When I first created my house manual, I researched what the content should include. The manual is a great place to present guests with both your house rules and information on the different functions of the home. I had to ask myself, “What comprehensive information and instructions do I want to include in this house manual?”
You may include whatever rules and instructions you find necessary in your house manual. I laminated the pages of my manual, and I leave it on the counter so that it is one of the first things my guests see. I try to provide all pertinent information in this manual so that guests can go to one source when they have questions. You can get my house manual template that I use here.
What are the must-have house manual instructions and policies for an Airbnb property?:
- Check-In Time
- Quiet Hours
- Unverified Guests
- Smoking Rules
- How to Operate Appliances
- How to Use the Wifi
- Parking Rules
- Security Rules
- Where to Find “Extras”
- Where to Leave Soiled Linens
- Heat and Air Conditioning
- Trash Removal
- Emptying the Refrigerator
- Loading and Starting the Dishwasher
- Checking to Make Sure Nothing is Left Behind
- Locking Up and Returning the Keys
- Check-Out Time
- Leaving a Review
This is a great list to build from when it comes to writing your house manual. You can develop your own set of instructions by using my house manual template. This will take much of the work out of building the house manual for you, and it will ensure that you have all of your bases covered.
For your manual, be sure to choose a notebook or binder that will not easily rip or tear. Pages should be laminated, and information should be categorized. I also suggest using plenty of pictures in your house manual to give your guests a visual aid, especially when discussing the amenities of the Airbnb.
Check Out This Rental Recon Article: Airbnb Essentials: 75+ Items Every Host Should Have For Guests
Rental Recon Tip: Collect all pertinent information for guests in one book, your house manual, to help ensure that all guests’ questions are easily answered and that they are provided with the information they need.
The first item to list in your house manual is your check-in time. Your guests will have access to your house manual through Airbnb after they book. One of the first things the guests will look for is what time they may arrive and have access to the house. Check-in time for my Airbnb is 3:00 pm, but set the time that works specifically for your Airbnb.
Though check-in time is included in the information my guests receive from Airbnb, I still print it in the house manual. This ensures that my manual has a comprehensive guide for my guests to follow from check-in time until their departure.
Particularly if you are sharing a house with your guests, you may need to highlight quiet hours for them in the house manual. Chances are that even though your guests are on vacation, you are still getting up and going to work every day. If there are hours that you need peace and quiet, go ahead and let your guests know by putting this information in the house manual.
For instance, you might want to make a rule that there will be no excessive noise between the hours of 11:00 pm and 6:00 am. This would give you time to get a good night’s rest and be fresh for work in the morning. This is a rule you want your guests to respect, so go ahead and make them aware if you have “quiet hours” for your Airbnb.
Your policy on unverified guests needs to be listed in your house manual. Unverified guests are those who are not listed on the reservation. Unverified guests can present you with undesired liability. Damage from guests who are not listed on the reservation is not covered under Airbnb’s insurance policy.
Let your guests know that you either allow or disallow unverified overnight guests by printing this information in your house manual. You don’t want to be surprised when a party that has booked your Airbnb for three guests turns out to be a party of six guests. You can also include this information in your online manual through Airbnb. That way, guests know your expectations ahead of time.
House Manual Should Include Smoking Rules
Whether or not you allow smoking in your Airbnb should definitely be discussed in your house manual. If you do not allow smoking in the home, then you want any guests who do smoke to be aware of this. Not only could smoking in the Airbnb create an undesired smell and lower the air quality; it could also impact future guests who have breathing issues.
If you do allow smoking in certain areas, this should also make the cut for the information you place in your house manual. You want non-smokers to be aware if there are areas of the home that are regularly smoked in. If you have a designated area outside the home for smoking, include this information. That way, cigarette butts are localized to one area only.
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How to Operate Appliances
I provide in-depth information on how to operate each of the appliances in the home. If you make this information available upfront, you will get fewer calls from harried guests who are trying to operate the appliances. Be sure to leave instructions for how to operate the thermostat, the dishwasher, the washer and dryer, and any other appliances to which your guests will have access.
While you can include this information in your house manual through the Airbnb app, you also want this information to be easily accessible within the home. It is a good idea to provide instructions on how to operate the appliances in the physical copy of your house manual. Your physical copy can contain more information than what you list online.
