37 Replies Latest reply: Jul 22, 2019 12:05 PM by hmmmm RSS

    Guest who snuck in dog just left review

    erjomiller Contributor

      A couple questions.  Our last guest was very kind, sent nice texts and loved the home. She even mentioned returning annually.  However, we noticed throughout the weekend that they exceeded the number of guests, significantly by having a family reunion over three whole days.  We tried to overlook as we love to host families and it's all about providing a space to allow for that.

       

      In addition to that though, they snuck in a dog that left a lot of hair.  It is a big home and the dog moved around, so now we're having to do extra cleaning and even hiring professional carpet cleaners because we know the next guests have pet allergies...we are even bringing in machines to clear the air.  Lots of extra time, energy and money for this one guest.

       

      First, can I keep the damage deposit to pay for extra cleaning and wear and tear due to a dog?  We found hair on furniture, on bed covers and more all throughout the house.  We state on VRBO plus our Manor Binder that is sent to them when they pay the final payment, that no pets are allowed and we actually state we will charge $100 per day for extra cleaning fee if they do not follow that rule.

       

      We do have a rental agreement that they normally complete and sign for our file, however, these guests booked before that was in place so I asked for it afterwards, and they say they somehow sent it as an attachment that I can no longer find on the VRBO platform...I should have printed it out or maybe that was a decoy anyway.

       

      Second, the guest just left a review for their stay.  I'm thinking it may be positive based on their texts.  With the new review system, do I go ahead and give them a low rating without any communication with them beforehand?  Or do I call them and explain why I'm doing that (or does that then give them time to change their review to a negative before I rate them)  and to explain why I'm keeping the deposit (if I can in the first place)? 

       

      I do not like the current rating system because it leaves no space for comment or reasoning for why a bad rating is given.   Just had to add that.    Thank you.

        • Re: Guest who snuck in dog just left review
          margaret CommunityAmbassador

          Your listing states you can withhold $100 per day for a pet so do it. I would rate the guest now since they have already submitted their review. Withhold from the DD for the extra cleaning, send them invoices showing the extra cost of carpet cleaning and the machine to clean the air.

            • Re: Guest who snuck in dog just left review
              bonesxxx Contributor

              Yup.  Nick them for the $ they owe you and don't look back.

               

              I had guests sneak in two german shepherds once who trampled my flowers and left enough dog hair that it took my housekeeper and me a full day to clean up after them.  I charged them their full damage deposit and rated them a 1 and 'would not rent to again'.

               

              Then I saw they left me a glowing review... sorry, not sorry.

            • Re: Guest who snuck in dog just left review
              green_mango Active Contributor

              I would definitely itemize the extra cleaning charges and withhold from deposit.  The fee per day is a little more debatable, but don't worry about the review - they can't change their review (they can only delete it).  I would wait to review them until you email them the withholding deposit info and see how they react.

              • Re: Guest who snuck in dog just left review
                linky17 Active Contributor

                I'll preface this reply by saying that I'm all about prevention.  The stuff that may (or not?) give an erstwhile Sneaky Guest an all-important (IMO) p-a-u-s-e.

                 

                You say that "we noticed throughout the weekend that they exceeded the number of guests, significantly by having a family reunion over three whole days."  How did you 'notice?'  Do you live nearby?  Do you have on-site cameras?

                 

                Most importantly: Do you disclose 'your' or 'their' presence/proximity -- either/as applicable -- in your listing?  Within your rental agreement?

                 

                And, re: your rental agreement, which "these guests booked before [that] was in place?"  I don't see where you have recourse for the 'dog,' let alone for any other infractions > perceived or otherwise.

                 

                Thanks for posting.  Live and learn.

                  • Re: Guest who snuck in dog just left review
                    margaret CommunityAmbassador

                    "We state on VRBO plus our Manor Binder that is sent to them when they pay the final payment, that no pets are allowed and we actually state we will charge $100 per day for extra cleaning fee if they do not follow that rule."

                    I think this statement means that the fee for bringing a pet is in the house rules.

                      • Re: Guest who snuck in dog just left review
                        linky17 Active Contributor

                        This 'clause' did register with me, especially the (IMO) qualifying "that is sent to them when they pay the final payment" = not an up-front disclosure.

                         

                        I wish erjomiller well, and hope that we will be updated to the outcome.

