32 Replies Latest reply: Aug 1, 2018 1:13 PM by johnhurd RSS

    How would you rate this guest?


      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?

        • Re: How would you rate this guest?
          green_mango Active Contributor

          I wouldn't hesitate to give the guest a poor rating - at the very least it's helpful to other owners. 


          My RA says 4 hours of cleaning are included - anything over is $25/hr.  In your case I would have charged extra cleaning.

            • Re: How would you rate this guest?

              I asked my cleaner if she needed to charge extra, and she said that we were all good, and that's she's seen worse. I feel so bad for her to have to clean up someone else's vomit, and if she's seen worse, I shudder to think what that might be. Yikes!


              Also, I double-checked my damage deposit clause on our rental agreement, and I don't anything about withholding part of the deposit due to extra clean-up. I do state that I will charge if they have prevented the next guests from being able to check in on time. Since the cleaning was done 15 minutes before check in, it didn't keep the next guests from arriving as scheduled.


              Does anyone include extra cleaning as a reason to withhold part of the deposit?

                • Re: How would you rate this guest?
                  3seasbeach Contributor

                  Here is what my RA states (in two different sections):


                  1. DAMAGEAs a condition of your rental, you are expected to exercise reasonable care for our home and property during your stay. If you damage or break something, discover something is broken, not working properly, or if you discover a hazardous condition, report it to the owner immediately. Should anyone in your party break, damage, or cause something to be broken or damaged in the home or on the property, you may be held responsible for it. Inform us immediately to arrange for repair or replacement. Costs incurred for unreported damage discovered after you have left the property will be charged to, and may result in the forfeiture of, your security deposit. Rental guest agrees to pay for any damage to the property, missing or damaged items, as well as a commercially reasonable additional cleaning fee if left excessively dirty or if posted check out procedures are not followed.  In the event damage exceeds the deposit collected, rental guest agrees to reimburse owner for any additional amount and authorizes owner to charge such amount to the credit card on file.  In the absence of damage to the property, VRBO will process the return your security deposit within 7 days of your check-out.



                    1. Deposit:  The specified deposit is due at the time of booking.  The deposit functions as a down payment on your total rent due.
                    2. Security Deposit: A portion of your initial payment is for security.  It is held by VRBO/HomeAway, not us, and shall be processed for return to you by VRBO within 7 days of the Checkout Date provided no deductions are made due to:
                      1. damage to the property or furnishings;
                      2. dirt or other mess requiring excessive cleaning; or
                      3. any other cost incurred by Homeowner due to Guest’s stay.
                    3. Rental Rate:  Payment in full is due within 60 days of the Check-in Date
                    4. Cancellations:  If Guest wishes to cancel his/her reservation, any monies paid will be refunded as follows:
                  • 100% if cancelled by 12:00 PM central time, at least 60 days prior to the Check-in Date or 6 calendar months for guests with a reserved stay of 30 days or more.
                  • 50% if cancelled by 12:00 PM central time, at least 30 days prior to the Check-in Date or 3 calendar months for guests with a reserved stay of 30 days or more.
                  • Re: How would you rate this guest?
                    oceangrover Contributor

                    We don't exactly say the words, "we charge for extra cleaning time," but we do say, "no charge for normal cleaning," meaning we don't charge a separate cleaning fee...unless there's an unusual amount of cleaning to be done.


                    I would have charged for the excess cleaning and put a note, which you can do when you claim for part of the Sec Dep, saying it was to clean up vomit, etc.

                • Re: How would you rate this guest?
                  3seasbeach Contributor

                  I would definitely give them a bad rating!  We, as owners may not be able to see the quest rating until after inquiry, but that still gives the owners the opportunity to decline.  I understand that declines are not good, but I rather decline than have that type of guest in my rental!

                  • Re: How would you rate this guest?
                    scowol Active Contributor

                    These guests were clearly dirty, inconsiderate, and disrespectful of your personal property.   Rate them accurately and honestly.


                    Not bothering to clean up vomit anyplace is disgusting and deplorable behavior.  If they were my guests, I would not hesitate to click 1 star.

                    • Re: How would you rate this guest?
                      margaret CommunityAmbassador

                      I would give them a 1 star rating but would wait until the last minute to see if they post a review first.  I would also send the photos along with an explanation of why they were rated poorly. This was disgusting behavior for grown women. BTW your cameras are disclosed so I don't understand why you didn't let the guest know you were aware her friends were still at your home after check out time.

                        • Re: How would you rate this guest?

                          I see your point, but people get weird about cameras (including people on this forum, which was discussed on another thread). Yes, we disclose it, but you'd be amazed at how many people forget about them.


