cleaning a vacation rental

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cleaning a vacation rental

Postby runnergirl » Fri Apr 05, 2013 2:16 pm

I recently went on vacation and rented a condo through VRBO. At the end of the stay, we left some dirty dishes (no dish washer in the place), garbage in the bin (no cover on the trashcan, not made aware of any garbage chute), and some crumbs on the floor and surfaces. We left no spills, stains, or anything difficult to clean up. Nothing was broken or damaged. Having mostly stayed in hotels, I was not aware that I had to clean the place before we left. I knew there would be cleaners in because they left an envelope for tips, which we gave (they did not clean while we were there).

Now the landlord wants to withhold $50 out of a $200 deposit for extra cleaning expenses. He is leaving it up to us to decide whether or not the $50 should be withheld. He will give it all back if we insist, but clearly feels that we owe it to him. I also feel $50 is too much as the place wasn't that large and it is in a country where the cost of living is less than in the US.

What should I do? Were the dishes/vacuuming my responsibility?
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Re: cleaning a vacation rental

Postby btenny » Fri Apr 05, 2013 2:21 pm

Split the difference and suggest $25 since it is low COL country so you don't make a fuss with VRBO. Then next time make sure you know if the cleaning and how much cleaning is part of the rental.

Enjoy
Bill
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Re: cleaning a vacation rental

Postby bungalow10 » Fri Apr 05, 2013 2:24 pm

I'm interested to see what others say. We were going to rent a VRBO condo about a year ago, but noticed a few of them that had very onerous cleaning requirements and/or required weekly cleaning fees on top of the rental fee (some of the cleaning fees were $200-300!).
An elephant for a dime is only a good deal if you need an elephant and have a dime.
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Re: cleaning a vacation rental

Postby wageoghe » Fri Apr 05, 2013 2:54 pm

We've never stayed in a VRBO, but we have rented beach condos in FL. For the places that we have stayed, I think that that level of cleanup is your responsibility.

We always run dishwasher before we leave and take trash out. I don't know what the requirements are (per the contract), but I guess it wouldn't occur to us to do otherwise. If we rented a place without a dishwasher, I'm sure that we would wash the dishes.

I would guess that the condos would typically be turned over on the same day (checkout in morning, checkin in the afternoon). Regarding dishes, without a dishwasher that is a relatively time consuming task to expect the cleaning staff to do for every unit between checkout and checkin.

I don't know about the crumbs, but we wipe down the counters and table anyway, so I think that we don't normally leave any crumbs there.

To be honest, I can't recall whether or not we sweep. I bet that we don't. But, if there is anything that is easily visible, we pick/wipe it up.

Is $50 too much? I don't know. What does the rental agreement say about the cited items: dishes, trash, crumbs?

I say pay it and clean better next time.
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Re: cleaning a vacation rental

Postby protagonist » Fri Apr 05, 2013 3:23 pm

btenny wrote:Split the difference and suggest $25 since it is low COL country so you don't make a fuss with VRBO. Then next time make sure you know if the cleaning and how much cleaning is part of the rental.

Enjoy
Bill


This is a reasonable compromise if the only problems were truly a few dishes (not a sink full of filthy dishes), a few crumbs and a full trash bin. That would take all of five to ten minutes tops to clean. It depends, I suppose, on how much you want to fight with them. More a personality issue than a strict rule of thumb.
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Re: cleaning a vacation rental

Postby tyrion » Fri Apr 05, 2013 3:28 pm

Based on the fact that he is leaving it up to you, I think I would pay it. I've stayed in a few VRBO places and we always did our best to recognize it belongs to a person (who may or may not live there part time) and tidy up when leaving.
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Re: cleaning a vacation rental

Postby lwfitzge » Fri Apr 05, 2013 3:38 pm

I have rented several places, mostly VRBO. In my narrow experience, it's the expectation that you leave it fairly close to the condition you found it. And by fairly I mean that , I did not scrub the showers of anything like that but vacuuming, dishes cleaned and put away, removing garbage thoroughout and not leaving any food items are all reasonable expectations. Hotel rules IMO do not apply unless they state that's part of the deal. I would not think $50 is too much and you could offer $25.
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Re: cleaning a vacation rental

Postby ShowMeTheER » Fri Apr 05, 2013 3:53 pm

I wouldn't bother with a negotiation of such a small amount. Just pay it and be done. My experience is that it is standard to clean before you leave - not scrubbed, but cleaned up.
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Re: cleaning a vacation rental

Postby carolc » Fri Apr 05, 2013 4:04 pm

I rented a house in Maine through VRBO. It was spelled out on a note they left for tenants that the expection was that we do the dishes, vacuum, and strip the bed(s). We did as requested and got our deposit back.

I think the owners should make it clear what the expectations are about cleaning up, preferably ahead of time.

(We also try to live by the motto: "Leave it better than you found it".)

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Re: cleaning a vacation rental

Postby N1CKV » Fri Apr 05, 2013 4:18 pm

I've never rented a VRBO, but I have stayed with friends at a beach condo that belonged to a friend of their's. We were just asked to pay the cleaning fee (this unit was not a rental, it was for their private use and occasionally loaned to friends).

