentals here are private residences.  It's up to the owner to set the rules of the rental of their particular home.  These people were bad but I don't know that you want to go to the police although that might be an option.  I wouldn't.

             

            Larry

            • What to do when guests break into owner's closet?
              marym Active Contributor

              Truly amazing what lengths people will go to.  This post has prompted me to add a paragraph into our contract about owners' private areas.  Quite frankly, I'd make sure that they know YOU know, and that you'll be placing their names on the Bad Renter List and Guestchecker.com . 

              • What to do when guests break into owner's closet?
                New Member

                I would assume you should be entitled to withhold some of their security deposit if the door was indeed locked and they did break into it.

                 

                The *damage* would be the use of your property and having to pay the housekeeper extra to clean the mess up. 

                If nothing else I believe my wife would have my head if I did not at the very least withhold the money they costs us.  *the $100 extra you had to pay the housekeeper*

                 

                 

                How did it turn out? What measures did you take?  looks like it has been almost a week from your posting.

                • What to do when guests break into owner's closet?
                  New Member

                  That is one of the worst disrespectful actions a renter can take.  I have had many a problem with people disrespecting me, my rental agreement and my property.  Consequently I've got a full page rental agreement of "friendly threats & penalties" throughout.  Because of this I have lost a minimal few renters.  Some think it's to authoritative and they don't book but it does seem to work fairly well.  I have more on the do's and don'ts in my "opening instructions"  I send that a couple days prior to their occupancy.  I still get abuses on occasion but thankfully, not often, maybe 10% of my renters. 

                   

                  I am glad to learn about the guestchecker.com website.  I have a few names to add to it.

                   

                  BBB

                  • What to do when guests break into owner's closet?
                    New Member

                    I am shocked by the behaviour of the guests and it raises questions over security gennerally. I am sure most have read the story about the client of AirBnB who let out her home only for it to be destroyed by her guest. I was thinking that a register of rogue guests should be created where an owner can cross reference the name etc to see if the prospective client appears on this list. I then see the guestchecker.com website and the Bad Renter list getting mentioned here and am please to see someone is doing something about this.

                     

                    Good luck,

                     

                    Frances

                    • What to do when guests break into owner's closet?
                      New Member

                      Before you jump on the guests, how do you know the cleaner did not leave the garage door unlocked?  Did the guests have specific instructions NOT to use the items in the garage or was the locked door their only indication that the area and items inside were off limits?

                       

                      Brenda Jo

                      Sunny San Diego

                        • What to do when guests break into owner's closet?
                          kristiann.greener New Member

                          That's a good point, Brenda.  Unless you are absolutely certain that these guests forcibly broke into the garage and were made aware that this area is off limits to guests, you could be getting yourself into a dogfight.  Is it possible the housekeeper accidentally forgot to secure the garage door after the previous cleaning?  Do you have a sign on the garage that says reminds the guests this is private storage for you and it's off limits to them?  I've learned it's not enough to mention this in your rental agreement/guest information...most people skim over it and don't read the details. 

                           

                          While I'm in complete agreement with others here that this behavior is rude and inexcusable, just make absolutely certain there's no chance they could be just guests who found an unsecured garage door and helped themselves to the golf cart and beach items, never giving a thought that this stuff might not be for their use.  I accidentally left our owners closet unlocked after a stay at our cabin, and it wasn't discovered by the housekeeper.  Instead, a guest called to let us know the door was unlocked and wondered what they should do about it.  Nice to find honest, caring folks once in awhile!

                            • What to do when guests break into owner's closet?
                              mike Contributor

                              Agreed, the behavior is inexcusbale if you are 100% sure a "break in" has occurred. If a housekeeper or other service personnel have access to to a closet or secured area there is a risk that they will fail to lock it after use. If there is no posted warning of "private property" and the door is open, its likely the guest will feel entitled to use the contents. Good Points.

                               

                              Mike Cushing

                              BookbyOwner.com

                          • Re: What to do when guests break into owner's closet?
                            twobitrentals Community All-Star

                            Not to mention the liability if they were "driving" your golf cart all over the place. Yikes!

                            • Re: What to do when guests break into owner's closet?
                              bigdogs New Member

                              We are new to the whole Vacation Rental thing.

                               

                              One of our renters jimmied/picked  the lock on the bathroom storage cabinet and then proceeded to use our towels and probably other items. Left the used towels sitting in the washing machine - could have at least washed them, right?   No manners.   For the record, the rental agreement clearly states  renter must bring their own towels, sheets..

                              Not sure which renter - but 90% sure.  We have now reinforced that lock.

                               

                              My thought was to come up with some signage to place on locked areas to indicate - owner's closet to make it obvious.  Ideally, keep the verbiage pleasant as most people are quite respectful and it takes a "special" sort of person to force a locked cabinet open.

                               

                              Ideas?

