Tuesday, August 29, 2017

How to be a good vacation renter

With more and more people going the VRBO/AirBnB route for rentals, the end of our second season renting out our shore house with 98% great renters for the past two summers, and a conversation with Lauren about what makes a good renter, I figured why not. We have had truly awesome people stay in our house and are very lucky. They have taught me so much. Selfishly, I'd also like to know what you have liked or didn't like about interacting with owners you've rented homes with on VRBO or the like as I am still finding my way around that. Deal?

Some of you are probably like fuck you I'm paying that's how I'm a good renter to which I would respond yesthankyouandgoodday. But if you're curious beyond that, here are some ways to be a good vacation renter.

1. Read everything the owner sends you. If your owner is like me, I can guarantee you the answer to 90% of the questions you will have is in the info packet. If they send you nothing, ask if they have info about the house that they typically send out. But if something is not covered...

2. Ask questions.  It is best to go into a rental situation with the appropriate level of expectation. It will also let the owner know what they have omitted and should include in the future.

3. Let the owner know if something is wrong or broken when you arrive or goes wrong/breaks while you're there. Chances are they have a very short window of time between you and the next guest to address any problems so while no one ever wants a problem, it is a relief when someone contacts you about it immediately and doesn't wait until check out to tell you. If it's something that needs to be fixed immediately, it will surely improve your vacation to have it taken care of. If it's just broken but not impeding on your time, you will be doing the owner a huge favor by preparing them. 

4. Treat it like your home....unless you eat in bedrooms. Don't eat in bedrooms. Seriously. Just...don't. Otherwise, relax in it and be comfortable in it but also know you can't go a day at home without wiping your kid's peanut butter and jelly off the dining room table so you shouldn't go more than a day without doing that in your vacation home either. If a light bulb burns out out or remote batteries die, change them (all good owners will leave some for you). If your dog makes a mess or your kid writes on the wall, clean it up. Put the trash and recycles out on the days indicated. It's a home, not a hotel. If you don't want to lift a finger and would like someone wiping up after you, you belong in a hotel, not someone's home. Knowing that it is a home and not a hotel with full service and not expecting full service will serve both parties well. 

5. If you like something, say something, and the reverse. I do little things like leave travel size stuff/fresh bag of coffee/some paper goods/etc for people, and it's good to know if those things are worth it since it means money out of my pocket. It's also good to know if it bothers someone for some reason. Do the pillows suck in a bedroom? Please tell me. All feedback is good feedback even if it's not super specific. 

6. Trust is a two way street. Renting through one of these sites requires you to trust the owner, yes, but it also requires the owner to trust you. Go with your gut but don't be weird. Do not rent from anyone who does not have a phone number and email attached to their listing. Expect to share your email, address, and phone number with the owner. 

7. Do not act like you are the first person to ever rent a house. When I think about the houses I've rented, I cringe at one incident in particular where I was a total special snowflake. It was my first time using VRBO and our first time bringing the dogs to a rental. That was the last place we rented at the shore since the offer we put in on our shore house was submitted and accepted during that vacation. The owner called me and reassured me on the phone. That is so not usual and I actually emailed her after our first season here and apologized for being needy as fuck a year before. 

While we're on the subject of vacation rentals, I would like all renters to know that VRBO/Homeaway is pulling some shit and they're asking renters to pay for it. If you're planning on renting via VRBO, know that you can still book direct through an owner to avoid their booking fee. They've just made it very hard to do so. They've also screwed up a few auto quotes so check your itemized quote when you do pay through them.

What have you liked or disliked about dealing with owners through VRBO or AirBnB?

I can't sign off without wishing my Gussie a happy 12th birthday. 
Or without sharing more links of organizations that will be helping on the ground in Texas. 
Houston food bank: http://www.houstonfoodbank.org/donate/
Corpus Christi food bank: http://www.foodbankcc.com/
Galveston food bank: http://www.galvestoncountyfoodbank.org/
The Texas Diaper Bank: http://www.texasdiaperbank.org/
SPCA of Texas: https://www.spca.org/news_hurricane-harvey
Coalition for the Homeless: https://www.homelesshouston.org/take-action/donate/
Portlight, which helps people with disabilities: http://www.portlight.org/home.html

I'm linking up with Lauren & Bre for their Add it to my list linkup, which they're doing the last Tuesday of every month. 


  1. Excellent. All should live by the Golden Rule, but some don't. Your house is beyond amply stocked and written information and fun stuff and lovely. Thanks to the universe for that and 98% good renters.
    Love. Your. Momma.

  2. Why do some people think renting means they can stop acting like normal humans or start acting like precious snowflakes?!?! I don't understand, at all!

    happy birthday to mr GUS!

  3. happy 12th birthday gus!!
    i have never rented a vacation home, so i honestly don't know what i like or dislike. i'm sure i will one day though, so this is helpful. i can't understand why people don't clean up after themselves like they are at home when they aren't. it happens at work too and i just want to be like seriously? how can you be so gross. stop. i imagine i would love all the little extra things you do for your guests, but i am horrible about not saying things specifically, like i'd say thank you but i wouldn't remember to say xyz was really thoughtful! i think my day would be made if the vacation rental had like a library type thing where people could take or leave books. i think you do that anyway, which is probably why it's in my head, i think that is so cool!

  4. I don't know if I could trust people like that, you have more faith in humanity than I do. I'd be your ideal renter, you wouldn't even know I was there! I don't even mess up hotel rooms, I'm so clean.
    Happy Birthday Gus!!

  5. Happy Birthday Gus!

    And be nice to the town you're in and don't assume everyone around you is also a vacationer. Some are full time residents and the owners will ask them what kind of shenanigans went on! lol. It was always gets on my nerve when people visit and them complain about my town!

