01204 36 50 80 weekdays 9:30am - 5pm
Get a Quote Renew an existing policy

Stupid things holiday home guests do

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Owning a holiday rental is emotional – it’s your home after all. Somewhere you may have painstakingly renovated from a ruin, spend many hours cleaning/preparing for guests and where you intend to retire.

Unfortunately some guests don’t abide to a ‘treat it as you would your own’ approach when staying in holiday homes. If you spend time reading holiday home communities and forums (you should as they are an invaluable learning resource) you will see numerous posts from holiday rental owners who are letting off steam after discovering ‘stupid things guests do’ when staying in holiday homes.

The annoying things guests do…

Although there is always the chance that you will be amazed by what guests get up to in your holiday home – many of the top grievances from owners re-occur throughout the letting season.

So what are these ‘silly’ things guests do that you should be aware of?

Here’s the top 10:

  1. Leave the heating/air conditioning on when going out with the windows also wide open
  2. Hide/fail to replace broken items
  3. Leave doors unlocked on departure or when going out so other members of the holiday party (and burglars) can get in
  4. Get sun cream/make-up/fake-tan/hair dye on towels and bed sheets
  5. Fail to clean the holiday home at all during the stay – leaving a sink full of dirty pans, a filthy oven with leftover food and overflowing bins
  6. Allow pets on furniture and beds
  7. Leave appliances on when out (TV, lights etc)
  8. Blocking toilets with nappies/wipes or not flushing the toilet after use
  9. Excessive use of white goods (dishwasher, washing machine etc)
  10. Phoning owners because ‘appliances aren’t working’ – in reality they haven’t (can’t be bothered) read the helpful instructions you have left.

Why do guests behave this way?

I expect it’s because some guests treat a holiday home like a hotel and have the attitude that they have paid for the accommodation so can treat it with less respect than a home. It’s the same mentality that makes guests steal take toiletries/towels/tea/coffee home from hotels.

What can holiday rental owners do to prevent such behaviour?

Mistreatment of holiday homes is an ever-present problem for holiday home owners, and one that guests either don’t seem to be aware of or have little concern about the consequences for owners.

For owners who live on-site and witness such behaviour in person, a quiet word with guests may be enough to resolve any problems. What else can you do? Outline your ‘guest rules’ in your booking terms and conditions so there’s no room for confusion. Also provide guidance in your guest handbook on areas that frequently cause you problems – such as leaving doors/windows open.

Consider taking a security deposit and make it clear that any theft, damage, extra cleaning costs or breach of contract will be paid for using the security deposit if necessary. Losing their security deposit may be at the forefront of guests’ minds during their stay and make them more careful. On the other hand taking a security deposit can be pointless – the jury’s out on the pros & cons.

Should you lose sleep over it?

Unfortunately it comes with the territory when holiday letting – guests do stupid things. As your experience as an accommodation provider develops, you will know what to expect and what you need to do to prevent/limit the effect these have on your business.

Holiday letting insurance can safeguard against many incidents, but insurance doesn’t cover every eventuality. Deducting from a security deposit can also be justified in certain circumstances, but more often than not you will just have to accept it, learn from it, and move on.

Have a rant

If it makes you feel better then have ‘a rant’ with fellow owners on holiday rental forums and share your feelings. Writing an email outlining your grievances that you would like to send to guests is also a good exercise, but don’t send it. Simply writing it should make you feel better about the situation.

Most rentals will run smoothly, but some will make you question why you rent your holiday home. Thankfully the latter are few and far between – but be prepared.

Feel free to rant anonymously in the comments – do you have any tales of ‘stupid guests’?


  • Sandra |

    I have just been itemising all the items in my Holiday Cottages and I’m a bit , well actually, a lot annoyed at the items which are missing. Why do people think they can steal your stuff? Irons, Pans, Baskets, Ornaments and Puzzles, a shelf out of the fridge and one even changed the expensive Bed Linen for a cheaper brand. It makes my blood boil when I think of when they are leaving ,how pleasant they are to your face and all the time they’ve got something belonging to you in the boot of their car. Rant Over !!!

    • Philip |

      Annoying isn’t it Sandra when you have a limited amount of time to do changeovers, then you have to rush about to replace items that have gone ‘missing’. There are times when you need thick skin to be a holiday let landlord.

  • Shirley |

    We had three workmen stay in our cottage. Left the property with windows wide open, immersion on and heating through out the house. Dirty pots side of sink,dirty toilet cigarette ends onthe lawn. Beer bottles on the dustbin containing ash from wood burning stove and a hefty electricity bill. We were fortunate to be able to report the chaos we found to the company. They paid us for the electricity bill and also for the several hours it took me to clean it all. Told the agency that I did not EVER want workmen staying again. Oh and by the way they had also broke into our shed and stolen the coal we use for gusests as part of a starter pack. This happened February 2016. Still get upset over it writing this.

