Welcome Advice from Renters for Rentals

Discussion in 'Rentals - Vacation' started by Paula, Jul 11, 2005.

  1. Paula

    Paula Beach Fanatic

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    Greetings:

    To take our mind off hurricane Dennis and to get back to normal and look toward the future on lovely 30A, there have been several recommendations to start a thread for "best practices" for rental properties. It seems that the best people to contribute to this thread would be the guests who stay at the properties. So, for those of us who rent out our properties on 30A:

    What would you like rentals to provide for you?
    What can we do to make your vacation a great one?
    What would make you want to come back to the same rental property again and again?
    What do you not like (I don't want this to be a "rental bashing" thread at all, but it is helpful to know about bad experiences so we don't repeat them -- so just let us know kindly what you didn't like as well).

    Thanks!
     
  2. dusty

    dusty Beach Lover

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    Thanks, Paula!

    I'll start with a few things:

    --avoid too many knicknacks (I want to say chotch-keys but I don't know how to spell it ;) ) because they are easy knock over. For example: we have stayed in a place with lots of family pictures along a sofa table in a high traffic area that were just asking to get brushed off by accident. We move these to a safe place while we are there and replace when we are ready to leave.

    --please have somewhere to hang towels in the bathrooms. I have stayed in nice places that have no hooks or towel rods whatsoever. When you do install them, please install on the studs so they do not easily come out of the wall.

    --please have a real shower rod and not the spring loaded type that comes down when you just push the shower curtain back to turn on the water.

    --leave at least one cupboard in the kitchen bare so we can put our dry goods groceries out of sight. Last place we stayed had every kitchen cabinet full, and many cabinets with full of several different sets of glassware--there were 5-7 full sets of wine glasses and cocktail glasses!

    --please have potholders! More than two would be nice-- we can put them under a hot dish so we won't burn the counter or table.

    --if you have fancy, complicated electronics (flat screen tv, vcr/dvd, stereo speakers and cable, each with a remote) please type out an idiot's guide to turning on the tv and changing channels. Sometimes we have to spend quite some time trying to get it to work. (Then we put the extraneous remotes out of sight so we won't goof it up again :) )
     
  3. Kim Smith

    Kim Smith Beach Lover

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    Dusty,

    Thanks for your imput. I always email my departing guests to ask them about their stay and how I can make their stay even better and your responses have been a lot of what I have been hearing.
     
  4. Paula

    Paula Beach Fanatic

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    Dusty:

    Great advice so far. We'll be at our cottages next week and again in August and will follow-up with your advice (the ones we haven't done yet!).

    Best,
    Paula
     
  5. dusty

    dusty Beach Lover

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    OK, I'm on a roll here, but one thing that would be nice to have in condo type units is something to get your luggage, coolers and stuff to your door. When we stayed at Dunes of Seagrove there was one of those luggage cart things that they have in hotels and it was wonderful to unload the car in one fell swoop. We have since stayed in two other upscale condo places and neither had the luggage transport thingee. Even a dolly type thing would help. Granted, this is a nice to have, but after you have driven 12 hours, it is nice to have an easy time unloading.

    Also, in condo type units, it would be nice to have a notice posted in the laundry room where the garbage can be taken-- a little map. Nothing like walking around in the hot sun with a bag or two of garbage trying to find where the dumpster is hidden.

    Thank you, owners for making lovely places available for us to rent. We would not be able to appreciate the area if it were not for you and we do not want to be in some big high rise in Destin!
     
  6. BeachDreamer

    BeachDreamer Beach Fanatic

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    The best rental I have ever stayed in was in the mountains rather than at the beach, but I wanted to share some of the things that especially delighted us.

    The owners had stocked the house full of lovely little comforts. There were movies stored in the entertainment system to watch, a shelf full of games to play for kids or adults, shelves of books to read on a rainy afternoon, and a "toy area" with sturdy childrens' toys.

    Outside there were candles set all around the hottub that you could light, and birdfeeders near the windows to entertain us when we were sitting on the porch or inside the house.

    We were so amazed that the owners would have gone to such trouble, and were so trusting with their renters, that we went even further our of our way to leave everything exactly as we'd found it.

    The owner called after we'd arrived to make sure we'd gotten settled and to see if we needed anything. She was very friendly.

    We loved looking through the guest book at all of the different people who had visited the home, and they were all as appreciative of everything as we were.

    Of course, not everyone could go to this extent, but it sure made a lasting impression on us. Things for kids - colors and coloring books, games or dependable toys, can be found for pretty cheap and can really make a place seem friendly. It can also establish a base of repeat families who would hopefully appreciate and care for your home while they are there.
     