If your guests do call you with questions regarding the appliances, you can easily refer them to the house manual. Try to go ahead and answer any potential questions when you are writing the manual. Providing photos may also help. For instance, you could provide a photo of the setting that works best on the washing machine or dryer.
House Manual Instructions on How to Use the Wi-Fi
Of course, you want to include your wifi password and instructions for using the wifi in your house manual. This can include rules about not sharing the wifi password. If your wifi is stronger or weaker in certain areas of the home, you will also want to include this information. It will help your guests to have convenient access to the internet when they need it.
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Your guests may have questions as to where they should park when they arrive at your Airbnb. Go ahead and put this information in your house manual. That way, you will eliminate this question by letting the guests know ahead of time where they should park their car(s). This will also ensure that you do not come home to find someone else parked in your preferred parking spot.
Your house manual should include any security rules you have for the home. These could include locking doors or keeping windows shut and locked. You might think common sense would lead guests to lock the door when they leave the house for the day, but go ahead and cover yourself by asking them to do this in the house manual.
Not all guests will automatically have the amount of respect for your house that you desire. Try to think of any security measures that you want to be taken, and make sure they are written down for your guests. If you have added security measures, like a gate that locks, go ahead and list instructions for this in your house manual. If combinations or codes are needed to access the home, you can list them here.
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Where to Find Extras In Your Airbnb
There are several items your guests may find themselves in need of during their stay. Give the location for any “extras” such as toilet paper, paper towels, towels, and sheets in your house manual. A guest who finds himself stranded, without toilet paper is not a happy guest. This is important information to include.
It’s also a good idea to provide the names of local grocery stores and directions. That way, if there is something your guests are in need of, you have given them good information as to where they can purchase it.
House Manual Should Cover Communication
Let your guests know you will be accessible to them by asking them to contact you if they have any problems or questions during their stay. In your house manual, you should ask guests to message you through the Airbnb app if there is any way you can improve their stay. If you troubleshoot any problems early on, it will benefit you when it’s time for the guests to leave a review on your profile.
If you have certain hours you do not want to be contacted, you might leave instructions for the guests in case of an emergency. You can also let guests know the hours that you will be available. You could say something such as, “Please contact me between 7:00 am and 10:00 pm with any problems or questions.” This way, non-emergencies are left until the next day.
Where to Leave Soiled Linens
You should provide all of your instructions regarding check-out in your house manual. You want your guests to leave the Airbnb in as close to the condition that they found it in as possible. One thing most guests are going to want to know is where they should leave their dirty linens.
I ask guests to leave all sheets and comforters on the beds. This makes it quick and easy for my cleaning service to strip the beds and wash the linens. You should also have a designated place for your guests to leave their soiled towels.
Having a central location for all used towels makes it easy for the cleaning service to do the laundering. You definitely do not want dirty sheets and towels strewn about the Airbnb on the furniture or on the floor. Go ahead and list your desired locations for used linens in your house manual.
Rental Recon Tip: Have guests throw their dirty towels in the tub. This will keep them from soaking into your floor, which can happen, even when using a hamper.
Heat or Air Conditioning
Let your guests know any rules regarding the heat and air conditioner in your Airbnb. If you want all radiant heaters cut off upon arrival, list this information in your house manual. If your home operates on central heating and air, list the temperature at which you wish your guests to leave the thermostat when they check out.
You do not want guests leaving the thermostat on a extreme temperature and running up your energy bill. You probably do not want the unit turned completely off either. Have a standard for the temperature you want the thermostat set so that the home will be comfortable for your cleaning service and your next set of guests. Of course, if you have a smart thermostat, you can control the temperature remotely if desired. Check out our article on the best smart Wi-Fi thermostats here.
I have an outbuilding with a large trash can and lid on my property. In my house manual, I instruct guests to place their trash here before checking out. Having guests take out their own trash saves my cleaning service time and saves me a little money. As an added positive, my Airbnb smells fresher when the trash is not allowed to stay in the home after check-out.
This is an easy rule for your guests to follow. You should make sure to give instructions on where trash should be deposited in your house manual. Your guests are probably more than willing to take out their own trash, but they need to know where you would like them to throw it away.
