Managing Your Vacation Rental

What are your expectations of your guests upon their departure?

Written by Elizabeth Weedon

Most disagreements between homeowners and vacationers could be avoided by better communication from the homeowner and a clearer understanding of what was expected of the guests during their stay. We’ve provided some tips and a sample list of check-out expectations that a typical homeowner would ask of their guests.

5/5 - (9 votes)

It’s that time of year – when tons of guest reviews pour in for us to review and post to the listings of our hard-working and deserving homeowners. The vast majority of them (98%!) are glowing, positive reviews.

The remaining 2% of negative reviews, are so upsetting – for us as well as our homeowners. In many cases, disagreements between vacationers and homeowners arise when the homeowner is upset about the way in which the home was left by their guests.

What’s frustrating is that, in most cases, the disagreement could easily have been avoided by better communication from the homeowner and a clearer understanding of what was expected of the tenant upon their departure.

How to avoid misunderstandings

In a previous post, we discussed the importance of using a lease. And we have also written about the advantages of managing your tenants’ expectations prior to their arrival. Honest and detailed communication is KEY – before, during and after a tenant’s stay!

If there is anything you expect your tenants to do or NOT do while in your home, it’s imperative that you make sure they are aware of your requirements of them, and preferably in writing. This could either be in an email during the initial inquiry/screening process, or detailed in your lease, or in a “Welcome letter” that you leave for them in your home.

Typical homeowner expectations

We thought it would be helpful if we provided a sample list of expectations that a typical homeowner would have of their guests. Naturally, each home is unique, though, and you will undoubtedly have slightly different instructions for your guests.

Do you make your expectations of your tenants very clear to them before or during their stay? Do you have any other recommendations for fellow homeowners about check-out requirements?

About the author

Elizabeth Weedon

Elizabeth Weedon - Although I’ve worked for 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 managed my family's rental home there since the mid-1980’s. I’m passionately devoted to the Vineyard – and to WeNeedaVacation, which I credit with enabling me to hold onto the special property that has been in our family for nearly a century. An enthusiastic member of the WNAV Homeowner Support Team, I endeavor to keep my finger on the pulse of the Cape and Islands vacation rental industry so that I can provide homeowners advice about how to ensure their booking success with us. With owner Joan Talmadge, I am also responsible for editing and writing much of the text on our website, our monthly newsletters, and Homeowner Blog posts.


  • I give my renters a choice – to pay for cleaning or clean themselves. The cleaning themselves lasts only one rental period – returning renters are delighted to just leave they absolutely want to let or team do it. 0ur home is 5 bedrooms and 4 baths and takes me over several days to clean it. We provide sheets and all household linens and have two laundry rooms and two kitchens. Their list upon leaving is to leave every used bed linens either messy on the beds (one year someone slept on top of the bedspread and just straightened it up. The sheets were all scrunched up. They must put the leaving day dishes in the dishwasher and turned it on and all the trash in the house gathered up and put into the barrels outside. Keys and car remotes on the kitchen table and the house unlocked. (our cleaning team comes in at or just before the departure). Last year our first renter said she could do it, but when they arrived I received an email saying the house was wonderful but larger than she thought, so could I arrange for the cleaning please. A very nice lady. I had kept my cleaners on for that weekend for a quick clean so they were happy to get their usual $. 400.00.

    • Thanks, Sandy, for sharing the strategy you use regarding cleaning, and I’m glad to hear it’s worked out well for you. We usually caution our homeowners not to give their tenants an option to clean themselves, though, for a couple of reasons. First, most vacationers have little interest in having to do any housework during the precious, short time they have to relax and, well, vacation. Second, often misunderstandings arise between homeowners and vacationers in a situation like that – where the vacationer feels that they have worked hard to clean the home adequately, and the homeowner disagrees and withholds security deposit funds as a result. Naturally, heeding our advice in this blog post about being exceedingly clear about your expectations of your tenants minimizes some of these potential misunderstandings, but there’s still risk. I think it’s terrific that you provide them with a choice, however. But I’m not sure everyone would be able to be as flexible as your crew was upon learning last-minute that a full, extensive cleaning would be necessary. But, again, the key thing is that you are abundantly clear about your expectations of your tenants and PRIOR to their arrival so that they are not blindsided when they arrive.

  • This guide is interesting and has a few points I didn’t even think to request. We post a check out procedure guide with three simple tasks. Throw out all trash, load and start the dishwasher, and start a load of sheets. We seem to get a few guests (not all) that have commented publicly that it is the cleaners job. Always blows my mind that people do not think it important to do any tidying on departure. We do make it clear and so most comply even if begrudgingly. Great article.

  • I post the Check Out Instructions on the frig door. (I copy them onto magnetic paper and put a pretty boarder.)
    I hate waste, so unlike many people, I advise my guests that they can leave condiments in the frig and the next family can decide if they want to use them or buy their own. (That does Not mean Tupperware of last nights dinner.)
    I also recommend they wash and put away beach towels the night before (since I assume they are busy getting ready to go in the morning and not at the beach). The maid takes out the trash and finishes whatever load of towels or sheets are in washer or dryer.
    In my rental agreement I spell out that if the maid finds the house usually messy or dirty (pictures included) they may be subject to an extra hour of cleaning fee.
    In my welcome letter (on the table with a bottle of wine) I ask that they empty the humidified during the week and to please be conscious about running the AC with doors and windows open.

  • I am very happy too see this as we occasionally have tenants who think the cleaner is actually the Picking Up Person – same as my kids used to .

    The other thing we put on our list was to make sure all the remotes were accounted for an placed in a basket we provide for that purpose.

    This is very helpful. Thanks.