  7. amylouky

    amylouky Beach Lover

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    What a good idea!
    We come down there every August, and never quite know what to expect with our rental. We've had excellent rentals, with plenty of supplies (clean towels, sheets, etc..) and terrible ones, with dirty linens, no patio chairs, and NOTHING to do. (One year, our rental had a library of paperbacks, a few VHS tapes, and some board games.. the next year, our rental didn't even have a VCR! Guess which one we'll go back to?)
    Some tips I have are:

    1. Be honest. Don't advertise your place as "gulf-front" if it's 200 yards from the beach. Don't advertise a "well-stocked" kitchen if you barely have service for two.
    2. I know some of the differences are due to the rental service agencies and what they provide, so maybe keeping comment cards/surveys so you can track whether they're doing their job would help.
    3. Guestbooks are fun. It's always nice to read what other people have enjoyed about the place, and add our own comments.
    4. Have extra pillows! (ditto for towels)
    5. Webpages help. I won't rent a place unless I can see pictures beforehand (been "surprised" before).
    6. Knick-knacks really don't enhance my vacation experience. Pictures, etc. on the walls are nice, but I'm always scared I'll break (and get charged for) the little stuff on the tables and counters.
    7. Don't paint your walls mango pink, and have a tropical blue, green and yellow sofa. Really. Just don't.
    8. A starter supply of tp, laundry detergent, dish detergent, etc. really helps.. we have a 12 hour drive to get down there, and generally aren't in the mood to go to the store when we get there.
    9. Have a shelf dedicated somewhere for a library. It will probably refill itself.. I know I left a few of the paperbacks that I brought on the shelf in our last rental.
    10. Let me stay for free? (just kidding on that one. Unless you'd say yes? :D )

    P.S.
    We can't wait to come down this year. We're hoping that Mother Nature will have mended the beaches some by then.. is there anything we'll be able to do to help? (We're coming down Aug. 13)
     
  8. phdphay

    phdphay Beach Fanatic

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    There are some great ideas in this thread. I personally have always felt that the rental management companies with which I'm familiar don't provide the amenities expected by someone who spends as much as our guests spend to stay at our home. I have suggested to them that I make up gift bags with extras, but they say they can't do custom amenities for each rental property. I'd just like for my guests to have more of a feeling of home when they arrive, such as the following:

    Kitchen - paper towels, dishwashing liquid, coffee/sweeteners for the next morning, bottled water

    Bathrooms - nice, big pieces of soap, Kleenex

    Laundry room - detergent and Clorox II

    ... and other amenities mentioned on this thread.

    I've thought about just stashing this stuff away and letting the guests find it. But how do I know if one guest just takes home 4-weeks worth of guest baskets home?

    So, how about a "Pay It Forward" (from the movie) concept - modified to a 1-to-1 ratio rather than 1-to 3, as in the movie? I provide certain amenities and leave a note asking my guests to replace what they use. Do you think this would work?
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2005
  9. amylouky

    amylouky Beach Lover

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    I think so, but better check with your rental/cleaning company.. some of them throw "leftovers" such as dish detergent, etc. away.
    I always leave more than I brought.. I don't mean trash, but if I have leftover detergents, trash bags, etc. I'll leave them under the sink for the next people.
    Now a question.. last year we bought some beach chairs and the cheapy umbrellas. We gave them to a couple who was arriving as we were leaving.. would it be bad to leave them at the rental (on the patio, for example) if we don't find anyone to take them? I never have trunk space for them but hate to waste them.
     
  10. sunsetDreamin

    sunsetDreamin Beach Comber

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    I agree with all the ideas listed here! I'll put a couple things that made our past experiences ... interesting, just so ya'll are completely prepared :roll:

    1. Make sure that all of your furniture is in good condition - no glass tables that are missing glass, patio furniture that's cracked, or extra furniture (especially mirrors) that's lying around, which could injure someone that might knock it over

    2. Keep kitchen appliances in good condition - once we stayed at a place whose garbage disposal made a noise that people could hear for miles. Plus, it was wired wierd with the coffee maker so that one wouldn't work if the other was on or something like that :dunno:

    3. Possibly store some water toys for kids in an extra closet. My family can't fit an extra boogie board (or three) in our van, but a few times the owners had one in their closet, and we sure enjoyed it. Sandcastle stuff or an inner tube would also benefit the trunk space-challenged.

    4. Try and keep shower curtain liners clean and mold-free. We usually bring a shower curtain liner, becasue they can get pretty scary. Also, have a skid mat in the shower, so no one, especially kids, gets hurt.
     
  11. gr8mom

    gr8mom Beach Comber

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    I agree with all the things stated above, especially about being honest in how you advertise your property. The last house we rented stated it had a murphy bed in the study, but it was actually just the hallway. When the murphy bed was down, it was blocking the exit. Very inconvenient! Anyway, we have also stayed where they stowed away several bicycles, videos, and also some kids toys. That was a nice bonus not having to rent the bicycles! There was an informational folder made up by the owners that asked us to please replace all the pieces of the toys into the right boxes after we finish playing with them.
    The thing that has most bothered me was when we rented a house that was in desperate need of powerwashing. It had a great front porch with two rockers, but the rockers were all peeling to the point that you couldn't sit on them without having paint chips stuck all over your legs. I've often wondered if the owners just didn't get by there enough, but why didn't the management company take care of some of this for them?
    Little things you do mean a lot!
     
