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Renting a UK holiday cottage after Coronavirus

(61 Posts)
GrandmaKT Sun 21-Jun-20 02:53:00

We have a holiday cottage in the Lakes. Obviously all bookings from mid March until now have been cancelled. I am now beginning to get enquiries for 4th July onwards, so light at the end of the tunnel!

Airbnb (who I must say have been excellent during this crisis, issuing clear guidance and giving guests full refunds), have developed a cleaning handbook, and it is very rigorous! Some of the points below:

Cleaners shouldn't enter the cottage until at least 3 hours after the guests have left.
Each room should be thoroughly cleaned, then sanitised, then shut off and not re-entered.
Extra cleaning materials to be left for guests.
Vacuum cleaner to be cleaned and sanitised after every use.
Obviously masks to be worn, and disposable gloves to be changed between cleaning and sanitising.

I am fully supportive of all these measures, and if I was a guest they would give reassurance, but do wonder if they can all be practically achieved. It is fine if you only have one cottage to clean, but what if, like my cleaner, you have two or three to get through? How will hotels manage to comply with these rules (esp. the waiting 3 hours before entering!)

I have changed my check-in time from 3 to 4 and hope that guests will understand. Check-out will have to be a strict 10am.

Annoyingly, I am being contacted by people wanting to get a discount (probably thinking we are desperate!) With all these extra measures, meaning extra time and pay for the cleaners, added to the income lost by holiday home owners over the last few months, I do hope people will be kind when they come back!

GrandmaKT Sun 21-Jun-20 11:47:15

Thanks @whitewavemark2 very helpful

Ellianne Sun 21-Jun-20 11:47:35

So what do we think? A 4 person cottage, kitchen, bathroom and utility room, patio. Plus bed making, door wiping, everything through the dishwasher etc. etc. I'd say 6 - 7 hours to do it properly. If the cleaner can't enter for 3 hours then 6 cleaning, we're up to about 7 pm.

GrandmaKT Sun 21-Jun-20 11:54:53

Oh it's a logistical nightmare Ellianne! I think we'll have to trust the guests to wash everything thoroughly in the dishwasher as they use it (as they do anyway). But as I say, my cleaner has one or two other cottages to clean too and changeover days are always Friday or Saturday. There aren't enough hours...

MayBee70 Sun 21-Jun-20 12:08:27

I hadn’t thought about coat hangers. We had people booked in from July and planned to de clutter the place. However, seeing the 20 pages of rules we’d have to follow we’ve cancelled all bookings (however people can have the same weeks next year and we’ve allowed one week for a front line worker to have a free holiday). We’ve always wanted it to be a home from home for people, and that’s just what people say in the visitors book, so to strip it of all personality would be heartbreaking, especially as it is also a family home, too. We’d have to do a risk assessment ourselves and assume that we could be sued if anyone thought they had caught the virus on our property. We’d have to provide two sets of pillows and duvets so they could be rested for a week between guests. Guests would have to leave by 9 and not arrive before 5 and are advised to leave windows open on change over days: huge security risk there. We’re just going to use the place ourselves and let the children and grandchildren use it when we’re not here. The lettings people thought that government ruling would be 7 days between lets: something that would make much more sense and would be much safer for the cleaners who wouldn’t have to enter the property straight away. I don’t understand why that isn’t happening. We do feel bad about the holidays we’ve cancelled but felt we couldn’t guarantee the safety of people staying in the property. I saw an advert for camping holidays which said the tents were deep cleaned: I really don’t understand what deep cleaning entails. Also, if it’s a campsite surely people will be using communal showers and toilets? All I can see, for the foreseeable future is older, more vulnerable people continuing to self isolate as much as possible. And I’m horrified at the number of disposable masks and gloves that are going into landfill.

vegansrock Sun 21-Jun-20 12:17:47

A few years ago we booked a cottage in Yorkshire from a well known holiday cottage company. The place was so grimy we couldn’t stay there. When we complained to the company they just said they would forward our feedback
to the owner. We didn’t get any money back and basically they didn’t care. I wouldn’t use that company again.

Franbern Sun 21-Jun-20 12:23:24

My daughter will take her car separately from her cousin, And, will be taking all her own bedding and towels. She is in a 'bubble' family with that cousin, her husband and son. So, she is not breaking any of the current (goodness knows what they will be in another four weeks), rules in them going away together.

Their need for this total break is probably far greater to their well being than any fears about the virus.

Whitewavemark2 Sun 21-Jun-20 12:25:28

A professor at Exeter said that you have to assume that the virus is on every single surface and behave accordingly?.

I think we would all be suffering from OCD.

It is a nightmare really.

MayBee70 Sun 21-Jun-20 13:04:11

It’s all down to common sense and damage limitation really: the rules can’t really be one size fits all. I still maintain that, if everyone wore a mask in most situations (along with hand sanitising) we could pretty more carry on as normal. It is beyond me why so many people in the UK treat mask wearing with disdain. Just read an article about Portugal where everyone wears masks as a matter of course and they’ve pretty much nailed it. I hope your daughter has a lovely holiday, Franbern x

Kate54 Sun 21-Jun-20 13:50:20

Probably the most useful GN contributions I’ve read for a while! I rent out my holiday house but not through an agency, relying on a local maintenance/cleaning firm I’ll speak to when the announcement re. July 4th is made (due Tuesday I hear).
As I won’t be able to be on site to inspect the depth of the cleaning, I’m contemplating saying to all the tenants (all of whom are regulars and many are friends) that no guarantees can be offered. If they want to cancel, they can, or arrive late or the next day, or even bring whatever cleaning equipment they personally deem necessary. As many here have pointed out, some of the recommendations are impossible to offer. Even if they were, the extra cost may make it very unattractive to owners.
I can see why some have decided to scrap this year altogether - certainly easier. But there are still overheads to pay whether the place is being used or not.
I don’t see how they can keep families apart any longer after the holiday cottage market opens up - it’s illogical and many bookings would be cancelled.
Fingers crossed.

suziewoozie Sun 21-Jun-20 14:00:46

This is a very interesting perspective from some owners. I have a cottage booked end of July and we were taking two dgs. We’ve decided we just don’t want to go - too many things to worry about, including getting shopping delivered ( woukd I get a slot?) and how would local pubs, restaurants, attractions, NT properties be operating? But our main worry is that we are NOT after COVID at all are we and we are over 70 with underlying conditions.

Because of the issues with changeover, why don’t owners leave 24 hours between ( and reduce rent accordingly)? Instead with our cottage they want 7pm check in and 9 am check out. This was announced with no apology or offer of money off. Arriving at 7 with small children is an absolute nonsense and the 9am check out is not helpful. And no way would I be stripping the beds and bagging up the sheets.

We are in negotiations re cancelling.

Letting a holiday cottage is a business and like many other businesses, has been affected by COVID. Maybe less so in the longer run. But that’s not the point. I think May is vey sensible cancelling. Back in March we asked to transfer to next year and they point blank refused - I’ve no sympathy for them at all.

Btw owners cannot put on an extra cleaning fee after the booking has been agreed. And also, the tax treatment of renting out a holiday cottage is very favourable plus all the COVID grants/ cheap loans available etc.

Kate54 Sun 21-Jun-20 14:13:37

Good idea Suzywoozie about leaving arrival for 24 hrs and dropping the price. I have happily transferred some bookings until next year. Don’t see a problem with that.
Most of my bookers seem pretty desperate to get away that they’re happy to be flexible.

FarNorth Sun 21-Jun-20 14:25:35

AirBnB properties, in particular, can be very variable in cleanliness at the best of times.

Sitting on chairs is not the same as snuggling your face into a pillow and duvet that someone else has used.

I won't be holidaying away from home in a hurry.

MayBee70 Sun 21-Jun-20 14:43:17

When we first bought the little house with some inheritance money we redecorated and refurbished it and turned it into our dream home: mostly upcycled furniture and charity shop Knick backs, all from local shops. It really pained me that summer to know that other people were enjoying the fruits of my labour which had been done in winter with no decent heating (I slept with 3 hot water bottles). But when I read the wonderful comments in the visitors book I felt really proud that people had loved the little house as much as we do. So it’s really awful to cancel people’s holidays (some had cancelled anyway). The lettings company we’re very understanding, though. Holidays that we’d booked ourselves have been transferred to next year. Even the information booklets we leave out would have had to be removed. Books and DVD’s also (not sure about other people but I always love finding a good selection of books in a holiday property, which probably goes back to my childhood when we stayed in a caravan one year that had lots of paperbacks). The only rooms that could be easy to clean thoroughly would be rooms in travel lodges: I think if I did stay anywhere this year they’re the only ones that I’d consider. I mean, even things like the switches on bedside lamps will have to be disinfected. Remote controls: keys. If only there was a Covid equivalent of the flea bombs that you can use to de flea your home. But then I worry about the amount of nasty stuff we’re inhaling when trains and buses are fumigated. Nightmare.

Smileless2012 Sun 21-Jun-20 14:55:44

We had a cottage booked for August but have cancelled. We stayed there last year and the overall cleanliness was OK but could have and IMO should have been better.

On that basis we decided to cancel.

I'm sure any guests will appreciate the necessity for a later arrival time and a prompt or even earlier departure time in the present climate GrandmaKT

FarNorth Sun 21-Jun-20 15:26:38

That sounds lovely MayBee but a nightmare to sanitise it, at the moment.

PamelaJ1 Sun 21-Jun-20 16:26:20

I thought that reopening my business was hard but I think it will be a doddle compared to this.
At least I have control over my clients, to some degree anyway.

We spent a week ‘locked’ in a hotel room in Perth, Australia, before getting a flight home. We changed our bedding ourselves and put our used items in a yellow hazard bag. Very 5star?
If I was coming to stay I would be very aware how hard it is for you and appreciate your difficulties but I’m not sure I’m typical. Good luck.

suziewoozie Sun 21-Jun-20 17:48:54

Kate if people are happy to be flexible, that’s fine. What I object to is bring expected to be flexible and pay for something that isn’t what I contracted for. I think it’s appalling if owners expect all the flexibility to be one sided. Owners on here sound flexible and thoughtful but there are plenty of others who don’t share your views and are just hard nosed business people. If I were to go away I want it be relaxing and not start and end in a kerfuffle.

Franbern Mon 22-Jun-20 10:32:47

I am very puzzled about this three hour gap before cleaners can go in why??? Where else does anything mention three hours with regards to this virus?
surely, cleaners must be proved with appropriate PPE,masks, gloves, apron - all of which should be disposable and used just once in each place. Really cannot understand why they cannot go in to start cleaning process soon after guests leave..

Who invented this three hour period and to what purpose?

GrandmaKT Mon 22-Jun-20 11:17:28

The Airbnb guidance says:
"Check your local authority for guidance on how long to wait before entering a space occupied by a person who may have been exposed to COVID-19. For example, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests waiting 24 hours. If that’s not possible, we recommend waiting at least 3 hours, which is what the European CDC recommends. This waiting period is for your protection and helps to ventilate the room, to limit your exposure to aerosolised virus droplets that may be in the room. "

MayBee70 Mon 22-Jun-20 12:30:19

Viral particles can stay in the air for several hours so unless cleaners have full hospital grade PPE they would be at risk. It’s why they ask people to ventilate the house as much as possible before they leave.

Smileless2012 Mon 22-Jun-20 16:00:55

The letting company we used is Sykes Cottages and they are receiving thousands of complaints. Initially on their web site there was an option to re book for next year; that option was then removed.

We wanted to do that rather than cancel altogether. Rather than risk them taking the final payment, we cancelled and lost our £325 deposit.

We're in the process of trying to get it refunded as the option to re book having initially been made available was subsequently removed.

I feel really sorry for holiday home owners who use this booking company as in all likelihood, their terrible reputation is likely to impact on the home owners businesses.

Despite cancelling this years holiday, we did like where we stayed last year and would book again for next year, but not if the owners are still using Sykes Cottages as their booking agent.

Ellianne Mon 22-Jun-20 16:58:33

I was wondering who I'd trust the more to monitor the cleaning and carry it out scrupulously. A holiday lettings company which organises cleaning staff or an individual owner following their own instincts.

MayBee70 Mon 22-Jun-20 17:14:31

We completely trust the cleaning company we use but don’t want to put the cleaners themselves at risk: there’s also the worry that one of the cleaning staff might be presymptomatic. Our lettings company had to contact all the cottage owners to see if they’d agree to transferring the bookings to the following year so if they won’t agree it isn’t the fault of the company but the owners. It’s a nightmare for them. Because we’ve cancelled this years bookings they have to deal with the people that are booked in. We’ve asked them to apologise profusely about our decision and hope that people understand.

Rosalyn69 Mon 22-Jun-20 18:01:16

My son has a holiday rental. It already gets a thorough clean between guests. I’m confident it will be as safe as possible.
I would say though that if I was renting a cottage I would take my own disinfecting wipes and hand sanitiser.

MayBee70 Mon 22-Jun-20 23:08:29

I agree. I’d wipe down all the things that could have been touched. Handles, light switches, on off switches on bedside lamps,taps remote controls etc. I’d probably wear a mask on entering the property and open the windows to get a flow of air.