Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Family and Children => Topic started by: Rusty on March 19, 2013, 09:16:43 PM

Title: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: Rusty on March 19, 2013, 09:16:43 PM
Not long ago we acquired a holiday beach cottage and have let it be known amongst family and some close friends that if we are not using it we are happy to allow them to stay.

I never envisaged what a minefield this would become.    So far we have had DH's brother and family stay, eat all food left in cupboards and leave the place with sand everywhere, dirty sheets in laundry basket and generally dirty everywhere.  Niece and boyfriend then asked to use and as they are under 21 and intended inviting friends I stipulated that the place was to be left as they found it.  After they left we discovered a hole in a wall (a fight over a girl apparently), and again sand everywhere and generally dirty.   

Now I seem to have people arguing over when they want to go,  I actually purchased a diary to keep track of when people want to stay and I have them arguing with me if I tell them its already booked!     

All this, and we are not charging one cent!   

My DH is starting to regret buying the place, so I need to deal with it now before it gets worse.   With the Easter Break here coming up we have told everyone its not available (it isn't)and I've had a few people carrying on saying, "But you can go there anytime".   I really did want to be generous and I just don't know how to deal with it now, as I previously said they could stay anytime we weren't.



Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: siamesecat2965 on March 19, 2013, 09:23:29 PM
Honestly, if it were me, I'd simply let everyone know that due to the actions of some, it is no longer available for anyone's use but your own family. While it sounds like you were very generous to make the offer, some took advantage.  If it were me, I don't have the time or patience to argue about when its available, and when its not, so I'd simply say, sorry, as of x date, its no longer going to be available.

If you do want to continue to lend it out, I'd come up with guidelines which must be followed, and if not, then that party doesn't get to use it again. Or you can start charging them, or maybe charge a "deposit" that they get back when they leave, if its left in satisfactory condition

I have friends who have a condo at the beach. they let family and friends use it, but have rules. One of which is that you clean it, and wash the sheets. Its small, so the cleaning would take maybe an hour, and can be done while the cleaning is going on.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: buvezdevin on March 19, 2013, 09:29:59 PM
Most vacation rentals have rules of occupancy, and in addition to the rental fees there is often a maid or "clean up" fee at the end of the stay, to cover the cost of having a service come in to vaccuum, make beds, etc. to leave the unit/house ready for the next occupant.

I suggest you do the same.

Find a local service which is bonded to do clean up as needed, and stipulate that anyone staying for any number of days must pay that service fee to you in advance.

Have rules written down, and email or hand them to anyone asking to use the unit as well as leaving a copy somewhere in the cottage.  The last rule is that anyone who does not follow the rules is not allowed future use of the cottage.  Other rules include what pantry or other items are not to be used, where to leave all used linens for laundering by the service, what items need to be replaced as used (if any such as toilet paper, paper towels, soap, etc.).

Then, stick to the rules.

If anyone complains about a service fee, you could note that you aren't charging rent or utilities, but having a service for clean up is a requirement.  Don't negotiate.  You are offering a generous favor, you can apply reasonable rules and requirements and anyone who doesn't want to follow them doesn't have to stay at your cabin.

You could either send an email with "update on cabin use:  new rules required to avoid further issues" or let people know as they ask to use your cabin.

And best wishes.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: SPuck on March 19, 2013, 09:31:42 PM
The only way your going to get around your regret is firm boundaries and hardy No's. My family has a cottage by the beach, and so far everyone who has visited there has always been respectful of the property. It's your property, and your choice on who gets to stay there or not. There is no fair when it comes to a person's house.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: Peregrine on March 19, 2013, 10:04:34 PM
Well, my best advice for not having to loan it out again, is to cite insurance issues. 

It may be a white lie...but just tell anyone who asks that your homeowners insurance will not allow it to be used in that particular manner without turning it into a B and B and getting a permit.....or something like that.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: kudeebee on March 19, 2013, 10:18:26 PM
I would definitely come up with some rules and like the idea of a cleaning fee so you can have someone come in and get the place ready for next time.  Post the rules at the cottage, give a copy to everyone when they come to get the key. 

I would add money to cover the basic supplies of toilet paper, paper towels, soap, dish soap, etc. as well as to replace anything that gets broken such as dishes, lost such as towels, and to cover some of the utilities.  So if cleaning fee is $75, add $10 per night--7 nights would be $145,  3 nights would be $105. That is very reasonable--where else could you rent a beach cottage for that cost? Get the money--cash only--in advance.  No money, no key.

I also suggest getting locks for some of the cabinets in the kitchen where you can store your personal food items.  Same for a closet elsewhere so you can store your personal items--even if it means bringing in a new cabinet for that.

I would email everyone and tell them that as of April 1 (or whatever date you choose, but I would make it sooner rather than later), there are going to be some changes for the use of the cabin.  Then state your requirements:
1. You must ask at least two weeks in advance.
2. Our family gets first dibs of course.
3. "No" means no, you will not argue.
4. There are new rules for using the place--list them: bring your own food, clean up after yourself, clean up the sand, etc.
5. New fees:  cleaning fee of xxx and $y a night to cover common supplies, replacement of items.
6. Money must be paid in advance before the key is given.  Cash only.  (Do this or you will never see the money from some.)
7. If rules are not followed, people will not be able to use the cottage again or stay there with others who are using it.

You will have some people get upset with you, so be prepared.  Do not JADE, just state calmly "It is our cottage and we want to have it for years.  So, we need to be sure it is taken care of and unfortunately some people who have used it haven't so that is why we have developed the rules.  If you don't wish to follow our rules that is fine, there are a lot of rental cottages available in the area."

Or do as the pp suggested and stop all use by others.  Insurance issue is a good one to use and may be very true!
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: WillyNilly on March 19, 2013, 10:29:16 PM
I don't know about charging money - then its a business and you are in murky waters when it comes to taxes, etc.

I think you should simply start saying "no" more. If they argue with you calmly reply "really?  Are you seriously telling me that I shouldn't use the cottage I bought, and I maintain and I paid taxes on so you an have a free vacation?  How is that reasonable?" If they say "but you can go anytime you want!" reply "exactly!  And we want to go that weekend. That's why we bought the place." If they try to push say "if you want a house you can go to anytime you want, I'd be happy to get you in contact with the real estate agent we used."

I think you should call out the people who left the house messy and damaged "you know we offered you the house but it was pretty inconsiderate of you to leave it such a mess. We really don't appreciate it and really aren't keen on letting you use the house again." Let them squirm and apologize, etc. As for the damaged wall, straight up ask "when will you be paying me for that repair?" and absolutely say "no" next time they ask based on "well you still haven't handled the repair from last time, so no of course you can't go again!" Sort of chuckle when saying that one, like its the most obvious thing in the world (cause, really?  It is.)
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: Softly Spoken on March 19, 2013, 10:34:56 PM
POD to all PPs advice about boundaries and rules. Especially to what WillyNilly just posted! They deserve to be called on their treatment of your beach house - and of you.

You offered a generous gift of a shared space and they are treating it like something they are entitled to. >:( UNACCEPTABLE. No money being contributed = they have absolutely NO say about anything and should be grateful for anything you deign to give them!

If you are still willing to let people stay there, polish that spine and remind them that your allowing them to stay at your beach home is a privilege that needs to be appreciated and the beach home is your property and must be respected. They don't like it? They don't have to stay there!

Honestly, I hope you aren't spending one second worrying about how to be polite in this situation because you owe them absolutely nothing - all the giving was on your end and they are straight out taking advantage.

Guess it's true - no good deed goes unpunished. ::)
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: Bluenomi on March 19, 2013, 10:41:49 PM
They are getting it for free, that's why they are taking advantage. Start charging them standard rates or say no, it's the only way they will learn.

Either that or just tell people you've sold it and enjoy the peace and quiet  ;D
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: SPuck on March 19, 2013, 10:50:37 PM
I don't know about charging money - then its a business and you are in murky waters when it comes to taxes, etc.

Couldn't have said it better myself. It is your house, no one but you, your husband, and still dependent children have any right to it. It's time to firm up the spine and say no to the house sharing request. If anyone has the gaul to question why you should have unlimited access to the house you paid for, call them out on it. No one but the owner gets dibs. No one but the owner has any right to it.

You can also say to anyone who asks "Because of the previous damage guests have done to our property unlimited access to the cottage will not be possible."
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: Amara on March 19, 2013, 11:01:27 PM
I've been there, OP, and my decision was "it's our house, and it's not available any more to anyone at any time for any reason." There were a couple of quiet exceptions to the decision--parents and two different friends--but otherwise no, just no.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: doodlemor on March 19, 2013, 11:06:03 PM
You are such a kind person, Rusty, to even think to share your cottage so generously! 

I think that the PP have all offered wonderful suggestions.

I just want to add that you should double check with your insurance agent about the property and liability issues.  Make sure that guests are covered if you are not there, and for any other instances that you can think of that could happen.  It may be that you would have to pay greater rates for loaning the cottage, and this would help you in dealing with the moochers.

As for the young party group, you might want to check to see if you would be liable if they drink at the cottage and drive.

I'm not trying to give legal advice - I just think that you need to check on the liabilities the moochers could cause.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: GSNW on March 19, 2013, 11:10:43 PM
I would not put myself through the headache of charging deposits, booking dates, bla bla etc... this seems to be beyond ridiculous.  The cottage is supposed to be a treat for your family, a reward for hard work, and its turned into a hassle and a bone of contention.  I'd shut it down if I were you and I wouldn't be shy about stating the bare facts.

"Family, the cottage is no longer available for use.  Arguing over dates, property damage, an general filth left behind are unacceptable.  Similar properties can be rented at xyz agency.  Thank you for understanding."
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: FoxPaws on March 19, 2013, 11:25:41 PM
If ever there were a reason to just say NO! this is it. Send out an email/Facebook/Twitter message today announcing that due to unforeseen issues (i.e. you would have never guessed your own family could be such ungrateful slobs) you can no longer offer the use of your vacation home.

