What to do with items left behind?

I just had a guest who just departed after a New Years stay. We’re in a ski resort, and they came from a warm climate. He emailed to say that they left some food in the fridge for us, and that there were lots of snow clothes that they left behind that I can find new homes for. Great! Thanks for the favour. :smirk:

I normally would just take things to the Salvation Army or find friends who might use next-to-new clothing items. But this isn’t the first time someone has done this. It’s a hassle either way for me to have to deal with their left-overs. And they always make it sound as though they are benefiting me by bequeathing me these items. I’m not just talking about a jacket or two… it’s a lot of clothing and gear for many people.

Does anyone charge to remove / rehome items left behind? Any ideas to stop this going forward?

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What a pain in the butt. I would not like that, either. You could certainly put it in your house rules that items left behind requiring removal will be charged $50. OR provide clear directions to a Salvation Army and post that they are to remove their own items or be charged the $50.

Or you can sigh, shove it in a bag, put it in your trunk, and drop it off when convenient, knowing that someone is going to be very, very happy to have that stuff.


I’m happy to have any items left behind. If it’s something I can use, I do. If it’s something personal like a toothbrush I toss it. A bunch of winter clothes would go to a charity thrift store and I’d take the receipt and the tax deduction.

One of my travel strategies has been to take old or purchased from the thrift store clothing on my trip. Heavy coats like rain jackets or wool coats can be had at my local thrift for under $10. Then I can leave it behind or toss it if I need more room in my bag for new purchases. It never occurred to me that leaving it behind was burdening anyone.


OK, If you itemize your income tax: I would list items and quantities (don’t have to be too accurate), assign values (online guides and guesstimate) and donate and get a receipt and claim it on my income tax. At 30% tax rate $1000 donated value gives you $300 off your income tax.

If that’s not worth it to you put it on Craiglist for free. It will be gone before sundown!

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Really? I can’t tell if this is tongue in cheek. If someone dumped their thrift clothing in my place I would be fuming…bring it with you and you take it with you.

Still we can’t claim tax against this stuff so it really would be a burden …


If the Food is unopened or unspoiled I leave it for the next guest. Unless it’s really good beer then its for me :wink:
Some items that have been left in my place I leave for guests to borrow/use: umbrella, swimsuits, lotions/shampoos, books & magazines. etc.
Easy for me there is a salvation army about 2 blocks from my house which I have used to drop a few things. its a tax write off here, so I just keep the receipt, I’m in a warm climate, so no big bulky items get left. If that was a constant thing it could be a burden, for sure. I’d maybe add a note to the house rules - additional cleaning/removal/shipping fee for items left behind? $25 seems reasonable…


If your post is directed to me, I’m not joking at all. Are you saying if I left my Burberry coat it would be okay, but not my thrift store coat?

I know now to ask my host if I want to leave something behind.

Neither the Burberry or the thrift store coat would be ok. I wouldn’t want the responsibility of returning or disposing of anything.

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Just me, but I think charging would be completely over the top. Furthermore, I don’t see any practical way for you to get that money. We have guests leave things all the time and many have enhanced our listing. I’ve got a few t-shirts that guests have left that I’m happy to wear. We’ve had perfume and expensive shampoo left and I use them.

Food items and booze are often left because guests can’t take them on the plane. If the food is non-meat (we are veggies) then I’m happy to use it up. Meaty things are offerd to our neighbours or thrown out. And I’m especially happy to use the booze. :slight_smile:

As for preventing this, do you send your guests a pre-checkout message on the evening before they leave? I always do - thank them for staying, remind them about checkout time, remind them to check that they have all their belongings and ask if there’s anything I can do to help their checkout run smoothly.

I know that all hosts can’t do this but I tend to go into the rental as soon as possible after the guests have left. That way, if I find any belongings I can text them before they get to the end of the street - or certainly before they get to the airport.

Anything that is left that can’t be used is simply tossed. I know it’s a good idea to give stuff to the Salvation Army or similar but I simply don’t have the time.


