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Clean, Wipe, Soak, Scrub, Brush, Scour, Polish

By Ron Lee
Published: 04/18/20 Topics: Covid-19 Virus, Housekeeping, Property Management Comments: 0

How to Clean and Sanitize Vacation Rental Homes

Since our first office opened in 1964, we have been rigorously cleaning and sanitizing properties for decades. This is nothing new to us. In fact, our homes are cleaned to a degree higher than most people have at home. It has always been our commitment to have every home safe and ready for guest arrival.

Get a Real Getaway

If you need a vacation, holiday escape, spring break, fresh air and time alone, vacation rentals are the best option. Bring kids or not. Bring the family or just your spouse. Most homes are free-standing, so you can avoid crowds. Even in our condos, the homes are open corridor, so there is no need to pass through common areas, like lobbies and dark hallways.

When Guests Depart

After guests depart, housekeepers arrive at every home to clean, wipe, soak, scrub, brush, scour, mop and polish bathrooms, kitchens, bedrooms, common spaces and even decks and patios, linens, towels and surfaces. Hot tubs are disinfected. This entire process - called "out Clean" - takes many hours. Then homes are spot checked by managers to ensure good work. When departing, all staff members use bleach rags, so that even the door knob and key-safe are sanitized. Wow!

Sanitation Cleaning Products

We use a variety of products to clean, disinfect and sanitize. All are approved for high health standards. We still use bleach for some areas because it is still the gold standard for killing every kind of bug. In fact, if you enter a home immediately after housekeepers depart, for a few minutes you may detect a slight cleaning smell. That is your assurance of sanitization.

Bathroom Super Scrub

Cleaning bathrooms is not a fun task, but we carefully clean all sinks, mirrors, toilets, drawers, bathtubs and shower enclosures until they sparkle. But they have also been sprayed and later wiped with disinfectant. Soiled and unsoiled towels are removed before cleaning starts to avoid cross contamination. This is a hands-and-knees job, but housekeepers pride themselves on meticulous cleaning.

Proper Wipe Downs

You might think that spraying and wiping surfaces with disinfectant is sufficient, but it is not. Instead, disinfectant must be left on surfaces for a period of time before it is wiped away. This gives time for the liquid to kill all the germs.

- Door knobs inside and outside.

- Window switches.

- Light switches and sockets.

- Lamp switches.

- Cupboard doors and surfaces.

- Table tops including night stands.

- Appliances - top and sides.

- Counter tops.

- Reachable walls.

- Outdoor furniture.

- Stairs and deck handrails.

- Toasters and coffee makers.

- TV and other remote controls.

- Stereos and computers.

- Door bells and key safes.

- Toys and board games.

- Pet toys and blankets.

- And more.

Vacuuming, Mopping, Sweeping

Are you ever tempted to do floors fast? By slowing down the process and covering every floor surface carefully, dirt, grime and germs are removed. We keep equipment new and well maintained to get the best results. Housekeepers are never limited to cleaning hours. Instead, they are encouraged to take all the time they need to do the job right.

Kitchens and Dining Rooms

Kitchens get splattered on, baked in and used heavily. It is a big job, but to get kitchens spic-and-span is essential, from the stove to oven to refrigerator, but also microwaves, cupboards, fans and light fixtures. Cleaned inside and out. You will notice we remove condiments, such as ketchup and mustard left from prior guests, because leaving open containers violates health standards. You'll have to bring your own, but you'll know they are new and fresh.

Hot Tubs and Spas

Every hot tub is completely disinfected after each booking by trained staff members. Sand or debris is removed, filters are inspected, and chemicals are adjusted. In addition, the hot tub cove, top and side surfaces are disinfected. If you arrive to a tub that is not yet fully heated, please wait because we had to empty and refill it. Takes time to reheat.

Towels and Linens

Washing and drying linens and towels is an obvious step, be we wall all of them, even if a bed does not appear to have been slept in. They are transported to the washer-dryer using rubber gloves and laundry bags, and they are returned to beds in baskets to avoid cross contamination. Along with quality detergent, additional disinfectant is added to all washing to ensure germs are eradicated.

Deep Cleans

In addition to our rigorous out-clean, homes receive deep cleans regularly to cover hard to access areas, including heating ducts, cupboard sides and ceilings, high surfaces, fans, carpets and more. This takes many hours, and ensures the cleanest possible property.