Be prepared for much whining and accusations of selfishness - it's a common tactic of moochers to cry foul when the freebies dry up - but stand your ground. I love the idea of giving out the number of a rental agency.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: cicero on March 19, 2013, 11:26:13 PM
I would not put myself through the headache of charging deposits, booking dates, bla bla etc... this seems to be beyond ridiculous.  The cottage is supposed to be a treat for your family, a reward for hard work, and its turned into a hassle and a bone of contention.  I'd shut it down if I were you and I wouldn't be shy about stating the bare facts.

"Family, the cottage is no longer available for use.  Arguing over dates, property damage, an general filth left behind are unacceptable.  Similar properties can be rented at xyz agency.  Thank you for understanding."
this. so much this.,,
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: JoyinVirginia on March 20, 2013, 12:20:04 AM
We have a beach house we bought last year. To help pay the mortgage, we do rent it out using a property management company. We can use it as much as we want, we just have to let the management company know dates. There is maid service available for $95 and when we have let family use it, we don't charge them anything but they do have to pay the cleaning fee to the management company. Saves then time, saves us headaches, and keeps the cleaning service employed.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: Promise on March 20, 2013, 12:31:41 AM
I agree with the previous poster. Get a property management company in to do bookings. It takes you out of it. When moocher asks to stay, you can say, here's the number for the property management firm. They'll tell you how much it will cost. If you use the code (friends) they'll give you a 20% discount. If they argue, just say, our previous guests who stayed for free didn't take care of the property before they left per our agreements. We were left with no option other than getting a third party involved. You are more than welcome to book through them.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: blarg314 on March 20, 2013, 12:42:02 AM

Given the experiences you've had, I think you would be perfectly justified in rescinding your general offer. You could still leave it open for specific friends or family you trust, but keep it to a small number and don't publicize it.

If you still want to let people use it, I think it's a great idea to have your visitors pay for clean up service by professionals (vacuuming, cleaning the linens, cleaning the bathrooms and kitchens), and collect a damage deposit which they get back after the place has been inspected that can cover anything beyond basic cleaning, and the cost of any food or other consumables they eat. It's probably worth checking your insurance, to see if major damage caused by visitors when you're not there (fire, flood etc) is covered.

Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: weeblewobble on March 20, 2013, 12:55:48 AM
The boundaries you have drawn have not worked for you.  Your family is abusing your trust and have the nerve to tell you when YOU can use YOUR property.  So you have to redraw the boundaries.

"Family, I'm afraid that the dates you've asked for will not work.  Because of damage to our property and violations of our trust, we will not be lending the cottage to anyone for the foreseeable future.  Please do not call about using the property unless we call and invite you."

Be prepared to be called selfish, welchers, etc., but the fact is, these people don't appreciate the gift you were trying to give them.   
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: Last_Dance on March 20, 2013, 02:48:19 AM
Even if they are family, you should charge them rent and make them pay for damages.
My dad's cousin has a small flat in a seaside city, which is for rent when she's not using it: my family and I went there a couple of times and we always paid our rent.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: Rusty on March 20, 2013, 03:56:43 AM
Thanks for some good ideas so far, I like the idea of a cleanup fee (for those who I know won't leave it clean), and I think I'll look into a cleaning service in the area that I can call on.

DH spoke to his niece about the damage and she at first denied all knowledge, but then said her father would fix the hole in the wall (he's more likely to walk on water than fix it), so we said we'd fix it but she should contact the friend responsible and get some money from them (so far heard nothing).

I do still want to allow people to use it, perhaps I'll draft an email to be sent upon requests along the lines of some of the posters suggestions.

I don't really want to charge people but we certainly don't want to be taken advantage of.

DH has already decided to lock some of the cupboards for our personal stuff.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: camlan on March 20, 2013, 05:46:25 AM
My aunt and uncle had a little cottage on a lake in the mountains. They stayed there sometimes, sometimes they rented it out, and sometimes they were kind enough to let their relatives use it. I remember they offered it to one of my brothers for his honeymoon. We were all very grateful and took good care of it.

To help solve the issue of your family demanding the house on their schedule, you can give them a schedule of when it might be available. You and your family write down all the dates you might possibly want to use the house, and then let the others know what the free dates are. Let them know that's it's first come/first served. And if you want two weeks notice, tell them, don't ask them, for two weeks notice.

By all means lock stuff up. Cabinets, a closet, even a room if you feel like it.

Write up a list of rules and email it to everyone. Then post it prominently in the house. Make a "Before You Leave" checklist--lights off, sheets and towels washed, floors swept/vacuumed, specific food items replaced, etc.

But the big thing is to make it clear to everyone that you are lending out the house as a favor. If the rules are not followed, people will lose their privilege of staying at the house. If enough people break the rules, the privilege of staying at the house may be taken away from everyone. The house was purchased to give enjoyment to your immediate family, not to give you the stress and hassle of being unpaid landlords, of having your home destroyed by guests who put holes in the walls or break things, of people leaving it a mess, of having the food you paid for eaten and not replaced.

Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: YummyMummy66 on March 20, 2013, 05:55:32 AM
I just wanted to say, "I love the beach!".   Can I come stay in your cottage?   I would leave it exactly as I found it!   :)
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: Jones on March 20, 2013, 06:12:05 AM
My grandparents have a woodsy cottage they loan out to the family all summer. My grandmother put a "things that must be done at the end of your stay" checklist in the kitchen. They check on it regularly throughout the season and track who cares for it and who doesn't. Their system works pretty well.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: Otterpop on March 20, 2013, 06:18:37 AM
Rusty, I am a property manager and your first post infuriated me.  I think the title should be "Holiday Cottage ABUSERS."  Anyone who's entourage left the place dirty, empty of food and put holes in the walls would be banned indefinitely, or until THEY fixed the problem.  They are not only getting a place for free, they are actually costing you time, money and aggravation.  They are ruining something you and DH have worked for.  No one is "owed" that. 

I am glad you are thinking of enforcing rules.  Rules are necessary to ensure the continued enjoyment of a thing for everyone who receives benefit.  Please revise the boundaries for your family, explain why, and by all means:  Do it in writing (mass e-mail, brief contract, signs, whatever).
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: Margo on March 20, 2013, 06:33:23 AM
I agree that these people have been takign advantage of you.

I would have expected that people knowing this was your holiday cottage would realise for themselves that sheets need to be cleaned etc but as they obviously don't , then I think you need to draw up some rules and let people have them when they ask to use your cottage, and have a set laminated and left in the cottage.

My BiL owns a holiday apartment in Turkey - he and my Sister are very generous about letting family use it - the arrangements are that you pay something for the use (this is variable - It helps cover electricity, water and maintenance costs, so it's usually a bit more if you go in summer when you are likely to be making heavy use of the AC, for instance)

They explain that the place needs to be cleaned (which includes washing the floors and emptying all bins) and the sheets and towels washed, before you leave. There is a list of how the various appliances need to be left (e.g. fridge unplugged and door open, washing machine unplugged, water turned off in lobby etc)

Food wise, the understanding is that if you use anything you must replace it, so that there is never less available when you leave than when you arrive. I don't think this has ever needed to be spelled out to anyone. I know that before I went the first time I asked whether there was anything which they didn't want us to use (even if we replaced it) but I would take for granted that you replace stuff you use.

This has worked well with my family, BiL's family, various friends and even friends of friends.

it's a shame that your family is trying to take advantage but I think you need to set some boundaries.

In light of the problems  you have had, I think these need to include  firm, clear boundaries:

 "This is our holiday home, our use of it will always take precedence over any other requests for the favor of using the property. If we say no, we mean no, and if you try to argue then we will simply take you off the list of people we are willing to lend the property to / then your next request will automatically get a no as well.

Any request from anyone who has  who has in the past  failed to leave the property in the condition they find it in, both in terms of cleanliness and stocks  food and other items will automatically be refused.

If any damage is done to the property while you are using it, you are responsible. If a friend or guest or yours damages the property, you are responsible. Any damage must be repaired by professional contractors proved by us and carried out to our satisfaction. If the damage was caused by someone who was your guest or friend then You are responsible fr the repairs. Whether you are able to recover the cost from your guest is a private matter between you and your guest"

I would also add something like

"renting a property in this area costs around $xx per week. While we don't want to have to start charging family and friends, we cannot afford to further subsidise your holiday by paying for cleaning, replacing times we have already paid for, or repairing damage caused. We would like to be able to carry on offering you the gift of free accommodation but can only do so if you treat us, and our property, with respect and consideration."


Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: *inviteseller on March 20, 2013, 07:30:58 AM
I would put a stop to it now.  You and your DH were beyond gracious and people took a lot of advantage of it.  I would tell those who call that due to damage having been done, you no longer allow anyone to use it.  Trying to get deposits and set schedules turns your relaxation spot into a job that isn't fair to you because others are jerks.  My parents had a place in the mountains, a friends family had a place at the beach and I remember my parents and her parents talking about why they never let others vacation there and both said it was because of the lack of respect for the property. 
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: Winterlight on March 20, 2013, 08:06:58 AM
 
We have a beach house we bought last year. To help pay the mortgage, we do rent it out using a property management company. We can use it as much as we want, we just have to let the management company know dates. There is maid service available for $95 and when we have let family use it, we don't charge them anything but they do have to pay the cleaning fee to the management company. Saves then time, saves us headaches, and keeps the cleaning service employed.

