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Dec 11 2014

The Pros and Cons of Charging a Cleaning Fee

chalkboardProConOne of the difficult choices to make when managing a vacation rental is whether or not to charge a cleaning fee, refundable or not, over and above the rent. There really isn’t a right or wrong answer – but let’s discuss a few options and considerations to help you make a decision that’s right for you.

A general rule of thumb is that fairly high-end homes tend to include the cost of cleaning, although this is not always the case.

 Charging a non-refundable cleaning fee

Pros: Obviously, charging a cleaning fee allows you to recoup a pretty expensive part of managing your home.  Really good, dependable cleaning services on the Cape and Islands are in great demand during the busy summer weeks.  As a result, they fill up their schedules quickly and are expensive.

And it’s not unusual to charge a cleaning fee these days, so your tenants shouldn’t be too surprised.

Cons: Depending on how aggressive your rental pricing is already, you could risk losing bookings if the vacationers are unwilling to pay for the extra fee. The vacation rental market is very competitive, so take a look at comparable listings to make sure you are priced reasonably enough to allow for charging any extra fees. For assistance, see our blog post about pricing your home.

We find that  some vacationers who have paid an extra cleaning fee feel that doing so releases them from having to lift a finger to clean at all before they leave – they’ve paid extra for cleaning, they’re going to get their money’s worth.

What to charge: The amount to charge can vary between $75 and as much as $400, depending on the size of the house. But the most common for an average size house is around $150. What does your cleaning service charge for an average turnover cleaning?

Alternative options: Some homeowners opt to charge a refundable cleaning fee – if the house is left in an adequately clean condition, the fee is returned.  This provides incentive for the tenants to leave the house clean, which is great. The problem is that the decision to return the funds is up to the homeowner, and occasionally this can lead to disputes about exactly how clean the house needed to be in order to allow for a full refund, or to justify only a partial return, or even none at all. The last thing you want to deal with is a dispute or a negative guest review.

Some homeowners even offer their tenants the choice: pay for cleaning, or clean the home themselves. Although this seems like a very fair and flexible arrangement, the fact is that this plan is fraught with problems and can end an otherwise wonderful vacation on a sour note if the homeowner feels that the vacationer didn’t leave the home as clean as expected.

Including your cleaning costs in your rental price:

Obviously, not charging a fee prevents you from recouping that weekly cost, but there are some subtle benefits.

  • First, it’s one more selling point for your rental. I don’t charge one, and I always feel like I clinch the deal when I assure my potential tenants that there are no additional costs at all.
  • It’s also one less thing for either of us to deal with.
  • And finally, providing a turn-key, thoroughly relaxing and enjoyable vacation for your tenants, without any extra fees or responsibilities, is a big part of the homeowner’s ultimate goal: to have extremely happy tenants who will love and take care of your home, write a lovely guest review when they leave, and return year after year.

Do you charge extra for cleaning? If so, has doing so ever created any problems with your tenants? Or do you think it has ever impacted a potential booking of your home?

The Pros and Cons of Charging a Cleaning Fee
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About the author

Elizabeth Weedon

Elizabeth Weedon - Although I’ve worked for WeNeedaVacation.com since 2008, I’ve been a loyal homeowner on the site since early 1998, just a few months after the website was launched by the Talmadges. I grew up summering on the Vineyard and have managed my family's rental home there since the mid-1980’s. I’m passionately devoted to the Vineyard – and to WeNeedaVacation.com, which I credit with enabling me to hold onto the special property that has been in our family since the 1920’s. An enthusiastic member of the WNAV.com Homeowner Support Team, I am particularly involved with our new listers, providing assistance with the sign-up process and advice about how to create the most effective listing to ensure their booking success with us. I have recently taken over our press and public relations needs. And, with owner Joan Talmadge, I am also responsible for editing and writing much of the content on our website, our monthly newsletters, and the blog posts. My husband and I live in Wellesley where we have raised our 2 grown kids and our Black Lab, Maisie. Email Elizabeth

4 comments

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  1. Mike Cooper

    Elizabeth, I can understand why it would be important to be careful when it comes to property cleaning fees. Our house happens to be cluttered thanks to our kids. I definitely think that we should look into finding a good cleaning service that could make our home pristine.

  2. Tenancy Cleaning UK

    I would recommend landlords to have a security deposit always after seeing all what some unprofessional tenants do the property. On the other hand, tenants have right query landlord if security deposit is too much or coming with further restrictions

  3. Jerry

    Yes, I do include the cleaning cost in my rental fee. NOT as an extra charge. I feel this way, I ask the people to leave the house as they found it. I tell them that if extra cleaning is needed, I will deduct the cost from their security deposit.. In 3 years, I have never had to do that. I have found the house spotless and sometime wonder why I hire the cleaning crew. I believe that a cleaning crew should come in and do a thorough job of vacuming and sanitizing the sinkes and bath. Also, they know the house and will notice anything broken or missing, so I know who to blame if needed.

  4. K Conlon

    this is a no brainer. Everone’s definition of clean is different- If I clean to perfection everyone is happy.
    Cleaning ata high standard a must and that means a professional

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