Caretaker for Vacation Rental - anyone have a formula?

9 Replies

We have 5 properties in the mountains, upstate NY that we rent by the night and week, year round. We live 4 hours from these properties. 

We are FINALLY ready to hire someone to Caretake them all - we're not calling it Property Management because they will not be renting them, I will continue to be responsible for that. We want someone to take the responsibility for maintenance, emergency plumbing calls, guest problems, pest control, stocking guest supplies and management of the people who do lawn care, plowing, housekeeping, etc. off our hands. 

So, my question is, has anyone done this for the Vacation Rental properties? Do you have a formula for how to pay, list of responsibilities, etc? 

We are thinking a monthly retainer (such as $150-200) that will cover 7.5-10 hours of whatever they do. Anything over that we will pay $20 per hour. This is in an area where the average job pays $8 hr. There will be some months where very little will be required of the Caretaker, but to keep them on call we feel a retainer is necessary. 

We have a woman who is also a friend who we trust that would really like the job - we're just not sure how to compensate and want to make sure we are clear on the responsibilities. 

Any suggestions would be helpful. 

Good morning Maura,

 Very interesting scenario for you. We own 3 vacation rentals here in Gatlinburg Tn. When we purchased the first 2 we lived in Chicago, 600 miles away. I had a handyman type of guy who took care of emergencies and general maintenance. He lived in Knoxville 40 miles away. Was $25 per hour and for a couple years it worked out well. 

 Last year his rates went to $50 per hour. I asked why a 100 increase and the only explanation was I am still the cheapest guy around. He is not anymore.  Had we not moved here i would have been looking for another. He only worked on call. We live here and take care of most of our own situations now. I have had the same local person for pest control all along and he does a wonderful job. I pay $65 a month for each cabin for pest control but you can not go without here in the Smoky Mountains. 

 Cleaning/housekeeping we contract with a local cleaning company here. The going rate per clean here is $65. We pass that cost along to our vacation renters. 

Living 4 hours from your properties I am sure you can still do some monitoring. Living near them is the best. We do our own deep cleans now and can much better monitor what is going on with everything. 

Originally posted by @Robert R. :

I have had the same local person for pest control all along and he does a wonderful job. I pay $65 a month for each cabin for pest control but you can not go without here in the Smoky Mountains. 

  

Thanks for the response Robert. Very curious to hear about your pest control, what pests and how you keep them under control with a monthly service. We are in the Adirondack Mts., the pest infestations vary every year, with mice, red squirrels, ants, moles, deer and bear being the most frequent problems. 

It's great to have some information related to vacation rentals on BP. My husband and I are currently looking to buy our 1st vacation rental (we own SFH and multi unit rentals also). What are some of the things that we should look out for as we go down this road? Thanks in advance!

I like your idea of a retainer.  I don't yet own a vacation rental, but am making plans to.  I was considering some sort of percentage of the night's rent in addition as a way to help the caretaker feel like they have a vested interested in happy guests.  The happier guests, the more they'll share with their friends and the more they'll be willing to come back.  The inverse is true, too, though maybe more so and negative reviews and posts are what I'd like to avoid.  Of course, the numbers have to work to offer a percentage.

@Lucian Harris-Gallahue  Thanks! I will definitely check those out!

Originally posted by @Maura Paler :
Originally posted by @Robert R.:

I have had the same local person for pest control all along and he does a wonderful job. I pay $65 a month for each cabin for pest control but you can not go without here in the Smoky Mountains. 

  

Thanks for the response Robert. Very curious to hear about your pest control, what pests and how you keep them under control with a monthly service. We are in the Adirondack Mts., the pest infestations vary every year, with mice, red squirrels, ants, moles, deer and bear being the most frequent problems. 

 Our pest control is more pro active than reactive. There are so many species of beetles here in the Smoky Mountains as well as a plethora of other bugs. Deep woods off is our best friend in the summer when hiking here. 

 The black bears love to get into the garbage but the bear proof container takes care of that, usually. There would be nothing worse than a guest posting a review including bugs as I am sure you are well aware. 

Don't know if this is too late and too tangential, but we just finished the process of turning our house in the Tampa area into a AirBnB/VRBO property. I was going to try to handle the bookings through those two websites, and then have my neighbor down there be the go to person who would over see the cleaner, call handymen etc. I was thinking about a monthly retainer or a percentage of the rental income. But she doesn't do this for a living and I think we both realized it was more of a job than she wanted to take on. I interviewed a couple of management companies who would take 20% of the rental income, as I remember, or maybe 50% if they did the booking. One scenario was that they would charge me $100 a month plus 20% of the income, but I would handle the bookings, and they would handle the broken toilet at 11pm.

Eventually I ended up hiring a couple who are renting out a few properties on AirBnB since they are very short term rental savvy and specifically on AirBnB/VRBO, have a team of handymen etc whom they can call, and can go by the property as needed. They are now handling everything including adjusting pricing as needed to increase bookings during slow seasons, paying the cleaner and telling her when cleaning is needed, and for this they are charging 20% of the income. We have set up a joint checking account which i keep topped up around $2k- they take their fee, the cleaner's payment, etc. out of that. They also handle returning the security deposit to the clients once my cleaner calls them to let them know if there are any problems.

One thing that is nice with this is that they encouraged me to go from a week minimum to a 3 night minimum since that increases the probability of finding clients and at the beginning I need to get some reviews. Since I charge clients separately for the cleaning, there is no cost difference to me to rent it for 3 nights v 6 or 7 nights, other than having to wash the linens and provide a fresh set of toiletries twice in the week as v. once. My cleaner is happy because she is getting more money.

So far it's great, since I am currently in Guinea working on Ebola and not on line that much!

Hope this helps as at least a data point in your thinking......best of luck!

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