I think if you're going to continue to loan it out, this is the way to go. However, neither BIl nor Neice would be allowed to borrow it since they've proved they aren't trustworthy.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: Emmy on March 20, 2013, 08:29:11 AM
I think you should limit your circle of those who borrow it to the most trustworthy of your friends and family only.  Niece and BIL have already proven themselves to be unworthy.  For potential guests who expect you to rearrange your schedule to give your cottage to them for free (oh the entitlement!) should also be told the cabin isn't available.  Guests who act entitled to your property are not likely to respect it.  I like the idea of having a fee for maid clean-up and using a management company.  I imagine if you started charging a fee for guests, even a small one, several people may lose interest because the freebie is gone.  Offering your family something nice should not cost you time, aggravation, and money.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: sparksals on March 20, 2013, 08:39:02 AM
I think you have a good plan, OP.  I would suggest, though, that instead of sending out an email with the rules and regulations as people request to use the cottage, that you send it to everyone who has already used it and then  to any new ones as they come up. 

I would also make the cleaning fee mandatory.  You never know if the place will be cleaned to a proper standard.  Your idea of clean may be very different than other people's.   The cleaning fee is pretty standard in the cottage rentals I have ever had. 

I was furious for you reading the condition your BIL and his family left the place.   I also think the niece got away scott free by not accepting responsibility for the damage.  It would be a good idea to include in the rules that cost of damage is their responsibility.  You may even want to take a deposit. 

It sounds like you are a generous person.  Don't let them take advantage of that wonderful quality. 
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: Redneck Gravy on March 20, 2013, 09:06:17 AM
Years ago we also had a small trailer at the lake - it couldn't have taken one whole hour to vacuum, carry out trash, wipe down and scrub.  Everyone took their own linens and we kept the electricity off (when vacant) so there was nothing left refrigerated.   

You would be amazed at the condition we found our little spot in sometimes!  Some people have no common sense, manners or simple decency.

I agree with PP about setting up your rules and leaving a checklist for departure.  We did not want to limit our family's usage either - but some people just don't have any respect for others' property.   
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: Hmmmmm on March 20, 2013, 09:16:24 AM
Thanks for some good ideas so far, I like the idea of a cleanup fee (for those who I know won't leave it clean), and I think I'll look into a cleaning service in the area that I can call on.DH spoke to his niece about the damage and she at first denied all knowledge, but then said her father would fix the hole in the wall (he's more likely to walk on water than fix it), so we said we'd fix it but she should contact the friend responsible and get some money from them (so far heard nothing).

I do still want to allow people to use it, perhaps I'll draft an email to be sent upon requests along the lines of some of the posters suggestions.

I don't really want to charge people but we certainly don't want to be taken advantage of.

DH has already decided to lock some of the cupboards for our personal stuff.

I highly recommend the requirement of EVERYONE borrowing the cottage being required to pay a for a cleaning service. It elliminates the:
-The family member who is running late to leave and doesn't have time to get the towels dry before leaving and calls you to let you know they are in the dryer.  And then you arrive to mildewy towels that didn't get dried.
-The person who loads the dishwasher and turns it on right before leaving - and then you arrive to a full dishwasher that needs to be unloaded and potentially worse, a water damaged kitchen floor because there's been a problem.
-The friend who's visiting with your relative and offers to take out the garbage but doesn't secure the lid properly.

We have friends with a family cabin that is jointly owned amongst 4 sets of siblings. They have a cleaning service come in after each of them leaves and it saves a tremendous amount of arguements.  Having to pay $100 or so for a cleaning service is cheap for a weekend use of a cottage.

As far the whole in your wall, I wouldn't have told the niece to get money from someone else. She is responsible for your wall since she borrowed the cottage. She needs to pay you and she can recoop from someone else if possible, but you need to hold her completely accountable.

For the person whining that they want the cottage when you are planning to use it, well they would never get access to it again. 

I'd have a set of rules outlined for everyone asking to borrow the cottage.  Clearly state they are responsible for any and all damage done while they are in possession of the cottage, instructions on dealing with trash, who to contact for plumbing issues or other emergencies, noise restrictions for the area, and any other expectations you might have.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: SPuck on March 20, 2013, 09:23:58 AM
Rusty, I think you being a little to nice and forgiving to the people who dirtied and damaged your property. You shouldn't have to prepare or make arraignments for people who you know are going to cause a mess, even if they are friends and family.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: MrTango on March 20, 2013, 09:39:46 AM
I agree with starting to charge a fee and/or deposit.  I also agree with posters who suggested a specific list of rules and cleanup tasks that need to be followed for every visit.

Also, anyone who has already done damage or failed to clean up after themselves, even before the new list of rules is provided, should probably be banned from ever using or staying at the cabin again.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: wheeitsme on March 20, 2013, 10:55:00 AM
 
With the Easter Break here coming up we have told everyone its not available (it isn't)and I've had a few people carrying on saying, "But you can go there anytime".   I really did want to be generous and I just don't know how to deal with it now, as I previously said they could stay anytime we weren't.


"And the time that we want to go to our property is over Easter..." then beandip.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: Shoo on March 20, 2013, 11:01:51 AM
 
With the Easter Break here coming up we have told everyone its not available (it isn't)and I've had a few people carrying on saying, "But you can go there anytime".   I really did want to be generous and I just don't know how to deal with it now, as I previously said they could stay anytime we weren't.

The people who gave me a hard time about me using my own property when *I* wanted to would be off my list, honestly.  I just would not deal with them in the future and I like to think I'd be honest with them and tell them why (but I'm not sure I could be that confrontational).  For sure I'd just stop dealing with them and tell them no to future stays at the cabin.

You are way more tolerant of bad behavior than I think I would be.  What do you get for all your aggravation?  Why open up your cottage at all? 
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: jaxsue on March 20, 2013, 11:27:09 AM
OP, I'd stop letting people stay there. They have proven to not be responsible.

I used to own a lakefront home in FL. As you can imagine, it was an attractive option in the wintertime. I was fortunate; no one - family or otherwise - abused the situation.

You are more patient than I am. I'd already be done with letting others use it.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: jaxsue on March 20, 2013, 11:34:56 AM
Rusty, I think you being a little to nice and forgiving to the people who dirtied and damaged your property. You shouldn't have to prepare or make arraignments for people who you know are going to cause a mess, even if they are friends and family.

Per the bolded: actually, that is the appropriate word!  :)
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: TootsNYC on March 20, 2013, 11:52:38 AM
I would not put myself through the headache of charging deposits, booking dates, bla bla etc... this seems to be beyond ridiculous.  The cottage is supposed to be a treat for your family, a reward for hard work, and its turned into a hassle and a bone of contention.  I'd shut it down if I were you and I wouldn't be shy about stating the bare facts.

"Family, the cottage is no longer available for use.  Arguing over dates, property damage, an general filth left behind are unacceptable.  Similar properties can be rented at xyz agency.  Thank you for understanding."
this. so much this.,,

I'll just jump on here.

And let me say this:

Let's say I'm the Good Niece; I would *never* do what the Bad Niece did.
And let's say I haven't even had a chance to take you up on the offer to borrow it.

Guess what--I'd absolutely understand and accept your decision to rescind the offer. (I'd probably assume that whoever *did* borrow it had trashed it.)

And I'd take it well because *I'm a reasonable person.*

So anybody who does get upset is someone who will cause you trouble over it. And they don't deserve to mess up your life that much.



But I see you want to keep loaning it out. I would say that you should do what some of us have suggested that SiotehCat do:

Draw up an agreement, with rules.
State on there that anyone who breaks the rules will never again be allowed to use the cottage. (Sorry, Niece!)

I like the idea making them fork over some money, even if it's not to you but to a cleaning service. It will keep them from being too casual with borrowing it.

(When people have to pay for something, they value it more--and the people who are complaining that you won't let them go because YOU want to go are the people that I'd lay money will break things without worrying about it.)
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: Eeep! on March 20, 2013, 12:46:36 PM
Thanks for some good ideas so far, I like the idea of a cleanup fee (for those who I know won't leave it clean), and I think I'll look into a cleaning service in the area that I can call on.

DH spoke to his niece about the damage and she at first denied all knowledge, but then said her father would fix the hole in the wall (he's more likely to walk on water than fix it), so we said we'd fix it but she should contact the friend responsible and get some money from them (so far heard nothing).

I do still want to allow people to use it, perhaps I'll draft an email to be sent upon requests along the lines of some of the posters suggestions.

I don't really want to charge people but we certainly don't want to be taken advantage of.

DH has already decided to lock some of the cupboards for our personal stuff.

I know you still want to loan it out, but the fact that you feel you need to do the bolded makes me inclined to suggest you don't.  I have friends who have a house in the mountains. They use a management company to rent it out when they aren't using it.  The bolded is one of the things they absolutely HATE.  It is a real pain to have to lock up your stuff.  At least for them, it seemed easy enough to start but it has turned out to be rather tedious.  It is much nicer to be able to just show up at their place and have THEIR food in the regular cupboards/fridge, etc. To have their stuff wherever they want it.  Now maybe it won't be a pain for you, but I just wanted to throw that out there.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: Figgie on March 20, 2013, 01:39:45 PM
Resentment is kind of an emotional acid that will eventually weaken and destroy relationships.  When you allow family members to treat your vacation home (and you) badly, it is impossible not to feel resentment for the disrespect and work that they have chosen to make for you.

Setting limits and expressing your feelings about being hurt, frustrated, angry and so on to the people who have behaved badly is the only way I know to keep resentment from building up and ultimately destroying relationships.

So, every single time you set a limit, you are actually doing something good to protect the over-all relationship with family members.  Just because they don't like the limit doesn't make it a bad thing. 

I know that I never feel good about myself when I allow people to use and abuse me.  It also isn't a lesson that I want my children to learn by seeing me allow people to treat me badly.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: lowspark on March 20, 2013, 03:18:12 PM
You know, whenever someone stays there without paying you, you are actually losing money unless you get your electricity and water for free. Not to mention supplies like toilet paper and detergent (if they're doing laundry), etc. and damages!

I'm with the others who would put a stop to it. But if you really feel strongly about continuing, then yes, lay down some hard and fast rules. First one would be, if you do any of the following, you will no longer be allowed to use it:
-- complain that the date you want is unavailable
-- leave it the place dirty
-- don't bring your own supplies
-- cause any damage

And no way should you lend it to anyone who is under age.