When Guests Depart

You may notice that we do NOT as guests to do laundry or to remove linens and towels to the laundry area. We do it all to ensure that every textile has been washed and cleaned properly without dragging it through the house.

Call Us Quick: 206-504-2744

If at any time during your stay, if you find any issue, call our 24-7-365 day phone number for assistance. If necessary, our staff will happily come to the property to ensure all is right. And if you want daily cleaning, we can arrange that too, for a small additional fee.

Avoid Crowds, Stay in a Private, Vacation Home!

Year round, in every season, and no matter what is happening in the rest of the world, vacation rentals offer a respite from the rate race, a chance to get away and to enjoy a sparkling clean, sanitized home.

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Author: Ron Lee, Vortex Managers
Blog #: 0742 – 04/18/20

Vacation Rental Picante Sauce

By Wm. May
Published: 09/01/17 Topics: Property Management, Vacation Rentals Comments: 0

Vacation Rental Picante Sauce
Yet another corporate vacation rental management company has announced gobbling up tens of millions of dollars in investment, in hopes of dominating the vacation rental management industry in America, and perhaps even the world. But they are risky for property owners.

Beginning as far back at 1989, Pace Picante sauce began running television commercials. In one, grizzled cowboys threaten to lynch the camp cook when they learn he has been serving them picante sauce from "New York City?"

The cow pokes become offended because Picante sauce should be made by "places in San Antonio with fresh vegetables and spices by people who know what picante sauce is supposed to taste like."

Watch it here.

While the huge vacation rental management companies want to convince property owners that they can manage every home just right, even though they are located hundreds of thousands of miles away, the truth is - they can not.

One of these giant companies even has over 300 negative complaints and reviews online about shoddy housekeeping and lack of response. The average for vacation rental managers is zero, one or two over time. Something is seriously wrong with having 300 unhappy guests, because that means there are far more who don't take the time to post complaints.

For another competitor, their complaints reveal a wolf in sheep's clothing. Although they profess to be managers, they quickly throw owners and managers under the bus whenever there are any complications, as the following complaint answer proves:

COMPLAINT: "2 days before my trip receiving a voice and email telling me that my reservation had been cancelled because of a double booking."

ANSWER: "Booking was canceled within 48 hours prior to her arrival when it became apparent to the Host that there was a conflict with a previous client who'd booked."

And then they accidentally revealed the wrong problem, (our company) "The Host (homeowner) is the party responsible for resolving any conflicts. [Our company] is a marketing and booking service that Hosts use to assist with reservations. . . The rental agreement. You accepted . . . Clearly states that the booking is directly between the Guest and the Host."

And then they reveal the unreliability of their services by saying "Double bookings are an unfortunate side effects of the vacation rental and travel industry as a whole."

Well, duh, no that is not correct. That is excuse making

Although no one is perfect in the lodging industry, double bookings are NOT common and they are certainly not an unfortunate side effect. They are the result of a company pretending to be a lodging manager when they are, in fact, too far away and too powerless.

LOCAL IS BETTER:

Vacation Rental Firms have proven to be a locally branded business. Owners and guests prefer to deal with a local reliable professional firm that is on hand to attend to them. Members of the Vortex Organization have found the best way to do that.

They are independently operated to ensure great houses, hospitality cleaning, happy guests and happy owners. Our first office opened in 1964, but we are the most tech-enabled managers. We are in it for the long haul..

But the network ensures that managers have all the tools such as dynamic pricing, post listings on hundreds of advertising websites, and answer guest inquiries 24/7. In fact, local firms have access to local tourism promotion, websites and contacts the others can not match.

That means our managers produce more bookings as well as more peace of mind.

So if the vacation rental "manager" you are using to book your home is not actually located in the area where you rental home is situated, or even in "New York City", its time to go local.

Call a local professional vacation rental management company to learn about all the comprehensive and reliable services you have been missing.

- - - - - - - - -
And a few more just for fun:

1989 Pace Picante Sauce

1990 Pace Picante Sauce

1993 Pace Picante Sauce

1993 Pace Picante Sauce

1994 Pace Picante Sauce

1995 Pace Picante Sauce

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Author: Wm. May, Vortex Managers
Blog #: 0530 – 09/01/17

Vacation Rental Restoration

By William May
Published: 12/28/15 Topics: Insurance, Property Management, Vacation Rentals Comments: 0

Vacation rental homes are susceptible to the same problems as full-time residences. Sometimes pipes break, basements flood and even smoke or fire damage can happen.