                          I'll think about sending her the photos after I see if she posts a review or not. We only have 9 reviews (all 5-star), so one bad review will drag us down a good bit. If we had 50 5-stars, then I wouldn't hesitate. After the 15 days are up, can she still try to post a review?


                          I have the deposit set to automatically be refunded 7 days after check out, and I normally do a manual refund after one day if they were good guest. In this case, I'm going to let her sweat it out. Let her wonder if she's going to get her refund back.

                            • Re: How would you rate this guest?
                              floridarob Active Contributor

                              Guests can post a review up to a year after their stay.


                              I know you don't want to get into a camera debate, but you should never have cameras on a back door. You are running a huge risk with that. Front, sides, anything visible from the street... okay.  Anything else is off limits. (By the way, you don't debate privacy laws, you follow them. If a guest has a reasonable expectation of privacy (that includes back yards): no cameras - there is no gray area.)


                              You need to rewrite your Terms and Conditions to allow for excess cleaning costs so you are ready for next time. If you had them right in the first place, you could ding her an extra $100 for cleaning, and give your housekeeper half of it as a bonus.  It always pays to keep a good housekeeper happy, and making sure she feels cared for is most powerfully expressed with cold hard cash.


                              But you don't have excess cleaning costs in your T&C now, so just consider it a lesson learned. Get over it, let it go... however you need to phrase it. Your housekeeper didn't even charge you extra, so you got away in reasonably good shape.


                              Can you charge her for over-holding? She wasn't out by your check out time, and you have a timed and date stamped image from the front camera plus your report from your housekeeper. What do your T&C say about overholding (when a guest isn't out by check-out time)?


                              Wait until the last minute, but do go ahead and rate the guest poorly. She may not like it, but will likely be well aware that you will respond to a bad review by her, by sharing details of her partying and the mess left behind. That gets shared publicly with everyone. If she isn't aware, and leaves a bad review, contact her and explain exactly what your response will be, and encourage her to contact HomeAway and have the bad review removed, or else you will be forced to explain in lurid detail what went on at your property and that you have photos of the mess if anyone wants to see them. That will usually get a bad review removed. If not, share the review and your response everywhere you can; Facebook, instagram, wherever... keep it funny and hopefully it can go viral and you can get some great publicity out of it!

                                • Re: How would you rate this guest?
                                  scowol Active Contributor

                                  floridarob   Actually, that is only true that a guest can write a review within one year--if the owner did NOT review the guest. 


                                  If the owner reviews the guest, and the guest didn't submit a property review, they cannot submit a review after the review timeframe expiries.  So you need to submit a traveler review to assure that the guest does not decide to write a retaliatory property review.  I always submit a traveler review to complete the process in 14 days.


                                  From HomeAway Help:

                                  After the stay is completed, the property owner will also receive an email with a link that asks them to review their experience with you as a traveler. Neither of you will be able to see each other’s ratings until you both have submitted your review. This means that honest opinions can be shared in confidence. Both you and the property owner have 14 days to write your review once a review is submitted by either party. You have one year to submit your review of your stay at the vacation rental, assuming that the property owner has not already submitted their review and initiated the 14-day blind period. Once both parties have submitted their reviews or the 14 days are up, neither party will be able to edit what they have written. If the reviews meet our Content Guidelines, we will publish them.



                                    • Re: How would you rate this guest?

                                      Thanks so much scowol for posting that! It was very helpful.


                                      I wish, though, that other owners could at least see the detailed star ratings for cleanliness, communication, and house rules, and not just the overall rating. I also wish that owners could at least put a little detail as to why they rated the guest that way. It seems a bit one-sided that travelers can write a detailed description about what they did or didn't like about the property, but owners can't do the same.


                                      I'll wait until the last minute to give my 1-star rating, and we'll see what happens!

                                      • Re: How would you rate this guest?
                                        floridarob Active Contributor

                                        Thank you. So many new things since the last time I paid attention to this...

                                      • Re: How would you rate this guest?

                                        It's not that I didn't want to start a discussion about cameras, just that it's off-topic from the post I was creating, and it has already been discussed over here:  How many cancellations have you had due to cameras on the property?


                                        I appreciate your feedback about our guest issues. Right now, I do have the following statement under the list of things I would retain all or part of their deposit for:  "Guests checked out late, causing a delay in the turnover of the home for the next guests."  Since the house cleaner was able to get everything done in time for the next guests' arrival, I don't feel like it's right to charge them for staying an hour longer than necessary. Most people seem to go over a little bit, and an hour was excessive, but it didn't make or break us. Once I pointed out that they had overstayed their welcome, they left immediately.


                                        You sound like my husband, by the way, who told me I need to develop a thicker skin. I was dealing with everything else until I found out about the vomit in the kitchen sink. That just did me in. Luckily, I don't have picture of that, just the toilet. Gag.

