Employing a caretaker for your holiday home

Holiday home maintenance
It is the duty of the caretaker to safeguard the property when the owner is not present.

Today a caretaker is an integral part of a holiday home and is vital to the success and maintenance of a rental or vacation property. Because most property owners live in a different city or state, they must rely on a third party to be their eyes and ears. Many home owners will tell you that the only issue of owning a vacation home in a different location from where you stay, is that it occupies in your mind even when you are many miles away and also the fact that you are not there to attend to guests who come to stay in the house. Ideally vacation properties are often expensive, and in isolated locations or in areas where there are few if any year-round residents. As such homes are subject to weather-related damages, break-ins, vandalism, etc.

This is where the property caretaker comes into play. While the primary job of a caretaker is to be the owner’s representative and watchdog, his duties don’t end here. The caretaker should be able to maintain the owner’s property standards, so that it can be occupied by guests at any point in time.


Finding the right Caretaker:

Thus finding someone trustworthy and reliable to look after a holiday home is probably the biggest challenge for owners and is many a time fraught with problems. Home-owners despite their great efforts usually find that getting someone who is local, is reliable, flexible, and trustworthy, and charges reasonable rates is not always easy. Plus, if the holiday home is in a major tourist destination good caretakers are few and far between and due to their huge demand, their rates for caretaking are also very high. Whether the requirements are simply to hold a key in case of emergencies or to provide full guest support and maintenance, finding the right caretaker for your holiday home who will provide a reliable service is not as easy as it seems. But for home owners finding out and subsequently employing a caretaker is an investment worth making.

Responsibilities of the Caretaker:

Now that you have decided to employ a caretaker, it is important to give some serious thought to what the responsibilities of the caretaker would be. As the primary and most important task, the caretaker should be expected to prepare the house before the guests arrive including a thorough cleaning of the property and to be present at the time when guests do arrive.

But what about the other responsibilities? Home-owners must understand that by defining the responsibilities initially, it is easier to recruit the right person and negotiate his remuneration.

Will it be simply be cleaning the property in-between guest stays, or holding a key and conducting frequent checks when the house is not occupied?  What about being available whenever guests call? Will the caretaker be staying full-time in the out-house and taking care of all the day-to-day issues related to the property? Will he clean the exteriors of the house and ensure that the garbage is disposed?

Overall, the job of the caretaker should include making regular visits to the home to check for unexpected incidents, including weather-related damage, supervising scheduled house maintenance including plumbing, electrical repairs,  furnace and air conditioner cleaning etc. He should also be responsible for lawn mowing or snow removal. Tasks can be performed by the caretaker himself or he can hire others to do so while he supervises the entire task. 

What to expect from a Caretaker:

It goes without saying that for any holiday home owner, caretakers are trusted with the owner’s most valuable investments; thus they must be trustworthy and should be able to maintain a good work ethic. The caretaker should not only be trusted with the possessions inside the property, but should also be able to act in the best interest of the owner when he is away. An ideal caretaker should know exactly what the owner would do in a variety of situations and should act accordingly. It is seen that owners ideally hire friends, family or colleagues with whom they have worked for many years because they feel that trust and understanding of the property can be hard to earn from a stranger.

Difference between a Caretaker and a Professional Vacation Rental Company:

The job of the caretaker usually should not include overseeing the rental of vacation property, which should be left to a professional vacation rental company owing to its more complex nature involving activities like advertising, booking, billing, and other important functions. 

In a nutshell, the caretaker has to ensure the day-to-day management and upkeep of a property runs smoothly when the owner is not present.