    • Philip |

      Although stressful for you, you were luck to get reimbursed. Looks like they treated your cottage like a hotel which is upsetting.

  • caro neill |

    We had “guests” staying in our holiday home, they never bothered confirming their booking. Tturned up after 10.15pm despite the booking conditions stating their booking would be terminated if there was no contact from them.
    Kept the curtains shut for 3 days with lights burning day and night. When I went into with the plumber to look at repairs whilst they were out for the first time. They were painting garden gnomes on my coffee table and dining table using the crockery and glass ware for the paint. There was paint all over the furniture and the wood floors. They had piled their rubbish up by the front door in a pool of water despite the fact that the guests are all given free bin bags by us. I asked the holiday company who advertise as “they take the stress” to speak with these people. they refused and told me to do it. When I did the man started shouting at me they “were the Police and they could do what they liked!” in our holiday property. They then complained to the holiday company we were intrusive! I then asked the holiday company to ask them to leave. Their final act was to wipe everywhere down with a cloth stinking of rotten fish.
    I could not believe the cheek of these people. It took 2 people 48 hours to clean the place after them.
    They gave our cottage 1 star despite getting 10 the week before. The holiday company printed their review leaving out anything that alluded to them. the holiday company gave them their money back watch out they will be coming to a cottage near you now thinking they can do the same!!!!! We had too replace all the china, glass ware, pans linen and quilt after these people.

    • Philip |

      I’m shocked! Hope you managed to put this behind you and you had some lovely guests afterwards.

  • sasy |

    We had guest who: pen marked a teapot lid , so the next guest knew how to put the lid on. A dog chewed the door and edge, german workmen stole 5 items, trashed the property, a drippy mum with new baby filled the bins up with stinking nappies and never put them out[feel sorry for her hsuband]. A guest ruined the front lawn by driving up over it, dogs peeing on the carpets and curtians in front of the pets owner, moving items around in the kitchenn, turining off the heating and hot water cos they didn’t want it on[we now have locked cupboard! Stained bedding on several occasions, odd questions and odd guests. Needless to say i am going to sell it, so we get no stress , peace and rid of these demanding pain in the asses! and i will be quids in ! fabulous. If i knew what we would have to put up with i wouldn’t have bothered . I don’t recommend it, put your money in bonds, good return , no stress. I will be glad to get rid of the holiday let.

  • Rosemary Ryan |

    It’s a fact that people lose 20 IQ points whenever they go away on holiday. Suppose it depends on whether they’re starting from a low base.

    We’ve been renting out our large barn since August ’18 (with lots of stops and starts courtesy Johnson’s shambles) and our Top 10 guest antics as follows:

    1. guest reversing car with tow bar demolishing the front of the stable (‘forgot I had it on’)
    2. smashing large heavy glass vase and trying to clear up every shard so we wouldn’t notice it missing
    3. shaving just before bedtime so bleeding on the pillow cases
    4. leaving filthy tampons and full nappies in the small waste paper bins in the bedrooms
    5. leaving their dog alone for hours indoors to soil the oak floors
    6. managing to set fire to the LED/plastic battery operated candle lanterns which melted onto the wooden window cills, scorching them
    7. smoking weed out of the windows
    8. removing make-up with the white flannels instead of the provided organic pads and cleanser
    9. taking (to date) most of the cutlery, flannels, teaspoons, colouring sets for children, kitchen knives, baby bedding, hand towels, tea towels, dishcloths, dog toys, picnic containers
    10. driving into next door’s wet field and having to be towed out by a neighbour

    And a bonus 11. Trying to fit in an extra 4 guests (our place sleeps max 8 people plus babes in arms) hoping we wouldn’t notice and despite our Ts and Cs being explicit on this point. We Had A Word and they left the next morning.

    And all this on top of the usual requests for extra freezer space (frozen dog food), bunting and balloons, fresh herbs, extra virgin olive oil, taking their Amazon deliveries, earlier check in/later check out (which no-one sticks to anyway).

    We have learned that there’s very little Self in Self Catering. But it’s all part of being in the hospitality business. And it beats commuting to the client fleshpots of Luton, Slough and Germany via London.

    • Philip |

      Thanks for sharing your experience of guest antics. I’m sure there are lots of owners who will be nodding their head to these.

Write a Comment



See how much you could save!

Click here to start your quote