Honestly, I think you're being way too generous with this. I completely understand your wanting to share this and I think that's great. The trouble is that the more lenient you remain, the more you will be taken advantage of. Then the very thing that should have made your rel@tionship with your relatives better will end up making for anger and hurt feelings on both ends and potentially irreparable damage.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: Lynn2000 on March 20, 2013, 04:24:54 PM
I really like the idea of having clear, detailed, matter-of-fact rules about using the property. I admit it, I don't travel much to places besides hotels and sometimes certain chores just wouldn't occur to me. I mean, I wouldn't think it was okay to punch a hole in the wall, but I wouldn't necessarily think about tallying up the toilet paper I'd used. Plus, it wouldn't be very fun for me to clean everything at the end of my vacation--I would actually rather someone say, "The cost is $100 for the cleaning service at the end, plus $25 a day for expenses," or whatever. Then I would just pay the money, use the place like I wanted, and leave--I wouldn't have trashed it, of course, but I wouldn't be worrying about vacuuming, doing laundry, changing the trash, figuring out how much coffee I'd used, etc..

Rather than seeing these rules/charges as being a hindrance or punishment to family members, think of them as helpful guidance. Of course, the bad apples will complain about the new rules, because they don't want to follow them. But I think a lot of people would prefer to know the expectations upfront, and even to pay cash so they don't have to worry about certain things, or worry that you will worry.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: TootsNYC on March 20, 2013, 06:34:40 PM
Resentment is kind of an emotional acid that will eventually weaken and destroy relationships.  When you allow family members to treat your vacation home (and you) badly, it is impossible not to feel resentment for the disrespect and work that they have chosen to make for you.

Setting limits and expressing your feelings about being hurt, frustrated, angry and so on to the people who have behaved badly is the only way I know to keep resentment from building up and ultimately destroying relationships.

So, every single time you set a limit, you are actually doing something good to protect the over-all relationship with family members.  Just because they don't like the limit doesn't make it a bad thing. 

I know that I never feel good about myself when I allow people to use and abuse me.  It also isn't a lesson that I want my children to learn by seeing me allow people to treat me badly.


Clap, clap, clap!!!
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: Midnight Kitty on March 20, 2013, 06:52:50 PM
I live in Waikiki in a high rise condo-hotel.  We have neighbors who used to stay in their unit frequently even though their primary residence was on the Mainland (US).  She had cancer and they would come to Hawaii after her treatments to restore her energy.  Unfortunately, she died last year. :'(

Because we had indicated an interest in occasionally hosting family members who could really use a 2 bedroom vacation rental, the husband told us the name of the property management company he selected.  Yes, we are friends.  No, we don't get any special consideration.  He said he makes family go through the management company, too, because he doesn't want to get into arguments with his family over a vacation rental.  Besides, he still lives primarily on the Mainland and can't inspect the unit after other people stay there.

I highly recommend you get a property management company and use them whenever anyone else wants to stay in your vacation home.  It's better to have someone who lives nearby and who is paid to check.  They will do a better job than asking a neighbor to check for free.  It makes your life so much easier and provides employment for cleaning services and a rental agent, which will buy you much good will in your home away from home.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: Midnight Kitty on March 20, 2013, 06:55:26 PM
Resentment is kind of an emotional acid that will eventually weaken and destroy relationships.  When you allow family members to treat your vacation home (and you) badly, it is impossible not to feel resentment for the disrespect and work that they have chosen to make for you.
This is so true and so well phrased.

I just posted in another thread, "A grudge is the acid that eats what contains it." I think these adages have the same root.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: JenJay on March 20, 2013, 08:18:11 PM
DH has a distant relative who owns a beach house. She only allows people she's personally close to or people they've vouched for. The first time we stayed we had to put down a $100 deposit, just in case.

There was a list of rules posted on the fridge which included -
-replace any non-perishables as needed (basic kitchen staples and condiments were kept stocked)
-replace/fix anything you damage, break, stain, etc.
The morning you leave-
-strip, wash and replace the sheets on all used beds
-run all dishes through the dishwasher & put them away
-vacuum or sweep & mop all floors
-wipe down the kitchen and bathroom counters
-take out all trash

At the bottom of the list it was stated very clearly that leaving the house in any state other than exactly how one found it would result in never being invited to use the home again. We were further told by family that she wasn't kidding and several relatives had indeed been banned.

If I were you I'd send everyone a generic email explaining that there had been some "misunderstandings" about the conditions the house has been left in, you are not willing to employ a cleaning service to accommodate everyone else, and from this point on *your conditions and expectation, and the consequences for not following them*. Then stick to it! It might take one relative getting banned, but I bet it won't take two.  ;)
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: kudeebee on March 20, 2013, 10:47:24 PM
Because we had indicated an interest in occasionally hosting family members who could really use a 2 bedroom vacation rental, the husband told us the name of the property management company he selected.   He said he makes family go through the management company, too, because he doesn't want to get into arguments with his family over a vacation rental.  Besides, he still lives primarily on the Mainland and can't inspect the unit after other people stay there.

I highly recommend you get a property management company and use them whenever anyone else wants to stay in your vacation home.  It's better to have someone who lives nearby and who is paid to check.  They will do a better job than asking a neighbor to check for free.  It makes your life so much easier and provides employment for cleaning services and a rental agent, which will buy you much good will in your home away from home.

This!  Especially the bolded.  It will make your life so much easier and take you out of the equation of the battle for dates, if something is damaged, etc.  Renters pay cleaning fee, refundable damage deposit, and a modest fee per day to help cover your utilities, etc.  The reasonable ones will do so, the ones who want a free ride and would abuse the place, won't.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: Rusty on March 21, 2013, 12:14:39 AM
After reading all the posts I was starting to feel quite depressed.   DH and I were very fortunate last year and came into a large sum of money.   Purchasing the cottage was meant to benefit not only our immediate family, but the wider family, and as I said some close friends.   We are delighted we are able to do this.

I think we will be adopting Jenjay's suggestions as that is exactly what I would expect.    Its a shame we are forced to point out to people the obvious, but I do think now that getting something for nothing might be the problem in itself.

By the way the legal drinking age here is 18 so there are no issues for us as noone under 18 would be staying here alone.  Niece is going to be told that due to her and her friends irresponsible behaviour her access to cottage will be limited to when her parents are there.   

I think I will also inform people that I will only deal with bookings by email, as I seem to be spending too much time fielding calls.  DH likes the idea of a $100 non-negotiable fee, to be held for bond or cleaning but I think only certain people will be actually called on to pay it.   
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: Slartibartfast on March 21, 2013, 12:57:38 AM
I think I will also inform people that I will only deal with bookings by email, as I seem to be spending too much time fielding calls.  DH likes the idea of a $100 non-negotiable fee, to be held for bond or cleaning but I think only certain people will be actually called on to pay it.

If I were you, I'd phrase this differently: there's a $100 charge for the week, to cover cleaning afterward.  You're not making money (with the associated tax implications), you're just acting as the conduit to pass the money to the cleaning person/service.  HOWEVER if there are specific people you trust to always leave the place in good shape and you have a way to verify (like you happen to be coming up the next week), you can always surprise them by refunding their money later if you ended up not needing the cleaning person to start with.  If you make "must pay the fee" the default, though, you'll have fewer arguments later and less stress over trying to decide whether X or Y relative are trustworthy enough and how offended they'd be if you decide they're not.

Not to scare you, but a vacation home caused a rift in my family which didn't get repaired for thirty years.  My grandfather is one of three boys.  Their parents (my great-grandparents) had a vacation cottage which was the source of great family memories for them, and later, for their families as they grew up and married and had kids of their own.  By then, though, you had my great-grandparents, the three sons and wives, and then THEIR assorted eight or nine kids who were growing up and wanting time at the cottage as well.  Suddenly there were twelve families fighting over who would get the prime weekends.  My grandparents ended up buying their own cottage on the other side of the lake to avoid all the fighting, which my great-uncles deemed "not fair" (since my grandfather was the only only one of the three well-off enough to afford to do that) and they didn't talk for decades.  I grew up going to my grandparents' cottage and visiting the great-grandparents only for an afternoon or so, but my grandparents have already made it clear they want their cottage sold when they're gone so there's no strife over it.  So far it's been fine - in big part because they've been clear that it's THEIR cottage.  Not owned by the "family," not jointly shared, but THEIRS to do with as they want to.  It sounds off-putting, but I think it helps.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: kudeebee on March 21, 2013, 07:10:03 AM
I think I will also inform people that I will only deal with bookings by email, as I seem to be spending too much time fielding calls.  DH likes the idea of a $100 non-negotiable fee, to be held for bond or cleaning but I think only certain people will be actually called on to pay it.

I would be very careful about the bolded or you will open up a whole new can of worms as word gets out amongst the family and friends about how certain people are favored more than others.  Because it will get out, either on purpose or accidentally, no matter how discreet or careful you think you are being.  Then you will have a whole new set of issues to deal with.

If you are going to collect a cleaning fee, do so from everyone.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: JenJay on March 21, 2013, 07:13:01 AM
I wouldn't call the $100 a cleaning fee because then the relatives will most likely think "Hey, she's got that money to hire a cleaning crew. Why should we do it?" and leave a mess. Then Rusty has to go to the trouble of finding a reputable cleaning company, etc.

I think it's better to call the money a refundable deposit, post the rules, hope for the best and, if there are messes or damages, use the money to get the house back in order. Then you contact the messy people and say "I'm sorry to tell you that, due to the state in which you left my home, you will not be invited back." They'll whine to everyone and word will spread that the Rusty family means business and you'd better darn well take care of the house if you want to enjoy it.