It may be possible to have maintenance firms handle such problems but for larger problems it is necessary to hire a company that specializes in restoring homes to their original condition.

Such companies are referred to as Restoration Specialists and having the name of one or more firms on hand is just good preparation. Odds are high that they will never been needed.

Because damages may result in cancellation of bookings, the loss to owners may exceed even the cost of repairs. So here are some steps to be prepared for what you can hope will never happen:

(1) Property Insurance - When insuring your home for vacation rentaling, that use must be clearly communicated to your insurance agent who should provide a policy specifically allowing short-term rental use.

Most basic second home policies are not sufficient for offering a home as a vacation rental. Take care before you have a claim to properly protect you in the unlikely hood a claim becomes necessary.

(2) Business Loss - Second home insurance can cost more than your primary resident. And vacation rental policies cost more than basic second home polices. However, such policies should also cover the owner for loss of income should the home become unrentable for a period of time.

(3) Restoration Specialist - To find a company that specialize in quick and through restoration use Google Maps for your location searing for "Fire Restoration" because that is the most common keyword on which these firms advertise.

(4) Remote - If your home is remote or in a sparsely populated area, it may be necessary to question restoration firms closely to insure that they would be willing to come to your address should you later need their services. Keep good notes.

(5) Records - Be sure to record the name of several restoration companies because, in the case of local flooding or severe weather, any one firm may not be able to handle your needs quickly.

(6) Property Managers - If you use a local property manager, good firms will already know of restoration providers and be able to quickly get help on site.

Lodging managers are not in the restoration business and claims are so unusual that the manager may never have had to use a restoration company. But do not hesitate to ask the manager if they can recommend anyone.

(7) Schedule - Restoration firms can not guarantee that any given property will be restored over night. In fact, time may be required to allow a house to dry.

Even when repairs will take a longer period, restoration firms can often arrive quickly to stabilize the situation and then return later to complete repairs.

(8) Fire - Should your home become partially damaged due to fire, your local fire department will often board over a home to make it is weather tight or to protect it from intruders. Do not hesitate to ask their help when they are on site.

(9) Franchises - Here are the names of several franchises that brand and endorse local partners to do restoration. This does no guarantee the quality of the work. Even local non-franchises are often skilled and dependable.

- ServePro.com

- ServicemasterClean.com

(10) Action - Try to secure your insurance company's approval before completing restoration. By calling their claim number you should be able to secure approve to start the restoration with full approval secured once the restoration firm can provide a more detailed estimate.

Not long after its founding in 1907, the Boy Scouts organization adopted the motto "Be Prepared." When it comes to unexpected events for your vacation rental home, being prepared is great advice.

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Author: William May – Volunteer, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0473 – 12/28/15

Vacation Rental Insurance for Condo Owners

By April Klazema
Published: 10/12/15 Topics: Insurance, Property Management, Vacation Rentals Comments: 0

Vacation Rental Insurance for Condo Owners

Say you own a condo in Florida that you have been visiting every spring break for ten years now. Next spring, you have a different trip planned and won't be able to make it down to the condo at all. However, the condo is in an area that is a hot tourist destination during the winter and spring months. If you aren't going to be using it, you figure someone else would pay good money to rent it out for a few weeks. Who knows? You might even be able to finance most of your other trip just by renting out your condo to other Florida tourists!

Remember Vacation Rental Insurance!

Before you start setting up an Airbnb account or uploading pictures of your condo to VRBO.com, you need to take a moment to look into getting vacation rental insurance for your condo. While your condo is probably currently insured as a second home on your homeowner's insurance policy, you need a different type of coverage if you are planning on renting out the property to anyone else.

Let us explain. When you are utilizing a vacation property for personal use—be it a condo, a cottage, or an actual second home—it can be considered a personal residence for insurance purposes. That's because what you are using the property for—more or less, as a place of lodging for you and your family—is not really different from what you use your primary home for.

The moment you rent out your condo, the primary use of the property switches from residential to commercial. If you are letting someone stay at your condo in exchange for money, then you are, by definition, using the property for the purpose of business. This type of commercial use of your property is not covered under traditional homeowner's insurance policies.

What You Get with Vacation Rental Insurance

As with any other type of insurance, your vacation rental policy will vary depending on the value of your condo and the value of its contents (furniture, appliances, etc.). However, most vacation rental insurance policies will likely come with the following types of coverage:

Commercial liability coverage: Keeps you from being held liable if a guest is injured or killed while using your property.