We still left the place pretty much like I left my house before I went on the vacation... I took out the trash, wiped counters, cleaned dishes, swept, etc.
The only thing we were asked to do cleaning-wise was to strip the beds and "start the sheets in the laundry", cleaning staff would take care of mopping, bathroom scrubbing and remaking beds.

on edit:
I think you and the owner had a different perception of how the place was to be left. I say pay the $50 and try to get the terms more clear in the future, chalk this one up to learning experience.
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Re: cleaning a vacation rental

Postby l2ridehd » Fri Apr 05, 2013 4:38 pm

This is someones home you are renting, not a hotel room. Leave it as you found it or even better, leave it cleaner then you found it. I own two vacation rental and I charge an $85 cleaning fee after each renter. If a person leaves the place as clean or cleaner then they found it, I refund $50. I am still required by that states law to wash all sheets and towels weather they did or not. If they leave it a mess, I never rent to them again and provide their name to the rental owners group I belong to.

Pay the $50 and do a better job next time.
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Re: cleaning a vacation rental

Postby Calm Man » Fri Apr 05, 2013 4:49 pm

People who rent out their own houses (I can't believe somebody would do that) are VERY sensitive to nickels and dimes as they are always calculating return on their investment. For me, I have no interest in going on a vacation and cleaning an apartment or house afterwards. I can do that at home. So should I do such a rental next winter in Florida, which is possible, I will have the contract written that I will pay in advance with the rental payment for the cleaning service to be done AFTER I leave. I have no desire to clean somebody else's house. If this isn't satisfactory, well then I wouldn't rent.
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Re: cleaning a vacation rental

Postby pennstater2005 » Fri Apr 05, 2013 5:03 pm

I've rented a condo before and just made sure it was cleaned up somewhat. We didn't vacuum or scrub anything down. Just picked up. No issues. I'd just pay it.
When I die, I want to go peacefully like my grandfather did–in his sleep. Not yelling and screaming like the passengers in his car - Bob Monkhouse
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Re: cleaning a vacation rental

Postby TRC » Fri Apr 05, 2013 5:16 pm

I own a seasonal vacation rental, so I can offer you the perpsective from the other end.

I leave a very specific check-out punch list for my renters. It's in the rental agreement they sign, they get another copy when I mail them the keys, and I leave a laminated copy on the fridge at the property. Part of the check-out process for renters is to clean and put away all dishes, leave all trash outside in the containers, and the place is to be "broom swept". Some might think this is excessive....but I'm clear about my expectations from the very beginning and they're welcome to rent another property if they don't like my terms.

That being said, if the renters don't do some of the items on the check-out punch list, it costs me more with my cleaner since it takes her longer. I've yet to withhold anyone's security deposit though, as most people have left the place extremely clean.

With your situation, did the owner leave instructions as to the check-out process in the signed lease or when the keys were provided to you? If he did and you did not follow through, I would pay the fee. If he didn't, and you were supposed to figure out the check-out procedure on your own, I wouldn't pay it.
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Re: cleaning a vacation rental

Postby Watty » Fri Apr 05, 2013 5:25 pm

Were the dishes/vacuuming my responsibility?


What did your agreement say?

One thing that may be going on is that if the place was not rented for the next week then the trash and the dishs might have set for a while if it was not cleaned for a week or two which could make it a bigger problem than it might seem.
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Re: cleaning a vacation rental

Postby Calm Man » Fri Apr 05, 2013 5:28 pm

I was just looking at the vbro website. It seems you can pay sometimes through vbro through some mechanism or pay the owner directly. I have 3 questions:
1. How do you know that when you get there that there really is an apartment there and that it is available to enter? Is it safer when you pay through the vbro mechanism rather than directly to the owner?
2. If the owner, as the poster above me mentioned, mails you a key and you are renting the day after somebody leaves, then don't other people presumably have the key (like prior renters) and dose that pose a security risk?

And 3, from the poster above or others, are you willing to have the renter pay you in advance for cleaning?
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Re: cleaning a vacation rental

Postby cpumechanic » Fri Apr 05, 2013 5:45 pm

I have rented from VRBO several times in several different states.
I have always enjoyed the value since you can select a location that has full kitchen, and lots more square feet (2 bedrooms, and a living room, and balcony) and pay $100, or $150 per night.

Much nicer and more relaxing than a Residence inn (as a comparison).

I have had issue's with "nut case" owners who whine about how a place next to the beach had "sand" left on the floor after we left. I just laugh, and leave negative feedback.

All of the places I rented , had an "extra charge" for cleaning, or.... it was made clear up front that I would do my best to leave the place "clean" (meaning no dirty dishes in sink, and no trash to stink the place up in the trash bin) but.. no.. sorry, I am not going to scrub showers, and toilets before I leave a place I spent my vacation at.

I do my best to treat any VRBO location as my own, but.. even at my own house, an occasional dish gets dropped, and broken, or a coffee table gets scratched.