If the home is left in a good state the money can be refunded, which will go a long way to smooth any ruffled feathers over having been charged to begin with. Once they see that they'll get the cash back if they clean up, they'll clean up. And I agree that you should collect the deposit from everyone, at least at first. Otheriwise it isn't so much an "accidents happen" deposit as a "we don't trust you but we'll give you a chance to prove us wrong" deposit.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: TootsNYC on March 21, 2013, 07:20:14 AM
I think I will also inform people that I will only deal with bookings by email, as I seem to be spending too much time fielding calls.  DH likes the idea of a $100 non-negotiable fee, to be held for bond or cleaning but I think only certain people will be actually called on to pay it.

I would be very careful about the bolded or you will open up a whole new can of worms as word gets out amongst the family and friends about how certain people are favored more than others.  Because it will get out, either on purpose or accidentally, no matter how discreet or careful you think you are being.  Then you will have a whole new set of issues to deal with.

If you are going to collect a cleaning fee, do so from everyone.

I agree, especially with the gimme-pig actions and attitudes that your family has demonstrated.

It was interesting to me that you said you "came into some money"--There is some weird thing that people have over money that wasn't "earned" (inheritances, lottery among them).

It's as if they say, "that person didn't earn the money; they don't deserve it; why shouldn't it be mine?" It starts small, with people simply saying of stranger, "I hope they give some of their winnings to charity!" and goes so far as them *arguing with you* over when you can use your very own vacation home.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: Aquamarine on March 21, 2013, 10:08:41 AM
   As someone who grew up with a second vacation home and one who has one herself I can say with 60 years of personal experience stop loaning your home out to anyone.  If they want to vacation, they can rent a home or buy their own, if that's not in the cards, then maybe they don't get to go on vacation; it's not your job to provide a cheap vacation destination for people. 

   Your vacation home is supposed to be a haven, a get away place, an oasis for you to go to.  If you have to worry about cleaning services, monitoring checklists, cleaning services and deciding on "punishments" for those that don't obey the rules (almost everyone) you will not enjoy your home in the way you should.  Seriously, keep it for yourself, it is the only way to keep it so you can truly enjoy the home.  Be firm about this and don't explain yourself when telling people you no longer loan out the property, if they push give them the name and number of a local property rental.  Doing this can make the difference between truly loving your get away spot or coming to hate it and viewing it as a huge pain in your behind. Having a second home in itself still involves some hassles and work, you do not need others adding to this already existing workload.  Once word really gets out about the property people will nag, hound and inundate you with requests to the point where you won't be able to use your own property at the last minute should an opportunity present itself because you promised it to someone else.  Naturally peak vacation times is when everyone and their mother will want to use the home.

  Hire a service or pay a neighbor to stop in every few days and check on the property to be sure all is OK.  Hopefully no one had made copies of the keys you lent them (it happened to my parents).  Changing all the locks is really not a bad idea.

  I have seen this issue from both sides, my parents would loan their property out which the main reason when I bought my beach house years ago I determined that no one else would ever stay there unless they went with me.  There is a peace and serenity in knowing that everything is just as YOU left it, everything put away, cupboards stocked with non-perishables, laundry done, car intact, everything clean, your books and possessions exactly where you left them, the clothes in the closet and toiletries in the bath unmolested.  You should be able to go to your vacation home with packing very little because everything you need has been stocked in the home.  If you loan the property you expect these things to disappear.

  Make this you personal piece of heaven on earth and I'm afraid other people do not figure in making that a reality for you.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: siamesecat2965 on March 21, 2013, 10:08:51 AM
I wouldn't call the $100 a cleaning fee because then the relatives will most likely think "Hey, she's got that money to hire a cleaning crew. Why should we do it?" and leave a mess. Then Rusty has to go to the trouble of finding a reputable cleaning company, etc.

I think it's better to call the money a refundable deposit, post the rules, hope for the best and, if there are messes or damages, use the money to get the house back in order. Then you contact the messy people and say "I'm sorry to tell you that, due to the state in which you left my home, you will not be invited back." They'll whine to everyone and word will spread that the Rusty family means business and you'd better darn well take care of the house if you want to enjoy it.

If the home is left in a good state the money can be refunded, which will go a long way to smooth any ruffled feathers over having been charged to begin with. Once they see that they'll get the cash back if they clean up, they'll clean up. And I agree that you should collect the deposit from everyone, at least at first. Otheriwise it isn't so much an "accidents happen" deposit as a "we don't trust you but we'll give you a chance to prove us wrong" deposit.

I agree. And I can tell you, if someone in my family had a vacation home, and was nice enough to let me use it, I'd not only pay whatever deposit they asked for, but I'd also leave it the way the owners asked.  As someone else said about their home, its simply, wash the sheets and remake the beds, run the dishwashwer and put the dishes away, and so on. It shouldn't take long.

 My mom's cousin had a beach house, which they spent most summers at.  BUt a couple of years, they went away, and we were able to use the house for a week or two at a time. I know my mom was careful to leave it clean, with beds made, etc. for them, and I was cautioned to be careful with their "stuff" as well. And she knew my mom well enough that no money was ever involved. Of course one summer we had my little cousin, who today, in his own words, was a "hellion" so I'm sure that was a tradeoff!
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: Lynn2000 on March 21, 2013, 10:16:42 AM
After reading all the posts I was starting to feel quite depressed.   DH and I were very fortunate last year and came into a large sum of money.   Purchasing the cottage was meant to benefit not only our immediate family, but the wider family, and as I said some close friends.   We are delighted we are able to do this.

I think we will be adopting Jenjay's suggestions as that is exactly what I would expect.    Its a shame we are forced to point out to people the obvious, but I do think now that getting something for nothing might be the problem in itself.

By the way the legal drinking age here is 18 so there are no issues for us as noone under 18 would be staying here alone.  Niece is going to be told that due to her and her friends irresponsible behaviour her access to cottage will be limited to when her parents are there.   

I think I will also inform people that I will only deal with bookings by email, as I seem to be spending too much time fielding calls.  DH likes the idea of a $100 non-negotiable fee, to be held for bond or cleaning but I think only certain people will be actually called on to pay it.

If I may be honest, I don't think it's reading the posts here that should depress you; it's the behavior of the people who have abused your generosity in real life. It's wonderful that you want to share the cottage with family and friends, and you don't need to stop doing that. But establishing some rules, and even an upfront fee required of everyone, is completely reasonable, and not rude or ungenerous in the least.

As I mentioned before, don't think of the rules as punishments because of a few bad apples, but as helpful guides for people who want to treat the property with respect but just don't know exactly what that means to you. For example, if a relative lent me their vacation cabin and didn't mentioned anything about rules, chores, etc., I would probably assume they didn't have any beyond what *I* thought was obvious (like not making a hole in the wall)--I would assume they had that all taken care of "behind the scenes" and that I didn't need to do anything (like laundry or vacuuming) because if I did, surely they would have told me so. And then later if I heard that my relative was mad at me, or was even banning me from using the cabin again because I didn't clean it, I would be really embarrassed, and maybe even upset at the lack of communication.

Note: I am definitely not saying you were at fault here, because it sounds like your previous bad guests were really bad, and they might not have obeyed rules even if you had given them some. But for the in-between people, who want to do the right thing but don't automatically know what that is, rules would probably be really appreciated. And don't present them half-heartedly, as though you don't really want to and don't think they're important; just be straight-forward and upfront about them.

Also, I think it's actually more polite to require the fee (if you have one) upfront from everyone (or at least, everyone upon their first time staying in the cabin). As others have said, you can refund it later if they left the cabin in good condition, and having proved themselves once at the cabin, maybe you can choose to waive the fee for later visits if there continue to be no problems. But, among people who have never stayed at the cabin, I think it could be construed as rude to only ask for the fee upfront from select people, because this means you have to make assumptions about them based on other situations, personality, closeness, etc.. Requiring it of everyone for their first stay is more objective and if someone balks, they won't be able to point out that you let Cousin Susie stay there without paying even though it was her first time (thus forcing you to admit that you plain trust Cousin Susie more).
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: Outdoor Girl on March 21, 2013, 10:21:27 AM
I think I will also inform people that I will only deal with bookings by email, as I seem to be spending too much time fielding calls.  DH likes the idea of a $100 non-negotiable fee, to be held for bond or cleaning but I think only certain people will be actually called on to pay it.

I think what I would do is the first time anyone stays after the new rules are in place is charge everyone the deposit.  Then, once you know which ones are responsible and clean up after themselves, you can tell them the next time, 'I didn't need to use any of the money you left on deposit the last time so I don't need it again this time.  I'll let you know when you need to give me a deposit again.'  And I'd even make the deposit larger for those groups who've already demonstrated lack of respect for your property.

I would make your expectations crytal clear, with penalties for not abiding by them also clearly stated.  And stick to it.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: MindsEye on March 21, 2013, 10:29:22 AM
I am going to POD Rosewater. 

I would stop allowing free use of your holiday home.

The more people you allow to stay there, the less it will be your own little haven and the more it will be like just another hotel.  And I don't think that you want that.

Does that mean you need to cut everyone off and no allow anyone else to use it ever?  Not necessarily.  I think that you can still offer it to family or friends who you are especially close to, and who you know are respectful and trustworthy.  But I would definitely put a stop to the free-for-all, anyone can ask for the use of the property thing that you are trying to manage right now. 

Remember... just because you let some family or friends use your beach house does not mean that you have to let anyone who asks use it!
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: Shoo on March 21, 2013, 10:50:33 AM
So you came into some money and purchased this vacation house.  Now you want to "share" the house with your friends and family.

What if you hadn't come into the money?  What if you'd had to save for years and years.  Sacrificed and scrimped.  And then FINALLY!  You were able to buy your dream cottage.

Would you put up with this kind of nonsense from your friends and family?  I bet you would not. 

I think you should treat this vacation home as if you'd had to save and sacrifice and scrimp for it and it is precious to you.  No way would you let anyone abuse it because you worked HARD for it.

That's how you should treat this home, I think.  It's yours, and you want it treated well.  Don't let people stay there who don't respect your property.