Replacement cost coverage: Reimburses you for the cost of your condo or your belongings in the case of catastrophic damage or theft.

Coverage for damage: Helps you pay for damage caused to your condo or building by a guest.

Loss of income coverage: If a guest damages your condo to a point where you have to cancel other reservations or take it off the rental market for an extended period, this type of coverage will reimburse you for lost rental income.

You will want to speak with your insurance agent to see if you can add a vacation rental insurance policy to your condo, and to learn about the types of coverage that are available in their vacation rental policies.

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Author: April Klazema – Reporter, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0417 – 10/12/15

Sponsor: Yes We Insure Rentals – Say you own a condo in Florida that you have been visiting every spring break for ten years now. Next spring, you have a different trip planned and won't be able to make it down to the condo at all. However, the condo is in an area that is a hot tourist destination during the winter and spring months. – YesWeInsureVacationRentals.com

How Much Vacation Rental Insurance Do You Need?

By April Klazema
Published: 09/01/15 Topics: Insurance, Property Management, Vacation Rentals Comments: 0

When you are looking to buy vacation rental insurance coverage for the first time, you will likely have a laundry list of different questions that you want answered. Specifically, how much vacation rental insurance coverage do you need, how much can you expect to pay to insure a home that you are renting out to vacationers, and how will the cost of the policy compare to what you are currently paying to insure your own personal home?

To get answers to these questions, we reached out to Eric Kossian, the Agency Principal at InsurePro (www.insurepro.info). Based in Washington and serving the entire state, InsurePro is a respected and reputable insurance agency, and Eric is a longtime industry expert with extensive knowledge in all kinds of insurance coverage—including vacation rental insurance.

In regards to how much vacation rental insurance cover homeowners should get, Eric emphasized the importance of commercial general liability coverage. He noted that buyers should look for policies that include $1 million in liability per occurrence and $2 million aggregate per year (in case there is more than one liability claim in the space of a calendar year).

"When dealing with renters who don't know you, you are more likely to be sued, as [the renters] view you—the property owner—as a business," Eric said, explaining why liability coverage is the crux of most vacation rental property insurance policies.

In addition to $2 million aggregate liability coverage, Eric also noted a number of other "must-haves" for vacation rental insurance policies, including income coverage (also known as "loss of rents"), replacement cost valuation for the building, replacement cost valuation for the contents of the building, and enhancement coverage (in the case of theft or damage to the property caused by a guest). The coverage amounts for the replacement cost valuations for your vacation rental property "should match fairly closely" to an existing homeowners policy, according to Kossian.

As for the cost of a vacation rental insurance policy versus, Eric did caution that insuring a rental property can end up being substantially more expensive than insuring a secondary home whose function is personal use only.

"For the same location, compared to insuring the home as a secondary residence used just personally, a Vacation Income Property policy will be 25 to 100% more in premium, depending on amount of lost income coverage needed and liability needed," Kossian explained.

Do you have any addition questions about how much vacation rental insurance coverage you might need for your property, or how much you should plan to spend on a vacation rental policy? Reach out to us today!

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Author: April Klazema – Reporter, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0414 – 09/01/15

Sponsor: Yes We Insure Rentals – Vacation Rental Property Insurance is not impossible to find. Get the best coverage and the best deal. We have the experts to help you now. – YesWeInsureVacationRentals.com

Do I Need to Get Special Insurance for My Condo or Vacation Home?

By April Klazema
Published: 08/01/15 Topics: Insurance, Property Management, Vacation Rentals Comments: 0

If you own a condo in Florida or Hawaii, or a vacation home in some other exotic locale, you are likely curious about what kind of insurance you need to get to cover the property. Will a general homeowner's policy do? Or will you have to acquire a different kind of insurance to cover the vacation home?

Determining the Purpose of Your Vacation Home

To answer this question, we'll ask you a question of our own: for what purpose is the vacation home being used?

If the purpose of the vacation home is for personal use only, then a homeowner's insurance policy will be sufficient to cover the property. Perhaps you and your family take frequent trips to the West Coast and always stay at the vacation property when you do. Or maybe you spend your summers in one part of the country and live out your winters somewhere else. In these and other similar scenarios, your insurance company will usually be more than happy to provide you with a second homeowner's policy to cover your vacation home.

