Already in the 2018 season, a few "bad rentals" have been had by both Guests and Owners, but exactly "what" is to be expected from both parties? When to complain and when not to? When should a bond be deducted or retained? Read on .....
Gas safety & electric safety checks are required in EVERY Holiday Home, regardless of whether they are rented out or not. Gas safety is legally required annually, electric is every 3 years. For a rented Holiday Home:- these certificates should be displayed within the property. PAT (Portable Appliance Test) requirements vary from park to park, so may or may not, be necessary at your chosen Holiday Home! If it is, you will clearly see each appliance's plug labelled with a small green sticker to confirm it has been tested, which will be dated and should be processed annually, (any appliance under 12-months old does not require testing.)
|You are fully entitled to ask the holiday park office to see a copy of these safety certificates for your privately-rented holiday home, if they are not displayed, should you feel it necessary.||You have a legal obligation to ensure your safety certs are in place and up-to-date. You, (or your housekeeping teams), should be keeping a regular "visual" safety check for every rental. Any obvious un-safe items should be removed from the property, or repairs/replacements put in place.|
ALL owners work differently, some may provide a "meet and greet" service, some may require key collection from the holiday park reception office and some will have a key-safe at the property itself.
|Read your arrival documents carefully! They should state how key collection is organised and your earliest expected time of arrival.||Ensure you have provided adaquate information to your guest regarding key collection and earliest arrival times.|
|If your journey has been delayed, let your owner know, as alternative arrangements may have to be made for key collection.||Ensure you have supplied your guest with contact numbers!|
You will not be able to access the property at an earlier time than stated. If you are collecting keys from the park office, or the property has a key-safe and you do manage to gain an early access: chances are you are breaking the Terms and Conditions you have agreed to when booking and possibly the property has not had it's due "arrival-clean" processed!
If you do arrive on the holiday park earlier than planned, it's always worthwhile contacting your owner and asking if you would be permitted early access, but don't rely on the answer being "yes!"
|Be reasonable with your check-in times! Depending on your housekeeping schedules, try to provide an earlier check-in than your park provides if possible.|
Often THE most "debated topic" with Holiday Homes! Obviously one person's view of "clean" is not necessarily the same as anothers.... but there are basic standards that should be met and on the "flip-side" of that, minor issues that should not be raised as "complaints!"
|Do take time on arrival to have a check of the property, it's pointless making complaints at a later stage during your stay, or even worse: after your departure!||Make sure you are available on your given contact number for your guest's arrival time, in case there are any issues that need to be addressed!|
|Do be aware that most housekeeping teams are on a limited time schedule: a top-to-toe clean is not possible in-between holiday rentals, especially with a morning departure and an afternoon arrival on the same day.||
Ensure the property has had an "arrival clean" NEVER (ever!) rely on one guest leaving the property at a rental standard for the next guest's arrival. Unfair to both guests and you have no way of telling "who did what" if there are problems....
Maximum "gap" between rentals for a property to be left without a pre-arrival check, should be no more than a week at most.
If you do find any issues:- ALWAYS contact your owner as soon as possible after arrival. Once you have been in the property for a few hours, it is impossible to "prove" that the issues were there "on" your arrival and not caused "after" your arrival!
Always take photos of the issues at hand, as your "proof", without any evidence, it is impossible for the owner to deal.
Ensure your guest is aware that any matters should be brought to your attention as soon as possible on arrival.
Always ask for photographic evidence of any arising issues, never accept any complaints without "proof."
Never uphold any complaints retrospectively. You have no idea if the problems were present "on" arrival, or if they were "caused" after arrival if your guest complains sometime afterwards....
You should expect the property to be clean and tidy on arrival. Check the "important" appliances: oven, microwave, fridge, cooking pans and trays, kettle, toaster, shower, W.C should all be "sparkly" clean and there really is no excuse if they are not!
Be a little more lenient with other items, such as cutlery, crockery etc - of course they should be clean:- but sometimes due to schedules, the housekeeping teams may not have time to check through every single item and having to wash through a mug or a teaspoon on arrival isn't a "major" hardship and won't "ruin" your holiday...