This happens to me too since I’m dealing mainly with international guests with strict weight limits on bags. It’s the same “oh, I left some running shoes that you can give away”. Uh, geez, next time leave some freshly made muffins!

I have a lot of listings and it happens frequently and I agree that is a hassle to have to move these items along. I already take in all the milk to make cheese, I keep bags in my car for stuff to donate, but I never actually manage to get it to the donation center because I’m busy running around taking care of my business. I’ll let the cleaners know to take what has been left for donation, and I keep the canned goods to drop at a food pantry, but it’s all adding to my to-do list.

I don’t get to travel as much as I used to, but I wouldn’t dream of leaving things behind for someone else to deal with.

I wonder if it’s possible to leave a big bin “for charity” and then have a charity come and pick up once a season?

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I toss the food, donate the clothes, leave nice lotions/scrubs/shampoos for other guests to use, and take home home the numerous quantities of alcohol left behind.


In my community people are always looking to come pick up things that are free. In some places putting a box or bag next to the dumpster instead of in it is a signal that it’s meant for reuse. I either put my own ad on craigslist or look for someone who has an ad. I’ve had people come for as little as a garbage bag full or clothes. The only thing I can’t give away is books. I have to take those somewhere.

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I think you’re “getting” what I’m talking about. Sure, there are always items left behind that I either use up or drink (thanks!). Or something that gets tossed or given away, or returned.

But we’re talking about 14 people staying for a week, and leaving all of their gear and winter clothing behind in Canada since they won’t need it when going back home.

I mean… this would take up the entire trunk and more. Since this is a whole house rental people don’t expect personal items to be found there when they arrive, and there isn’t room in the house to store them. And it’s not just dropping them off on my way home. If I already have a car full of supplies and cleaning, let alone a crew along with me there would not be room to just take it along with us on our way out. To take them to the local place for re-homing would take someone about an hour plus gas round-trip.

Not to mention, if there is a same-day changeover (which I try to avoid but can’t always) it takes very valuable time to have to do this additional task.

For starters, I’m going to also note in the check-out instructions where to take their personal items that they want re-homed. I might also make a note to leave $40 (an hour labour plus gas) minimum plus $5 for each additional bag if they want us to do that for them.

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That makes a lot of sense. I do sympathize with you.

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I know this would still be a hassle for you, but do you have a garage or even a shed where you could organise the gear and offer to your clients as ‘free rentals’? (Or even leave an honesty box for a small charge). I live in a ski town and I know this would be a real pull if this is something I could offer to the ‘ski bums’. On the proviso they put it all back neatly afterwards. All depending on if you have the space to store it though.
Although I’m getting the impression you get all high-end clients who wouldn’t want to borrow someone else’s hand me downs.

Otherwise I think simple wording in your house rules - ‘if you have unwanted gear at the end of your stay, please take it to (insert name and address of local goodwill store, recycling centre etc). Unfortunately there will be a charge of (…) to dispose of items left behind on the property.’


Exactly right! Our shed is open and I’m afraid storing excess clothing would either spoil or be an eyesore.

I think I’ll have to implement wording as you’ve suggested… thank you!

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Sell it on Facebook marketplace. It’s quite good - no fees.

God, why does nobody leave me alcohol?


This is excessive and rude. If it keeps happening, you ought to put in a house rule.

How about–

Before checkout. We know your holiday is over but PLEASE do not leave your winter gear behind. Dispose of unwanted clothing at the local Sally Ann’s before departure. Failure to do so may incur a convenience fee of $50 per guest. Thank you.

Honesty… This is like leaving rubbish in the room. They can make the trip to Sally’s. Why should you have to deal with it.


Well, that happened with some of my guests too, recently. They actually left some cooked pasta in the fridge. Did they really expect me to eat it? Of course I threw it away, but it was a strange experience.

Every other guest leaves something behind. A year ago, I started collecting all this in a large box, since I was expecting most people to email me and request to have it sent back to them, but apart from one lady who left behind some important keys, nobody does ever ask to have this sent back. So these days, all the stuff is simply being thrown away. We have a large garbage bin in front of our house.