Those who have proven what louts they are should NEVER be allowed to borrow your home again, IMO.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: FoxPaws on March 21, 2013, 11:38:39 AM
I think it would help to remember and to remind others that this is your vacation home - not "the cottage" - your home.

Would you allow anyone who asked to come and stay at your primary residence if you weren't there? Would you have any qualms about rescinding invitations or demanding restitution if your hospitality were abused or your property damaged? The same rules apply here.

It does not matter if you saved for years, came into a sum of money, or the real estate fairy bestowed it upon you in a puff of purple smoke - it's your home and you have every right to decide how it is used. Up to and including saving it strictly for yourselves.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: Spring Water on Sundays on March 21, 2013, 01:56:35 PM
My grandparents own a small lake house. The house is in their name and they pay all the bills and taxes. They are happy to do this. Like you, they bought the house with the intention of sharing it with the family. Anyone in the family can schedule time to use the house. Grandma and Grandpa get first dibs, but after that it's first come first serve.

There is a binder that lives on the coffee table with a sign in/sign out sheet, a detailed checklist for opening the house (because it sits vacant for weeks at times), a detailed checklist for closing the house (wash, dry and put away all dishes, vacuum carpets, take all perishable food with you, unplug appliances, etc). In other words, there is no excuse for anyone to "forget" to keep the house up to Grandma and Grandpa's reasonable standards after they've used it. In addition to leaving the house in the condition in which it was found, most people will bring some laundry detergent, TP or other consumable supplies with them and leave them there for others to use as a token payment for the use of the house.

As far as I know, we have never had a problem with anyone leaving the house a mess. I think having the expectations so clearly written out in an easy-to-follow format has gone a long way in keeping the peace.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: ladyknight1 on March 21, 2013, 03:12:32 PM
I would be very hesitant to let a group of people younger than 21 borrow your vacation home again. I used to work in hospitality, and there were very good and valid reasons not to rent to a group of teenagers or young adults without supervision.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: strawbabies on March 21, 2013, 10:53:06 PM
I wouldn't let anyone who left a mess before use the cottage again. 

Since everyone is now fighting over who gets to use it at a given time, even if you want to use it yourself, I'd stop letting anyone else use it. 

My in-laws had a cabin up in the mountains that they used to let other people use.  Family members tended to do little home repairs and decorating that made it so the place was in even better condition when they left than when they arrived, on top of keeping it clean.  FIL owned a company and invited employees to visit the cabin with their families.  They were absolute pigs and nobody not approved by MIL was ever invited again. 
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: cutejellybeen on March 22, 2013, 08:34:30 AM
Rusty, I think you;ve gotten some great advice here on deposits and rule lists ( which I agree *should* be unnecessary).

I just wanted to say I think its so nice that you bought a place with the intention to share with your family. That is a very kind and generous thing for you to have done. It makes me so sad that you've had to deal with these issues, especially someone telling you that you should let them go for Easter as you can use it whenever you want. Good for you for not backing down for them, and please try not to let them  make you feel badly about that!!
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: Venus193 on March 22, 2013, 09:13:25 AM
Echoing FoxPaws on the issue of the source of the money.  It doesn't matter whether you earned the money, inherited it, or won it in the lottery; the property is yours and didn't come "free."

I think the management company idea is excellent.  That also protects you from something I think was mentioned in another thread long ago:  People who borrow the place for a week and stay longer than they say they will.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: bopper on March 22, 2013, 01:22:24 PM
Sometimes people think:

Free => No value
No value => worthless
Worthless =>not worth spending effort on


or

I am on vacation.
On vacation I don't have to do work.
I am staying at a place other than my own, like a hotel!
Maids clean up hotels.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: cheyne on March 22, 2013, 01:47:58 PM
It doesn't matter where the money for your beach cottage came from, it is yours.  Please stop feeling guilty about having something nicer than the rest of your family(ies).  It's OK for families to have different incomes and lifestyles, not everyone is going to be the same or have access to the same "stuff".

I don't mean to be harsh, but misplaced guilt is the easiest human emotion for others to take advantage of.   

POD to Foxpaws and Shoo.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: mmswm on March 22, 2013, 02:18:51 PM
My parents have a similar problem, but with their own home.  They like to spend the summer months touring the country in their RV, which leaves their gigantic house unoccupied during those times. Lately, they've been loaning their primary home to various relatives who want to come here for vacations.  While their home isn't exactly in prime tourist location, it's huge (5 bedroom, 3 bath, indoor and outdoor kitchen, 30X60 foot pool on a deck nearly the same size as the footprint of the rest of the house, several acres of land), it is centrally located to many South Florida destinations (Upper Keys, Everglades, Miami Beach, Downtown, Coconut Grove are all within an hour of the house unless traffic is horrifically bad). They just ask that their home is left in the same condition it was found in. Sadly, this hasn't always happened. 

I think the posters who've guessed about the attitude that free=we don't have to take care of the place, are right on target.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: magicdomino on March 22, 2013, 02:26:30 PM
Sometimes people think:

Free => No value
No value => worthless
Worthless =>not worth spending effort on


or

I am on vacation.
On vacation I don't have to do work.
I am staying at a place other than my own, like a hotel!
Maids clean up hotels.

This.  It's an attitude that I've run into before.  Rusty, you don't have to charge market rates if you don't want to, and you might be able to get away with a refundable damage deposit, but to make it fair all around, you need to ask people to put something in the pot.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: kherbert05 on March 22, 2013, 03:31:38 PM
I have rented homes, I've stayed at family homes, I've stayed at "private time-shares" (groups of friends owned the home together and divided up weeks), and I own a farm with 9 other family members.

Except for the farm (camping rules there) we always expected to pay for and contact the maid service at the end of our visit. We would clean up our "messes" put up what we had used, wash and fold the sheets* and towels, clean the kitchen and bathrooms, vacume and sweep and if at the beach wash the windows (it was my Dad's hang up) -  and the maid service would do the deep clean.

I actually would be irritated not to have a maid service to contact and pay for - because then I would expect to have to do the deep clean. I also remember liking the instruction sheets because they set out what was allowed and expected.

*We were ALWAYS instructed to NOT put the sheets back on the bed. They wanted to be absolutely sure the sheets were freshly laundered. Dad (former Marine) and Mom (scientist) had us fold up all the sheets and towels. We got refunds on our cleaning deposits with the rentals because we didn't just wash the stuff and throw it on an stripped down bed. (The kitchen table was scrubbed and dried and the folded laundry was put there because putting it on the uncovered mattress wasn't acceptable to my parents.)
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: CrazyDaffodilLady on March 22, 2013, 04:12:38 PM
When my family rented a vacation condo, there was a big sign on the refrigerator listing what we were expected to do before leaving.  We appreciated this as it allowed us to plan our departure schedule and ensured we didn't forget anything.

We were expected to put dirty dishes in the dish washer and turn it on and to strip the beds and leave the bedding in the laundry room.  A cleaning crew came in to finish up after guests left.  Expecting guests to wait around while the washer / dryer / dishwater cycle through could delay departure by hours, and that seems unreasonable. 

 :-\ We were expected to take our trash to a disposal about a quarter of a mile away, up a steep hill.  Unless you were an athlete, that meant putting it in your car.  There was no cleaning service while the condo was occupied, but there was an envelope on the counter for guests to tip the cleaners. 
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: rose red on March 22, 2013, 04:18:20 PM
My family stayed at a relative's empty apartment during a visit to home country.  We cleaned and left a thank you gift.  When she called us about a month later, it was sad how grateful she was that we did that.  She informed us that we are welcome any time, but mentioned how certain other relatives were not.  I guess she'd been burned by them.

OP, I hope you do some of the things suggested by previous posters.  My recommendation is never let them use the cottage again, but that's not my call.  Letting them get away with the disrespect is telling them it's OK to treat you that way.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: sparksals on March 22, 2013, 06:06:11 PM
When my family rented a vacation condo, there was a big sign on the refrigerator listing what we were expected to do before leaving.  We appreciated this as it allowed us to plan our departure schedule and ensured we didn't forget anything.

We were expected to put dirty dishes in the dish washer and turn it on and to strip the beds and leave the bedding in the laundry room.  A cleaning crew came in to finish up after guests left.  Expecting guests to waiit around while the washer / dryer / dishwater cycle through could delay departure by hours, and that seems unreasonable. 

 :-\ We were expected to take our trash to a disposal about a quarter of a mile away, up a steep hill.  Unless you were an athlete, that meant putting it in your car.  There was no cleaning service while the condo was occupied, but there was an envelope on the counter for guests to tip the cleaners.


I think both are perfectly reasonable.  You can time the dish washer with the other duties before leaving and it only takes a second to drive up the hill to take the garbage.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: JenJay on March 22, 2013, 06:40:23 PM
When my family rented a vacation condo, there was a big sign on the refrigerator listing what we were expected to do before leaving.  We appreciated this as it allowed us to plan our departure schedule and ensured we didn't forget anything.

We were expected to put dirty dishes in the dish washer and turn it on and to strip the beds and leave the bedding in the laundry room.  A cleaning crew came in to finish up after guests left.  Expecting guests to waiit around while the washer / dryer / dishwater cycle through could delay departure by hours, and that seems unreasonable. 

 :-\ We were expected to take our trash to a disposal about a quarter of a mile away, up a steep hill.  Unless you were an athlete, that meant putting it in your car.  There was no cleaning service while the condo was occupied, but there was an envelope on the counter for guests to tip the cleaners.


I think both are perfectly reasonable.  You can time the dish washer with the other duties before leaving and it only takes a second to drive up the hill to take the garbage.

