During a recent weekend getaway, my group of friends and I rented a 4 bedroom house in the woods of New Hampshire. At first glance, this house looked beautiful inside and out.
But throughout the weekend, we ran into little issues with the house and it started the debate about how to leave a rating for a house rental. From certain areas not being cleaned right, to broken appliances, what makes a renter give less than a perfect rating? Is it fair to drop a star rating for small issues or does it depend on how the manager of the house solves the problems when it is presented to them?
Before we arrived at the house our host was very attentive giving us suggestions of places to go and even looked at the dates and found us different activities specific to the weekend we were there. The photos online and the description made me feel as though this house was going to be 5 stars before I even arrived.
Pulling into the house, it was gorgeous, just like the photos showed. Everything matched. So far, the house is still at 5 stars.
Now is when we start to add up some of the issues. I like to use a point system. For every issue, I decide how big of an issue it is and remove points based on that scale. For every 5 points, I remove one star from the “Five Star Rating” on HomeAway, etc.
- Coffee Maker not Cleaned – This is a huge issue. Pretty much every person who stays at your home is going to use the coffee maker. Who doesn’t want to wake up the first morning in a cabin in the woods and make a big pot of coffee and sit on the gorgeous balcony and enjoy a cup of coffee? I have paid for a cleaning fee just like everyone else who is staying in the house. So if you didn’t clean the coffee maker, what else wasn’t cleaned? (-2 Points)
- Cobwebs – This isn’t a huge issue. I’m staying in a house in the woods, so what can I expect. Cobwebs outside is fine, but when they are inside the house on the morning I arrive, it shows once again that the house was not thoroughly cleaned before arriving. (-.5 points)
- Broken Activity Amenities – You offer a ping pong table/air hockey/pool table combo. Awesome, this will be super fun for our group to entertain ourselves with. Ping pong worked great and there are plenty of paddles and extra balls. Air hockey puck is broken and there are no extras anywhere. When we contact the manager, this the response “We don’t normally play anything except ping-pong.” Okay, but your listings claims you have air hockey. Now, had they offered to bring a new puck, I wouldn’t remove a point. But they didn’t. (-.5 point) Also, there weren’t enough pool billiards to play an actual game of pool and one of the pool sticks was broken. (-.5 points) Had the listing only claimed they have a ping pong table, they could have kept these negative points off. Don’t advertise something you can’t provide. (Total – 1 point)
- Broken Treadmill – The listing claims there is some workout equipment. Before we arrived, we were informed the treadmill was not working. Because we knew this before our arrival, no points removed.
Total Removed Point – 3.5 Points.
Rating for this house – 5 Stars
So even though there were some issues with this house, it still deserves a 5-star rating. Now my negative points may have been higher had the manager not been so active in responding and providing us with so much information before our arrival. Making a list of activities for us, responding to emails and text and generally being a very friendly and engaging person. We were never left in the dark.
Here are some of my other example of where this house could have lost points based on the listing.
Please note, they provided all the following and these are just an example of issues and the points I would have removed had they not provided them.
- Grill – Had the propane tank been empty without another backup tank to be easily found (-3 Points) (-.5 points if the manager provides one by the next day, 0 points if they provide one within 2 hours)
- Sunset Views – This claim was in the headline of the listing. Had there not actually been sunset views (-5 points)
- No wood for the fire pit – They claim to have numerous fireplaces and an outdoor firepit. Had this not been provided, (unless stated that firewood is not provided) (-2 points)(0 points if the manager brings firewood within a reasonable amount of time)
- Wi-Fi – Had the wifi not worked after advertising there was wifi it would be some serious points. Some people rely on wifi because so many people need to continue to work while traveling. It’s a huge issue to advertise it and not provide it. One way to solve this issue is by purchasing wifi hubs (like the have over at Karma) in case there is a major issue at the house with the wifi. (-5 points)
- Hot Tub – I once rented a house for the hot tub only. It was a major factor in choosing the house. I would easily knock off 10 points if a hot tub did not work and I was not informed ahead of time or offered any sort of refund. It can completely ruin a trip. (-10 points)(-3 points if offered a refund equivalent to 25% of the stay)
- A/C – Advertise A/C but the A/C doesn’t work? (-10 points) Especially during the summer months. I didn’t pay a lot of money to sweat in my sleep. (-3 points if informed with enough time to rebook without fees)
So you can see how easy it is for a house to lose a star on a 5-star rating. However, a lot of factors need to be considered before one is removed. These listings rely heavily on their rating system so it should not be taken lightly. I will admit, I was very unhappy when the air hockey table didn’t work. I LOVE air hockey. But did it merit potentially ruining someone’s lively hood who had decided to open their home to our group? No.
Do you like the above house and want to rent it? Here is the listing. Just don’t rent it if you are an avid air hockey player.
How do you rate a house on sites like HomeAway, VRBO or Airbnb? Do you have a system or do you just run on your feelings? Tell me about it below.