When your guests are getting ready to leave at the end of their vacation rental stay, it’s acceptable to leave a short list of checkout procedures for them to follow.

Be careful not to leave guests feeling overwhelmed with tasks to finish before they walk out the door; the main objective of checkout procedures is to reduce any unnecessary costs or risks (eg. fire, flood, rodents, etc.) until your property manager or cleaning person will be on site.

The Checklist

Keep the list of checkout procedures in an easy-to-find location; a couple of good options include your welcome book, on your website, and/or stuck to the fridge.

First, be sure that you clearly specify checkout time. Then list tasks like:

  • Replace any furniture that was moved.
  • Leave used towels and sheets in the bathtub (or other preferred location).
  • Remove trash from any garbage cans. (Be sure to specify where they should leave it!)
  • Leave the kitchen clean: Wipe countertops, and wash any dirty dishes.
  • Remove any opened food from the fridge or cupboards.
  • Turn any lights and appliances off.
  • Ensure any exterior windows and doors are closed and locked.
  • Reset the thermostat (85 F/29 C or higher during the summer, or as low as 55 F/13 C in winter, suggests the non-profit Local Government Commission.
  • Double-check all drawers and closets for personal items.

Also be sure to include anything that might be specific to your property:

  • Is there anything you do not want guests to do before leaving?
  • Is there anything that should be done outside?
  • Are there any special procedures around parking access, or where they should leave the keys?

BONUS TIP: Within a few days of checkout, send a note to say thank you and ask guests for their feedback.

When Things Don’t Go As Planned

Most vacation renters are more than happy to leave the rental property in the same condition they found it; those who don’t are the main reason why you hold a damage deposit, and may include additional cleaning fees as part of your policies and procedures.

If things are left in a bit of disarray, balance any issues against the overall rental; your policies and procedures are meant to protect your interests, but it’s also true that accidents do happen. If a renter has otherwise been a responsible guest, use discretion to decide whether it’s worth pursuing compensation.

If you decide to claim part or all of the damage deposit—or to charge an additional fee—to replace a specific item or address a particular problem, be sure to take photos and document the work that needs to be done. Charges may be disputed, so make sure you have proof that your claim is justified.