16 Replies Latest reply: Feb 4, 2020 12:21 PM by hmmmm RSS

    Cleaner - now what?

    linkybo Contributor

      My home is in a very small town close to a tourist town and it's nearly impossible to find handymen, cleaners, anyone who will show up and do a good job. I'm 5 hours away. My trusted cleaner had a health issue and had to quit so I posted ads asked everyone I know and got ONE response. I interviewed her and she seemed good. There were a few bumps at the beginning where things were missed, and she's amazingly slow, taking the entire 5 hours to clean between guests. If there is a night between guests, I've seen her on our ring doorbell actually stay the entire night at the house when she cleans.

       

      She also shows up with her dog and spends the night. Once she went to the garage to get something, leaving the dog inside, then came and got her dog and left. Next guest sends me a photo of dog poop on my bathroom rug. She bring her adult son to help clean and he brings his 2 year old daughter - who knows what she's doing during the clean. She also smokes excessively. Every time she goes to the garage our outside, she immediately lights a cigarette. When she is ready to come back in, she puts the cigarette out on the side of the house (by the ring doorbell!) and then comes in. I know some of that cigarette smell is still hanging on her and the towels or whatever she's carrying, into our non smoking house.

       

      But - She does make the house look fantastic (minus the dog poop). She shows up on time and even the snack basket is tidy and organized. I guess a mediocre bird in hand is better than the unknown birds in the bush?

        • Re: Cleaner - now what?
          bonesxxx Active Contributor

          You might try the old sh!t sandwich approach...

           

          1) offer her a great compliment saying all the great things you said above

          2) offer her some constructive feedback (pick the 2-3 things that irk you most)

          3) finish with more positive feedback and tell her if she addresses #2 to your satisfaction, you would like to give her a raise (offset by an increase in your cleaning fee, of course).

           

          On a longer-term, you might try meeting some of your neighbors down near your rental -- the permanent residents only.  I was in a situation similar to yours and after doing a very short canvass of the locals, I was introduced to a retired school teacher who jumped at the chance to make some extra $$$ for a few days/month.  She has been a Godsend.

           

          Good luck.  Meanwhile be happy that she does an outstanding job... you could have all the baggage and a poor cleaning job on top of that.  Perspective

          • Re: Cleaner - now what?
            wildiris Senior Contributor

            I think that her behavior is egregious and totally unacceptable.  She's been spending the night at your rental (with her dog, no less) without asking?  (Out of curiosity, do you allow pets at your rental?)  She smokes outside your rental and stubs her cigarette out on the side of your house?  These actions are those of someone who, consciously or unconsciously, resents you.  (This can sometimes be the case in areas where there are people "from away" who have the money for a second home while the locals may not be doing as well financially.)  To me, her behavior indicates that she feels entitled to do whatever she pleases at your vacation home.  (An example of the old adage, "when the cat's away, the mice will play.")  I seriously doubt that saying anything will change her behavior.  A more likely scenario is that she will be surprised to have been "caught" in the act and will be very defensive.  Instead of being contrite I think there's a good chance she'll become angry and quit - leaving you high and dry. 


            I recommend that you say nothing to her and discreetly look for another cleaning person.  As bonesxxx has suggested, talk to permanent residents about people who might clean for you.  Ask your former cleaner who had to stop for health reasons.  Ask other contractors - your electrician, plumber, handyman  etc.  I found an excellent gardener by asking the appliance repairman if he knew of anyone.  Good luck!

              • Re: Cleaner - now what?
                linkybo Contributor

                We do allow pets, for a fee. I asked all my service people and neighbors, other owners I know. Everyone either has a mediocre cleaning person or a great one who is very busy and they don't really want to share.

                I agree about the possible resentment. I know she struggles with money and I pay her more than she asked to be paid, but there could be some animosity toward me, having that house.

                  • Re: Cleaner - now what?
                    margaret CommunityAmbassador

                    Is she aware you can see what she is doing on camera?

                      • Re: Cleaner - now what?
                        linkybo Contributor

                        I've been torn if I should come right out and tell her I can see her. Then she just might move her cigarette mashing out to my back door. I've mentioned to her that we had a stranger, ringing our doorbell and I didn't recognize him. Told her I was going to go back and look over the videos, but I didn't come right out and say "There is a camera on the doorbell" She's maybe not the brightest crayon in the box.

