Large groups for a week: typical problems of damage and uncleanliness: any advice?

Hi all,

We have a large house and land with pool in Southern France which we rent by the week in summer to groups of 16-20 people.

Because of the size of the house and the amount of dirt generated by a week of cooking etc for that many people, it takes us 2-3 days to clean the house completely. There are no workers available in our region to help. Since we mostly have guests departing Saturday morning and new ones checking in the same afternoon, we require guests to clean up after themselves (old-style airbnb). One hour before check-out we do a tour with them to identify things that aren’t yet clean or furniture that isn’t in the right place.

After they have had a relaxing week and we have generally had nice relations with them, this final tour causes it all to end on a very sour note. Even though we give a pretty complete checklist, they don’t clean the faces of the kitchen cupboards. the coffee machine, or the insides of the drawers, which always have some crumbs, hairs, etc. They claim that no one used the bidet and therefore they shouldn’t have to clean it (how they know who did what in the bathroom is a mystery and somehow it got dirty). One even claimed they should have to dust the mirrors because no one “used” them! There are things the next guests will surely notice and then use an excuse not to fully clean themselves “well it wasn’t correct when we arrived”. We literally do not have enough time to clean up after them and we make that clear to them. With 10 adults they can do it in 2 hours. But they seem incapable or unwilling. We don’t like ending every trip this way, with accusations and insults. One woman kept screaming that the house was “disgusting” when she arrived. (The examples she gave were an insect (it’s a country house with the windows and doors open all summer) and an old package of candy in a drawer of some furniture in the hallway.)

Even after making a 20 minute tour, after they leave we find broken things that we didn’t realize, holes in the walls, broken chairs, torn hammock, etc.

The other problem is that for such large groups we have sets of 40 sheets, towels, tableware. After a few weeks this summer we discovered that cumulatively 4 weeks of guests had broken about 25 wine glasses. We can’t go counting everything when we have only hours for a turnover.

Then a really nice group who otherwise were the best of the season, did a fish-sauce marinade and apparently spilled it in the fridge and on the floor. 2 weeks later, we still can’t rid of the smell.

The work is a lot, and the emotions of these encounters are really draining, and the money somehow doesn’t compensate for broken promises, lies, and disregard.


I’m baffled with that large a house and that many guests you would have a same day turn over relying on guests to do the cleaning.
I recommend putting a day or two between the guests so you can do a proper cleaning. That way you can avoid the unpleasantness at the end with guests and reduce the stress on you.


Sounds like an unworkable business model to me. Maybe change to a 9- or 10-night rental (Friday or Saturday to the following Sunday) and leave yourself some days to clean.


Well, it’s clear that what you’re doing isn’t working and I’m amazed you tried it!

I’m not surprised that guests claimed it wasn’t that clean to start with because not only has it not been professionally cleaned but also it’s been ‘cleaned’ by people who don’t really want to do it. I’m surprised that your tour before checkout is just one hour before checkout (Yikes!) when the tour itself must take at least the 20 minutes you cite. Sounds like a designed-to-fail impossible challenge hosted by Cruella da Ville that you might see on a reality TV show!

The options seem to be (not mutually exclusive):

a. Redouble your efforts to get professional cleaners
b. Rent to a smaller group of people
c. Hire someone to be on the property every day to help clean up along the way – obviously you’d need to charge for this; ideally they would be staff that live there. [I like this the best.]
d. Charge a hefty security deposit that is released only if the cleaning is adequate (and have videos that show how to clean), and do the tour the day before.
e. Do Saturday checkouts and Sunday check-ins, though this seems problematic based on your facts if it takes 2-3 days to clean and a Saturday check-in/check-out is the norm in the area.

I think you need someone there 24/7. Probably more than one person (you must have someone to manage the pool and the grounds); ideally also someone who can cook. This is Southern France!


Hi everybody, thanks for your advice.

Summer is short and people want to have a full week, so we can’t really put days between the reservations.

We do live on site. We enter once a day to manage the pool and turn on the irrigation for the plants. But the guests actually don’t want this. They prefer total privacy. We’ve offered food, yoga, other services. They don’t want that either.

d. Airbnb seems to have changed the rules on security deposits regarding cleaning or anything else. We tried asking for this, and the guests told us it’s not allowed. I am sure I saw the option for a security deposit in the past, but I can’t find it now, so I guess they are right.

We do not want to spend our time cleaning up after people who have been busy disrespecting themselves and our property. We don’t understand why people can’t clean up after themselves, since they usually balk at a cleaning fee anyway. Every time I’ve rented with airbnb I’ve understood that I was reponsible for complete cleaning except for laundry, as we do. Is that going out of fashion now and it’s becoming hotel service in the home?

Yes they have.

For a property like this, which must command a hefty fee, I wouldn’t rely on Airbnb to protect me financially if there were damage or failure to follow rules. You must get on a platform like OwnerRez where you can have a signed contract and charge a security deposit.

Maybe more will chime here on the possibilities with a channel manager like OwnerRez. Meanwhile you might Google it and also search for it here on the forum.

The very process of a signed contract and a security deposit will incentivize their best behavior (which still might come up short – the tour must be the day before and there must be instructions though I can’t imagine asking guests to dust or clean, just leave it basically the way it was when they entered: things in their original place, no messes, dishes washed along the way (but you have to check and might need to re-do!).

EDITS TO ADD: On the irrigation system it’s likely that you could automate this. I’m sure we don’t have the property of the magnitude you do but we also needed to come on to the property to water the plants when it got very hot. We disclosed it, it was brief, but guests didn’t like it. This year we automated it, so it comes on automatically or manually via an app. Can be done usually, just money to do it.