                          • Re: Guest who snuck in dog just left review
                            erjomiller Contributor

                            The cleaning fee for bringing a pet is stated in the binder that we send.  The "no pet" policy has always been visible and is part of the rental agreement they have to agree to when they first make the booking.   If we add a pet fee to the VRBO site then they may automatically think they can bring one and simply pay the fee when we'd rather not have any pets in the first place.

                            Thanks.

                              • Re: Guest who snuck in dog just left review
                                margaret CommunityAmbassador

                                If the pet charge is not in your house rules or signed RA, I don't think you can charge them for the dog.

                                • Re: Guest who snuck in dog just left review
                                  linky17 Active Contributor

                                  Back to basics > if your preference is to NOT have pets?  ("If we add a pet fee to the VRBO site then they may automatically think they can bring one and simply pay the fee when we'd rather not have pets in the first place.")


                                  As 'simply' state + enforce this policy on your Vrbo/HA listing: NO PETS.  AND reference/reinforce this/your policy within your rental agreement. > The signed/initialed return of which you REQUIRE [by a date certain] in order to confirm the booking.

                                   

                                  Done!

                                   

                                  Right?

                                   

                                  Again, absent your possession of a signed/initialed rental agreement, you have little 'claim' to … any damages, or otherwise.

                                    • Re: Guest who snuck in dog just left review
                                      bonesxxx Contributor

                                      My RA says this about undisclosed pets:

                                       

                                      UNDISCLOSED PETS: Pets not disclosed in advance WILL VOID THE RENTAL AND NO REFUND WILL BE MADE. If a GUEST arrives with a non-disclosed pet or pets, the rental is void and the GUEST will not be permitted access to the cabin or property.  At the HOMEOWNER’s sole discretion, GUEST may be offered the option to kennel the pet(s) and return.

                                      • Re: Guest who snuck in dog just left review
                                        margaret CommunityAmbassador

                                        The OP has a DD held by VRBO, the guest agreed to have the DD held and to  the house rules when booking. There are owners who are comfortable with the click on the site at booking. I would withhold for the cleaning expenses. If the guest files a chargeback the owner has a 50/50 chance of prevailing. I wouldn't be comfortable without a RA but in this case I would hope for the best. The OP is new and is now using a RA.

                                • Re: Guest who snuck in dog just left review
                                  erjomiller Contributor

                                  Good questions.  We share a driveway with the home and basically pass by every time we leave or return from our home.  Also, the house is on a hill and can be seen from almost all areas of the valley.  There were so many cars that they had to park up and down the lane.  They didn't even try to hide it (like they did the dog).

                                   

                                  Yes, we do explain that the owners live nearby in the binder info. we send to them 30 days before they arrive.  But I've added that also to the VRBO site so they know up front.  Good call.

                                   

                                  Thanks.

                                • Re: Guest who snuck in dog just left review
                                  treeguy Contributor

                                  I would withhold as much of the security deposit as necessary to reimburse the costs of the extra cleaning.  If the deposit does not cover the total, bill them for the difference via VRBO.  If they are the upstanding folks you think they might be they will pay it.

                                  As for the review, give them five stars where possible but only four or fewer for follow house rules and cleanliness.  Then be honest on whether or not you would rent to them again.

                                  • Re: Guest who snuck in dog just left review
                                    timthek Active Contributor

                                    The real answer is you can try. You can try to keep the deposit for cleaning. After that who knows what will happen. VRBO takes payments by CC so the renter could always dispute the charge....and if they do you may lose. I would charge them for the cleaning.

                                    • Re: Guest who snuck in dog just left review
                                      erjomiller Contributor

                                      Thanks, everyone, for the suggestions and advice. I waited until we had gone through the entire house to make sure there wasn't any other damage which took us into Thursday afternoon when new guests arrived.  We treated carpets, ran air purifiers and re-laundered pillows and bedding.  The guests that came in afterwards had pet allergies, but felt that the house had been adequately cleaned so didn't experience any problems.  If they had, I think we would have had to put them up at a nearby hotel...I waited until after they checked out before contacting the guest with the dog.

                                       

                                      I called the guest who brought the dog and spoke with the husband.  He was understanding and explained that the elderly parents of his wife have a small dog that they could not be without.  He almost immediately said to just keep the damage deposit.  He was going to speak with his wife because it was her family.  I feel terrible for causing any marital strife, however, he seemed to get that this was difficult for me to confront him about it plus was an unfortunate situation which resulted in extra work and expense on our part plus lack of trust for future stays.

