Last updated on July 21, 2021
There’s a big difference between vacation home freeloaders and friends or family members who ask to stay for a couple of days. A freeloader is characterized by their lack of care for you or what you have going on in your life. Unlike a friendly houseguest, freeloaders often only care about their own comfort and are eager to take what they can from you.
Freeloaders like to take advantage of your kindness. So, when they come into your life, make sure to handle them with grace and patience, but don’t be afraid to put your foot down and enforce your boundaries, or ultimately cut them out. Below are our top tips for dealing with freeloaders the next time they ask to stay at your vacation home.
Establish and Enforce Deadlines
Deadlines are something we all have to deal with, especially with work. The benefit of deadlines is that both parties know where they stand. While some people may think it’s rude to give a friend a deadline when staying at your vacation home, it’s a mature way to ensure you’re not going to be taken advantage of by a freeloader. Because a vacation home moocher doesn’t care about your time or money, an open-ended invitation can easily turn into a few months-long stay.
The next time a friend asks to stay at your vacation home, be clear about your expectations for how long they’ll be there.
If you rent out your vacation home, you may mention that you have upcoming renters who have booked and paid for their stay. If this is the case, give yourself a buffer of a couple of days between the friend’s deadline and the renters check-in day to ensure the space is ready. If they don’t respect your timeline and this basic request, they are not a real friend – they’re a freeloader.
Ask for Help with Cleaning
If your friend is coming to stay in your vacation home for free, don’t be afraid to ask them to pull their weight while they’re there. You’re doing them a favor, so they should be happy to do something for you in return. Email them a friendly list of expectations about what you would like them to help with. For example, you may ask them to wash the bedding, take out the trash, mow the lawn, water the plants, vacuum, etc. while they’re there. Alternatively, if you don’t trust their cleaning abilities, ask them to pay for the cost of cleaners for after their stay.
Expressing your expectations early is key to ensuring your property is taken care of and you’re getting something out of the deal. If they refuse or don’t follow through, cut your losses and take it as a sign to re-evaluate your friendship.
Consider Charging Everyone – including friends and family
While you may feel bad about charging friends and family for staying at your vacation property, setting this boundary is a sure-fire way to stave off any vacation home moochers.
True friends will understand and respect your rule that only paying renters may stay at your vacation home.
That said, some owners offer discounts during the slow season. For example, if you advertise on Facebook, you can target your friends with an ad that says something along the lines of ‘20% off to my close friends and family from now until June 1st’. This sets the precedent that:
- You’re thinking about your friends and family and want them to be able to enjoy your vacation home
- Your vacation home is not a free place to stay, and this offer is their best bet at getting a discount
- You’re running a business and are treating it as such.
Of course, you may want to make exceptions for your best friends and very close family; but for general friends, making it clear that “free” isn’t an option will help make sure you aren’t going to be taken advantage of by vacation home freeloaders.
It’s okay to set rules for use of your property and remember to communicate any rules of the building or complex of your vacation home. This might include quiet hours, rules for hosting guests, guest access to the gym or pool, and more. Additionally, if you have any rules of your own for using your space, don’t be afraid to let your guests know. It’s your vacation home and they should be happy to respect your rules!
Kick Them to the Curb!
If you have a vacation home moocher in your life, you’ve likely dreamed of the day you can finally put them in their place. While it might sound harsh, cutting out a freeloader is one of the best things you’ll ever do. At the end of the day, the relationship is one-sided; they don’t care about you or your feelings, your relationships, and are just trying to squeeze as much out of you as they can. Once you’ve had enough and have reached your breaking point, it’s time to take responsibility and say good-bye.
The key to being an adult is making sure that you’re taking care of you. While you may do everything you can for friends and family, you ultimately can’t help anyone if you aren’t taking care of yourself. The bottom line is that vacation home freeloaders don’t respect your well-being and aren’t good for your health. Whether it’s in a letter, over the phone, or in person, it’s best to completely cut ties, leaving nothing for them to hang on to. While it may be hard in the moment, cutting off a freeloader will make you a much stronger and happier person.
Bonus Tip: When Friends Want to Use Your Vacation Home
Since this is a topic on its own, we wanted to devote at least a portion of this article to it. When friends want to use your vacation home, it can be difficult to say no or be as blunt as you might be with close family. Heck, you might not even consider yourself “friends” with someone who wants to use your vacation home. As such, dealing with such requests to use your vacation home can present challenges. With this in mind, here are a few additional considerations:
- Enforce rules consistently for everyone, whether they are friends, friends of friends, extended family or colleagues. At the very least, this will give you (and them) peace of mind that you aren’t treating anyone unfairly.
- Don’t feel guilty about saying no. Remember, you create the rules. If they are truly a friend, they will understand.
- If you’re uncomfortable with them using your vacation home when you’re not there, invite them to visit your vacation home while you are staying there. If your vacation home is a short drive away, invite them over for a day trip so that you don’t have to worry about hosting them for an extended period of time.
- Keep in mind that part of the reason why you own a vacation home is the enjoyment it brings. If you’ve hosted a friend before and they weren’t respectful of you or your home then they may have lost the privilege of being invited back.