The bottom line in these scenarios is that your vacation property is still being used as a residence. As a result, the insurance rules for the property are the same as for your full-time home.

Using Your Vacation Home as a Rental

On the other hand, if you rent out your property to vacationers or other tenants when you are not using it, then it cannot be protected under a homeowner's policy. If you are accepting money to allow someone to stay at your vacation home, that qualifies as commercial use, and your vacation home qualifies as a business. Businesses can never be insured under homeowner's policies, and you will need to set up a different kind of insurance policy as a result.

If you are renting out your vacation home for profit, the insurance you are looking for is vacation rental insurance. A policy of this type will provide you with commercial liability insurance—meaning that if a customer sues for your injury sustained on your property, you will not be liable. It should also include provisions that reimburse you in case your guest damages the property, steals your belongings, or skips out without paying rent.

Don’t fall victim to insurance confusion when it comes to your condo or vacation home! If you are only using the property for personal residential use, a homeowner's policy will cover it. If you are using the condo or house as a rental, then vacation rental insurance is pivotal to keep you, your building, your belongings, and your finances safe!

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Author: April Klazema – Reporter, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0413 – 08/01/15

Sponsor: Yes We Insure Rentals – Vacation Rental Property Insurance is not impossible to find. Get the best coverage and the best deal. We have the experts to help you now. – YesWeInsureVacationRentals.com

Special Insurance for My Condo or Vacation Home?

By April Klazema
Published: 07/01/15 Topics: Insurance, Property Management, Vacation Rentals Comments: 0

If you own a condo in Florida or Hawaii, or a vacation home in some other exotic locale, you are likely curious about what kind of insurance you need to get to cover the property.

Will a general homeowner's policy do? Or will you have to acquire a different kind of insurance to cover the vacation home?

Determining the purpose of your home

To answer this question, we'll ask you a question of our own: for what purpose is the vacation home being used?

If the purpose of the vacation home is for personal use only, then a homeowner's insurance policy will be sufficient to cover the property. Perhaps you and your family take frequent trips to the West Coast and always stay at the vacation property when you do.

Or maybe you spend your summers in one part of the country and live out your winters somewhere else. In these and other similar scenarios, your insurance company will usually be more than happy to provide you with a second homeowner's policy to cover your vacation home.

The bottom line in these scenarios is that your vacation property is still being used as a residence. As a result, the insurance rules for the property are the same as for your full-time home.

Using your home as a rental

On the other hand, if you rent out your property to vacationers or other tenants when you are not using it, then it cannot be protected under a homeowner's policy.

If you are accepting money to allow someone to stay at your vacation home, that qualifies as commercial use, and your vacation home qualifies as a business. Businesses can never be insured under homeowner's policies, and you will need to set up a different kind of insurance policy as a result.

If you are renting out your vacation home for profit, the insurance you are looking for is vacation rental insurance.

A policy of this type will provide you with commercial liability insurance—meaning that if a customer sues for your injury sustained on your property, you will not be liable. It should also include provisions that reimburse you in case your guest damages the property, steals your belongings, or skips out without paying rent.

Don’t fall victim to insurance confusion when it comes to your condo or vacation home! If you are only using the property for personal residential use, a homeowner's policy will cover it.

If you are using the condo or house as a rental, then vacation rental insurance is pivotal to keep you, your building, your belongings, and your finances safe!

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Author: April Klazema – Author, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0406 – 07/01/15

Sponsor: Yes We Insure Rentals – Vacation Rental Property Insurance is not impossible to find. Get the best coverage and the best deal. We have the experts to help you now. – YesWeInsureVacationRentals.com

The Vacation Rental Property Insurance Difference

By April Klazema
Published: 06/01/15 Topics: Insurance, Property Management, Vacation Rentals Comments: 0

A vacation rental property may look like a home, but in the eyes of an insurance company, it's a business. If you own a second home that you frequently rent out to temporary guests, then that property is a business and cannot be covered under a homeowner's insurance policy.

Even if the property was used as a residence at some point, the moment you start bringing in out-of-town guests for daily or weekly vacation rentals, the rules change.

What Do I Need Instead?

Most insurance companies will offer a specific vacation rental insurance policy that you can purchase to protect your rental properties.

This kind of policy will provide certain types of coverage that a homeowner's policy won't, including commercial liability insurance to protect you in the event that a guest is injured at your property.

Replacement and repair coverage is usually included as well, in case a guest steals from you or damages your property during their stay.

Why Do I Need Vacation Rental Insurance?

There are subtle differences between homeowner's insurance policies and vacation rental insurance policies.

For example, a homeowner's policy will include personal liability coverage, which essentially means that if a guest is injured while visiting your home—perhaps they fall down the stairs—then your insurance company will help defend you if you are sued and cover medical bills for the injured party.

Meanwhile, a vacation rental insurance policy offers commercial liability coverage, which offers the same basic type of coverage, but for a business instead of a person or family.

Homeowner's insurance policies exclude commercial activities from protection, so if a renter at your vacation home falls down the stairs, the incident won't be covered under the personal liability section of your homeowner's insurance.

Instead, you will need to have commercial liability coverage to be protected, as the injury was suffered by a customer instead of a guest. Similar differences and separations apply for other types of coverage (theft, property damage, etc.) as well.

Unsure if you have the correct vacation rental property insurance? Today is the day you need to find out, before it is too late.

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Author: April Klazema – Author, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0402 – 06/01/15

Sponsor: Yes We Insure Rentals – Here's where to go to find a variety of vacation rental property insurance experts and agents. We watch the market so you don't have to. . Get the best deal and the best coverage. – YesWeInsureVacationRentals.com

Mouse in the house. Or Rats, Bears, Ants, Termites, Cockroaches, etc.

By William May
Published: 03/01/15 Topics: Property Management, Vacation Rentals, Wildlife Comments: 0

Whether a home is a vacation rental or just a treasured second home where families get away periodically, pests are often more of a problem than in the owner's primary residence. The question is . . . why?

Location --- While vacation rentals have become popular in urban and suburban areas, most vacation homes are in desirable locations such as by lakes, in the mountains and at the ocean. These areas are generally more remote and - shall we say - a little closer to nature.

LIONS & TIGERS & BEARS

And with nature comes wild animals. We can't say "Lions & Tigers & Bears" but we can say Bears, Mice, Rats, Bats, Raccoons, Snakes and Insects. And - no one wants to say this aloud - bed bugs are also possible.

These critters are not dumb. They know where food is, they are adept at finding it. They seem to have a knack for attacking when no one is home - as is often the case with second homes.

Motels, hotels, inns and resorts in rural or remote locations are just as suspect able to the same problems, even though in those cases there is often staff far closer at hand.

Killing the Messenger

Owners who use professional vacation rental managers find it convenient to blame the manager (messenger) for bringing them bad news that one or more pests have decided to call their place home. But owners need to understand why such things happen and the limits to which planning, attention and diligence can help prevent such things.

Unfortunately, no one can protect a home full-time unless of course they want to pay for costly daily inspections. Even then, there are clear reasons why pests are a bit more common in second homes.

Preventive Steps

Cats - In a primary home, many owners have a cat or dog for friendship. But even the most docile cat is greatly feared by mice, rats and even insects. Mice hate the smell of cats. Just let loose your friendly feline to see that rage that lights up their eyes when they decide to torture a mouse. Creepy as it sounds, if your cat is not interested in patrolling you are feeding them just a bit too much.

Of course, it is not possible to leave a cat in a second home which is a great incentive to pests to show up.

Lights, Noise & Heat - Some vermin also are adverse to lights and noise and will avoid it if other equally desirable habitats is available. There are some pests like mice that actually prefer a warm abode.

Of course, it would be expensive to keep a home heated, lit and noisy at all times so that solution is of little help.

Lighting Fast - Arriving at a home with bugs or mice does not mean that housekeeping is lax. Think back to being a child, and discovering a line of ants waltzing in and out of a home following the chemical trail they have laid down.

That is, after all, how it works for insects and even small mammals. Find a spot, explore until you get in and then send back messages for the entire troupe to charge in. You may think it takes days or weeks for an infestation to happen but that would be wrong.

The gestation period of mice is only 20 days followed by an average of 10 off spring. They are ready to give birth in 3 to 4 weeks which means one mouse can turn into 300 in a year.

Research shows that ants can take over a house in as little as a hour. Mice and rats gleefully take over even faster and once they have moved in, they are not as easily convinced to move out..

Proliferate they do. There is a reason that ants, other bugs, mice and rats become visible almost instantly. A small infestation can go unnoticed even by the most diligent observer. But all these pests...

