We’ve all heard of bad Airbnb stays. Even horrible ones. But what about an endless stay? It’s not as crazy as you think!
The Pashanin brothers famously established squatters rights in their Airbnb after refusing to leave for months. This is one of the worst things that can happen to an Airbnb host.
What happens if an Airbnb guest doesn’t leave?
If your guest is refusing to leave, contact Airbnb immediately. Depending on the circumstances, the police may need to get involved in order to remove them from your property. Know the tenant laws in your area to avoid a legal battle.
Some things you can do to avoid an unwelcome tenant in your Airbnb are…
- Screen guests carefully
- Never communicate outside of Airbnb
- Don’t allow long term stays
- Understand tenant laws in your area
Follow along to find out what you need to do in order to protect your rental from scammers, squatters, and other no-good guests.
Screen Guests Carefully
Some hosts, particularly newer ones, are eager to gain reviews and hardly ever consider turning down a reservation. While most guests don’t have any malicious intent, it is still important to properly vet anyone that you’re considering bringing into your own home.
Guests with no reviews should be treated with a bit of suspicion. While everyone has to start off somewhere and build their profile as they go, no reviews can sometimes be the first indication that you’re dealing with a scammer.
If someone with no reviews tries to book with you, I would go a little more in depth on the preliminary messaging than you normally do. You don’t have to be rude or make it obvious that you think there might be something awry, but do ask questions and get answers.
Another way to screen your guests is to make sure that they have a verified ID badge and that their profile is complete. The verified badge means that Airbnb is certain that they are who they say they are, which takes some of the worry out of the equation.
Airbnb also allows guests to link social media accounts (such as Facebook and LinkedIn) on their profile. It is typically easy to spot a fake social media account, especially on an involved platform like Facebook. Most scammers won’t go to the effort of creating a believable backstory.
If guests give any pushback to questioning, especially in regard to something as simple as identity verification, it is a huge red flag. Both parties should be comfortable with the booking terms, and you should never feel pressured to allow someone into your home that you don’t trust.
Never Communicate Outside Of Airbnb
Perhaps the biggest sign that something fishy is going on is when a “guest” asks you to move communication off of Airbnb. Airbnb messaging is the preferred method of communication for a variety of reasons, all of which keep both parties safe and secure.
First, when you talk to another person via Airbnb messages, you know that you are connected to the person who is attempting to rent from you (or at least whoever they say they are). On other platforms, neither you nor Airbnb has any kind of verification set in place to find out who is on the other end of the conversation.
While profiles can be faked on Airbnb, it is even easier to create a throwaway email address that can be used to converse with anonymity. If a guest ever asks you to take the conversation elsewhere, don’t do it.
Second, discussing a booking outside of Airbnb makes it even more difficult to provide reliable evidence of the conversation. In the event that you and a guest decide on something via third party email and the guest later disputes it, you’ll be asked to provide evidence to Airbnb.
If your evidence doesn’t come from their own messaging system, they have no way of verifying whether or not the conversation ever even happened or who it happened with. This opens hosts up to a lot of liability, especially in a case where damages are involved.
For these reasons, I never, ever communicate with guests outside of Airbnb. There is absolutely no reason to do it, and a guest requesting an outside method of communication is almost certainly up to no good. Send every bit of information from check in to checkout in Airbnb messages and you’ll protect yourself from potentially serious issues.
Don’t Allow Long Term Stays
Airbnb guest checkout etiquette should be common sense to most people, right? Unfortunately, guests often overstay their booking by several hours and sometimes even days! In the case of people trying to scam their way into free accommodation, these violations usually happen during an already booked long-term stay.
Another famous example is that of David Peritz. He booked a stay originally described as an academic sabbatical that was supposed to last several months through a website similar to Airbnb. Month after month, Peritz failed to produce his payments and cited various dramatic excuses.
When his host finally got tired of him, she attempted to evict him only to find out he was now claiming squatter’s rights. I’ll go into detail on tenant laws in the next section, but this is a common scam that happens to landlords across the US.
The reason I discourage other hosts from accepting long term stays is that once someone is established on your property, it can be tremendously difficult to get them to leave against their will.
Having a set maximum stay length is a good way to counteract anyone looking to beat the system by using your Airbnb as their new free home. It’s rare that a guest will want to stay longer than a few weeks at most, but it is better to be safe than sorry.
Check Out Our Other Articles on Rental Recon:
- When Does Airbnb Send Check-In Instructions to Guests? 
- When Do Airbnb Hosts Get Paid?  It Depends On Several Factors
- What to Leave for Airbnb Guests: 5 Ways to Impress Guests
Understand Tenant Laws In Your Area
The way that scheming guests are able to claim squatter’s rights after staying at a rental property is due to tenant laws. Originally put in place to prevent landlords from abusing their power over tenants, they can be contorted to serve the needs of people looking for free indefinite accommodation.
Tenant laws vary by state and city, so be sure to know your area’s regulations forward and backward before accepting any bookings. A common (but not universal!) guideline is that after staying on a property for 30 consecutive days, a guest is granted tenant’s rights. For this reason, plenty of hosts do not accept stays of 30 days or longer.
Once they are considered a tenant, it is incredibly difficult and expensive to evict a guest. Yes, evict them. They are no longer operating under the same set of rules as a typical hotel guest or short term renter would be; your Airbnb is now considered their place of residence.
Evicting a tenant is a much more tightly regulated process than ending an Airbnb guest’s stay. Legal channels need to be pursued, and police and lawyers will need to be involved. This comes at an enormous cost to the host, all while they’re losing out on revenue because they can no longer rent out their Airbnb!
Make sure you study up on the tenant laws in your area before diving into hosting. Consulting other hosts from your city or state in forums is a great way to get to know things you may not have thought of!
Rental Recon Tip: Don’t get caught off guard when it comes to guest communication! Using message templates is a super simple and easy way to streamline your conversations with guests. Message templates are also huge time savers in the long run, especially when dealing with multiple listings!
Good message templates to have on hand include check in and check out instructions, a quick overview of your house rules, and a short list of local recommendations for guests.
What if an Airbnb guest steals something?
Theft is an unfortunate reality of hosting strangers on your property. A lot of hosts come to expect that the occasional small item will be taken (such as one of your Airbnb towels, blanket, or glass) but it becomes a much more serious issue in the case of a larger theft
Having a security deposit in place on your listing is a good safety net in case someone does decide to steal from you. In this case, you’ll have to file a claim with Airbnb to be able to collect the deposit. Otherwise, you may have to get local police involved.