Just Cheesed Off with the Changeover!

crybaby I spend a lot of time on this blog, and in my day job as a vacation rental manager, talking about the ‘cost of doing business’, and have referred occasionally to that cost being emotional at times as well as monetary. So….yesterday…I had cause to experience that for myself for the first time this year when I walked into Osprey Cottage after our guests had left.

We provide a cleaning service as part of our rental rate. For me, that’s pretty much a no-brainer. I’ve rented properties in France, UK and the US and have never been asked to do a complete clean of the property before I left. There’s invariably been a pre-departure checklist asking for the place to be left in a tidy condition, with kitchen surfaces wiped down, food removed from the fridge, garbage disposed of, and the dishwasher started etc. So, when we came out to Ontario I was a little surprised that it’s considered the norm here to ask guests to leave the property in an ‘as found’ condition. This goes back to the days when a cottage was opened up at the start of the season, and the owner didn’t go back until the end, relying on guests to do the changeover for them. There’s also a factor of distance and the considerable challenge of finding someone willing to drive an hour or more to get a few hours of underpaid work on a Saturday.

Anyhow, I digress and the cleaning issue is one I will come back to, as I’m finding those who have never rented before find it very surprising – if not shocking – that they are expected to clean floors and bathrooms; vacuum and dust, and remake beds, before 11am on the day they leave.

So….back to Osprey. Yes, we do have a checklist that we ask our guests to follow. It’s simple and not onerous in any way. “We have provided a cleaning service to make the morning of your departure more pleasant. However, please leave the property in a tidy condition etc, etc.” Walking in to a complete disaster area yesterday was quite the surprise. I’m not going into detail as I am sure all my readers have had this experience at some time or another but suffice to say there was probably more food on the floors – throughout the cottage – than went into stomachs during the week. Food fight came to mind. The checklist had been ignored and they just walked out. Every light left on, every ceiling fan on full blast…..it was a Marie Celeste situation.

Anyhow, rant over. We have cleaners. It was cleaned. Event over, and we have repeat guests arriving today for a two-weeker. We will not make comment, nor seek recompense for the damaged screens, because after all, it is the cost of doing business. But, if they ask to come back again…nope, nada, not ever….and I wouldn’t put them in any of our other managed cottages either. I’m not easily offended by guests and the way they leave the cottage – this is a business and rough goes with the smooth – but on this occasion….well, I’ll leave it to you to guess my emotional stance on this one. And I’m off to my anger management class!


It boggles my mind how some people have such little consideration and I have to think it is lack of brain cells also. Do these people not think about where they are, ie in a cottage owned by another person?

Bruce and I once cleaned up a campsite on crown land on an island in front of our cottage. We happened to be kayaking by the evening of Labour Day Monday and saw a campfire smoldering. Upon getting out we found garbage everywhere including human waste and toilet paper. Nearby cottagers noticed what we were doing and brought garbage bags over to help. As I recall we filled at least two full bags. It was truly disgusting. I now take note of boat registrations where campers are actively partying and similar on crown land. If they need to be tracked after the fact, they should be.


I’ve only just cooled down after my last horror show 5 weeks ago… and no I didn’t write to them either – what’s the point? Bask in the delightful ones – I still love this business especially with lovely things our guests do after they’ve gone, like send a parcel to say thank you, how lovely is that?!

But you are right, there is a section that have the attitude shock horror you expect me to clean up after myself when I’m paying for the property… maybe it’s up to us owners to find out before we accept a confirmed booking from them what their expectations are. I am convinced folk don’t read what I send out which is laid out in an easy read format with lots of photos etc to keep the attention, what is here, what our terms are, hours of opening for shopping etc etc.

I also think that because the rental market has blossomed so quickly and has become so competitive there is a slight danger that the lines are becoming blurred – catering, events etc. all organized as part of the package. The old way was you got a key, directions and told to leave it as you found it end of! No details about the area (except where to collect the key) never mind sheets and towels being provided.

I remember as a 24 year old driving down to the South of France to stay in an 11th century knights Templar castle near Avignon. Me and my girlfriend, we had Dire Straits on full blast in my sports car with the lid down from setting off (never mind the weather!), never driven in France before, only spoke limited school girl French – drove 12 hours non stop got to the place, outside shower, cobwebs, squeaky shutters, no shops, or neighbours that spoke anything we could understand, garden over grown, but it was wonderful and we had a complete blast for 2 sun soaked weeks, left it as a new pin and drove home – them were the days… oh lor 30 something years ago!!