Hiding - And pests are great at not being seen. They have not survived for millions of years by offering to be prey to other animals. It takes some looking to find pests until they have expanded their colonies and left tell-tale signs.

Avoiding Infestations

There are some things that will slow - but not entirely avoid - discovering unwanted pests have one day invaded your second home.

Live there - Ok this is simply not a solution because owners must live most of the time in their full-time residence.

Get a cat - This idea too is unworkable for second homes, but has to be mentioned because it works so well. Outdoor cats? Nah, someone has to feed them and many prefer outdoors making them no threat to your indoor. Plus they are easy prey for coyotes and even raccoons.

Sealing Tight - Seal every entrance to the home and lock it tight when departing. If you think your place is tight as a drum, getting down in the under floor crawl, or shimmying through the attic may convince you otherwise. Check around plumbing and heating fixtures.

If necessary, mice and rates will eat the plastic off wires to make more space. In summer when doors and windows may be left open they seize the change to move right in. In autumn, when food falls short they are more determined to get inside. In spring, after some dormancy, they are even hungrier. Your house looks like a McDonalds with ready made meals.

Doors - The most frequent access to many homes is actually right in through the door. Did you know that many small mammals have the uncanny ability to flatten their rib cages which allows them to squeeze into the smallest of spaces. Make door seals air tight if possible. Older homes have more ":leads' than new homes.

You can almost hear the mice giggling when they find what - to them - looks like a expressway into your house.

Lock Tight - Never leave food out where the smallest ant could find it. Flour, pancake mix and other dry ingredients may seem safe at home but in vacation homes they are a feast for animals. Even oils and other baking goods should all be kept in sealed metal containers. Plastics is not as good because some critters will chew right threw it.

Inspections - Frequently take the time to look at every nook and cranny of your house, not just after you have discovered a mouse. Remember, rats in particular are excellent climbers. They feed in trees and your house is just another bridge to food.

Traps & Bait - Treating for pests yourself sounds like a good idea, but seldom is a full solution. But putting these devices in locations - safe from children - can be a barrier to entry. Baits can be dangerous so read the label and follow it explicitly. Re-bait and check traps often.

Occupancy Helps

Vacation Rentals - Having guests arrive frequently helps in two ways. First, activity in the house alerts pests that humans are present and humans are dangerous to them. Guests arrive on unpredictable schedules another detractant to unwanted animals.

Frequent housekeeping - With guests comes regular cleaning of the home. Removal of crumbs from the floors makes less food available.

Pests usually show up suddenly and housekeepers can keep an eye out of invasions. They wont notice them all but this is a first-line of defense.

Periodic Deep Cleans - In addition to regular guest cleans, homes should be deep-cleaned periodically often once, twice or more per year. The goal is to clean unusual spaces such as inside cupboards, seldom used closets, dusting high spaces and other areas remove possible food and provides a visible inspection. Air vents must be opened and inspected.

Food in Refrigerator - When in residence, it is wise to keep all food in the refrigerator. This includes dry goods and bread and is a common recommendation in tropical climates where cockroaches are expert at finding any morsel outside the fridge.

Professional Help

Lastly, every home (not just second homes), should have regular pest inspections by a skilled pest control company. Hiring them once an infestation has started will require a higher cost and longer period of treatment. Do not be surprised when the pros recommend sealing the house further, and many of the steps recommended here.

When you home finally succumb to a pest invasion you will have a professional already familiar with your house who can jump right in and increases methods to rid your home of the problem.

And no matter how diligent the inspector, you can hope you will never experience an outbreak. When an outbreak comes, don't blame the pest inspector or you manager. Just realize that your second home is in a battle with some very small but very determined enemies that no one can completely avoid.

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Author: William May – Volunteer, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0474 – 03/01/15

Sponsor: Vortex Organization –

How to Hire & Retain Happy Housekeepers (10 rules)

By Wm. May
Published: 01/28/14 Topics: Property Management, Vacation Rental Association, Vacation Rentals, WAVRMA Comments: 0

How to Hire and Retain Happy Housekeepers - 10 Tips

Servers at restaurants, both fancy and plain, demand tips. The valet who parks your car puts his hand out. Even your neighborhood Starbucks barista wants money for making up your fancy café mocha, skinny, double cup, with foam.

In Lodging many guests simply do not know they need to tip those hard working housekeepers who slip in and out of their rooms while they sit comfortably in the dining room, paying too much for dinner, and giving the smiling cheerful waiter a big tip for being so attentive.