                                        • Re: How would you rate this guest?
                                          psphoto Active Contributor

                                          "I know you don't want to get into a camera debate, but you should never have cameras on a back door. You are running a huge risk with that. Front, sides, anything visible from the street... okay.  Anything else is off limits. (By the way, you don't debate privacy laws, you follow them. If a guest has a reasonable expectation of privacy (that includes back yards): no cameras - there is no gray area.)"

                                          That's a little absolutist...

                                          Some of us have properties that have NO back yards that are defined ( ours is oceanfront and visible clearly from the beach ), and the rear of the house is clearly viewable from a public area. Although I don't have one....having a camera that views the property for the rear wouldn't violate any expectation of privacy laws.

                                          Obviously if you have a fenced back yard, or the camera faces into the house.....things are different!

                                    • Re: How would you rate this guest?

                                      Interesting update:  Our nephew and his in-laws were the next guests in, and they reported yesterday that they found one of the plastic drinking cups from our home in the sand dunes by the beach. They are a bit unique, so they recognized it as being ours. I won't be surprised if they find anything else strange while they are there. We won't be down there until July, and if I find anything missing that the housekeeper didn't catch, I'm sure I'll blame these guests for it, even though it'll be too late to do anything about it!

                                      This is a photo that the housekeeper sent of the crooked pictures on the wall, probably trying to make me laugh:


                                      • Re: How would you rate this guest?
                                        bobbie32 Premier Contributor

                                        So sorry to hear this happened to you.  So the question is, if you leave a 1-star review, and the guest then leaves a 1-star review of your rental, will you regret it?


                                        I am so tired of the review game.  Thus, I refuse to play the game.  I want to sleep at night.  If this was me (and we are about to go thru a similar scenario today - heaven help us), I would put this person/group on our never-rent-to-again list, and be done with it.  Yes, no owner would want to go thru this.  But if it was a group, another person for which you cannot leave a review, might book.  You simply cannot stop bad behavior by posting a negative review IMHO.  They will not change…it is in their blood IMHO. 


                                        That said…we simply say to leave the place as they found it upon arrival, in a neat and tidy condition.  It is common sense how someone should leave a place upon departure.  But what percentage of the population actually has common sense???  You can detail every aspect of cleaning, but they will NOT read your policy.  They believe that are entitled to do as they choose. Such is life...

                                          • Re: How would you rate this guest?

                                            scowol was kind enough to post the way the review process works (see above), and the traveler will not see my 1-star rating until she writes a review. She has 14 days to write a review, and if she doesn't, once that "double-blind" period is over, she will not be able to post a review. This prevents that retaliation that we all fear.


                                            I looked at this person's traveler profile again, and she has completed 3 trips through HA (including mine), but has never written a property review. More importantly, she had no owner reviews. Did she leave the other 2 properties a total mess (I'm sure she did), and those owners didn't bother to give her a poor rating? Probably so. If she'd had 2 bad owner reviews, I never would have accepted her booking.


                                            So, I'm going to take my chances and help out the next person she tries to book a "bad moms" getaway with by giving her a 1-star rating. Hopefully, the next owner she approaches will question it. Or, they'll just get someone else in their group to book under their name, in which case, I can't do anything about that because I can only rate the person who booked the trip. Unfortunately.


                                            But, I have ALL of their names because I require them on my rental agreement. I know who you are, Bad Moms, and none of you will ever stay in my house again!

                                              • Re: How would you rate this guest?
                                                bobbie32 Premier Contributor

                                                Do you have your own website?  Probably best that you don't if you are going to leave a negative review.  We have our own website, so if I was to post a negative review they could retaliate on Google.  I have no control over Google reviews.  Anyone could post a bad review on google, if the rental has a website.  So that would probably be worst than posting one on VRBO. 


                                                While I agree that you might prevent another owner from booking to at least one of this group, I seriously doubt if this person would try again and use the same name. Everyone does things differently and that is why you cannot put all rentals into the same basket.  We all deal with guests differently and we all live with the consequences differently.  Good luck and let know what happens.  

                                            • Re: How would you rate this guest?
                                              oceangrover Contributor

                                              I had to sleep on this one, but when I woke up, the situation appears to me as this.


                                              You provide a very nice place, and are an attentive host.  You have standards.  Your expectations are clear. (move out time; no vomit in the sinks or on the floors...wait you didn't need to say that one, did you?).  You should not apologize for your rules in any way. 


                                              Guests and hosts have some leverage to ensure each lives up to their responsibilities.  Guests can write reviews. Hosts can withhold the security deposit.  (The issue of bad star reviews has been covered in this thread and I won't consider it here.)