                                       

                                      As soon as I was off the phone I submitted our rating honestly and worked through the process of keeping their deposit.  If they dispute the credit card charge, then so be it.  I do not want to rent to them again nor would I want future homeowners to have to deal with this. 

                                       

                                      I really wish we as owners could leave comments about why we're not giving them a perfect rating.  What one owner finds unacceptable may be ok at another property.   Is there a way we can leave comments somewhere?

                                      • Re: Guest who snuck in dog just left review
                                        erjomiller Contributor

                                        One more interesting thing.  I received a text from the spouse of the gentleman I spoke with.  She offered a sincere apology and went on to give excuses for why they had extra people and an extra dog.  She mentioned we had previously discussed her mom's service dog coming.  But that is not the case at all.   I went back through all of the VRBO communication and there was NEVER any mention of a service dog.  So they actually had two dogs there at one point!  Grrr.

                                        • Re: Guest who snuck in dog just left review
                                          kssop New Member

                                          We do have a rental agreement that they normally complete and sign for our file, however, these guests booked before that was in place so I asked for it afterwards, and they say they somehow sent it as an attachment that I can no longer find on the VRBO platform...I should have printed it out or maybe that was a decoy anyway.

                                           

                                          With regard to attachments sent by guests, I learned that sometime around the end of 2018 Homeway changed their policy of maintaining attachments in the inbox for an indefinite period.  The customer service representative confirmed that the minimum was 7 days (though since I have found some remain longer with no rhyme or reason).  It was a hard lesson to learn without any prior communication from Homeaway as I had to reach out to about six guests to request they re-send signed rental agreement.  Thankfully all were all accommodating!  Just wanted to share so that you know it wasn't a decoy on the part of your guests but the Homeaway platform saving space. 

                                          • Re: Guest who snuck in dog just left review
                                            erjomiller Contributor

                                            Wow - now that's good to know.  That means I needs to request a bunch of rental agreements once again since they don't maintain them in the inbox.  I will print from now on to have a paper copy. 

                                             

                                            Do you think VRBO would still have that attachment somewhere in it's system?

                                            Jodi

                                              • Re: Guest who snuck in dog just left review
                                                margaret CommunityAmbassador

                                                erjomiller  Going forward you may want to have the RA sent directly to your email address. If problems come up during a guests stay, if a guest should issue a chargeback or if you ever had a need to go to court, it is very important that you have the signed RA. I would also suggest that once you receive the signed RA you open the file to check that all the information has been included and that it has been signed.

                                                  • Re: Guest who snuck in dog just left review
                                                    hmmmm Senior Contributor

                                                    Agreed with Margaret, I would add that you could and should ask for a copy of a government issued ID that matches, the reservation name, the contract name and the payment name.


                                                    Also, to back yourself up, on the contract have the contract, reservation, payment person, initial each page at the bottom and on the last page, all guests names and ages are completed.


                                                    If you would need to back yourself up with a CC company the contract the ID and the names allowed on the property will help your case.

                                                     

                                                    Put a "sample" of that contract on the HomeAway webpage you have so the vacationers can read and agree with the agreement.
                                                    But send one as margaret suggested on your own email and have them return the FULL, initialed, and completed contract.

                                                     

                                                    Then check the contract when it comes in and make sure you have it all completed and you have a copy of the government issued ID.

                                                  • Re: Guest who snuck in dog just left review
                                                    kssop New Member

                                                    Jodi, I can verify that they do not have an attachment in their system.  Believe me I tried before I had to bother the guest to re-request.  I felt so silly.  After I posted the prior message I did remember that if you do have the system send you an email when you get an inbox message that the attachment will be attached to that message.  I now save all those messages and also print the attachments as belt and suspenders.  I try to keep all my communication in the inbox as I feel it is a protection to me as opposed to taking it offline.  But I know many do take it offline and it works well for them.  I'm holding out on making the inbox work for me. 

                                                     

                                                    Keren

                                                  • Re: Guest who snuck in dog just left review
                                                    hickmanhideaway Contributor

                                                    A bit to the subject this moved on to.

                                                     

                                                    Our rental agreement is considered "signed" if the guest makes the very first payment. Even for Instant Booking, as it is to be there for them to read and accept before a payment can be accepted.

                                                     

                                                    Now I don't know if VRBO is really providing that at the time of instant booking! Or if the guest even sees it at all if they instant book. Suggestions?