Yes, we would strip the beds and start the laundry as soon as we got up and run the dishwasher after breakfast. Everything was dry and ready to be put away by the time we were finished packing, loading the car & giving the house its final once-over. If I was paying $$$ to stay I might not appreciate having to clean so much before leaving, but for a free or nearly-free stay? And for a friend or relative? No problem!
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: Corvid on March 23, 2013, 01:43:03 PM
My grandparents ended up buying their own cottage on the other side of the lake to avoid all the fighting, which my great-uncles deemed "not fair" (since my grandfather was the only only one of the three well-off enough to afford to do that) and they didn't talk for decades.

You would think your great-uncles would have been pleased that there was less competition for the family cottage.

People don't always make sense.


I'm not as nice as the OP.  I would have been calling brother-in-law after I walked in the door and found the cottage foodless and dirty, asked why he thought it was okay to leave things in this state for his brother and me to walk into, and state firmly that I never expected to come in there and be his maid service ever again.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: Emmy on March 26, 2013, 03:08:57 AM
Thanks for some good ideas so far, I like the idea of a cleanup fee (for those who I know won't leave it clean), and I think I'll look into a cleaning service in the area that I can call on.

DH spoke to his niece about the damage and she at first denied all knowledge, but then said her father would fix the hole in the wall (he's more likely to walk on water than fix it), so we said we'd fix it but she should contact the friend responsible and get some money from them (so far heard nothing).

I do still want to allow people to use it, perhaps I'll draft an email to be sent upon requests along the lines of some of the posters suggestions.

I don't really want to charge people but we certainly don't want to be taken advantage of.

DH has already decided to lock some of the cupboards for our personal stuff.

As others have suggested, a rule list may let people know how you expect the cottage to be treated and may be a reminder to them to do so.  However, if these people are inconsiderate, I wouldn't bet on them following it.  I also like the suggestion of charging a deposit/clean-up fee and using a management company to do it.  That way friends and family get to enjoy the cabin for minimal expense and you have one less headache and can know your cottage is clean for the next visitor. 

Since you don't want to charge a fee and you can't make people be respectful of your property, I think you are left with a few options and none of them are ideal.  You could put up a rule list and hope for the best.  If people continue to leave a mess and treat the cottage with disrespect, the choices left would be to either close it off to everybody, close it off to the few who have abused the privilege, or put up with how people act.  I think you wanting to loan your cottage to family and friends is wonderful and generous.  Like another poster, I also get the impression you feel a little guilty/or you must share your good fortune with your family.  On the same note, it seems like your family may be jealous of your good fortune and feel entitled to it (hence the arguing over the cottage).

Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: fluffy on March 26, 2013, 11:21:41 AM
I agree with all of the PPs that you should charge a cleaning fee to everyone. If you feel bad about taking the fee from people who leave the cottage fairly clean, you could always put it in a kitty for doing upgrades or making purchases that will benefit everyone (board games, books, etc for the house). Or you could use it to purchase things like toilet paper and coffee (you know, the essentials :D).

I would consider sending out an email that, going forward, anyone who causes damage and doesn't fix it, or who gives you guff about the schedule, will be banned for a set time. Maybe six months for people who argue about the schedule and a year for people who cause damages? Just be consistent with your enforcement. Eventually, when people start losing access, they'll learn not to give you a hard time about something you're doing out of the goodness of your own hear.

Personally, I would probably stop letting people use the house.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: HoneyBee42 on March 27, 2013, 07:06:21 AM
I'm in the camp that finds it rather difficult to bend my brain around the fact that the OP wants to continue to offer the use of her property after repeated instances of having that generosity abused (here I am including not just the BIL and niece but also everyone who persists in asking after being told 'no, already booked').

If I were in the OP's shoes, the BIL would definitely have been confronted about his abuse of the generosity, and the niece would have been informed that since *SHE* is the family member who requested use of the property that *SHE* would be responsible for the repairs which would be performed by a reliable small-jobs contractor.  And then all and sundry would be informed that the offer of sharing had been permanently revoked due to repeated abuse of generosity and lack of appreciation of that generosity.

For me, it'd be a sufficient hill to die on that I'd go so far as to take niece to small claims court if she didn't pay up.  As a bonus, any resulting family rift would result in fewer people asking to have the opportunity to wreck my property.   >:D  If that's too much, I'd just go ahead and get the contractor to do the job (because any slipshod work will ruin enjoyment since you'll have the "scars" to remind you) and then present niece with the bill and let it be known that until niece ponies up the cash for the repair of the damage that *NO ONE* will stay there, and that *only* niece may be the one that presents the payment so no one thinks that you're collecting on the debt more than once.  Whether niece gets the cash from the person who actually did the damage or not is immaterial, IMO. 

Barring that, if there's really no way around continually offering up the generosity to be abused, I do agree w/ others that a property management company (which understands that the owners have right of use at *any* time, and any non-owner may be 'bumped' with an agreed upon lead time) and cleaning fee and that whoever signs for use is also responsible for repairs (again, by small-jobs contractor, no DIY).
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: GrammarNerd on March 27, 2013, 08:48:23 AM
I like this ^^.

If niece was old enough to go there without daddy, and was old enough to invite friends, then she's old enough to manage those friends and to accept responsibility for the damage that *her invited friends* did to your property and pay for proper repairs.  OP, look at it this way: she and her friends saved money by using your cottage for free.  Now's the time to take that money they saved and make it right with you.  Maybe she needs to save it, but she needs to make it right.  She's a grown-up, and she should start acting like one.  (refer back to first sentence of this paragraph.)

OP, I think we all get that you want to be generous with your family.  But the thing is....they don't appreciate it, and they don't see it as you being generous.  They see it as if they're entitled to it, which they're not.  So that idea of being generous goes right out the window.  What if you'd put the money into a program where you got to go on a cruise once a year?  Would you feel the need to give away your yearly cruise just because you had entitled relatives?  I hope not.

I like the idea of letting all and sundry know a few ground rules.  First, that you have, in good faith, lent the cottage to various relatives.  You were trying to be nice and let them use it for free, yet your thank you from them was that people ate all of your food, left your home filthy, and in one case actually damaged your property.  Ask the question--point blank--'how is this even remotely okay?'  And then some people have started arguing with you about when they think they should use your property.  Again, how is this okay?

I would start harassing the niece about the damages.  Tell her you want quotes.  Or tell her you have a quote and you expect the money by X date.  Like I said, if she's old enough to stay there alone, she's old enough to accept responsibility.  Welcome to adulthood, honey.

And again, OP, I know you want to be nice, but the thing is that your family has no respect for you or your belongings.  Start being a little bit less nice and they'll either leave you alone or 'man up'.  And note: when I say less nice, I mean not rolling over and accommodating their every whim.  You can be perfectly polite, but you can call them on their entitlement.  "You expect me to give up MY cabin for Easter?  Yeah, it's mine, and I can go there whenever I want, and I want Easter!  That IS why I BOUGHT the cabin...duh....so I could use it whenever *I* wanted to."
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: sammycat on March 27, 2013, 08:54:51 AM
I'm in the camp that finds it rather difficult to bend my brain around the fact that the OP wants to continue to offer the use of her property after repeated instances of having that generosity abused (here I am including not just the BIL and niece but also everyone who persists in asking after being told 'no, already booked').

If I were in the OP's shoes, the BIL would definitely have been confronted about his abuse of the generosity, and the niece would have been informed that since *SHE* is the family member who requested use of the property that *SHE* would be responsible for the repairs which would be performed by a reliable small-jobs contractor.  And then all and sundry would be informed that the offer of sharing had been permanently revoked due to repeated abuse of generosity and lack of appreciation of that generosity.

For me, it'd be a sufficient hill to die on that I'd go so far as to take niece to small claims court if she didn't pay up.  As a bonus, any resulting family rift would result in fewer people asking to have the opportunity to wreck my property.   >:D  If that's too much, I'd just go ahead and get the contractor to do the job (because any slipshod work will ruin enjoyment since you'll have the "scars" to remind you) and then present niece with the bill and let it be known that until niece ponies up the cash for the repair of the damage that *NO ONE* will stay there, and that *only* niece may be the one that presents the payment so no one thinks that you're collecting on the debt more than once.  Whether niece gets the cash from the person who actually did the damage or not is immaterial, IMO. 

Barring that, if there's really no way around continually offering up the generosity to be abused, I do agree w/ others that a property management company (which understands that the owners have right of use at *any* time, and any non-owner may be 'bumped' with an agreed upon lead time) and cleaning fee and that whoever signs for use is also responsible for repairs (again, by small-jobs contractor, no DIY).

I totally agree with this, particularly the part I bolded.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: Texas Mom on March 27, 2013, 12:40:18 PM
The op has gotten a lot of good advice here.

Here's my .02, which echoes what others have said:

Find a property management company.  Talk to one & see how they suggest you handle your situation.  Believe me, they've seen situations like yours before and are equipped to handle it.

Then, you can go back to enjoying YOUR cottage without the aggravation and worry of playing maintenance, housekeeping and booking agent.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: Rusty on March 27, 2013, 05:51:16 PM
Thanks for all the good advice.   

DH and I have decided that, as we seriously underestimated the amount of angst loaning out our cottage had the potential to cause, that we have probably created a monster.   DH has decided (I was more reluctant) to restrict loanouts to our immediate family for the time being, to create a breathing space while we re-think the whole process.   I'm sure we'll be able to come up with a more suitable arrangement, ie., maybe a management company.

I think a lot of people are right to say that perhaps there is an amount of jealousy attached to our good fortune, and that certain people feel entitled to abuse our offer of a free holiday because of this. 

As to the BIL and niece concerned (same family), DH is going to speak to the family and tell them point blank that we were not at all impressed with their behaviour.  Knowing the BIL though it will just be brushed off as a "storm in a teacup".  Going to be interesting next time they ask to use the cottage (not happening).