The property should have been hoovered, or floors mopped, throughout. Do bear in mind that very few holiday parks have grass-mowers that "collect", so chances are, you may find as soon as you walk into the property - grass is "there!" and in same respect, it is difficult for the housekeeping teams to ensure they "get" every single little bit of grass that has found its way into the property! Unfortunately, little can be done about this and it doesn't warrant a complaint!
Seating should be clean, although again there: the odd "rogue" blade of grass is not a major issue! Re-covering seating in a caravan is exceedingly expensive, so you may find your owner has "re-vamped" using throws and any comments regarding the "actual" covers underneath would be unwarranted.
Blinds are common in caravans, but are also extremely time- consuming to clean! Don't be offended if you have "dusty blinds!" Usually these can only been cleaned thoroughly a few times a year throughout the season.
Always have all "major appliances" checked for cleanliness as a prerequisite prior to arrival, it is unacceptable for a guest to arrive to left-over, dried-on food in the oven they have to use for the duration of their stay!
Depending on housekeeping schedules:- ideally, EVERYTHING in situ should be checked, although sometimes this is just not possible in the allocated time.
Concentrate on the "most" important items for the guest first.
The property should be hoovered and/or floors mopped throughout prior to an arrival.
All surfaces should be cleaned, including kitchen work-tops and window-sills.
Try to check the seating on every clean, little hands have a habit of hiding things down the side of the seat-cushions, which can be anything to hair-bands to sweet-wrappers, machine-tokens to food... (Won't say what "adult-hands" can find to hide!!)
Obviously most arrival-cleans are carried out on a time-limit, so just try to ensure it is as clean as it can be in the time allocated. "Rule of thumb" is to view it from the guest's eyes on arrival!
Insects have become a problem in certain areas of the UK already this season, especially it would seem: ants! Local Environmental Health Authorities have confirmed this is no direct reflection on the hygiene or cleanliness of the property.
In reality, there is little the owners or the holiday parks can do about this: as any type of chemical prevention is strictly prohibited due to Health and Safety Regulations... Some Haven parks have offered to try to treat the properties if a problem occurs, so it is worth contacting your owner if you are staying in a Haven property.
Vents are in place at various points in every caravan, which should NEVER be covered or blocked, especially at ground-level. These are a safety precaution, (leaking gas sinks to lowest level), and are also in place to help prevent condensation within the property.
Unfortunately if you do happen to have an "insect" problem during your stay, there is little that can be done. Please do not purchase your own chemical products to use during your stay, as this could compromise the owner with future rentals.
Please do all you can to discourage: be wary of leaving foodstuffs uncovered, wipe down any sticky surfaces etc during your stay!
If your property is prone to insects, NEVER be tempted to put any sort of chemical prevention in place. This is against all Health and Safety Regulations of your holiday park, (which is why they will not provide any such products for their own fleet-rentals.)
Try to use an environmentally-safe product if possible, and if it is a recurring issue:- warn your guests prior to arrival.
If you have a Haven property:- they have issued notification that they can try to treat the property if a recurring problem exists.
DAMAGES AND BONDS:
"Accidents will happen" and owners understand that 100%! Especially with excited "holiday-children" or following an evening at the club-house! However, certain "damages" are just not acceptable on a private rental, or a holiday park rental for that matter, albeit that holiday parks do not charge any kind of "damage bond", which is why some of the "damages" on a private rental occur.....
At the moment, no holiday park will ask for a damage bond of any kind, which sort of leaves the door open for no direct consequence of any damage caused during a holiday. Some of the major holiday companies are now flagging "bad-rentals" on their internal systems, so that partiular guest is no longer able to book again through them: but it does all work very differently with a private rental!
|Most owners will expect you to pay a refundable damage bond in addition to your holiday cost, the terms for this should be clearly listed on the Terms and Conditions of your booking. If you are not given any: ask for them. Without them, you have no idea what the expectations are to receive your bond refund!||
NEVER take a rental without a damage bond! It may seem preferable to "trust" your guests, but at some point, unfortunately you will regret not taking one!