                              Thanks,

                              • Re: What to do when guests break into owner's closet?
                                skiandglee Active Contributor

                                I had something similar happen but caught it almost immediately because I have an alarm sensor on the owner's closet door that is set to send me a notification any time it is opened.  I got the text message that it was opened while a renter was there so I have a laptop computer in that closet and I remotely connected to it and fired up the webcam and there the renter was, playing on my computer!  As soon as they saw themselves (and I saw them through the remote connection) on the screen, they immediately shut the lid!  I called and got them on the phone and explained this was my private owner's closet and my personal belongings.  They said the door was unlocked and didn't realize it.

                                 

                                Subsequently, I have installed schlage iLink keypad lever locks on the all my owner's closets and have them linked to the alarm systems.  Now, I can lock/unlock and check the status of the lock remotely.  I have a rule setup in the alarm to lock the owner's closet anytime the alarm is set to AWAY mode.  Between the alarm sensor on the door letting me know if the door itself is open/closed and the lock letting me know if it's locked/unlocked/being accessed and who's code was used, I sleep well and have no issues.

                                 

                                Occasionally I get a notification when 3 bad codes are entered as renters try to use their code on the lock even through it says "Owner's closet - Not for rental use" and I have to call and ask them to please refrain from entering incorrect codes into my owner's closet lock.  It's usually one of the kids trying their luck and guessing the code.

                                 

                                Rick

                                www.vacationrentalhelper.com

                                • Re: What to do when guests break into owner's closet?
                                  edward72 New Member

                                  Happened to us, now we are adding a clause to the contract, and the entire security deposit will be withheld if it ever happens again. Totally inexcusable.

                                  • Re: What to do when guests break into owner's closet?
                                    joan.l Senior Contributor

                                    I am wondering if the OP confronted the guests with the breach?  If so, what was their response?

                                    • Re: What to do when guests break into owner's closet?
                                      j6626 New Member

                                      I replaced my ADT install with Livewatch that integrates some home automation and gives me access to event logs and notification rules. I have door sensors on my owner closets and email/text notifications should any door be opened. That way, I can immedtiately be on top of a breach as it happens.

                                        • Re: What to do when guests break into owner's closet?
                                          gray_wolf_vacation_villa Contributor

                                          Can you tell me what Livewatch gives you that ADT doesn't? Also, does LIvewatch limit the number of cameras you can have on your property? Thanks.

                                            • Re: What to do when guests break into owner's closet?
                                              j6626 New Member

                                              I had called ADT, about a year ago, to ask whether they could tell me something simple like "is the alarm set?" They only receive alerts when the alarm is set off - so NO. I tried to speak to the sales office about automation more than once and I'm still waiting for their call back. So, hey - I moved on to someone that wanted my business. Also, ADT seems to give you monthly rate increases when you add devices. I can add all I want with Alarm.com. The only upcharge that I could encounter is if I add the live video function. Aside from that... I was paying ADT $45/mo and I pay LiveWatch $40.

                                               

                                              Oh - one major difference. ADT's equipment rental is included in the monthly payment. With Alarm.com and Livewatch, I purchase the equipment up front.

                                               

                                              Things that steered me to Alarm.com was a) integration of home automation (zwave) and b) they use a Trane thermostat that has hard set points that I can control... meaning, I can stop the guest from AC settings below 70 and heat settngs above 78.

                                               

                                              LiveWatch is the Alarm.com system. This has the z-wave integrated into the alarm controller. I have online access to control the doors, lock/unlock/ changing codes, the alarm disarm/arm/changing codes and any z-wave connected device. I can set up several codes and uniquely name them - John, Housekeeping, Maintenance, Inspection, Guest. I can better know who and why. It was surprising to see that only 1 of my guests since June 1 used the alarm... or set it on departure. Geez if there's a 4 day gap in guests and shousekeeping doesn't come out til then.... I'm unprotetcted. So, I can monitor and set it myself. I found that guests even depart without locking the door. Bottom line - I'm in control.

                                               

                                              Additionally, I can control my thermostat.... I now have my water heater on 2 schedules and can control that from FL. I have an "Occupied" schedule and a "Vacant" schedule. I have my driveway and deck lights tied in to come on randomly around sunset for a couple of hours. I have exterior door and window sensors as well as sensors on the 3 owner closets. Even with the alarm disarmed, sensor activity is logged to the event log. I can trap certain activities, such as one of the owner closets opening and have an email and text notification.

                                               

                                              All of these are functions through Alarm.Com's system that is sold and monitored by Livewatch. I'm paying $39/95/mo. It's an extra $10/mo for live video. I have no idea about numbers of camera's.

                                               

                                              If you make a move.... please give them my name as a referral. They do give 2 mos free monitoring service for a referral.

                                               

                                              If there is any other information that I can give you.... I'd be happy to share.

                                               

                                              By the way, I expect to install a residential AC/Heat Shutoff controller.... hopefully by the end of the year. It will work off door sensors and automatically shut down and restart based on 10m open duration (any) and 10m closed duration (all). This would be a separate system from Alarm.com.

                                               

                                              All of that said..... Can you do these with ADT, these days? Hope this was helpful and useful to your specific need.