On the pool, look into an ionizer. With an ionizer much less chlorine is needed. Assuming that the guests are responsible for skimming and any pool cover, you shouldn’t need to enter the property for the sake of the pool more than once (max twice) a week.

Finally, on whatever cleaning the guests are required to do (I wouldn’t require any cleaning but I would require, as we all do, to basically leave the place in the condition it was in when they arrives, sans cleaning). I think a video of instructions would help. Also a tour the day before is much less confrontational ‘right/wrong’ because the guests have at least the facade of thinking/saying ‘Oh, yeah, we were going to take care of that.’ Whereas when done on check-out day with just a few hours to make amends it’s more of a ‘right/wrong’ and pressurized situation.


I’ve traveled quite a bit in France and stayed mostly in Airbnb’s. While I’ve stayed in small places, it was never required for the guest to do the cleaning. I’ve also never seen it required in the US either.

I would never want or expect guests to do cleaning on that scale at the end of their vacation. You really need to charge a large cleaning fee, boost your rates and block out days between guests and offer to pay a cleaner a lot to do the cleaning.


I’m scared that even if we could find a professional to do the cleaning, if we told the guests they didn’t have to, then it would be much, much worse and the cleaner would rightly charge a lot to chase after these people’s bad behavior.

When we do enter the property to take care of the pool and so forth, the conditions they vacation in are horrific. Beer caps and bits of plastic all over the lawn, cigarettes in the plants, lawn furniture akimbo, single use packaging all over the terraces. Underwear in the plants…

Block two days in between to clean the house properly and charge a cleaning fee. Keep extra wine glasses in storage. You can buy them in bulk at Amazon, same for sheets and towels.


Sounds like a party house. I’m surprised there hasn’t been substantial damage to the property. Have you considered removing some beds and only allowing a maximum of 8 guests?


So you only rent to Americans??

LOL. I hear the British can be insane.

You really need a signed contract and hefty security deposit.

Also, you permit smoking? I’m surprised because that creates more of a mess and stink.

It does sound like a party house. I wonder whether you should permit only smaller groups.

The behavior described is 8 different 100% French groups who rented this summer.
3 were family groups with children (8 adults 8 children) and five were groups of friends. We’ve had groups in their 20s and groups in their 30s. All these groups included smokers, and brought kegs of beer as well as big audio speakers. I don’t think the family groups would describe themselves as “party” groups, but a week of cooking and hanging out seems to be a dirty thing regardless of who is doing it?

I’m an American and I have to say that my stereotypes about Europeans being more civilized than us have been destroyed mostly through my experiences renting my flat in Sydney, my flat in Berlin, and now my house in France to French, Italian, German, and Belgians.

I have learned that the French and Germans will smoke regardless of the rules. There is no way to stop them. They even break their own rules. I lived with a woman in a “no smoking” house. One day I came home and smelled smoke. I asked her what was up. The answer “only in the kitchen”. Another similar experience and the answer “only when my friends come over.” There just is no such thing as “no smoking” here or a person who is a “non-smoker”. Lots of self-identified “non-smokers” do smoke, but “only on weekends” or “only when I drink” or some such.

Mon Dieu, quelle barbarie!

You’re shattering illusions here, Violette.

Ach du lieber Himmel, das darf doch nicht wahr sein!

Tell me it isn’t so.

[Literally, Oh my goodness, that can’t possibly be true!]

P.S. Take a look at this post. Look at the link to the website. You’ll also see the legal contract and the requirement of a security deposit. The process this Host takes might be off-putting for some prospective guests, but I think that’s the idea. She wants the guests she wants.

Once France stopped people from smoking in restaurants there were still some restaurants that had smokers. And, that’s the truth. Smoking in restaurants was the way it was always and they didn’t want to give it up. It became the law years after the US prohibited it.

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I’m not surprised. I’d be very insulted. When I rent a house, like most people I imagine, I don’t expect to have the host come in before I leave instructing me on what to clean.

Guests should leave a place neat and tidy but to expect them to clean to a standard suitable for the next guests is ridiculous. Dust the mirrors? I always leave places in great condition but I’d never think to dust. It’s you the host who is responsible for cleaning.

As others have said, this is a completely unworkable business model.

I don’t understand why you are involved in this business?


It seems the least of the Host’s challenges.

A comedian could have a lot of fun with this set-up. Sixteen people spend a week in a villa in southern France, but they have to clean up on the last day – and we’re talking dust-the-mirrors cleanup. The Host will perform a 20 minute tour just hours before checkout. If the sixteen people don’t clean well, they face a Tour de Shame, while resentful guests play Edith Piaf’s ‘Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien.’ Who will shame who (or whom)?

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I think that when folks get drunk and high they all tend to be axxholes regardless of their nationality. Count your blessings that they haven’t caused damage to the property. I think it’s a ticking time bomb, hope you have good insurance or require a large security deposit.

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What you are trying to do seems crazy to me and I think you have totally unworkable expectations. Of course a place is going to be a mess after a week with 16-20 people.

They are guests, paying you to stay, they are not a cleaning staff, and expecting your guests to clean sufficiently for the next guests to move into is ridiculous. It sounds like you want your cake and eat it, too.
Your place is not suitable for Airbnb unless you change your hosting model.


There’s no security deposit. She’s on Airbnb.

On VRBO, where she is also at, she can require property damage protection but I wouldn’t think that would cover a cleanup, which could be considerable here.

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My last word on this is I sincerely think you need to reduce the number of guests by at least half. Lock some of the bedrooms so no one can have access. Having this many people in a rental is inviting trouble.

Also sounds like you need to boost your rates. Are you attracting high quality guests or lower quality? I know of no one that would smoke when not allowed, leave bottle caps and plastic lying about, snuffing out cigs in plants.

So, you have less guests and block a few days between, it will only work out for the best for you.