  12. BeachDreamer

    BeachDreamer Beach Fanatic

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    I love sturdy, well used furniture, too. Well built enough to take a bit of abuse but well used enough that we can relax on it without worrying that we will mess up the upholstery.

    Fay, wouldn't it be awesome if there was a cleaning service in town who would clean your home as well as add nice personal touches like you mentioned? A gift bag sounds so lovely, and would be worth it's cost in making visitors feel special. I'd love to be the one to start that service, if the commute wasn't quite so far.
     
  13. BFinBR

    BFinBR Beach Comber

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    From the sounds of things, we've been pretty lucky with our rentals!

    That said, I'll offer the following thoughts:

    1) No tchotchkes; pictures on the wall are great.

    2) The more indestructible the furniture, the better (leather very very good; chintz not so much).

    3) I understand, really I do, but if I ever find a house or condo with REALLY GOOD pots and knives, I'll never go anywhere else again ever!

    4) Finally, and most importantly -- I'd really appreciate some coffee filters or, better yet, a coffee maker with a permanent filter!
     
  14. Paula

    Paula Beach Fanatic

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    This is great advice so far. Sounds like some more enterprising people could do an excellent business in this area helping owners take care of their properties and focus on service to the renters (this would be different from agencies who take care of hundreds and hundreds of properties -- I'm talking about very personalized care). I'm sure some people do it, but frankly as someone who rents out cottages to guests, I haven't heard much about this other than a few word of mouth recommendations. Frankly, if I wanted to live in SoWal, that's a job I would consider! Someone who did this very, very well would make owners happy and guests happy.

    Perhaps people who do this could advertise their services on www.graytonbeach.com. Kurt would know how one would do that (cost, terms, etc.).
     
  15. Rather B Paddlin

    Rather B Paddlin Beach Lover

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    Sorry to be negative - Nope. Most people would, some would not. But have tried just providing large quantities of items such as washer detergent and clothes hangers. They get legs and disappear a couple times a summer. I just put in a front load washer that requires special detergent. The first week in the super size jug ( marked do not remove) which should last a month walked.
     
  16. dusty

    dusty Beach Lover

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    Please help us understand why, if it is a rental unit, you would choose a washer that requires special detergent?
     
  17. dusty

    dusty Beach Lover

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    Good comment on the furniture. I agree--lose a little style and go more with indestructible or less destructible. :)

    On the pots and knives--I completely agree! I have thought about bringing my own skillet and a couple of good paring knives the next time I come. I am concerned I would forget my knives, though.

    I understand why owners are reluctant to put any good knives in a rental unit; but why oh why are the frying pans so bad? You know, the ones with the teflon half scraped off that burns your food because it is so cheap? And we have stayed in some "platinum" places. I don't expect Caphalon but what about a set of Revereware stainless that would last 30+ years?
     
  18. Rather B Paddlin

    Rather B Paddlin Beach Lover

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    Super large capacity ( fyi -front load washers hold quite a bit more than top loads) needed for a super large house. Plus a much faster drying time.
    Clothes come out of front load washers almost dry.

    Why does it matter? We are providing the detergent at no charge. I am sure if it was standard detergent the same guest would have taken that. I bet the second jug last until the end of the summer. The point is one or two groups will clean out the house every summer. Everyone else probably leaves more than they use.
     
  19. Rather B Paddlin

    Rather B Paddlin Beach Lover

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    Dusty,

    You are right on about the cheap cookware. We have put expensive cookware in our houses. We still have burnt pans. I think people maybe let teenagers cook sometimes. We replace the pans every so often which no big deal until they burn the house down. As far as knives are concerned - they do not make good screw drivers. I believe after a few years owners try to buy things that are easy to replace and are disposable.

    I believe there are some really good ideas presented in this thread. But until you own a rental property you just can not believe what 1 or 2 families a summer will do. You are not like that, so it is hard to believe or understand. You take care of the house as if it were your own. When we started renting out the houses I thought it would be neat to provide 4 brand new Schwinn beach cruiser bikes at each house. Every bike was destroyed within 6 weeks. I felt bad for the guests who thought bikes would be there then did not have bikes to ride. I did not replace the bikes; not because of cost, but I could guarantee they would be there for every guests.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2005
  20. tistheseason

    tistheseason Beach Fanatic

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    I agree. We have a beach house that we own with a few other families. We rent 2 or 3 of our summer weeks out --so far, to our friends only --thinking that would ensure they they took good care of the house. And it is amazing the bad shape that the renters leave the house in (might be time to get new friends~)
     

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