At LBV we feel it is important to keep property owners with holiday lettings in 2020/2021, informed and updated about the recommended changeover protocols and requisite standard of cleaning to ensure compliance with EU, French and local authorities.
During the COVID-19 outbreak, we are required to clean your property using recommendations from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and/or to refer to the recommendations and guidelines from our local government authority.
Our practices, as you know, at changeover, are already thorough, but looking ahead we need to be even more vigilant – not only to assure guests that we are doing everything we can to prepare the property for their arrival but also to keep us and our property managers safe too.
Current recommendations are that after guest departure a property should be vacant for:
- 24 hours before anyone enters a space occupied by a person who may have been exposed to the coronavirus.
- 72 hours if the occupants become ill or declare that they have been in contact with someone testing positive for COVID-19 after their arrival at the property. This includes the initial 24-hour waiting period, giving time to properly clean and disinfect all areas accessible to the guest, and dealing with current reservations, cancellations and new bookings.
Like most owners with bookings dating back to before March 15th, 2020, in high season these are likely to be Saturday to Saturday or back-to-back bookings. We therefore ask that for:
- Current bookings – you contact your guests and ask what their travel plans are and if it is possible to delay departure and arrival; please advise outgoing guests that we will need to ask for their co-operation to leave the property as early as possible on their last day and for incoming guests not to arrive before 6pm. This is to ensure that all extra measures needed to prepare your property for guests can be completed. It may be that you have to offer a refund of the lost 24hrs.
- New reservations – please update your calendars now to block a minimum of 24hrs after each existing booking. If you are prepared to block 72hrs then all the better. It is also worth changing your minimum stay to 5 days and to allow any day arrival/departure. This will help to fill the gaps in your calendar and again, please update your listings to advise on departure/arrival times where appropriate. Please note that the 24/72 hr gap between bookings should also apply to any new or transferred bookings for 2021.
- Cancellations this season – as the border situation is unknown and a lot of bookings for July/August 2020 are for guests hoping to travel from the UK, we are expecting quite a few cancellations. Should that be the case, when you update your calendars, please ensure that you follow the recommendations for new reservations as above. If transferring a booking within 2021, please ensure that you now block your calendar for at least the 24hrs after departure.
Preparing your property for guests
This is a tricky one as many of you consider your second homes to be just that – a home away from home. However, in the current situation we need to make every effort to MINIMISE the risk of your household items becoming contaminated by the virus, damaged by bleach or 70% alcohol cleaning substances as detailed below. A clear and airy space is also reassuring to guests.
Decluttering is therefore essential – freestanding ornaments will need to be packed away, rugs and removable floor coverings will need to be lifted, soft furnishings such as cushions should be removed and two sets of washable cotton throws may need to be purchased for sofas/armchairs etc. Kitchen cupboards will need to be lined with clean paper and all crockery/pots/pans/cutlery etc. will need to go through the dishwasher at a high temperature between each set of guests. Laundry baskets that cannot be washed with bleach will need to be removed, freezers will need to be defrosted and cleaned along with the fridge.
On arrival at the property after a guest departure, it must be assumed that all surfaces could have become soiled with respiratory secretions or other body fluids from a person potentially ill with COVID-19. A two-step approach is therefore recommended for cleaning – use of a detergent or soap and hot water for visibly dirty surfaces followed by disinfection with a solution of at least 70% alcohol. Clean first and disinfect second.
On arrival at the property
Cleaners will IMMEDIATELY wash hands and put on impermeable, disposable gloves. Weather permitting, all windows should be opened to start airing and ventilating the property. A clean face mask will be worn for each property and a spare mask carried. Cleaners will take care to avoid touching their faces and will carry a spare mask for cleaning sessions over four hours. Masks and gloves must be disposed of at the end of the changeover.
- High-touch surfaces. Toilets, handwashing basins, baths, shower cubicles, kitchen sinks and worktops etc. should be cleaned with a regular household disinfectant solution containing 0.1% sodium hypochlorite (that is, equivalent to 1000 ppm). Readily available kitchen and bathroom spray with bleach will suffice. Surfaces should be rinsed with clean water after 10 minutes contact time with the product. When use of bleach is not suitable, for example on wooden items such as bedside tables, hard-backed chairs, doorknobs, handrails, light switches, remotes, wardrobe and cabinet handles, desks, telephone, remote control equipment, door handles, buttons in the elevator, etc. then a product with a minimum of alcohol 70% will be used.
- Low-touch surfaces. Floors, walls, blinds and other low-touch surfaces can be cleaned using hot water and detergent. Mop or wipe down from one end of the surface to the other. If the next group of guests include infants or small children, it is advisable to further disinfect tiled floor surfaces with a product with a minimum of alcohol 70% Vacuum cleaner bags should be changed after every departure Mop and broom handles should be disinfected on site along with heads or rotated with a second set of clean items
- Towels, linens and other laundry. All mattresses and pillows must have fresh, clean protectors for every change of guest. These can be of the washable variety necessitating an extra set for each bed (weekly cleaning of these items will be charged separately) or disposable mattress/pillow protectors which we can source for you. Where possible, guests will be asked to strip the beds after their stay and to put dirty laundry and towels in the laundry bags provided. Where this is not possible, disposable gloves will be worn when handling dirty laundry and then discarded after each use. Items to be washed using the hottest advisable setting and dried completely. If using a laundry service, we will request that they use the hottest setting.