                                              So, if it were me--

                                              o  I'd pay my housekeeper something extra, even though she managed to put the house to rights before the next guests moved in.  She did yeoman's work and disgusting work as well.  I'd recognize her for that.  You will be repaid many times over for that generosity.

                                              o  I would not keep the deposit until the last possible moment.  You want to send a message, but delaying the refund sends a very unclear message.  It's a bit passive aggressive, but not effective.

                                              o  Instead, I would withhold from the security deposit and make it clear in a personal email or phone call to the guest what it's for.  When you make a damage claim using the VRBO tools, you have a place to write what it's for.  I'd put something there as well.


                                              What I'd say is this:  "our cleaning crew had to work much harder than usual after your left.  Among other things, they had to clean vomit from the side of toilet and from the sink in the bathroom and the kitchen.  They also had far less time than usual to do even the regular cleaning, because some in your party did not leave on time (they left one full hour after check out).  Because we need to compensate for the extra amount of cleaning and greater intensity of effort, we are withholding $xxx from the security deposit." 


                                              No drama.  No judgement.  Just the facts.

                                                • Re: How would you rate this guest?

                                                  Thanks for following up, oceangrover.  Sorry you were still thinking about my sink vomit when you woke up this morning! 


                                                  Yes, I agree with everything you're saying, but what I'm afraid of is that I did not (but will for future bookings) have a statement in my damage deposit clause on my rental agreement about being able to charge them for leaving things "excessively dirty." I fear that if I withhold anything from her damage deposit when this wasn't stated up front (yes, I know, reasonable people would know to clean up their own vomit), she'll just dispute the charge with her credit card company. In which case, I could be out more than the $50-100 (or whatever amount) I would take out. With a chargeback, I could be out her entire rental payment.


                                                  And waiting until the last minute to return her deposit isn't truly being passive-aggressive. VRBO has an auto-refund procedure in place, and this guest has no idea that I normally return funds sooner. My rental agreement says they'll receive it in 7-10 days, so she won't know the difference. Holding it the extra time gives me a few extra days to make sure that nothing was broken in the home (since our nephew is there now and will report anything he notices to us), and it just sort of makes me feel better.


                                                  The fact that this person lied to me about when they left the house on check-out day tells me that she will just continue to lie about it. These ladies (and I use that term loosely) did not act like adults in my home, and they won't act like adults now that they've left it.


                                                  I probably will throw a little extra money onto my housekeeper's check this month, but it will come out of my own pocket. We do Christmas bonuses, take her and her husband (who is our yard guy) to dinner sometimes, etc. to let them know how much they are appreciated. But I feel awful about the vomit thing.


                                                  And the big question is... how does one put a price on vomit clean-up? I have no idea how I would price that!

                                                • Re: How would you rate this guest?
                                                  c.c. Contributor

                                                  I think the review of guest process sucks.  I just had a guest that had some one get sick and threw up on 2 blankets in one bedroom.Didn't try to wash them or clean them up. Housekeepers said the extra washing caused extra cleaning time but we have no clause about extra cleaning unless it involves pet hair.I did give her low stars but wished there was a way to explain why. HA needs to correct this,

                                                    • Re: How would you rate this guest?

                                                      c.c., it sounds like we had the same guests.   I agree, the review process from the owner side doesn't seem worth the time. The other owners can't even see how I rated the guest on cleanliness, house rules, and communication. All they can see is the overall rating.

                                                    • Re: How would you rate this guest?
                                                      bhorsnround Contributor

                                                      I have had to keep the deposit for extra cleaning time and damages; make sure you keep pictures and documents along with conversations with the renters responsible.

                                                      • Re: How would you rate this guest?
                                                        johnhurd New Member

                                                        I had this exact thing happen last summer. My housekeeper texted, saying "This might take a while- I have a lot of vomit to clean up, and a lot of linens to wash- I'm throwing 2 pillows in the trash". Of course, it's a turnover day. This was also from a group of "We're all in our 30's, married with children, and need a few days away". I get it, and totally understand. But, C'mon! I spoke with my next door neighbor, and she said that she saw 2 more come in with sleeping bags, clearly exceeding our stated limit of 6. I texted the main renter, and told her that I am retaining the entire security deposit, (it's only $200), and the reasons why.

                                                        She expressed astonishment, they thought they had "cleaned up", and stumbled all over herself to apologize, clearly embarrassed.  When it came to the review

                                                        time, and I told her, I decided to not leave one. I consider it a learned lesson, and I would rent to her again. She was thankful, and left us a five star.

                                                        Each time is different. If I had left a 1 star, and got one in return, I would consider it the cost of doing business. But, we had communication, and that was key.