Sadly, a few reports of "bad rents" are already happening for the 2015 season & this seems to be becoming an increasing problem for Owners to deal with as the years go by, with more & more guests leaving the Holiday Home in an unacceptable condition.
There are also an alarmingly increasing number of incidents with over-crowding, where unknown guests are staying without the Owner's permission... one such example this 2015 season was a booking taken for 6 people & 12 found to be staying! (Which obviously breaches all park rules & invalidates insurance.)
Unfortunately, poor ole Als Van suffered more than most during the 2014 season with damages - & yet again, has been one of the first to suffer during this new 2015 rental year; but if nothing else, it's given the opportunity of now being in a position to offer a lot of tips & advice to those in a similar situation.
Private rentals are not helped by the site rentals at all as far as damage or mess is concerned. None of the holiday companies charge a damage deposit, (only ever a "deposit" to make the booking), & there is never any recourse should damages or mess occur during a site-rental stay. Which basically means you could book a site rental van direct through the Holiday Company, steal everything in it, trash it, graffiti walls, rip bedding, smash everything to bits & nothing will happen when you leave... apart from maybe a leaflet through your door a few weeks later offering you a "special deal" to go stay again...
The park staff are generally appalled by this, there are many "Housekeeping Managers" - and it's costing them a small fortune in replacement itinerary, however it doesn't look like "company policies" will change any time soon. However, as an Owner you can put measures in place to TRY to prevent any major incidents at your Holiday Home.
"It Will Never Happen To Me"
Yes it can & yes it will at some stage! NEVER think that as an Owner, damage or mess will not occur. The ONLY time you can guarantee that, 100% - is if you don't rent! Sometimes "family" or "friends" can be the worst offenders, so don't rely on the fact that you "only ever rent to people you know." It's also more difficult to deal with when it is "people you know."
"I "vet" my Renters"
HOW? Even by doing a "meet & greet" yourself does not not guarantee a "safe" rental... The nicest & most well-spoken of guests may turn out to be the ones who cause the most damage! NEVER judge by appearance, you may have shown them around your Holiday Home for half an hour & they may have been the most pleasant of people during that time, but that doesn't necessarily mean that's how they will behave for their entire stay in your property once you have handed those keys over.
"I've never taken a damage deposit, as it's never been necessary"
The day WILL come when you regret those words! Even if you are renting to someone you "know" - a damage deposit is a MUST. NEVER rent without one!
"My renters clean for the next people in"
Just wrong in every way! Never rely on your guests cleaning to "guest-standard" + how will you ever know who caused damage when it comes to light? (& it will!)
Is the first step! It won't EVER stop a "bad rent" from happening, but there are steps you can take to hopefully make the guest realise there are consequences to their actions whilst staying at your Holiday Home + there are things you can do to avoid obvious "accidents waiting to happen!"
MAJOR factor! Make sure your Terms & Conditions have damage &"mess" clauses & state that ONLY those named on the booking forms are permitted to stay overnight. Make it very clear as to what the consequences will be if damage or mess occurs during a rental, or if additional guests are found to be staying. If the guest will lose a deposit, make sure they are aware of this. State that if the damage, or additional cleaning involved exceeds the deposit - action WILL be taken.
Make sure you have a clause on your booking forms that clearly states that their signature confirms they are agreeing to your T&Cs... no signature = no contract between you = no come-back whatsoever if your Holiday Home is demolished during their stay.
You should always give your home details to guests - but in return, NEVER rent unless you have their full details! It's quite acceptable to do everything electronically, but unless you send something via post to the home address given - you may never hold the correct details for them. 1 High Street, Toytown, SE14 8NG doesn't mean a thing until your guest has received & confirmed they've received whatever you've sent them & you may need that should the rent "go bad!"