Always make it very clear as to what your expectations are regarding damages and the condition of the property on departure with regards to the bond refund in your documents.
|Usually, you will be expected to leave the property clean and tidy to receive your bond refund. This should not mean a full-clean from top to bottom! However: you will usually be expected to ensure all major appliances are left clean (oven, microwave, fridge, shower, W.C, pots & pans you have used.) Just generally, make sure the property is left clean and tidy!||To deduct or retain a bond for a few minor cleaning issues is unacceptable! Your guests are on holiday and they do not want to spend their last day cleaning your property! However, if there are major cleaning issues and several of them, then possibly a deduction may be warranted.|
If a minor accident should occur during your holiday: never be afraid to contact your owner! (We're not ogres!) Chances are, a broken mug or glass won't even need to be replaced, but you won't know that unless you speak to them!
If something more "major" should occur, it really is imperative that you speak to your owner! Plans may have to be put in place for repairs or replacements and it is far better to have to deal with that at the time, rather than on your departure, after you have "kept quiet" and the next guest is due in.....
Always be reasonable with minor damages! Does a glass or a mug really matter that much to your property's itinerary? Of course it doesn't!
If your guest reports "major" damage, your first step is to get it repaired or replaced as soon as possible. Keep quotes and invoices to discuss with your guest at a later stage.
|Don't expect your bond to be refunded 10-mins after you have left the property! It's pointless even asking!||NEVER refund the bond until the property has been checked!|
If there has been a problem on your departure, ask for details: expect to be given photos and a full explanation as to why your bond has been deducted or retained. If replacement items are required, ensure you have a copy of the quote or invoice involved.
Be aware, there is little point in arguing with photos taken after your departure, or trying to "deny it was you" - as you are responsible for any damages or undue mess left behind after your stay, as you have previously signed to agree to in the Terms and Conditions of rental when you booked!
Never enter into a telephone conversation with the owner regarding the matter, as you simply cannot "prove" what has been said.
"Threats" of taking the matter further will not help your case, if proof has been provided and relevant documentation for your booking is in place, which you have signed:- it can actually harm your case further with libel, slander or defamation issues.
ALWAYS take photos of any damages, or any issues left on departure. Without evidence, there is no "case" for deducting or retaining the bond. Contact your guest asap after departure, always in writing, with details of why you are deducting or retaining the bond. Always supply copies of quote or invoices where applicable.
Never enter into a telephone conversation with the guest regarding the matter, as you simply cannot "prove" what has been said.
The "usual" response is for the guest to either "vanish" and not respond, or more likely:- the issues at hand will be denied and possibly retrospective complaints made regarding your property.
Once you have made an informed decision regarding a deduction or retention of the bond: never back down, or you may as well not have the bond in place in the first place.
|Never take to social media with your situation! This can prove to be very problematic for all involved and just make your situation worse!||Never take to social media with your situation! As an owner, you are governed by the new GDPR regulations, which were brought in on May 25th 2018 to replace the "old" Data Protection Act and you have an obligation to protect your client's personal details......|
Much as we would all like to either take or provide a "trouble-free-holiday", sometimes this just doesn't happen. However, a great deal of "complaints" received just aren't warranted and can cause problems and sometimes complaints that should be made: aren't!
|Ensure you are aware of the complaints procedure for your booking! These should be clearly stated in the Terms and Conditions for your booking and you should receive a contact number to use if needs be....||Ensure you have given a clear guideline to complaints in your documents, along with a contact number for your guest to use during their stay.|
Be aware, that with private rentals: any complaints need to be made as they happen during your stay: and as soon as possible, not a few days afterwards or after your departure!
If you have a problem with the property on arrival: call the owner on arrival. Most owners will never accept retrospective complaints, as quite simply you could have caused the problem yourself if you have been there a while!
Having said that:- please be sensible! Ring your owner at a decent hour and not in the middle of the night, you may be "awake" because you are on holiday... your owner isn't and won't be!
