We rented our three-bedroom Spanish holiday home to a long-married couple.
We duly made up the double bed in the master bedroom.
After their departure, we discovered that one of the single beds had also been slept in.
A CD that had not been put away was entitled ‘Melancholy Moments’.
A RENTER’S DILEMMA?
ALONG with us, most of our foreign (Dutch, English, Irish, Belgian) friends in our Spanish mountain village are owners of holiday homes that we rent out to holiday-makers (walkers, bird-watchers, sun-worshippers) throughout the year. We enjoy comparing notes on the habits of our renters, bemoaning the fact that they use so many towels, keep the heating running and the windows open during the winter months; and, despite our best efforts, have a tendency to find faults.
We entered the holiday-home rental market in September 2011. Our first booking was from a couple who had obviously done a lot of research on what ‘extras’ were available at our property. We had advertised a dishwasher (they never used it), satellite TV (that showed only Spanish or German programmes, and they wanted to watch the BBC News), a barbecue (it rusted out during the rains, so I had just chucked it), and glorious mountain views from the roof terrace (which they considered to be a bit sparse, and could we provide more sun-loungers on it? Yes, if we sacrificed the table and chairs for six, to make room for extra sun-loungers). And what about a tray, so that it would be easier to carry up the ingredients for making a barbecue dinner … oops, sorry, forgot: the barbecue went in the bin.
When you have people who are paying good money to stay in your holiday home, you try to go overboard to accommodate their every whim. But you can’t please all of the people all of the time. You also wonder what chemistry is going on between them.
Take our first renters: he spent most of the day at the semi-private swimming pool (a five-minute walk away) in the village, while she read books in the shade of the downstairs patio at the house. After they left, and we went to clean up, we were surprised to see that one of the single beds had obviously been slept in – despite the fact we hadn’t even made up either of the twin beds with sheets, duvet covers or pillowcases. A Compact Disc entitled ‘Melancholy Moments’ (from our collection of classic CDs) was still in the CD player.
Our next renters were newly-weds on their honeymoon … and, when they departed, we discovered that one of the single beds in the second bedroom had also been slept in. (Perhaps, like me, he was a snorer, and his new wife couldn’t put up with it one night).
The most frustrating experience was when I received a call at 1:00 in the afternoon, to ask if our house was available for the next five days. “Yes,” I said, “We just have to go up to the house to get it ready for you.”
“Great. My husband will be arriving in the village at 3:00, and he’ll give you a call when he gets there.”
We duly rushed up to the house to sweep, mop floors, make up beds and lay out towels, and to buy our prospective tenants a ‘welcome pack’ of groceries. Coincidentally, our neighbour was also at his rental house, sweeping, mopping floors and making up beds.
“Have you got a tenant this afternoon as well?” we asked.
“Yes,” replied Paul. “The husband is biking over here, and giving me a call when he arrives, at about 3:00.”
At 3:00, we had finished cleaning at our house, and I went over to Paul’s to say goodbye. His mobile rang – it was the biking husband, ready to come up and see his rental house.
At 3:30, I got a text message: “Hi Carolyn, we have decided on another apartment in Montejaque. Best regards, Lisa.”
I texted back a somewhat sarcastic reply, saying I knew which house it was, as it was directly opposite ours … and did she want the welcome pack of groceries I had bought for them?
“What a coincidence,” Lisa wrote back. “If I had known, my husband could have come and looked at your house, too, and made a decision as to which one we wanted. And, no thanks, we don’t want the groceries.”
So, bread and butter, milk, cheese, ham and a bottle of wine constituted our dinner that evening.
We have our house listed with four holiday home rental websites, and we average about one enquiry every week or so. In my response to a potential tenant, I go into great detail of the facilities available, both in the house and in the village, and I wait for a reply. Any reply would be appreciated … even if it is to say that they have found another property. But, from approximately 20 enquiries received this year, only one has ever written back to let me know this. I was so grateful that I wrote back to thank him for letting me know! I’m almost at the point where I want to write: “It’s 350€ for the week; take it or leave it”.
Last week, we rented a gite in a tiny village in France for 600€ for the week; I was tempted to leave a note in the guest book: Next time, come rent our house in Spain: nearly half the price, nearly twice the size … and we provide the pool and beach towels.
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