I had one owner complain that I "moved furniture" and "unplugged lights"....

The moved furniture was a single upholstered chair that had sugar ants (Florida).. and the unplugged lights were ones that got unplugged to allow cell phone and Ipad chargers.

After a few back and forth emails.. I got a full refund of a $200 deposit..but.. the first email I got complaining about the "disaster" he found after we left was a polite word here (interesting).

So.. if you use VRBO.. go.. have fun, treat the place as your own.. and don't leave a bunch of dirty dishes in sink, and a bunch of smelly trash...in the trash can... and if you lose your deposit.. oh well.. it was a vacation.. and you spend money.

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Re: cleaning a vacation rental

Postby noyopacific » Fri Apr 05, 2013 5:52 pm

RunnerGirl,
You've gotten some good advice here. My wife and I have been the owner of one and guests at several VRBO listings. We had good experiences as both. One item that hasn't been mentioned is that the VRBO listing page for the property where you stayed will allow you to leave a review describing your experience.
Dave
The information contained herein, while not guaranteed by us, has been obtained from from sources which have not in the past proved particularly reliable.
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Re: cleaning a vacation rental

Postby runnergirl » Fri Apr 05, 2013 6:08 pm

Thanks for all the replies. I looked at the rental contract and the only thing it says regarding cleaning is:

Cleaning once a week is provided. Daily maid service can be provided for an additional fee. We encourage guests to tip the cleaning staff. A dollar per visit is a guideline.

We did not opt for the daily maid service. We tipped a LOT more than the recommended. We were not told by anyone that we had to vacuum, do dishes, take out trash. We would have gladly done it. Lesson learned. This is our first time with VRBO.

I am leaning towards offering half.
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Re: cleaning a vacation rental

Postby protagonist » Fri Apr 05, 2013 6:18 pm

runnergirl wrote:Thanks for all the replies. I looked at the rental contract and the only thing it says regarding cleaning is:

Cleaning once a week is provided. Daily maid service can be provided for an additional fee. We encourage guests to tip the cleaning staff. A dollar per visit is a guideline.

We did not opt for the daily maid service. We tipped a LOT more than the recommended. We were not told by anyone that we had to vacuum, do dishes, take out trash. We would have gladly done it. Lesson learned. This is our first time with VRBO.

I am leaning towards offering half.


Do what you feel. Follow your own conscience. Like the poster above said, it's not a lot of money....you have to do what you feel right. (An aside....the suggestion to "leave a dollar per visit" tip is pathetic and even insulting to somebody trying to support a family. I'm glad you saw it in your heart to tip more than recommended).
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Re: cleaning a vacation rental

Postby BC_Doc » Sat Apr 06, 2013 4:27 pm

My partner and I generally use VRBO each year to rent a condo for a couple of weeks in Hawaii. As when I stay in a "suite style" hotel, I always make sure no dirty dishes are left in the sink. I may start a load of dishes in the dishwasher when I head out the door-- the cleaners will have to put them away. I would consider this part of the included cleaning-- ie, tidying.

As we're in a hot climate, trash is taken out. Owners will generally spell out what they want done with the fridge-- with most, it's to empty.

I wouldn't leave countertops grossly dirty with food, but I also wouldn't spend a huge amount of time worrying about leaving them spotless either.

We'll generally start a load of towels washing as we leave.

At the end of the vacation rental, the place will look like it's been lived in. There's work for the cleaner to do-- that's why they are being hired by the owner. In summary, we will leave the place tidy, but ready to be cleaned-- vacuumed, bathrooms, sheets, etc.

That's my experience w VRBO. Most owners are quite clear in the rental agreement what needs to be done. I've never experienced a blip with this sort of practice on my part.
Last edited by BC_Doc on Sun Apr 07, 2013 2:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: cleaning a vacation rental

Postby HardKnocker » Sat Apr 06, 2013 10:00 pm

runnergirl wrote:I recently went on vacation and rented a condo through VRBO. At the end of the stay, we left some dirty dishes (no dish washer in the place), garbage in the bin (no cover on the trashcan, not made aware of any garbage chute), and some crumbs on the floor and surfaces. We left no spills, stains, or anything difficult to clean up. Nothing was broken or damaged. Having mostly stayed in hotels, I was not aware that I had to clean the place before we left. I knew there would be cleaners in because they left an envelope for tips, which we gave (they did not clean while we were there).

Now the landlord wants to withhold $50 out of a $200 deposit for extra cleaning expenses. He is leaving it up to us to decide whether or not the $50 should be withheld. He will give it all back if we insist, but clearly feels that we owe it to him. I also feel $50 is too much as the place wasn't that large and it is in a country where the cost of living is less than in the US.

What should I do? Were the dishes/vacuuming my responsibility?


Frankly you are a slob. You should leave the rental as you found it. Dirty dishes in the sink, , crumbs, garbage, etc. are unacceptable. You are getting off easy with a $50 charge.
“Gold gets dug out of the ground, then we melt it down, dig another hole, bury it again and pay people to stand around guarding it. It has no utility.”--Warren Buffett
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