Recent anecdotal responses indicate that tipping in Vacation Rentals occurs less often in hotels. That is a disrespectful situation that must change.

Industry research consistently points to lack of cleanliness as the most common complaint of travelers. Everyone wants a good clean place to stay. But some guests are even reluctant to stay in a vacation rental for fear it is not sparkling clean.

It is time to prove them wrong.

Heavy Work

Those who clean bathrooms, scrub kitchens and scour barbecues deserve the highest respect not the lowest. It is hard work and under appreciated.

By comparison, being a corporate executive is a piece of cake. Those big wigs must even "Carve out" time everyday to go to the gym for the workout they do not get at work.

Housekeepers don't need a trip to the gym. They get down on hands and knees scrubbing floors, they climb ladders to clean or change light bulbs and they tote tons of trash out of homes.

Rent By Owners

Vacation rental rent-by-owners complain they can not find housekeepers, or good ones, can't keep them, or lose them often with little notice. That is because amateur owners base their hiring and retention methods on personal observations instead of empirical knowledge.

There are secrets to finding and keeping most any kind of employee, but they are especially clear and unavoidable for housekeepers and other workers who do societies dirty work.

Rental Managers:

Some vacation rental managers make the same complaints, but often they are new to the industry or have an over-blown sense of their own importance, while avoiding the hard work of personally cleaning homes.

Walking a mile in a housekeepers shoes is the only way to understand how difficult and deadline driven the work can be, and why those housekeeper shoes are often worn and tattered.

Luckily, most vacation rental managers eventually discover the secrets to finding and keeping the kind of loyal, industrious and committed workers who are willing to clean toilets and do other unglamorous work.

10 Iron Clad Rules

To find and keep top-quality people, who serve your guests well and do so with a smile on their faces it is necessary to follow some iron-clad rules.

PAY - Stop scrimping and pay people well. Pay them based on the hours cleans take and not on your budget, which is often far too little, and seldom accounts for differences in how guests leave a home.

SCHEDULING - Arrange cleaning dates as far in advance as possible. Provide online tools so workers can see where they are to be and when. Adjust schedules to accommodate second jobs, day-care, etc.

FULL TIME - Don't hire more people than you need. There will be employees who prefer part-time work but most want to get a full week's pay or close to it.

WEEKLY PAY - Pay your staff weekly, do it direct-deposit and never miss a payroll deadline, even by a few minutes. Everyone needs to get paid. They have bills to pay.

TIPS - Put out cute and subtle time envelopes, signed by the cleaner that just so happen to mention tipping. Guest actually like to reward those who serve them. Unlike restaurants, lodging guests need a reminder. This can increase pay 24 to 30% making housekeepers beam.

STANDARDS - Write clear concise cleaning "Hospitality" standards. Do not demand "Hospital" standards because they are not necessary or economically feasible. If you don't know the difference, someone else in your organization needs to be the inspector.

TRAINING - Require even experienced housekeepers to work along side current staff to learn the ropes of each home. Use checklists. Train, re-train and train again. Inspect work. Provide pleasant feedback.

HONESTY - Only hold housekeepers to a standard you could attain. To prove it - clean multiple houses in one day, and invite the housekeepers to inspect your work. Then do it for a week.

BE KIND - Cleaning small simple hotel rooms is far easier than scrubbing large personal homes that can have owner possessions, far more furniture and utensils and even peculiar outfitting.

RESPECT - Every housekeeper must be treated with the utmost respect. Never raise your voice. Never complain, Never insinuate.

This is the most often violated rule, but the most important one. Never fall victim to your feeling of superiority.

BONUS TIP - Believe every word housekeepers tell you. If a home needs deep cleaning - believe them, If a house needs extra cleaning after an owner says they cleaned it - believe them. If the vacuum cleaner needs to be replaced - believe them

Anything less disrespects the challenging labor to they do for you so reliably.

The Result

Not all new hires will be good housekeepers. Not all will achieve hospitality standards. Not all will remain employees for years to come. But converting your thinking to these iron clad rules will insure you achieve the following:

  • High Quality Hospitality Cleaning.
  • Happy guests and property owners.
  • Respect from wonderful housekeepers
  • Personal satisfaction in knowing you treated people well.

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Author: Wm. May – Volunteer, Vacation Rental Association
Blog #: 0338 – 01/28/14

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