Changeover Without Tears – An Owner’s Guide to Changeover Day

crime-scene-toilet-paper With the vacation rental season in full swing most owners, myself included, approach changeover day with a mixture of trepidation, anticipation and sometimes, confidence. Whatever we expect, there are times when we’re surprised, either by the pristine way in which the property has been left by the outgoing guests, or by an ungodly mess.

When I first started renting out, I allowed myself to get irritated at the small things that rental guests had (or had not) done. Finding the patio umbrella up when we had asked them to take it down; a life jacket left in a boat instead of being hung up on the appropriate hook; or perishable items left in the fridge, were just a few of the little things that could wind me up. And if there had been any damage, it had an impact way beyond the minor issue I would now see it to be. I’d have a rant, get upset and want to make an immediate charge on the damage deposit, for what I now see to be an emotional reaction, rather than taking the time to reason it out.

This is not to say I will condone blatant disregard of my checkout list, or obvious non-accidental damage beyond wear and tear, but my attitude has swung around in the last few years and my tolerance level has risen to a point where I no longer have any stress. It’s all to do with a quote I live by more and more these days:

“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at will change”

Now, instead of arriving at the cottage wondering whether it will be in good shape or bad shape, I simply expect to arrive, do the changeover and create a welcoming environment for my next guests. If it takes an hour extra, well that’s just fine because another time it may be a much quicker turnaround.

I know there are owners out there who have a more rigid attitude and may not agree with my approach, but it works for me and for many other professional owners, so maybe there is something in a more flexible attitude to our guests varying standards. Let me know what you think.


This article is so true. You have to dettach yourself from your vacation rental when it comes to the business side. Changing your mindset is a great way to do this. We find its great to have impartial cleaners go in and take care of things…this way you don’t end up nit picking everything your guests have done. Once you think of it as a business and realize these little things usually don’t matter at all, it makes life much easier. 🙂

    Heather Bayer

    @Mike I love your use of the expression ‘nitpicking’ because that is exactly what I used to do. And it was so stressful…. I think it’s worthwhile talking with cleaners too as I have encountered a few drama queens lately amongst our cleaning contacts!


We rarely see our places after guests leave. But we do sometimes arrive after the cleaning and inspection crews have left. I think our reactions are stronger to finding that the crews have not done their jobs than what ever we would have found arriving on guest departure. But the quote ““If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at will change” is certainly a good adage to live by…vacation rental or not!

Heather Bayer

Ah yes, Sylvia – I have to apply the same thing to going to my cottage after my cleaning team has been in as the reaction can be worse, as you say


I couldn’t agree more with the article – I said as much on another thread on Facebook we are not here to educate folk – folk have different standards. However I do still have even after 8 years of this business a stomach churning moment of what will it be like! It’s only the few that spoil it for others, we can’t have perfect guests each and every time… (we do get quite a few in our 2 units where we are on site!), but I do get so fed up (as I am at the moment), over a bed canopy being pulled down at our beach house… if fell you understand – it’s been up 7 years without any problem I say … it’s only on plasterboard it’s not up properly they say … I shut up because firstly it’s in a proper wall not plasterboard, I know how it’s been fitted and who fitted it, I know without seeing it yet, we’ve got a mess on our hands… but they don’t want it back up while on holiday – when I pointed out other folk were coming in the day they were leaving they were shocked!! So I have another week and half worrying about how we are going to get it all fixed, wall redecorated on the Saturday before the next folk arrive.

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