Emptying the Refrigerator
As a rule, guests should take everything back with them that they brought into the Airbnb. In my house manual, I let guests know that the refrigerator should be emptied before they check out. Reusable condiments are an exception. The next set of guests can use these. I ask that everything else is removed from the refrigerator.
There are a couple of reasons for doing this. First, your next set of guests should be free to use the space in the refrigerator. Also, if you allow guests to leave food in the refrigerator, it can make for unwelcomed smells. This is not a good first impression for your next set of guests. To keep everything fresh, each set of guests should be responsible for disposing of their own food products.
If your cleaning service has to empty the refrigerator, it will result in a higher bill for you, so go ahead and instruct guests to clean their own food out of the house. This is not an unreasonable expectation, but it is something you should be sure to include in your house manual.
Loading and Starting the Dishwasher
Another way to save yourself a little money on your cleaning bill is to have your guests load and start the dishwasher before their departure. There should not be dishes left out on the counters or in the sink. Common courtesy should motivate guests to perform this task, but it’s not a bad idea to go ahead and ask them to do so in your house manual.
This is just one more task that your cleaning service will not have to perform. By the time they arrive, all they should have to do is empty the dishwasher and put away the dishes. You do not want a lingering smell as a result of dirty dishes having sat in the sink or on the counter for hours. Go ahead and instruct your guests to clean their own dishes before they check out.
Checking to Make Sure Nothing is Left Behind
This may seem like an unneeded instruction. People should be responsible for their own possessions. Hasty departures sometimes result in items left behind, though. You do not want to have to make a habit of mailing items to guests who have checked out. It’s a great idea to remind your guests to do a walk-through before they leave by including these instructions in your house manual.
Remind guests that everything that came with them should also leave with them. This may seem like something guests should know to do on their own, but it does not hurt to go the extra mile. By reminding guests to walk through the house and check that nothing is being left behind, you may save yourself a lot of time and hassle.
House Manual Should Cover Locking Up and Returning the Keys
Be sure to include information on how your guests are supposed to check themselves out of your Airbnb. If the keys need to be returned to a lockbox, give these instructions in your house manual. You do not want your guests to have to wonder or guess where they should leave the keys, and you also do not want to find yourself searching for keys after your guests’ departure.
Remind your guests to lock the door when they leave. You want your Airbnb to be secure in between the time the guests depart and the time your cleaning service arrives. Of course, most people are going to know they should lock the door, but as I’ve stated, it does not hurt to cover all of your bases. If you have included it in the house manual, then the guests know it is an expectation.
Give a clear check-out time in your house manual. Mine is 11:00 am. This is standard, but you can choose any check-out time you like. Your guests need to know your expectations as to when they will be leaving your property. You want them to leave on time so that your cleaning service can get started working and the Airbnb will be ready for the next set of guests.
Leaving a Review
Go ahead and ask your guests to leave a review in your house manual. Hopefully, each set of guests will have had a wonderful experience and will leave you a positive 5-star review! Even if they do not, guests can provide information on how you can improve the experience for future guests. Reviews help build your business, so you want to encourage them whenever you have an opportunity.
It does not hurt to go ahead and remind guests to leave you a review. Don’t forget to also leave a review for your guests! When they see that they have been reviewed, it will once again remind your guests to submit a review for you.
What Additional Information Should I Include in My House Manual?
In addition to providing your house rules and the way your appliances operate in your house manual, there are also some other aspects you should provide. Write a welcome letter to your guests. This should be the first thing they see when they open your house manual.
Your house manual is also a great place to highlight local attractions and share your favorite dining choices with your guests. As I’ve said, including a list of grocery stores is also helpful. You can include ticket prices for attractions if you like. Your guests will be thankful for the information, as it will help them plan which activities they would like to enjoy while they are visiting.
There is also the option to share some of this information online. You can create an Airbnb guidebook on Airbnb’s website for your guests to peruse before their arrival. This gives guests a great opportunity to pick out the spots and attractions they want to try as they prepare for their trip. Can guests see my house rules before booking? Yes. Your house rules are visible on your listing page.
Potential guests must read and agree to the house rules before they can send you a reservation request. A list of these rules is also sent to your guests again after they have booked. This gives your guests every opportunity to familiarize themselves with your expectations for your Airbnb.