Welcome to Your Airbnb, the Cleaning Fees Are $143 and You’ll Still Have to Wash the Linens | Kanebridge News
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Welcome to Your Airbnb, the Cleaning Fees Are $143 and You’ll Still Have to Wash the Linens

Growing to-do lists despite soaring charges stress travelers; ‘This kind of changes the whole vibe’

By PREETIKA RANA
Mon, Sep 19, 2022 8:51amGrey Clock 4 min

Christina Marie spent her last vacation day fretting over finishing her chores. Vacuum? Check. Laundry? Check. Dishes? Check.

Her Airbnb in South Lake Tahoe, Calif., had an exhaustive list of cleaning requirements and she wasn’t going to let her guest rating dip over it. Cooking breakfast for her family of six would mean more cleaning, so everyone ate bananas and Pop-Tarts that morning. When one of the kids reached for a cup after she loaded the dishwasher, Ms. Marie roared: “Put the cup away. No more, no more!”

“You don’t want to wake up at 6 a.m. to do chores when you’re on vacation,” said Ms. Marie, a Sacramento school teacher. “This kind of changes the whole vibe. It’s stressful.”

Longtime Airbnb users are angry about lengthy—and, sometimes, absurd—chores set out by some Airbnb hosts. Hosts say they need guests to do more as Covid-19 has changed sanitation expectations and inflation has boosted the cost of cleaners.

Airbnbs have been in high demand so hosts are getting away with charging higher nightly rates and tacking on bigger cleaning fees. Guests have been striking back on social media, complaining about being asked to mow the lawn or feed farm animals.

Many travelers spent part of their summer breaks deep cleaning vacation rentals to avoid extra charges and bad reviews. Some are switching back to hotels to avoid the hassle and the clean-up fees that can be hundreds of dollars.

Melissa Muzyczka was planning a romantic getaway at a lakeside cottage in Canada’s Quebec province, but ended up booking a spa hotel after reading through the chores. The rental property didn’t have garbage pick-up so guests were expected to take their rubbish with them when they left.

That’s not how she wanted to spend her first vacation in two-and-half years.

“My husband and I would be freaking out, carrying trash and trying to locate dumpsters,” said Ms. Muzyczka, a 31-year-old graphic designer.

She posted a TikTok video about her experience. It went viral, drawing about 5,000 comments.

Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. channeled this angst in an online ad this summer with a family entering a spooky rental with a long list scrawled on the wall: “NO WHISTLING…NO FEET ON FURNITURE…NO SANDWICHES.”

“Wow, that’s a lot of rules,” says the renter in the commercial.

Guests say they are frustrated because the cleaning fee has gone up while hosts have tacked on extra chores. They say some hosts don’t list cleaning requirements online, surprising guests after they book.

Necole Kane wasn’t expecting to do a thing. Her $299 Airbnb in Sedona, Ariz., came with a $375 cleaning fee. Then the host piled on a laundry list of chores.

Ms. Kane said she spent so much time running around cleaning like a maid that she was 15 minutes late for a canyon tour.

“It was too much,” said the 41-year-old founder of a feminine wellness brand. “I wanted to leave a negative review so bad.”

She still left a five-star review because she felt bad marking down the property. Its views of the area’s famous red rocks and the visits from wild bunnies, coyotes and javelinas made her stay “magical,” she wrote on Airbnb.

Airbnb lets hosts set their cleaning fees, though the company suggests they do away with it if guests are required to run chores. “Would you like guests to load dirty dishes into the dishwasher or strip the bed linen before checkout? If so, consider charging a very minimal cleaning fee—or no fee at all,” the company advised hosts late last year.

The company said around 55% of its active listings charge a cleaning fee, which on average makes up less than 10% of the total reservation cost.

Airbnb’s cleaning fee across all U.S. properties averaged $143 as of June 30, a 44% increase from five years ago, according to market-research firm AirDNA. Coastal properties with five or more bedrooms had the highest fees, charging $420 on average.

Airbnb ratcheted up its cleaning protocols during Covid-19, with a 36-page handbook requiring that hosts wash all hard surfaces with soap and water, vacuum the floors and disinfect switches and electronics, among other things. The policy is still in effect, Airbnb said, and all hosts are required to declare that they are following them.

Hosts say that a helping hand from renters can go a long way when properties are booked back-to-back. Starting the dishwasher and laundry early means the next guests don’t have to wait even if the cleaners are running late.

“Sometimes guests are asked to do two to three things and they feel like, ‘Oh my God, I’m doing everything,’ ” said Gabby Wallace who runs Airbnbs in Maine, Austin and Kansas City. “There are close to a hundred things I have on the checklist for my cleaners,” like checking couches for lost items and picking hair out of the bathtub drain, she said.

Ms. Wallace encourages her guests to empty the trash, run the laundry and start the dishwasher, though she outlines that none of it is mandatory.

Some hosts aren’t fans of chores. Deric Tikotsky, who runs rental properties in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., tells his guests to relax and leave everything as it is when they leave. He thinks some hosts are squeezing extra labor out of their guests to cut back on the number of hours they pay cleaners.

“This chore business is giving us a bad rep and causing guests to flee to hotels,” he said.

Last month, Amanda Morari spent her sister’s bachelorette weekend at a lakefront cottage in Ontario province. The washer was out-of-order and the vacuum wouldn’t charge so the women spent their last day “wetting paper towels and wiping the floor,” she said.

The host told her not to worry about it, Ms. Morari said, but then came the unexpected: she got a three-star review because the cleaning wasn’t up to the mark. Her perfect five-star rating dipped to 4.1.

She’s booked her next trip with her boyfriend at a hotel.

“It’s 50 bucks cheaper,” she said. “And we don’t have to clean anything.”

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RMIT expert says a conflation of factors is making the property market hard than ever to predict

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A leading property academic has described navigating the current Australian housing market ‘like steering a ship through a thick fog while trying to avoid obstacles’.

Lecturer in RMIT’s School of Property Construction and Project Management Dr Woon-Weng Wong said the combination of consecutive interest rate rises aimed at combating high inflation, higher property prices during the pandemic and cost of living pressures such as the end of the fuel excise that occurred this week made it increasingly difficult for those looking to enter or upgrade to find the right path.

“Property prices grew by approximately 25 percent over the pandemic so it’s unsurprising that much of that growth ultimately proved unsustainable and the market is now correcting itself,” Dr Wong says. “Despite the recent softening, the market is still significantly above its long-term trend and there are substantial headwinds in the coming months. Headline inflation is still red hot, and the central bank won’t back down until it reins in these spiralling prices.” 

This should be enough to give anyone considering entering the market pause, he says.

“While falling house prices may seem like an ideal situation for those looking to buy, once the high interest rates, taxes and other expenses are considered, the true costs of owning the property are much higher,” Dr Wong says. 

“People also must consider time lags in the rate hikes, which many are yet to feel to brunt of. It can take anywhere from 6 to 24 months before an initial change in interest rates eventually flows on to the rest of the economy, so current mortgage holders and prospective home buyers need to take this into account.” 

 

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