If it is regarding any maintenance issues, (unless "urgent" such as a water or gas leak inside the propery etc), the owner will be unable to contact the holiday park anyway until their offices open at 9am....
Never uphold any retrospective complaints. It's easy to complain that there were problems with the property on arrival after the guest has been there for a few days!
Never accept calls after your personal set "time-cut-off" ... whatever the problem is, it is doubtful you can do anything about it until the holiday park office opens at 9am.
Always deal with a problem as soon as possible. Never leave it if it is something that can be "easily" rectified.
Please be aware that there are certain things that may occur during your stay that the owner has no "control" over whatsoever!
These include general power cuts, water loss on park, a sudden leak, down to a light-bulb "blowing" or a gas tank running out, which are all issues that just cannot be "predicted"....
The owner, of course, has an obligation to deal with "major issues" as soon as possible: but with minor issues like a light-bulb: please THINK before you "insist" on it being replaced... All holiday parks charge a call out fee + an extoritionate mark-up on a single light bulb! It may be a better option just to "flag" it to the owner, so it can be dealt with at a later stage, rather than "insist" it is replaced during your stay! (And if the owner can personally sort during your stay, they usually will!)
Always deal with major issues as soon as you are made aware of them, never leave it until "later!"
Keep your guests informed as to when the repairs or replacements are expected to be processed, keep them informed of progress as you get it and if necessary, make alternative arrangements for access to the property regarding keys, so your guests are not compromised on their holiday plans.
If something does happen to "go wrong" during a rental, consider the "real" affect it has had on your guest's holiday and if it has affected them, perhaps a "goodwill" payment is appropriate? Which is purely discretionary to you, of course and not necessarily a "requirement!"
|Don't have too high expectations! Yes, you have paid for a caravan holiday and yes, you expect a "certain" standard of accommodation:- but with caravan rentals: you have booked a caravan, not a 5* hotel!||Never accept complaints above and beyond what you have advertised your property as!|
The owner is not responsible for any issue regarding the park itself, facilities, staff or general maintenance, so it is pointless making a complaint regarding anything else other than the actual property you are staying in!
If you do find you have complaints regarding the actual park:- contact the actual park!
|Never accept any complaints regarding circumstances "beyond your control."|
|Be aware that the holiday park itself will not uphold any complaints you may have regarding the accommodation on a private rental. If it is a private rental, the holiday park, nor the company hold any liability whatsoever, as long as all safety certs are in place for the property, as your rental is a private agreement between you and the owner.|
All holidays come to an end, and again - all owners work differently with departures:
|Your departure details are usually explained to you with your arrival documents, but sometimes are arranged on arrival if you meet with your owners. So make sure you understand when you are required to vacate the property and if you are unsure: contact your owner and ask! You will most certainly be breaking the Terms and Conditions of your booking if you have a late departure!||Always be clear on your required departure time!|
|Be aware that if you are not ready to leave at the required time, you will possibly be forfeiting some of the damage bond paid, as it may well have a "knock-on-effect" on the next guest due to arrive! Cleaning schedules will have been put in place, that are very tight to manage at times and even just a 30-min delay in being able to gain access can have an impact of subsequent arrivals.||Ensure your housekeeping teams are not "afraid" to knock for a delayed guest and gently remind them of their required departure time! Any delay may have a direct affect on the next arrival due in.|
|Ensure you are clear "what to do" with the property's keys! Handing them to reception, when they are required to be returned to a key safe can cause all sorts of problems!||Make key-return very clear to the guest!|
|Check that you have left the property clean and tidy! As above, as "full" clean is never expected, but basics are required on any private rental.||Always ask for a departure report before you deal with the bond refund. NEVER refund without the property-check being carried out.... Usually, the guests that ask for an immediate refund on day of departure, are the ones that are hoping there has been no check, as there are usually problems!|
|If there is a guestbook provided, try to find time to use it! It's always useful for the owner to receive feedback, good or bad, as it helps to improve the service to you as the guest.|
Just a few "examples" of how not to lose your damage bond and how not to leave your private rental: