Extra charges sheet for whole-house rentals? (WARNING: long post!)

I apologize if this has been previously discussed - I looked in past posts for an answer but didn’t see anything related.

This question is largely directed toward hosts of whole-house rentals, but might apply to others who can imagine staying in a whole-house for a vacation, as well. Otherwise, if someone is hosting guests in a room in their home many of the potential issues would already be addressed being on-site, and likely not add up enough to need to do something like this.

Okay, my question:

When someone stays with us (because we don’t normally greet them personally) I send out a rental package with the instructions on their stay…

  • directions on finding the house,
  • house rules that they are to share with everyone in the group,
  • operational instructions (I ask that 2 people read through),
  • check-out list along with instructions for finding the waste depot

The operational instructions include how to handle garbage. As (hopefully) the world becomes more eco-friendly, our area has strict rules about disposing of garbage. There is a centrally-located “manned” waste depot where everyone takes recycling and garbage. They check to make sure things are disposed of properly: plastics in one bin, paper in another, cardboard, metals, organics for composting, and anything else left over.

Our kitchen has built-in bins to separate the garbage accordingly. We also have a garbage compactor that will hold 1-2 weeks worth of garbage for our large family. Part of our Rental Policies (agreed to before we accept a rental) states that guests are expected to handle their own garbage to avoid extra fees.

This is the current case in point: the last group told me - after they had left - that they didn’t have time to take their garbage away. And, they had actually arrived early while we were still prepping (that’s another story!) so I took the time to explain it all to him in person - I know they were aware of how this all works.

They left 7 extra-large bags of garbage for us in our foyer (I mean, they had 2-3 standard-large bags in each!). None had been separated, except for one that was completely filled with cardboard. We spent a total of 3 hours dealing with their garbage, separating it so that it was acceptable to go to the dump, then of course had to take it in.

As well (also noted in our up-front policies) is that the group is to leave the bbq and kitchen as they found it. Some groups will eat in restaurants all the time so they don’t have to cook on vacation, while others just love to cook in our kitchen that is ultra-well equipped… BUT, cleaning up their kitchen mess is not included in the cleaning fee (it nearly always needs additional cleaning to be up to snuff but people are expected to make the effort). In this case the kitchen needed SO much work.

Also, the heat was left at full-blast (my cost is about $30 a day to heat an empty house in winter); windows were left open; garbage/small items left all over the rooms - all things that are covered in the Check-out list.

I really should charge an additional fee to cover these items. I usually talk myself out of it, unless there is something so blatant that I cannot justify it. I don’t want the hassle, or appearing to “nickle and dime”. I usually end up just feeling crappy about it all, making everything normal again and eating the cost if it is less than about $200.

But that got me to thinking… perhaps I should have a list of charges / fees that I leave at the house and let the guest fill it in. I suppose such a thing would look like a mini-bar in a hotel suite where you mark down the items you want and expect to be charged for it at the end of your stay.

It would look something like this:
$50 - kitchen cleanup
$10 - remove food (alcohol gladly accepted for free)
$20 - bbq cleanup
$30 - first bag of garbage
$10 - each additional garbage bag
$10 - broken dishes
$75 - each unregistered guest (it is only $15 if they register ahead)

Rather than looking punitive, it may offer another option to guests in case they don’t want to handle any of those items and are willing to pay for someone else to handle it for them. Even if they don’t fill in the sheet this will tell them in advance how much they should expect to get a bill for so that I can recoup those extras that I keep absorbing.

This is getting rather lengthy, so I’ll just leave it here and look forward to hearing from a host and potential guest perspective on whether this is a good solution.

1 Like

Good idea. Are you going to send them a charge for excess cleaning? Did you take pictures? Obviously they will get a negative review.

Hi @Louise! I thought you’d appreciate this because your posts indicate that you’re also eco-friendly.

This is one of those cases where I’ve almost talked myself out of charging them extra. They really were a nice group overall. They are wealthy people from a country where labour is cheap so they probably have house staff to normally do these things for them.

My ultimate reason for “letting it go” was that they paid for 7 nights but only stayed for 5, although other options would have had the same minimum rental period. I figured the extra charges would have amounted to $160. I was thinking that if they had seen a sheet like this they likely would have just left cash to cover it, though.

At this point I want things to end on a good note with this group. If I’m going to implement this new thing it will be for future rentals. I’m also going to write a separate sheet just on the recycling and leave it in our binder in case people aren’t reading the guidelines.

1 Like

I like your idea of the list. Not only does it really spell it out to them how important it is, hopefully it’s also a great way of evidencing it to Airbnb should you need to charge them. Can you add it to your listing somehow so it’s recorded ‘officially?’.

As for these guest… they deliberately ignored at least 3 separate things you specifically told them, all of which directly cost you a lot of time and money. I don’t think they deserve to get off so lightly

1 Like

Good! I’m glad it comes across as friendly and not nit-picky. Thanks for the idea of the adding it to the listing. I just might do that.

Most of my bookings come in through VRBO (as this group did) so I’m dealing with them directly. Maybe I will re-think charging them. I also didn’t factor in the cost of heating an empty house which would bring it up to over $200.

Not to mention the task of going through their icky garbage might have an additional “yuck” factor, not just “dropping it off”. :persevere:

We have the same. Very few clients are recycling even if we have all information on it.

When they are recycling it’s almost everytime wrong done…


I don’t think the list is a bad idea, especially since it sounds like your house is rather large. I would however, put some statement in there indicating that they need to let you know which services they would like to purchase in advance. [Hopeless probably.] This is the only way you can plan your own life to have the time to sort through and do extra cleaning.

1 Like

I think having some sort of list would be good idea, and having some sort of method where they let you know ahead of time (by a certain deadline) that they have decided to take advantage of some of the “services” offered or they have declined them. Especially if you have to plan ahead to bring in extra help to play with garbage for several hours. That way they don’t “pretend” to not have noticed the list and still leave things not taken care of.

Would you detail what is included in “kitchen cleanup”? I would be concerned a group may leave the fridge filled with meals in pots and pans, tupperware, etc, dirty dishes piled and caked on covering all the counters, etc. Would the $50 plus $10 still be worth it if they never picked a sponge and soap since the day the entered?


An excellent point. When we have a quick turn-around we would want to know what to expect in advance. It would have been a disaster to deal with this last group if another was coming right in.

1 Like

Agree, maybe a charge per hour for cleaning. If it delays next guest’s being able to check in, you might charge them for a day. These people deserve to be charged for their disrepect.

Oh! I’m sure this often happens! When I stay at other rental homes I would just do this anyway without be prompted, but many people seem to “ignore” the items left on the list.

Maybe I should do up a separate “kitchen” list, as well. These items are covered in out Check-out list. I just don’t want to inundate people when they’re on vacation.

That pretty well describes the fridge with this last group. It’s an extra-large fridge and it was half-filled with leftovers, which was why I thought of that extra line to clean the fridge. Although there are a few unopened items that I think we might use up!

Oh I see - “We left you our food because we hate to throw away perfectly good food someone else can use.” But they really mean “we didn’t feel like scrubbing out all the containers we used to store the food.” Sigh…


Personally your rules and lists are so complicated I would probably not stay with you.


I tend to agree. But to each his own. Only you can know if this will work for you. I know that it wouldn’t for me in our rental.

I face similar dilemma. I just started hosting and have hosted two groups so far. The common problems I have are 1. uncleaned dishes/pans/pots; 2. stained towels.

I charge a very cheap cleaning fee of $60 for a house, and I tried to get quote for a professional clean and it would cost me at least $120. I fear high cleaning fee would deter guests from booking my place. What is everyone else’s opinion?

Further, I put in the house manual that guests need to clean the dishes but they seemed to ignore that. I don’t have a dish washer so I’m wondering could that be the problem? Maybe many people don’t know how to clean dishes without a dish washer?

I also thought about the list of fees for additional cleaning, removing kid’s drawings on wall, removing unreported stains on carpet, but I think putting them in my listing would deter guests from booking because many hosts don’t have these rules in their listings. And just putting these in the house manual seems unfair because guests don’t have a chance to know beforehand. Also, I feel I don’t have a ground for claiming these fees because they are not in the house rule of my listing.

Anyway, I have spent way too much time to clean for both groups of guests so far. I plan to hire cleaner in the future because I won’t have time to clean myself unless it is school holidays. I need advise on whether to increase my cleaning fee to my true cost or keep it low to attract more bookings and profit from the nightly rate?

I have similar experience, the guests I have hosted so far (only 2 groups) didn’t clear the fridge and left lots of food/drinks for me. I feel it is such a waste, and I bought some of these for them, they just open the food and tasted a bit and decided it’s not for them, but I confirmed what they would like before I bought for them (expansive ones not the low price ones). So I’m thinking maybe I should not offer breakfast because many are wasted. For example, my last group probably wasted $20 of food. All opened and consumed a little only. What do you guys think?

@Freya . I live in the house, so my solutions will be different than yours. I only put a finite amount of stuff into the fridge upon arrival, and they order what they want to eat in advance [mostly.] For milk, I keep a jug in my fridge and have cute little dairy bottles that I partially fill. I purchased tiny jam jars, Bonne Maman, orange marmalade and strawberry jam which are part of the croissant breakfast. To go with the rye rolls, I have mini cheeses. For one group, I made them vegan breakfast bread, a blueberry corn bread, and dispensed some blueberry jam for our family container into a smaller jar perfect for two people.

$20 is not in the budget for my place unless they stay for 5 nights. Here is the big difference. I replenish their rooms each day so I can see that they don’t really use the milk, love the jams or not, and have or have not eaten the pieces of fruit. By dispensing things from larger containers, I know that the container hasn’t been contaminated and don’t have to throw much food away at all.

The last time I made a big trip, several places offered to stock the fridge with items of my choosing, and then I would reimburse them when I arrived. AirBNB is the only platform that I have seen provide any starter foods for self-catered properties.

1 Like

I don’t provide food or beverages. I do leave a dozen bottle of water, there is salt, pepper, and a few spices and herbs. It’s too complex to guess what people want to eat. So far people have left my place clean, but I’m going to create a list of charges for cleaning up,when they don’t. Not excessive, just a prod in case I let to a lazy bunch. If it’s in my rules then I’m hoping air will agree to having the fees paid when necessary.


I wouldn’t book a place if there was a charge sheet. I also HATE minibars in hotels.

Honestly, if you’re absorbing these costs in the normal course of running your STR then you should build the cost into the rental price. Charges post-stay are really for extraordinary issues e.g. broken/damaged things.


Other hosts will disagree with me I think but to me, these are pretty normal and come under the heading of the cost of doing business.

This might be a dumb question but if guests are constantly leaving dirty dishes are you sure that you’re providing them with the wherewithal to do so? (Plenty of dish soap, sponge, scrubbing thing, one of those brushes etc.? And dish towels, paper towel and so on). If find that guests rarely leave dirty dishes although even when they are washed and put away, they still need to be checked and sometimes washed again so even if guests are wonderful about it, it’s still a necessary chore. Be sure too to leave only just enough of everything so that guests will need to do the dishes as they go.

Stained towels are common too but if they are white you can bleach them and 99% of the time, that works well. Bear in mind though that you will have to replace a few every year of so if you’re fully booked.

Regarding your cleaning fee, it seems low for a full house rental. I’m assuming that you’re getting a good rate for a full house so I doubt that upping the cleaning fee would deter guests. If you raise it to $100 you’re only ‘losing’ $20 if you use a cleaning service and at whole house rates, you’d probably be happy to absorb that.

1 Like