We've only been renting on Homeaway for the last year, and we've been fairly lucky. A few minor exceptions, but most of our guests have been good. This past weekend, however, a girls' weekend for 6 moms in their early to mid-thirties turned into a "bad moms" vacation.
Let me start this story by saying that we have cameras on the exterior front and back of the home. This is disclosed on the rental agreement, and it's stated in the welcome book inside the house. They are also visible. The cameras start recording when there is activity on the front or back porches, and if we see activity that happened in the middle of the night, we'll look at the footage to make sure that everything is okay for the safety of our guests. For example, we actually caught a bear walking through the back yard during one night of their stay - a common occurrence in that area. We also do use the footage to review the guests checking in to make sure that they really are 6 ladies and not 15 frat boys with a couple of beer kegs. We've already had a debate on another thread about cameras, so I'm not intending to start that discussion over again on this thread.
Two nights in a row, there was a lot of activity out front at 3am in the morning. The second night was the worst of it. They were out front for quite a while, and we have no idea what was going on. I won't go into details, but we're pretty sure there was some public drunkenness. I shudder to think of them driving around like that. Another car actually stopped in front of the house, and I wonder if a neighbor was checking on what was going on, but we didn't hear anything about it, so I'm not sure what happened there.
The next morning, I checked the front camera after check out time to see if they had left so I could let our house cleaner know if the house was empty. We had a same-day turnover, and I knew she'd be eager to get in there. One of the two cars was still out front. One car had left early in the morning. I wait until about 10:35 (check out was at 10am) and try to call the guest. No answer. So I text her to tell her that our cleaners had come by and alerted me that there was a car in the driveway. I informed her that checkout time was over half an hour ago, and asked if everything was okay. She replies, and says they left at 8:30 local time.
Okay, so I can't say to her that I know her friends are sitting on the back porch smoking and acting as if they have no particular place to go. I'm also concerned now that the "primary guest" who signed the rental agreement and is responsible for everyone in the house is no longer there, technically a violation of her agreement. This was a red flag to me.
I tell the guest that I'll send the cleaners back over since she's saying they are gone. Now she says that her friends went to the beach and it may have been their car, but they are gone now. (Still not true.) At this point, the remaining ladies suddenly jump up and start loading up their car. They finally left at 11am - one hour after check out.
I texted the house cleaner to let her know that I wanted a full report of what things looked like. Shortly after she gets there, she texts me pictures of stained towels and vomit all down the side of the toilet and on the floor of our master bath. Then she calls me to let me know that there were stains on the quilt in the master bedroom, and she was going to try and get them out. Some of the stains looked a bit like blood, but she wasn't sure.
It took her a lot longer to clean than normal, partially because she was trying to inspect everything, partially because of the extra laundry and disinfecting. She got all of the stains out of the linens, including the quilt. Nothing broken, but there were some crooked pictures on the walls. They did follow all of the check-out instructions with the exception of the check-out time. And, to be fair, the check-out instructions don't say anything about cleaning up your own vomit.
She also found vomit in the kitchen sink, which was the worst part for me. Seriously? The kitchen sink? Who does that and doesn't clean up after themselves? This is our personal vacation home that we hope to retire to one day. I can't ever "unknow" that there was once vomit in the sink where I prepare food. I'm so grossed out.
With that said, there was no permanent damage done, and the cleaner just barely got the place done in time before the next guests checked in, so I can't keep any of their damage deposit. Luckily, I require a list of everyone in the guest party on my rental agreement, so all of them are banned from staying in my house again. Not even for a family vacation. I can also give them a poor guest rating to warn other owners, but does that even solve anything? Owners can't see any details of why I rated them as one or two stars. And many of us fear that dreaded decline metric, so without the facts, how often will we really decline someone?
My husband suggested sending the guest the pictures of the vomit and the stained linens, but I told him that wouldn't solve anything. If there's no damage, there's no point in letting her know how unhappy we were that they left a mess behind. He agreed that all it would do is make us feel better. So, I wonder the same thing about the poor guest rating. Will it just make me feel better? Or will it actually do any good?
Thanks to anyone for reading my rant! Has anyone else given a guest a poor rating?