Holiday cottage changeover checklist
It often feels like changeover days have to be carried out with military precision, or they end up chaotic and stressful. Especially in the high season when you literally have one guest out and the next guest in. You’re up against the clock to do a diligent clean, check for damage, restock the fridge and toiletries, clean the swimming pool and round up discarded items from the last guests.
It might seem like a mountain to climb when you start, but preparation helps and a changeover checklist will ensure that you don’t miss any of the final touches that will make your holiday let the perfect home-from-home for your next guests.
Don’t cut corners with your changeovers. You never know when you will get a really picky guest who will leave a bad review (or even check out!) because they found dust on a picture frame or crumbs lurking under the toaster.
Set your check out and check in times
If you are using a property agent or cleaning company to do your changeovers make sure they know the exact time they have to be in and out. You might want to use a scheduling app (like Doodle) to keep them on track and be clear about the time window they have to complete their tasks. You can even add notes or your changeover checklist to the appointment.
There are also a growing number of changeover management tools available such as Properly.
Allocate tasks for efficiency
If your changeover team consists of more than one person, then each person should be allocated tasks before they arrive to ensure there is no delay making decisions on who does what.
One person should handle the maintenance, check for damage, fix anything that needs it and tackle the deeper clean tasks like the barbeque, oven and replenishing of products. That leaves your other team member to get on with the main tasks at hand – beds, bathrooms, floors, etc. If you only have one of everything, then dividing tasks up by rooms won’t work, as you’ll both need mops, brooms, etc. Try grouping similar tasks together to save time.
If you have chores, such as gardening or window cleaning, these will add quite a bit of time to your busy schedule. In this case, it’s a good idea to get an extra pair of hands. These chores only need to be completed once a month or so. Try and schedule these when guests aren’t around. If this isn’t possible then ask your guests if they mind the gardener coming by whilst they are out. It’s fairly acceptable for a gardener to be on hand during their stay.
Invest in the best
Although it might not seem worth it at the time, investing in appliances like steam cleaners for your home and pressure cleaners for the terrace, really can save you a lot of time during changeover cleans and leave your home looking cleaner and fresher than just using mops and cleaning fluids. Plus at the end of the season, you can use them to clean curtains, carpets and upholstery.
The changeover checklist
If you only have a 3-4 hour changeover window (or less) it’s essential you tackle the biggest and most important tasks as first priority.
The first thing most owners do is read any new reviews in the guestbook, then it’s time to get started.
Do a visual check of the property for any damage, stains, missing items or if the home was left excessively dirty. Take photos as evidence, you may need it at a later date if you are deducting from a security deposit.
- Wipe down worktops, sink, units, chairs, tables and baby equipment.
- Clean appliances (oven, refrigerator, microwave, dishwasher, toaster, coffee machine) and check they are working. Hard to clean items such as the oven and barbeque should be tackled early on during the changeover, as you may need to apply a cleaning fluid and leave it to soak while you get on with other tasks.
- Sweep and mop the floor.
- Organise cupboards.
- Restock washing up liquid, dishwasher tablets, bin bags, dishcloths and replenish hand soap.
- Put out 2 clean tea towels.
- Empty bins and disinfect.
- Wipe place mats and coasters.
- Check cutlery, pots, pans, crockery, glassware and utensils for grime, breakages or chips.
- Dust and wipe over all the surfaces – furniture, blinds, picture frames, shelves, window sills, skirting boards, ornaments, lamps and get rid of glass rings.
- Vacuum furniture, including under the couch cushions.
- Remove any cobwebs.
- Clean windows and any internal glass doors.
- Empty the wastebasket.
- Check remotes and batteries.
- Clean the log stove.
- Throw out any surplus magazines.
- Floors should be one of the last jobs on your list. If you’re in a Mediterranean or hot country with tiled flooring, then sweeping, mopping or steaming is a relatively quick job. You can almost finish up on your way out the door!
- Remove leftover toiletries.
- Empty bin.
- Wipe down units and countertop.
- Clean shower, bath, sink (use grout cleaner if needed).
- Remove any plughole debris.
- Check silicone for mould/pink stains.
- Clean mirror.
- Shine taps.
- Clean toilet.
- Wipe bath mat.
- Mop floor.
- Restock liquid hand soap, toiletries and toilet paper.
- Supply clean towels.
- Double check the plumbing for leaks or potential problems.
- Stripping and making the beds should be one of the main tasks, especially if you have to wash the linen while you get on with other jobs. It is a good plan to have at least three sets of sheets and towels. Preferably Egyptian cotton.
- Check for wear and tear or stains on linen, mattress covers, throws and pillows.
- Check under the bed and in drawers for personal belongings left by guests.
- Vacuum the floor and under beds.
- Dust furniture, clean mirrors and windows.
- Wipe down outdoor furniture.
- Check for dog muck if you are pet-friendly.
- Clean barbeque.
- Make sure paths are clean and not slippy.
- If you have a hot tub check the water, chemicals and that it’s working properly. Don’t forget to inspect the cover for damage. Follow the relevant health and safety checks (you can find out more here). However, it’s a good idea to outsource maintenance to qualified professionals.
- Are the washer and dryer empty?
- Clean out the dryer fluff trap.
- Check there are enough pegs.
- Check the clothes airer and ironing board function ok.
- Restock washing machine detergent.
Is everything working?
- Heating/hot water
- Light bulbs
- Check the guest information folder is intact.
- Leave the welcome pack if the guests are due to arrive soon. It’s a good idea to make up welcome packs beforehand, so you’re not running around buying gifts at the last minute.
- Before you leave the property check external doors and windows are locked.
- Check your key safe works. Leave the key and change the key code after each visit as it is likely to be a requirement of your holiday letting insurance.
Ensure the lighting and heating are on to welcome imminent guests (depending on the season). You never get a second chance to make a first impression.
It’s important to ensure that your property not only looks perfect but is also safe for guests. Check furniture is suitable to use and look for trip hazards. In addition to Portable Alliance Testing (PAT), visually check your electrical appliances are safe to use. Look out for cuts in wires and any other signs of damage. Replace faulty items immediately.
It is also vital that you test all smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are working. Check the fire extinguisher and fire blanket can be located easily.
Instructions for guests
Do the same for your holiday let guests. Make sure the arrival and departure times are clear in the booking contract, or you could be in for a nasty surprise when you come to do a quick turnaround clean and find them still packing, or eating breakfast!
Asking your guests to do certain things before they depart could save you a lot of time in the long run.
- Leave used towels in the bathtub.
- Empty the bins and remove any opened and perishable food.
- Wash and put away any dirty dishes or load the dishwasher.
- Turn off the lights.
- Close windows and lock the doors.
- Leave the key.
Preventing wear and tear
A stringent changeover plan not only reduces wear and tear, it also impresses your guests and prevents complaints that your rental is dirty. A deep clean will be required at least 3 times a year, plus essential spring and winter maintenance. Use this opportunity to replace any items that show damage or signs of wear and tear.
If you are shutting down your holiday home over winter, here is a checklist of what you will need to do to keep your holiday home in tip top condition.
Useful tips to remove stains
It’s inevitable that you will discover stubborn stains that will need dealing with during the limited time you have to prepare your holiday rental for incoming guests. When you do, refer to these top tips to remove stains quickly.
A structured changeover checklist allows you or your housekeeper to tackle the cleaning with military precision. Plus, if you ever need replacement cleaner they will have all the information they need to ensure the property is spotless for incoming guests.
Please help other holiday cottage owners by sharing your changeover tips in the comments.