                          • Re: Cleaner - now what?
                            margaret CommunityAmbassador

                            She is probably oblivious to the camera. Since you know she needs the money and you don't seem to think you will be able to find a replacement, you may have to sit down and have a conversation. The fact that she needs the job may motivate her to straighten out her behavior. Make her aware that you have a camera, explain the things that need to be stopped. Perhaps bonesxxx stradegy is the best course of action for you. We all may be willing tolerate certain things for a great cleaning person but this woman has crossed multiple lines and that needs to be addressed. I am not sure I would have the patience you have under these circumstances, I would have to move on. I wish you the best of luck!

                              • Re: Cleaner - now what?
                                wildiris Senior Contributor

                                First - did you ever tell her about a guest finding dog poop in the bathroom?  How did she respond?  If you didn't ask the cleaning person about this, I suspect it was because you were nervous about how she'd respond. 

                                 

                                I usually agree with Margaret's advice.  This may be the first time that I differ with her.  You've definitely said enough so that this person should appreciate that there's a camera on the property, whether or not she understands it's in the doorbell.  I think that if you now specifically tell her that there's a camera in the doorbell and you've seen what she's been doing, you're going to get one of two reactions from her, neither of which is good.


                                I think the most likely response is that she's going to be very defensive and turn the tables to put you on the defensive.  Instead of calmly discussing your expectations and concerns about her behavior, I can imagine her saying, "What?  You've been spying on me?  How dare you?  I've never been treated this way before!  I quit!"  I've been down a similar path with a cleaner - no camera, no dog poop, but a cleaner who thought she could get away with a lot because I lived a long distance from the rental.  When I arrived unannounced to the rental at the end of the season she was caught "red handed."  Her reaction was to be angry and defensive, not embarrassed or contrite.  I was prepared to fire her, but I didn't have to - she quit.


                                The other likely reaction from her is a "So what?"  If you don't have guests, why do you have a problem with me spending the night?  My granddaughter/dog are very well behaved!  They can't be left alone and I have to bring them.  If I can't bring them, then I can't clean for you!"  In this scenario, she is effectively giving you an ultimatum - agree to her egregious behavior - or she'll quit.


                                I appreciate that you're in a very difficult situation.  Believe me, I feel your pain!

                      • Re: Cleaner - now what?
                        db.meyer Senior Contributor

                        I agree with wildiris' assessment of your cleaner.  She would be long gone if she worked for me.  There are so many issues with her behavior, including liability/insurance issues with her spending the night (especially since your camera has filmed her putting cigs out on your siding), bringing her granddaughter while she cleans, etc. etc.

                         

                        Since you are near a tourist town, I recommend that you search that town for cleaners, including asking property management companies and hotels if they have any employees seeking additional work. I have successfully done this and also pay them one hour's cleaning fee for travel time if they are driving from 20+ minutes away.  One of the property management companies billed me directly for their cleaner so they were covered under their insurance, etc.  There ARE ways to find trustworthy and reliable cleaners!

                        • Re: Cleaner - now what?
                          susaninrehoboth Premier Contributor

                          Have you tried Nextdoor where you rental is located and FB groups for a cleaner? Staying the night without permission is trespassing. Don't get me started on the smoking issue or bringing the dog.

                           

                          BTW, if you are desperate enough to keep her, do you have a copy of her current business license and insurance? If not, she has to go.

                          • Re: Cleaner - now what?
                            margaret CommunityAmbassador

                            You have to address these issues but I would suggest finding a new cleaning person first. If you confront her and she quits you will be in a bind. Spending the night is not acceptable, putting out her cigarettes on your home is so disrespectful, the dog, the baby... OMG there are just too many issues here to deal with at once. The advice offered to find someone new is good, you should follow it. I don't think there is a way to continue on with this cleaner no matter how well she cleans your home.

                            • Re: Cleaner - now what?
                              kmcbhense Contributor

                              What I've been most successful with when I've had a cleaner retire, is to go back to that first lady and ask her for a recommendation.  We've had many times where the former cleaner has felt a little guilty about having to leave, and has found a good reliable replacement. Just a suggestion. I also would not put up with smoking, staying overnight, or having her pup with her, without asking.

                              I've had a couple of our great cleaners, that we have given a weekend for there family to stay at the vacation house as a bonus. They usually feel so greatful that they end up really doing a 'deep" clean on the entire home.

                              • Re: Cleaner - now what?
                                hickmanhideaway Contributor

                                Go to the churches in town, or even the local bar, and ask.

                                • Re: Cleaner - now what?
                                  hmmmm Senior Contributor

                                  Time to find another resource


                                  Good riddins