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What to do about smokers in your holiday cottage

Apart from the fire risks – which could mean making a claim on your holiday let home insurance policy –  allowing smoking in your holiday home could lose you repeat business. After all, who wants to stay in a property that smells like an old ashtray – especially when it’s advertised as non-smoking?

You may find, however, that despite putting up ‘No Smoking’ signs around your holiday home, installing  smoke detectors, and even putting a no smoking clause in your terms and conditions (T&C’s), you may still get visitors who smoke on your premises.

What can you do about smokers in your holiday home (when it’s forbidden)?

First of all, while your guest is in breach of their holiday rental contract with you, it is unlikely you could claim any recompense unless a financial penalty is actually stated within the booking contract.

However, deducting the cleaning and any deodorising costs from any damage deposit they have paid (make sure you send them copies of all cleaning receipts) may be one way to get around this. If you typically only charge a nominal deposit, you may wish to increase this in future for all guests should something like this happen again.

Going forward, it may be wise to amend your holiday letting rental contract. Your rental agreement (which your guests must sign/agree to) could include, “there is a £X additional deodorising/cleaning charge if smoking is detected in the rental property”.

How to get rid of the smell of smoke in your holiday home

The problem that some holiday property owners may have is that their property is on a quick turnaround and they may not have the time to get professional cleaners in before the next lot of house guests arrive. This may mean refunding the arriving holidaymakers if the smell is unacceptable.

The following tips may help in removing the smell of smoke (test a small area first):

  • open all doors and windows and let fresh air blow through the property. If you have a fan or two handy, position them near the window to help speed up the air cleaning process;
  • wash anything that is washable in a washing machine (curtains, tablecloths etc);
  • use a dual fabric and air freshener spray (neutradol for example) on non-washable items such as sofas and dry clean only curtains;  or,
  • various websites recommend sprinkling baking soda over carpets and other soft furnishings, letting it absorb the smell for a while, then vacuuming it up (you may have to repeat this a few times in order for them to smell smoke-free);
  • put some bicarbonate of soda out in containers;
  • others recommend leaving a saucer of clear vinegar in each room to neutralise the smell (yes, the room may smell of vinegar, but this smell will soon fade, hopefully taking the smell of smoke with it);
  • clean all washable surfaces with something like a citrus smelling cleaner and hot water;
  • using eucalyptus oil burners (never leave them unattended or let the oil burn dry) may also help.

Smelly holiday homes are not pleasant for the owner or other guests, especially when the holiday property is advertised as non-smoking. But by making it clear within your contract that breaking your no smoking T&C’s will mean a financial penalty, forbidden smoking in your holiday home shouldn’t happen.

It may also reduce the chance of a fire claim being made on your self catering cottage insurance too.

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