Red Flag renters

We’ve had hundreds of bookings and it finally happened. We had damage to one of the properties we manage or as some would say, “they trashed it”. We have had a good track record with very few issues. However, a property in Kissimmee, FL had some damage that thankfully was repairable but taught us a few lessons and there were some red flags that hopefully can help prevent others from experiencing the same.

1. It was a last-minute booking on booking.com. We are new to the platform but have had some success with bookings on the first property we tested so we decided to expand to other properties. The guests booked the same day and asked for check-in instructions via text to one of our team members which she promptly sent not realizing red flag number two.

2. The payment hadn’t gone through and it didn’t display this fact prominently on the booking so she didn’t realize that the credit card had been declined.

3. She had to chase down the payment from the guest who kept telling her excuse after excuse why she couldn’t give her payment at that time.

4. The guest who booked was named Cedric but the contact was a female. The email address didn’t match the guest name or give any indication that it was related to the person booking.

5. After nearing the check-in time, the guest finally provided her “sister’s” credit card which did go through.

6. Since the guest already had the check-in information and we hadn’t installed a wifi-enabled lock on the door to the property yet, there was little that could be done to prevent them from accessing the property.

When our cleaning crew arrived at checkout time, the guests were still in bed. They had a party and left the place in disarray with garbage all over. They also had smoked in the property which quickly had to be deodorized for the next guest who was arriving within hours. There was also vomit to be cleaned up but the worst damage was a broken window in one of the second-floor bedrooms and a stain to the dining room table.

Thankfully our cleaning crew is amazing and was able to clean, deodorize and tape up the damaged window before our next guests arrived. When we attempted to run the credit card for the deodorizing fee, it was not a surprise that it declined. There weren’t many options we had for repercussion but we had collected a $75 damage waiver that helped with the cost of the damage and once we reported the guests, booking.com waived their commission fee.

It could have been so much worse and we are grateful we learned the lessons we did with damage that was easy to repair. Next time we will be aware of those red flags!