Not everyone has left the cottage in poor condition and thats why I was reluctant to act, but DH thinks a total ban at present is the answer, then later on we can loan out only to trusted family & friends.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: JenJay on March 27, 2013, 06:14:40 PM
Sounds like a good plan!
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: Lindee on March 27, 2013, 06:47:44 PM
Good idea, I hope you are able to enjoy your cottage without all this hassle in future. You sound like a lovely couple and don't deserve the treatment you have been  getting.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: PastryGoddess on March 27, 2013, 07:05:47 PM
People's responses to your restrictions on the use of the cottage should determine your future course. Oh to be a fly on the wall :)
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: Amara on March 27, 2013, 07:13:23 PM
I am sure, OP, that this decision is making you both breathe easier. Relax and enjoy your cottage and the lack of stress.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: doodlemor on March 27, 2013, 07:28:54 PM
You and DH have made a wise decision, Rusty.  You can now enjoy your cottage without all the stress.

I also think that some of your relatives are jealous of your winnings.  When you won the $$$$ it changed the family dynamics, and it may take awhile for some of your relatives to get accustomed to the idea of you and DH being so "well off."
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: Lady Snowdon on March 27, 2013, 08:14:57 PM
Rusty, I think you guys made a good decision, and I think my grandparents and my uncle could sympathize with your torn feelings on who can use your cottage. 

Growing up, my grandparents owned a timeshare in AwesomeSkiingCity, and owned a condo in LessKnownSkiingCity.  The condo was free to anyone in the family; you just had to ask ahead of time, bring the sheets/towels/etc up with you, wash them and bring them back to my grandparents when you were done.  My grandparents had to keep a separate scheduling book open with every use of the condo blocked off, and they always made sure to block off the weeks that they wanted first.  It was still very hard for them to visit the condo as much as they wanted to though; all of us enjoy skiing, and free accommodation at a ski resort is nothing to sneer at! 

Around the time I was in college, my grandparents either sold or gave the condo to my uncle and his family, and got rid of their timeshare.  It was a huge adjustment for the rest of the family.  The condo is no longer open to anyone who wants to use it (I think some friends of the family may have caused some damage one time, as well).  My uncle's family uses it almost every weekend in the winter, and they use it quite a bit in the summer as well.  There are a couple of weeks throughout the year that some people are allowed to use it.  It probably took a couple of years before everyone in the family had adjusted to the idea that our extended family doesn't have a "free" place to stay at a ski resort, and I know my uncle faced some opposition in wanting to have the place free for his family, since he pays for it all.   
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: MrsVandy on March 28, 2013, 02:59:56 AM
I've been following this thread for a bit, and I think you have made the right call for now Rusty. Its unfortunate that some bad apples have spoiled it for others.
If in the future you feel like sharing thatís 100% up to you. But make sure you lend on your terms.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: rose red on March 28, 2013, 10:26:24 AM
Your husband is right.  You are trying to make people happy, but entitled people don't care or respect your happiness or property.  Please work on how to stop feeling guilty for your good fortune.  There are always people richer or poorer than us.  As long as relatives are not starving in the streets, it's all good.  If they feel jealous, then they should have cleaned your cottage to continue years of free vacations.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: siamesecat2965 on March 28, 2013, 10:54:05 AM
I've been following this thread for a bit, and I think you have made the right call for now Rusty. Its unfortunate that some bad apples have spoiled it for others.
If in the future you feel like sharing thatís 100% up to you. But make sure you lend on your terms.

I think so too. You letting them use your cottage is a privilege, not an entitlement, and if there are some who can't abide by the rules, then everyone suffers. And that's the way it is. It's yours to do with as you wish, whether it be to lend it out, or not.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: FoxPaws on March 28, 2013, 05:51:39 PM
I suspect that the people you really want to have use of your vacation home - i.e. the ones who appreciate what a generous offer it is and clean up after themselves - will understand completely when you have to shut it down for awhile.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: kudeebee on March 28, 2013, 09:42:05 PM
Thanks for all the good advice.   

DH and I have decided that, as we seriously underestimated the amount of angst loaning out our cottage had the potential to cause, that we have probably created a monster.   DH has decided (I was more reluctant) to restrict loanouts to our immediate family for the time being, to create a breathing space while we re-think the whole process.   I'm sure we'll be able to come up with a more suitable arrangement, ie., maybe a management company.

I think a lot of people are right to say that perhaps there is an amount of jealousy attached to our good fortune, and that certain people feel entitled to abuse our offer of a free holiday because of this. 

As to the BIL and niece concerned (same family), DH is going to speak to the family and tell them point blank that we were not at all impressed with their behaviour.  Knowing the BIL though it will just be brushed off as a "storm in a teacup".  Going to be interesting next time they ask to use the cottage (not happening).

Not everyone has left the cottage in poor condition and thats why I was reluctant to act, but DH thinks a total ban at present is the answer, then later on we can loan out only to trusted family & friends.

As per the bolded--that really doesn't come as a surprise, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.  I hope DH is going to ask for money for the repairs from niece.  I would not let her get by with this and they would definitely be on the "not going to use for a long, long time" list.

I also think your dh has made a good decision.  It will get easier every time that you say "no" plus you now have the peace of  mind of knowing that whenever you go to your cottage, it will be in good condition and everything that you need will be there.  You can also go whenever YOU want, even on a moment's notice, and that is the way that it should be, after all it is your cottage!
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: HGolightly on March 29, 2013, 01:11:43 PM
Our family has had a cottage for many years and from the get go, my parents have graciously invited family and friends to stay as their guests when my parents are there. Very few  people have been loaned the cottage that would not leave it as they found it. Many extended relatives have felt the were entitled to borrow it but my mom always reminds them it is a privilege and the names on the title are the only ones entitled to it. There is a checklist that even my brother and I adhere to. Yes my mom is a neat freak but they have put in too many years of hard work, sweat and money to not reap the rewards or have it destroyed by the nuts on the family tree.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: mmswm on March 29, 2013, 05:57:03 PM
Is it really bad of me for wanting to get some popcorn and soda the day the OP comes back to tell us how this discussion went over with BIL and niece?  Well, if she tells us, that is. :)
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: Erich L-ster on March 29, 2013, 06:22:09 PM
I would allow family who cleaned up after themselves, stocked or replaced food & toiletries they used to continue to use the place when it's available. Family members who abuse the place would be cut off.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: rain on March 29, 2013, 06:29:04 PM
Is it really bad of me for wanting to get some popcorn and soda the day the OP comes back to tell us how this discussion went over with BIL and niece?  Well, if she tells us, that is. :)


well - that makes two of us
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: Otterpop on March 29, 2013, 10:45:34 PM
Is it really bad of me for wanting to get some popcorn and soda the day the OP comes back to tell us how this discussion went over with BIL and niece?  Well, if she tells us, that is. :)


well - that makes two of us

three  ;D
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: VorFemme on March 30, 2013, 07:02:56 PM
Extra butter on the popcorn, please......virtual popcorn tastes so good that way!

Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: sparksals on March 30, 2013, 11:28:14 PM
Extra butter on the popcorn, please......virtual popcorn tastes so good that way!


DAng.. wrong website.. I was looking for the like button!
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: Jocelyn on March 31, 2013, 05:58:24 PM
Thanks for all the good advice.   

DH and I have decided that, as we seriously underestimated the amount of angst loaning out our cottage had the potential to cause, that we have probably created a monster.   

If you do decide to let others use it, I'd call the fee a 'maintenance' fee. Emphasize it's not just a cleaning crew, but someone who will make sure the house is properly weatherized so there will be no damage until the new visitors arrive. Personally, I'd feel terrible if I didn't do the weatherizing properly as a guest and $100 would be cheap at twice the price to have someone else do the mopping and scrubbing, plus the weatherizing, and know that my friends wouldn't be asking me to reimburse them for home damages due to my ineptness at winterizing.
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: VorFemme on March 31, 2013, 06:17:11 PM
I second the winterizing fee - my family used to use Grandma's house as a "guest house" after she went into a nursing home....until an early winter freeze (unusual that far south in Texas) the week after Thanksgiving froze the toilet when no one had thought to "winterize" it....and no one realized it until closer to Christmas.....house was NOT in good shape......
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: mstigerlily on March 31, 2013, 07:06:11 PM
what if it was like a deposit, and the people who leave the place looking as good or better than it was when they arrived get it back, and those who don't, don't?

Okay, as I type that it seems like a lot of added work for you...
Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: johelenc1 on March 31, 2013, 11:36:48 PM
It seems agreed that charging a modest fee is the simplest and most fair thing to do.  I don't think it matters if someone has left the house in perfect shape before.  You simply declare a new rule. From this point on the fee is $X.  For everyone, no matter what. 

For the record, even if I had left the place in perfect condition prior to this, I would have absolutely no problem paying a small fee to use your cabin.  Because I am a reasonable person, I would recognize that getting to stay there at all is a privilege and I would just be grateful I'm getting the chance.  Anyone who would argue otherwise is basically just a jerk.

Title: Re: Holiday Cottage Moochers
Post by: doodlemor on May 23, 2013, 10:47:13 PM
Thanks for all the good advice.   

DH and I have decided that, as we seriously underestimated the amount of angst loaning out our cottage had the potential to cause, that we have probably created a monster.   DH has decided (I was more reluctant) to restrict loanouts to our immediate family for the time being, to create a breathing space while we re-think the whole process.   I'm sure we'll be able to come up with a more suitable arrangement, ie., maybe a management company.

I think a lot of people are right to say that perhaps there is an amount of jealousy attached to our good fortune, and that certain people feel entitled to abuse our offer of a free holiday because of this. 

As to the BIL and niece concerned (same family), DH is going to speak to the family and tell them point blank that we were not at all impressed with their behaviour.  Knowing the BIL though it will just be brushed off as a "storm in a teacup".  Going to be interesting next time they ask to use the cottage (not happening).

Not everyone has left the cottage in poor condition and thats why I was reluctant to act, but DH thinks a total ban at present is the answer, then later on we can loan out only to trusted family & friends.

Just reviving this thread to ask for another update, especially now that the official summer season will be starting with Memorial Day. 

How has your new policy been working out?