Now we seem to be worrying about the density of our pure Egyptian cotton sheets, how fluffy and big our bath towels are plus we feel we have pander to every whim that the guest may have, to include iphone/ipad docks in case our guest has one with them.

Joanna Lane

Local custom varies of course, but I can’t believe that a food fight is anything less than breach of contract. As such, I’m surprised you’re so willing to dismiss it as the normal course of business and not even pass comment. Our short term (weekly) vacation rental tenants are not expected to vacuum and dust, or remake beds, only to leave it “broom clean”, and we haven’t taken a dime from a security deposit in over a year. However, we most definitely did say something to show our dismay when we walked into a similar food fight situation a few years ago, and they were still in bed at the check out time as well. We like to think that because our reaction to the situation was to explain politely that this was a completely unacceptable situation, and then to charge them the extra cleaning cost, that these folks will have given more care and consideration to subsequent rentals. I understand the inclination to let it go, but I also think it could be viewed as a lost opportunity, and that many of us would prefer you to at least let them know how they failed to meet acceptable standards, even if you don’t charge them for it. I just think it’s very unlikely that yours was the first place they ever rented or the last, so what’s going to change their behavior for the next person, if you don’t say anything? And maybe the last person didn’t say anything either, which is why you got the treatment this time. Sorry you got the short straw this weekend, best of luck for the rest of the year. Joanna


Hmmm. There are two sides to the coin as far as not charging the damage deposit or sending them a note. On one side, it’s good to take a deep breath and put it behind you. On the other, deducting from the damage deposit might encourage them to treat the next rental accommodation better. And it might make that ‘deep breath’ easier to inhale! 🙂

Tracy’s last blog post..Just Cheesed Off with the Changeover!


I have to say that I am with Tracy on this one. I am not sure how often this happens at our places as we very, very rarely ever saw them on change over when living in NJ.

But I was told by our rental manager in one instance that the place was left a mess and that the cleaners took additional time. I instructed the manager to pay the cleaners additional monies and deduct it from the deposit.

I think a message does need to be sent in some instances that “renting” a property for a week, month, etc. does not entitle you to trash it.

Sorry for your troubles, Heather and Tansy, but I think we all get many, many more good guests than bad ones so it’s right that we count our blessings.


Unfortunately, we’ve all been there at least once. We had a turnover a few weeks ago where something horrifying had been cooked, boiled over and baked onto and into the stove and oven. I started to gag the minute we walked into the cottage..and continued to gag throughout the cleanup. It took quite some time and considerable effort to remove the odor but we managed it (muttering and mumbling the entire time). We also chose to make no comment. However, should they ever want to return, the answer will be a firm NO NO NO and also NO. Business or not, thick skin or not, it’s never nice to feel used and guests that leave a disgusting mess without a word or any evident remorse are most definitely using you and your hospitality. Shame on them.

Windermere Lodge

Yes – we had one last weekend. BBQ left filthy, fridge filthy, floor and carpets filthy, bins not emptied, dog hair on the bed from a dog that wasn’t booked in.

I did call the guests but they didn’t pick up so I left a polite voice message about my reasonable expectations not being met and the impact of their inconsiderate behaviour on my cleaner’s schedule. They will not be visiting my lodges again.


Rarely do we have to hold back deposits, however, we have had experience with guests who really just abuse the whole vacation rental. It normally takes a couple hours to clean a condo from top to bottom as long as the departure check list is followed: start a load of whites, run dishes in dishwasher and take out trash. Have had cleaners call to say that they have been at a property for 4 hours and still not nearly finished. Cleaners said it appeared that every single dish, glass, bowl, fork, towel, linen etc was used and though carpets just recently cleaned they are terrible. I hate confrontation, and rarely do we hold back deposits to remedy situation, but it amazes me that some people seem to be shocked that we would even consider holding back funds. The worst that can happen is they say they will not stay with us again – promise? Nice blog entry cottageguru!

Kendal Self-Catering

I must admit, we do ask that guests leave our property in an “as they found it” condition. We don’t really expect them to get down on their hands and knees to scrub floors, but I think it sends a message that we do expect a certain level of cleanliness and clearing up on departure. Of course, we still have cleaners who go in afterwards to make sure everything is tip-top…

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