  6. Awesome list! An info packet and little things like toiletries and coffee go a long way! I'm such a clean freak, that I can't imagine remnants of PB&J being left longer than 30 seconds never mind a day :-P

  7. I think it's awesome that you leave little things for the renters like that--those personal things make all the difference when you rent. Just hopefully you have renters who are smart enough to appreciate that!

  8. Happy birthday Gussie! What a cute little old man. We do VRBO every summer and treat the house like our own. We have chosen to stick with one place in particular because they are responsible and nice owners like you. Thank you for the inks for Houston.

  9. we do all of this when we rent our house for the week in Picton! when we found out that the kids lost one of the chess pieces in the house last month, we refused to let them play or leave the area until it was found and they got an earful from the parents!

  10. First, happy happy day to Gus! I wish Grace got her 12th birthday celebration in June!
    Second, my friends and family and I are SUPER good renters... we don't just wipe up the peanut butter! My friends and I actually clean the house, bathrooms and all!
    We once stayed at a house in Cape May where dogs were allowed. I won't ever stay there again. It was a beautiful house, exactly as advertised, clean, modern... PERFECT! But the owner was such a micro-manager! He required dogs to be kept in crates when left alone (I was not affected by that because where we went, Grace went), that they not go beyond the first floor (of 3 floors), and that they be bathed prior to arrival. Of course we complied. We did NOT expect him to arrive at the house to literally SMELL the dog! She passed the inspection, but it was so insulting!

  11. My family in Nashville have 3 AirBnB & she's learning a lot about being a renter. I know it would stress me out.

  12. We have stayed at one airbnb. We brought wine to say thank you. They bought us breakfast one morning. We walked their dog one night. It was like staying with friends. Such a positive experience. I think it makes a big difference when your hosts make an effort, the renters usually do as well. Happy day celebrating your pup :)

  13. Great tips, but I expected nothing less from you. I've never stayed at an airbnb but have been looking into some just recently and I'm contemplating.

    Happy birthday kisses to your old man, Gus! :)

  14. These are all great tips! I seriously can't believe that people don't treat your house like their home, I mean it's not a hotel room.

  15. Our family stayed in a vacation home this summer when we went to Sunset Beach. Overall, we had a really enjoyable experience although it wasn't nearly as stocked or adorable as the pictures you show of your home. I liked that they texted us details (since we were WAY more likely to get a text while traveling than check our email). I also liked when the website gave a layout of the house. The things I don't necessarily like about someone's house is when the closets have old, random, worn stuff in them (like pillows and blankets and puzzles missing piece). When there are things in the house that just look like too many people have touched them I get a little weird. Maybe that's just me and that's how vacation homes go, but it paints a weird picture in my mind. Lol
    Our home was through a rental company, though, I think... I'm not sure if a large company rents all those houses or if people list them through the co...
    Happy Birthday, Gus!!!

  16. These are all good tips. I prefer to vacation this way, it's just always been easier with kids and more economical. People are pigs though, I can imagine you get a doozy now and them. I like to sign the guest book and leave some compliments or whatever. It's fun to read from other guests and see your previous comments if you repeat a stay... which I like to do!

  17. This is great. I've never rented from VRBO personally, but growing up my parents always rented a house at the lake for our vacation every year. Some years were great and some years not so awesome, but these tips are definitely something that I will keep in mind for future vacations!

  18. Happy birthday Gus! We do AirBnB a fair bit and always try to leave it cleaner than we find it, strip the beds etc. Things we appreciate are lists of good places to eat/go, instructions for tricky appliances, and most of all a decently equipped kitchen. For me the main reason to get an AirBnB over a hotel is the ability to cook, so I do appreciate the tools to do so. Also tupperware! That's rare to find but makes my day. Then I can pack lunches, etc.

  19. Happy birthday to Gus (a day late)! I've only rented from the same person for the past several years and since we know them anyway, it's easier for us to tell them when something is amiss. Little touches give the place the homey feel - if I wanted a sterile or museum environment, we'd get a hotel or check into a hospital. Comfortable chairs/couches with extra blankets, directions on how to use the remote or TV, suggestions on where to eat or things to do, a journal or book that all guests can write in to leave suggestions for future guests ... these are all things we've come to appreciate while staying there. They also have a general closet available for everyone to leave things for the next guests - sand toys, beach chairs/umbrella. We know we can use them and if we need to leave anything behind, we know someone else will use them (mainly because there's obvious wear and tear the next year we get there). And also the books! Our friends are also readers and they keep books in all the rooms along with the suggestion of if you need a book, take it - and if you finish a book, leave it for the next person. We hit up all the island thrift stores and usually come away with stacks of books anyway and then leave behind the ones we finish during the week.

  20. Happy Belated Birthday Gus!! This is a great list. My friend's family has a summer home that they rent out and last summer, a group literally destroyed the place. I felt so bad for them as there was quite alot of damage. Some people just have no respect.

  21. I love when there's coffee and a list of suggested places to check out in the area. We love using AirBnB and VRBO because it gives us a more comfortable stay usually. I have had a few bad experiences where pictures told a very different story than the actual place.

  22. Some great tips to keep renters educated especially since you can't presume they all have common sense! Happy belated birthday to Gus boy!

  23. Thanks for writing this post and linking up! For my last AirBnB experience, the ceiling started leaking the night before we left when the shower was running. I feel like it's human nature to think you did something wrong and caused it which can be awkward, but I emailed the owners right away, took the quickest shower possible, and they were grateful. I love extras like bottled water and I think I told you how I loved good soap. I did not love a million little succulent pots on every windowsill - I worried that I would break one if I moved the blinds. I may need to get more info from you on using VRBO without the fees - it is so cost prohibitive right now!


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