What to Look For in a Vacation Rental Cleaning Contract

May 20 2021
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Get tips on how to use Hostfully to optimize your vacation rental business and make more profit.


What’s in this article?

Once your Airbnb business reaches a substantial size, outsourcing cleaning operations becomes necessary. This is especially true if you operate on an Airbnb arbitrage model. But subcontracting vacation rental cleaning to a company or individual requires a clear agreement and understanding of the services and standards provided. If not, you’re taking a chance with cleaning, which might impact the guest experience. That’s why you need a cleaning contract in place. Here are a few key elements to look for (or have included) in a solid vacation rental cleaning contract.

Cleaning equipment

One of the first things to establish in your Airbnb cleaning contract is the question of cleaning supplies. This may even be something that you discuss before you subcontract vacation rental cleaning to a third party. Usually, cleaning companies will bring the majority of their supplies with them, but hosts must sometimes supply pieces of equipment such as vacuum cleaners.

Types of supplies

Generally, cleaners will want to work with products and supplies they are familiar with. It saves them time since they know how those products perform. Cleaners also like to stick with products they know. It simplifies what they have to bring with them from one site to another. You might not be the only job they work on that day. If they have to cater to each client’s personal product preference, it means they have to travel with multiple sets of supplies. 

If you’re striving to be an eco-conscious vacation rental company, you might have to customize the contract. Specifically, you’ll need to supply the products and store them on-site. The key here is to outline which party takes care of supplies and how they are managed. Don’t be shocked if the cleaners add a cancellation fee clause in the event they arrive on-site and don’t have the supplies they need. Contracts work both ways.

Side note: You can simplify the process of ordering supplies with vacation rental management automation tools.

Standard property appearance

One tip from vacation rental experts for boosting revenue is creating a good first impression (which leads to great reviewss). It’s therefore essential to ensure your property is ship-shape before guests arrive. A great way to ensure this crucial quality control step is to add a Standard Property Appearance document in the vacation rental cleaning contract. The Standard Property Appearance demonstrates precisely how the cleaners must leave the property once done. It includes everything from photographs of where item placement, details on how cleaners should make the beds, and even how the towels get hung. 

According to VRMintel, the Standard Property Appearance is “one of the vacation rental company’s most important documents.” And so you want to include as much information as possible. The more detailed you can be, the easier it will be for your cleaners to follow guidelines and meet expectations. What’s more, if they fail to do something, you can highlight it in the document and hold them accountable.

Side note: Software solutions like Properly can facilitate quality controls for you, the manager, and the cleaning staff. What’s great is that tools like this integrate into your Property Management Platform (PMP) (like Hostfully), making it easy to manage this crucial step. 

Service standards

Another indispensable element of your vacation rental cleaning contract is the Service Standards document. This is essentially a run-through of the different services you expect your contractor to carry out. These services may include:

  • Pre-guest clean, mid-stay clean, departure clean, and an annual or bi-annual deep-clean. 
  • Property inspection for damage and the reporting of any broken or missing items.
  • Stock inventory and stock count and the replenishing of low stock. 
  • Light maintenance such as changing smoke alarm batteries or light bulbs. 

This document must outline exactly what each cleaning service involves. Most hosts will request a standard cleaning package that involves cleaning before guests arrive with a possible mid-stay clean for extended stays. But you’ll also want to state how quickly cleaners should let you know about any damage or missing items as well as any stock issues. To ensure they tell you as soon as possible, explicitly state the need for prompt notification in the vacation rental cleaning contract. 

Emergency call-outs

When choosing a cleaning company, you’ll want to address the question of emergency cleaning requests for bookings that come last minute. Are they prepared to come out on impromptu visits, and how much notice will they require? 

Whatever the agreement, get it down in the vacation rental cleaning contract so you can hold them to it when the situation arises. This section should also address the communication protocol for last-minute bookings, rescheduling, or cancellations. 

Deadlines for invoices and payments

Establish the deadline for invoices submitted by the company. Will they send them on a weekly or monthly basis? As for payments, make sure it’s clearly stated in the vacation rental cleaning contract when they can expect the money to arrive. 

Side note: Cleaning costs are tax-deductible expenses, so keep track of them. Claiming these expenses is a great way to recoup any taxes you owe. Both cleaning supplies and cleaning services are also tax-deductible. You can even claim any fees associated with your cleaning management software. If you want to automate a portion of your bookkeeping so that nothing gets missed, don’t forget about Zapier for vacation rental managers or the features of other software you may already use.

Disputes and contract termination

When you subcontract vacation rental cleaning to third parties, there’s always the possibility that the company won’t be up to scratch. Therefore, it’s essential to include a clause in the vacation rental cleaning contract about resolving disputes. For poor cleaning output or deficiency, you’ll want to have a provision about ending the contract, how much written notice you’ll give the company in such a situation, and what will happen to any pending payments.

Fees and additional charges

The cleaning company’s fee structure should be covered in the vacation rental cleaning contract. Most importantly, it’ll list if they charge per visit or per hour. In most cases, they’ll want to visit the property and decide a base price before agreeing to the contract. Fees written down in the contract will lower the likelihood of any attempts to re-negotiate later on. 

Your Airbnb cleaning contract should also cover any potential scenarios that could arise and result in the cleaning company charging additional fees. For example, quick turnarounds or last-minute call-outs.

Vacation rental cleaning checklist

Some cleaning companies will already have a vacation rental cleaning checklist in place, but you may want to create your own as an extension of your Airbnb hosting checklist. Including a checklist as part of your vacation rental cleaning contract helps methodically organize cleaning and ensure nothing gets missed. It also makes it straightforward to resolve any potential disputes should you try and terminate the contract due to poor performance.

Automation and accepting cleaning jobs

If you’re considering hiring a cleaning company to offload some of your work, don’t forget about software that’ll help you reduce your workload even further. You can also automate the cleaning process using software such as EZCare, VRScheduler, TurnoverBnB, Properly or Breezeway. These software solutions sync your reservation calendars and automatically assign cleaning tasks. However, it’s essential to validate that the cleaning company can receive notifications from the software you use (i.e., text, email). In some areas, cleaners are self-employed and don’t use emails, so making sure they can receive communications from the tech tools you use is crucial. 

Airbnb cleaning contract: get it all in writing 

Subcontracting vacation rental cleaning is one easy way to speed up business operations. Don’t forget that the points outlined above are the basics. So if your properties have something unique about them, you’ll need to create specific conditions in your vacation rental cleaning contract.