Behind the Scenes
A friend who has a rental home along the coast tells the following true story… Her home had a $500 security deposit collected with reservation fees. A guest swiped two pillow shams from a queen bed in the home and then contacted the owner when the return of her security deposit was denied. The owner first asked why she had taken the shams to which the guest replied, “I liked them and couldn’t find similar ones in nearby stores.” When the owner refused to return any part of the security deposit the guest became indignant claiming that shams do not cost hundreds of dollars. The owner explained it would cost hundreds because she would need to find new shams plus a matching quilt not to mention time, gas, etc. The next week the guest mailed the shams to the owner who then refunded the security deposit.
Disregard for Rental Property
It’s often after renters have departed that the guest service crews review the home’s inventory checklist and spot theft or criminal mischief which refers to vandalism and deliberate damage to a rental property. Included in the criminal mischief category are also guests who do not follow the home’s contractual rules which they signed in good faith. For instance, renters who decline pool heating for an added cost and then turn it on without permission as if the owner won’t notice the significantly higher electric bill (insert eye roll here). And there are the guests who, despite the written policies, have loud, late parties with no thought or regard for the neighbors.
Why It Matters
Abuse of vacation properties has short and long-term consequences in the vacation home rental industry. At the least you will be placed on the Do Not Rent (DNR) list or your profile, which can be shared among online travel agencies, will be prohibitive when you attempt to book again.
Falsified reservations, smoking, pets with a no pet policy or use of illegal substances usually result in immediate eviction as in you’re suddenly homeless. There will also be fines for these infractions whether you’re caught during or after occupancy (read the details in your reservation).
The loud and late partiers create problems with multiple consequences. Owners add stricter rules and regulations in an attempt to curb annoying or troublesome behaviors. Complaints to Home Owner Associations (HOAs) about rude guests result in blocks on short term rentals within a community or city and the vacation rental opportunity disappears.
Crime and abuse ultimately create higher costs for renters: actual reservation charges increase and/or fees are collected to protect owners’ investments. Some agencies compensate their losses by requiring a damage waiver fee which, unlike a security deposit, is non-refundable.
You’ll find that owners and managers are more forgiving when you’re honest and forthright because they know items wear out and accidents happen. For obvious reasons they prefer to maintain goodwill with their guests and overlook minor transgressions that involve property damage.
The following recommendations are ways to protect yourself and preserve reasonable prices and owner-renter relationships:
- Upon arrival, report any noted damage or obvious missing items as part of your check-in process. Not doing this could result in being blamed erroneously for damage or theft unnoticed between departures and arrivals.
- When damage occurs during your stay, report it immediately to the owner or manager. Immediately being when it happens, not after departing the home. Sometimes the cost to repair is less when the problem is corrected sooner rather than later which the following story illustrates:
Red wine was spilled on a canopy bed panel. The stain would have been easier to clean if tackled immediately instead of many days later when the cleaning crew noted it. Additionally, there were only a few hours between departing and arriving guests so the crew was tasked with quickly finding a new set of panels.
- If something breaks or stops working, do not attempt to replace parts or make repairs. Contact the owner or manager, explain the situation and wait for the repair to be made.
- Adhere to all house rules that are provided to you at the time you book the home. Do not sign a contract with rules and policies you plan to ignore. Question everything that’s not clearly understood. If you want an exception make sure everyone agrees and it’s in writing before you finalize your reservation.
- Read and understand your damage waiver. Remember that for a damage waiver to cover costs, all damage must be reported immediately. Also, falsified reservations, smoking, pet violations or damage caused by motorized vehicles of any type are not covered.
The Intended Audience
It’s reassuring to know that most of us are conscientious and show rental properties considerable TLC. Reports from vacation home owners and managers suggest guests who steal pillow shams, vandalize, attempt to conceal damage or ignore contractual rules are the occasional few. Since I prefer the cost of goods be the intersection of supply and demand and not the cost of doing business with a few wayward individuals, I’m hoping this message amends the senseless behaviors of those who are guilty and revises the mindset of those who are wavering on criminal activities. A vacation rental home is supposed to be your home away from home. Please treat it that way!
The Arizona Vacation Home Rentals Team asks guests to report all issues and concerns, no matter how small or the time of day, as soon as possible. This gives us the chance to resolve problems quickly and to your satisfaction so your stay is the 5 star experience you deserve!