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An unfortunate truth of inviting strangers into your home is that not all of them will be the outstanding guests. When a guest violates the rules of an Airbnb, many hosts can be left feeling misled and helpless. Fortunately, there are several avenues of recourse in case something like this does happen to you.
What Do You Do if You Have an Airbnb House Rules Violation?
- Ensure that your rules were communicated to the guest
- Have proof of rule breaking
- Contact the guest
- Contact Airbnb
- Leave a review
Follow along below to find out what exactly you need to do after an Airbnb guest violates your house rules.
Ensure That Your Rules Were Communicated To The Guest
Sadly, miscommunications are what most frequently result in rule violations. Some hosts do not make guests aware of all of their rules, or assume them to be “common sense”. While common sense might prevail in most situations, you’ll have a hard time proving that a rule was broken if it was never explicitly stated in the first place.
For this reason, I always recommend having your rules clearly posted in several places so that guests cannot miss them. First, they should be included in some way in your Airbnb listing. This way, guests looking to have a wild New Year’s Eve party can know whether or not you (and your neighbors!) are okay with loud noise all night.
Second, upon booking, you should briefly communicate your rules to guests again. A simple sentence like “Please keep in mind that check in is at 11 and I do not permit extra guests. Please let me know if you have any other questions, and you can find the rest of the rules on the closet door!” is a good way to cover your bases.
Third, a physical copy of the rules placed in your Airbnb is a must-have. Many hosts have a house manual that includes things like local attractions and their WiFi password. This is also a great place to prominently display your rules and answer some frequently asked questions that guests might have.
If you’re feeling stuck or wondering if you’re accidentally leaving out any important information, my house rule examples article will help you make sure that you’re covered!
Have Proof Of Rule Breaking
Being able to prove to your guests and to Airbnb that a rule violation has occurred is the single most important part of this process. Without concrete proof, usually in the form of pictures, there is basically no way to make a successful claim against a guest or recover any costs incurred.
One part of the proof you’ll need is an acknowledgement from the guest that a rule has been broken. Sometimes this cannot be obtained, either due to a guest lying, not responding, or claiming that they weren’t aware that a rule existed. In this case, even more of the burden of proof is on the host to prove that something did, in fact, happen.
After contacting the guest (more on this below), make sure that you collect all possible evidence of rule violations in your Airbnb. This most often includes taking pictures of the “scene of the crime”, as well as proving that your guest was made aware of the rules to begin with.
A screenshot of your initial message to a guest informing them of rules is great to have, and so is having the rules laid out in your listing’s description. Not only will informing guests of your Airbnb’s rules up front give you proof in case of a dispute, it will also prevent having the rules broken in the first place!
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Contact The Guest
Once you have things handled on your end, it’s time to contact your guest. For the strongest results, it is best to go through Airbnb’s messaging system. External modes of contact can be harder to verify in the event of a dispute.
As we’ve discussed, hopefully your initial message to them (before they even arrived at your Airbnb) outlined at least some of your rules. If not, then the rules in your listing description are your next best bet. If you have neither of these, then your physical copy will be all you can rely on for proof. Again, this can complicate things when it comes to verifying that the guest was aware that they were breaking your rules in the first place!
Rental Recon Tip: Always keep communication with guests professional, even when you might be (understandably) upset with them. If it comes down to having to submit a claim through Airbnb’s Resolution Center, screenshots of your messages will be the bulk of the proof you’ll be able to provide.
Don’t end up looking like the bad guy! For some tips on how to get started, check out our free and easy to use message templates for Airbnb hosts.
Your professional message should not be accusatory, instead you should assume that the guest was unaware that they broke a rule. Outline your policies and why you believe a violation has occurred, and give the guest a chance to explain themselves. Sometimes disputes can be moderated this way and don’t require Airbnb to intervene.
If you and your guest cannot reach an agreement on whether or not your house rules were broken, then it is time to involve Airbnb. To do this, you’ll need to make a claim through the Airbnb Resolution Center. Be sure to only do this if you have exhausted the options discussed above.
Again, the most important thing you’ll need in order to successfully make a claim on Airbnb is proof of your rules and that they were violated. For tips on how to craft the best manual possible, check out my Airbnb rules article.
When you file your claim with Airbnb, you’ll be asked to provide any evidence you have. As we’ve mentioned, this should include message screenshots, pictures of your Airbnb, and also the receipts showing the cost of replacing, repairing, or cleaning anything in your rental as a result of rule breaking.
Airbnb does offer up to $1 million USD in coverage for property damage caused by guests, but they will try to mediate between you and the guest before paying out themselves. They will also attempt to negotiate the price you’re willing to accept as a restitution, so be prepared to make your case and have a minimum number in mind. It helps if you’ve already set a cost in your Extra Fees section.
Leave A Review
After all is said and done, don’t forget to leave a fair review for the guest. Keep in mind that you are limited to 14 days after the booking ended to leave a review, as are they! Sometimes disputes can last longer than that, so make sure that you get your two cents in before it’s too late!
If your dispute began after you left a review, or if you have an update on the situation that you’d like to share publicly, you can respond to a review. This will display underneath the review itself and can be seen by everyone, but you can only respond to reviews left on your profile.
If a guest leaves you a review that you feel to be unfairly negative, be sure to address it and the circumstances surrounding their stay! For more information on what can be done after a review has been left or after the 14 day period has expired, check out this article.
My Airbnb Guest is Refusing to Pay Damages… Now What?
First and foremost, make sure you have documentation of everything. This includes the guest and you acknowledging (usually in the form of Airbnb messages) that damage has occurred. You’ll also need proof of the cost of cleaning, replacement, repair, or whatever you had to do in order to fix what the guest did.
Your next step is to go to the Airbnb Resolution Center and file a claim. In order to have any chance of being successful, you will need to upload proof of all of the things discussed above. Then, Airbnb will attempt to mediate the dispute between you and the guest.
If this is unsuccessful, Airbnb will pay out to you. Their Host Guarantee provides free protection of up to $1 million USD in property damage per booking.