                                                      • Re: Guest who snuck in dog just left review
                                                        margaret CommunityAmbassador

                                                        hickmanhideaway You may consider it signed but it is not signed for any useful purpose. Using this method you do not have a RA. Credit card companies have been very clear a signed RA or esigned RA (not a click online) and a copy of a gov issued photo ID are your best defence in the case of a chargeback. There is no way to know if the guest has even read the RA, they can continue to book by clicking on the box but are not required to read the RA whether it is a payment request or an IB. You can email the RA to the guests to be completed and signed or use an esign service. Have each page initialed and the last page signed. I have the guest initial specific clauses as well. FYI-CC companies require the guest to sign within close proximity to the cancellation clause, this is one of the clauses I require to be initialed.

                                                        • Re: Guest who snuck in dog just left review
                                                          green_mango Active Contributor

                                                          Unfortunately, in case of dispute the 'check box' or 'considering it signed' by payment don't typically hold up well - a guest can go through the booking process and not see the agreement - all they need to do is click the box by it - in order to see it they have to click to download and then open.  I've found it helpful to go through the booking process as a guest to see what they see - and sure enough, they can book without seeing it.

                                                        • Re: Guest who snuck in dog just left review
                                                          halds New Member

                                                          We too have problems with bringing more guests to our house than indicated in the reservation.  These are otherwise honest people. Why do people try to game the system. So frustrating. Finally had to install a security cam at the entrance to document.

                                                          • Re: Guest who snuck in dog just left review
                                                            irecat Contributor

                                                            I hope all has been resolved for you erjomiller, so frustrating and upsetting. My first year (2008) I had the family from hell, via e-mails, two phone calls and them receiving the agreement, they kept asking about bringing their "friendly and well behaved dog". I kept saying my young daughter is allergic to many animals and therefore NO pets, even though they are friendly are to be brought in. Not only a dog situation, but a blatant defiance all around. Started with a friendly greeting, then later that night a neighbor was mowing, the woman went wild on me over the phone, it went downhill from there. I have learned over the years renting other properties mostly overseas that they have clauses stating, "no act of God, terrorism, weather, blah, blah" can be blamed on you for return of money for an unhappy stay. Two days after check in I did my usual trash check and found a couple of dog bowls on the front porch and deck. Red flag, they returned while I was there and I asked why there were bowls for a dog on the deck, denial all the way through. I told them that when my little girl helps me on Saturdays is she going to blow up and not be able to breathe due to a dog. After that day and with 4 full days left in their week, we saw no sign of them, but all windows and doors open, so I thought they were still there. No, they bailed, left the cottage open and it had been a drizzly week, so not good for the inside, everything was wet, due to the weather. Upon departure day, I went over very early to weed my garden in hopes of seeing them bring the dog out and then confronting them. No, they were gone, I tried knocking from 7:30a.m. after I heard no noise inside. When after three attempts, I opened the screen door and said hello, I found nobody and to my surprise, dog urine on the wall and an 1800 cherry table broken. Inside further was worse, and no keys were left behind, so I had to run and get locks changed, in addition to all the other cleaning. We live in a very rural area, closest mall 62 miles away, no stores to buy things from if something weird is damaged, so not good. A snide dated note on my chalkboard read: "A happy day indeed", which was the day I confronted them on noticing dog items. I was frantic and they never got the security deposit of $300 back, nor did they ever ask. Farewell to them. So, after a few trials and tribulations, my RA is even tougher, it is e-mailed to them once I get their address, AND it is also sent to them via HA/VRBO, though many times that doesn't seem to get to people, why I have no idea, so I have to repeat sending it out. As far as the security deposit, I only accept that in a check form, sent to me with a signed agreement. This way, I have time to see if the check clears so no surprises in the end. I won't accept a security deposit via their website, because the cc company works for the card holder, not the store, business, property owner, so chances of you getting any money back may be lacking. Whose word are they going to take. Much like a rental business who cleans for you...I do it all, so no mistaking a hired cleaner service (which we have in our area) or the guest who just left as to whom the damage came from. Also my first year after asking a guest about some damage the man said, "It must have been the maids"....I told him I had no maids, I did 100% of the work from the booking, correspondence, banking, cleaning, mowing, to trash pickup, so I caught him in a lie right off the bat. Yes, I have learned a lot since I started renting in 2007, on VRBO/HA 2008. Oh, to add one last items on my oh so very wordy reply....I have guests sign many clauses, so I know they read them and they have not just blown through to sign it and send it. Best of luck to you all, happy renting! Sorry for being so long and winded.....!