You check your property at the end of a rental and find some damage. First of all you decide if you'll accept it as normal wear and tear and simply fix it; put it down to experience and add the renters to your blacklist, or whether you will make a claim on the damage deposit. The judgement call is yours and for many owners it's not a big deal; it's part of the risk of the vacation rental business, and the occasional disappointment is balanced against the majority of great renters they have had. For some though, even the slightest infraction of the rules of departure assumes monumental proportions, creates lots of stress and can result in some nasty correspondence and threats of legal action.
There's often a clue there will be an problem, and that's where the renters call you on the morning they are leaving to tell you about a ‘few issues' they had. We experienced this last Sunday with a group of 30-somethings at the cottage. The call was to ‘let you know there was a leak in the roof and we've had to put some towels down to soak up the water, and by the way, there was hair in the bathtub so we couldn't use it all weekend, and all had to use the other bathroom'.
OK – the leak's a nuisance. It happened last year in a thaw and we had contractors in to fix it in the spring. There's been no leak since when it rains, so we thought it had been fixed, but there's some ice damming around the eaves troughs which has obviously caused the problem. I don't understand about the hair in the bath though! I cleaned the place after our last guests and usually pay particular attention to bathrooms, so I'm not sure how I missed that, but to decide it was not usable seems a bit odd. We do have a note in our guest book that asks them to let us know if there are any problems, within the first 24 hours, to give us a chance to rectify, but they obviously decided to take the path of least resistance and boycott the offending tub.
Or….they know we are going to be mightily upset about the state they have left the place and are creating their case in advance. This is what we call a COLIC situation – Check Out List Ignored Completely. The griping complaints are just the precursor to the undoubted mess we will find when we get down there.
So, it was with great trepidation we made our way to the cottage on Sunday after checkout. And yes, the place had not been left as we ask in our checkout list. In fact the list had not been read at all. We ask that the heating is turned down – it was as high as it could go; the temperature on the hot tub should be reduced – it was not; the place was generally a mess. Just a bunch of little stuff but showing little respect for our Terms and Conditions.
When I started out, this situation would have caused a significantly different reaction to the one I have now. I've learnt over the years to take the rough with the smooth; to appreciate my repeat guests who always leave the cottage spotless and write lovely things in the guest book, and to accept there is a new generation of people who have never learnt to tidy up after themselves or follow instructions, however gently and politely they are put.
Image by Addrox