Provision of materials/equipment to help guests
Consider stocking up with the following extra items for guests to help them feel well taken care of during their stay.
- Hand wash/liquid soap. Sanitiser/hydroalcoholic gel is in very short supply locally and in any case is recommended to be used only in situations where thorough handwashing for 20 seconds is not possible
- Additional tissues and toilet rolls
- Antibacterial household cleaners for guest use
Outdoor furniture and the swimming pool
It is also important that outside areas and swimming pools are cleaned and maintained in manner that reduces the spread of COVID-19. The good news is the pool environment lends itself to successfully accomplishing this objective; chlorine in swimming pools disables coronavirus, they are usually in an outdoor wide-open environment and it is understood that sunshine de-activates coronavirus.
That said, although pool water is constantly being disinfected by chlorine, (but) there will be a need for extra disinfecting of items around the pool, such as:
- Door handles inside and outside
- Handrails and pool ladders
- BBQ area and outdoor taps, sinks, soap and paper towel dispensers, toilet flush levers
- Light switches
- Telephones and Emergency shut-off buttons on spas, dials for spa jets
- “Touch to activate” areas on splash pads and spray fountains
- Keyless entry readers and lock boxes
At properties where the guest group is made up of more than one family, it is advisable to provide sufficient cleaning materials (disposable cloths/alcohol 70%) and guidance to provide help with disinfecting.
COVID-19 and your business
The safety and well-being of guests in your property is of the utmost importance to us – communicating this message via your property listings can help to attract more bookings to your property in these uncertain times. The advice below is largely taken from the websites of AirBnB and Home Away and links are included at the end of the document.
Consider updating your listings to include:
Your use of a highly reputable LBV Agent, a professional property management company to ensure enhanced cleaning and disinfecting prior to each new arrival: Cleanliness has arguably never been more important and updating your listing description will give holidaymakers peace of mind that you’ve made every effort to ensure they have a worry-free stay.
Be flexible about cancellations: In an ever-shifting environment, many holidaymakers are hesitant to book stays because they are worried that they may have to cancel at the last minute due to unforeseen circumstances. Consider updating your cancellation policy to allow for more flexibility so that holidaymakers can book with better peace of mind. For advice on how to handle cancellations due to COVID-19, please check with your listing platform. Below is information currently available to AirBnB hosts that we think is worth quoting word for word:
” Reservations for stays and Airbnb Experiences made after March 14, 2020 will not be covered under our extenuating circumstances policy, except where the guest or host is currently sick with COVID-19. COVID-19 related circumstances not covered include: transportation disruptions and cancellations; travel advisories and restrictions; health advisories and quarantines; changes to applicable law; and other government mandates—like evacuation orders, border closures, prohibitions on short-term rentals, and shelter-in-place requirements. The host’s cancellation policy will apply as usual.
Our extenuating circumstances policy is intended to protect guests and hosts from unforeseen circumstances that arise after booking. After the declaration of COVID-19 as a global pandemic by the World Health Organization, the extenuating circumstances policy no longer applies because COVID-19 and its consequences are no longer unforeseen or unexpected. Please remember to carefully review the host’s cancellation policy when booking and consider choosing an option that provides flexibility.”
Update your calendar availability: To put yourself in the best position to receive future bookings, sync your calendars so that your listing’s availability is accurate, confirm all rates for future booking windows and open up your booking availability for at least a year into the future.
Offer self-check-in and keyless entry: If you offer self-check-in or keyless entry already, make sure it is visible on your listing and adding instructions for these features to your welcome guide. If you don’t, please ask us your property manager for more details.
Update your amenities: Make sure that your listing includes all of the facilities that you offer, especially if you have fast Wi-Fi or other features that make your home perfect for long-term remote working, or have a pool or play area to help keep children entertained.
Highlight your safety features: We anticipate that holidaymakers will want to rent homes with safety features such as secure deadbolt locks to protect their privacy, as well as fully stocked first aid kits in case of emergencies. Consider also adding the phone numbers and addresses of nearby hospitals and health care centres to your guest information books, so guests know that help is nearby if they need it.
Give discounts for long-term stays: People often travel to be near family and friends around hard times, and they typically stay for a while. Consider updating your rates to offer discounts for long-term stays to help attract those holidaymakers.
Reduce your minimum stay requirements: On the other side of the coin, holidaymakers can also require shorter stays during times of uncertainty. Update your minimum stay to ensure that your home shows up in search results for short-term trips as their demand increases.
Stay up to date
World Health Organization – https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019
Centre for Disease Control (France) – https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/france
Les Bons Voisins Bureau Central, 9 May 2020.
Disclaimer: This information provided by Les Bons Voisins is for guidance purposes only. All information is provided in good faith; however, we make no representation or warranty of any kind, express or implied, regarding the accuracy, adequacy, validity, reliability, availability, or completeness of any information provided.