Will happen! But you can do your best to avoid anything too major, simply by what you provide in the van during a rental! Glass-topped tables are a definite NO! Never have lots of china ornaments around or free-standing mirrors. if you rent to families - provide plastic plates, beakers etc for the Littleys to use instead of your dinner service & glasses. Doesn't necessarily mean they won't use your breakable things - but at least the option is there! Don't put your best "wedding present crystal glasses" in there for rental use!
ALWAYS have a basic stock of cleaning materials available for your guests to use. It doesn't necessarily follow suit that they will be of course, but it will encourage them to attempt a clean during their stay. Provide a hoover or at least a broom / dustpan & brush.
How to Deal with a "Bad" Rent:
The first major issue is to decide what a "bad" rent actually is... a few bits of rubbish left lying around & an uncleaned oven or work surface does not constitute a major breach of your T&Cs! NEVER expect a full "change-over" clean from your guests. It's just unrealistic. Much as you would like or expect to find the Holiday Home as you left it for them - it won't happen & you can't expect it to. Your guests are on holiday. The last thing they are going to want to do is scrub from top to bottom before leaving. However - it is not unreasonable to expect them to leave it in an "acceptable" condition on departure. Owners need to apply a "Common Sense" rule when dealing with a potential sub-standard rental...
Once you have discovered you have been the victim of a "bad" rent - the first rule of thumb is to STAY CALM! Little will be achieved if you lose your temper (much as you may want to!) & you MUST remain professional at all times. There is no point whatsoever in getting into a verbal brawl with your guest.
If an "eviction" situation occurs, you will usually find your Holiday Park Security will help if necessary. Explain the circumstances to your Park office & don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Your Park staff do not want "problem guests" to stay on site any more than you do!
Take photos. An absolute MUST. Make sure you have clear photos of any damage or mess. If you employ a cleaner, make sure they are aware that should any damage or mess be found - they must take photos on your behalf & get them to you asap.
Contact your guest asap after departure. It's best to do this via email, so you have written proof of what has happened & include the photos. Be calm! Explain what has been found & explain what the consequences are (as per your T&Cs) & whether a partial or full deposit retention is applicable. Don't apologise! It's a commonplace to start your missive with "I'm very sorry but I have found..." etc - don't! It's far better to be blunt & to the point: "Further to your departure on xxx, the following problems have been found:" Word the communication carefully (another reason for putting it in writing - as you can ensure it reads correctly before sending!)
If the damage or cleaning costs exceed the deposit, obtain a quote & forward a copy to the guest. Obviously this may not be possible on their departure day, so make sure you inform them a quote is being obtained & will be forwarded to them.
There will usually be one of two responses from the guest... You will either not receive a response at all... or they will come back to you & deny any of the problems were caused by them. It is very, very unusual for a "hands-up" situation to arise & for the guest to admit to any problems caused.
If you receive no response, but the deposit retention covers your costs... matter closed. If your costs exceed the deposit, contact the guest (in writing) with details with an expected payment date. State what the consequences will be if the invoice remains unpaid & be prepared to take the matter further.
The far more frequent response is that the damage was not caused during the guest's stay & usually they will state that the Holiday Home was either "like it" on arrival... or they will start to complain about various issues regarding cleanliness etc on their arrival. Make sure you have stated clearly in your T&Cs that NO retrospective complaints are upheld & that should any complaints be necessary - they are made during the stay, not after departure. There's your answer to the guest's response!
Should you need it - there is always the Small Claims Court option to take matter further... (www.gov.uk/make-court-claim-for-money/overview) There will be court fees to pay, which you will have to cover. These do get added to the guest's overall invoice. But be aware... even if you "win" & the case is awarded in your favour, actually having the guest's invoice paid is still not guaranteed. It will however show on the guest's credit records that the case has been found against them.
ETK are always here to help if you need advice with a "bad" rent, or just a shoulder to cry on & even a spleen to vent! A rental that goes wrong can be exceedingly upsetting for the Owner & we'll do our best to help where we can.
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