Uh-oh, you’ve found yourself in a sticky situation. Your Airbnb guest has damaged your property, but you didn’t collect a security deposit! What is there to do? Don’t worry, Rental Recon has you covered.
What do you do if your Airbnb is damaged and you don’t have a security deposit?
- Have proof of damage
- Contact the guest IMMEDIATELY
- Contact Airbnb
- See if your insurance covers it
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Have Proof of Damage
Your first step to collecting anything is to make sure you have actual proof of damage from the guest. Airbnb and other vacation rental companies tend to lean towards siding with guests over hosts in disputes, so you need to make sure you have a solid case behind you.
The best and easiest proof is taking photos, and lots of them! It’s best to have a before and after picture if at all possible. While you might feel a little paranoid photographing your home before every stay, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Make sure your pictures are clear and show the full extent of any damage. If it’s an item that’s broken, it might be helpful to have an estimated cost of replacement. The same is true for things like windows, doors, and even drywall. A quote from a contractor or a receipt of purchase are the best options, but sometimes a simple “guesstimate” will do, especially if the guest is compliant.
My top must-have item for Airbnb and vacation rental hosts is some type of video doorbell camera or other outside surveillance. While indoor cameras are not usually allowed (for good reason), outdoor cameras can still show who enters your home, when, and with what. It’s easy to prove your guest had a raucous party if you have footage of everyone coming right in!
For more tips on my best vacation rental damage recommendations, click HERE!
Contact the Guest ASAP
Once you have your proof in order, it’s time to contact the guest. This assumes that the guest hasn’t contacted you first, which would of course be ideal, but doesn’t always happen. Start off by politely mentioning you’d noticed that item X was broken, and ask if they knew how it happened.
If they apologize and admit to breaking something, you can use the Collect Money feature on Airbnb’s messaging platform to try to work out some reimbursement. Show them how much it will cost you to replace or repair the damaged item and ask a fair price. This is the ideal way to solve things, and usually ends with both parties happy and satisfied.
If they don’t admit to doing the damage but you’re certain they did, it’s time to show them the proof. Again, pictures and videos are going to be most convincing here. Also, if you had any staff (such as a cleaner) at the rental during the stay, make sure you’ve ruled them out as the culprit before asking the guest! It’s not great to assume everyone would lie to you, but it is an unfortunate possibility.
Show the guest your evidence, and make it clear that you’re simply looking to reach a solution that makes you both happy. Try not to come off as too accusatory here, but still stand your ground.
State the cost of replacement or repair, and politely ask if they’d be willing to send the money. If not, state that you’ll be taking the issue up with Airbnb (or whatever website you’re using).
Talk to Airbnb
Airbnb offers two types of “insurance” for hosts: Host Guarantee and Host Protection.
Host Protection is basically a liability policy for hosts which helps them if a guest gets injured or their property gets damaged while at your Airbnb. It also protects you from liability if your guests damage a neighboring property or a common area (such as a building lobby) while staying with you.
Host Guarantee protects you from damage to your own home or belongings caused by guests (and even their service animals).
Filing a claim through Host Protection involves a third-party insurance adjuster. For Host Guarantee, Airbnb requires evidence of damage to be submitted to their Resolution Center before you can request reimbursement. The reimbursement is requested from the guest themselves, and if they won’t pay then you may be covered by Airbnb.
Again, having concrete proof is your best bet if you hope to be covered or reimbursed by either policy. There aren’t any published specifics on reimbursement amounts or the likelihood of getting reimbursed, so do your best to present a strong case.
Rental Recon Tip: You NEED an insurance policy that covers short term rentals. Your regular homeowners policy simply won’t cut it. You’re liable as a commercial entity when you rent out your home, so make sure you’re covered like one too. Don’t rely on Airbnb or another company to have your back!
Check Your Insurance
Hopefully you know by now that you absolutely need vacation rental insurance to be fully covered in the event of property damage. Thankfully, just about any provider is going to cover you in these cases. Some may differ on the specifics though, such as whether things outside the home like hot tubs or patio furniture are covered or not.
In any case, if both the guest and rental company aren’t able to help you, your next step is to contact your insurance company. In fact, it might not hurt to get a hold of them early on in the process just in case you end up needing reimbursement. They’ll also want specifics on the damage and the cost of repair, so make sure to have those handy as well.
Don’t get caught uncovered! Check out one of my top Airbnb and vacation rental insurance providers, Proper Insurance, before it’s too late!
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Can Airbnb charge me for damages?
If you’re a guest, Airbnb can try to charge you for damage done by you at an Airbnb property. In most cases, it will be the host requesting reimbursement first. If you decline, Airbnb will get involved and things might get more complicated.
If you paid a security deposit, they will first try to collect from that. If you decline the request (yes, they still must request it) then Airbnb will reach out and try to resolve the dispute. These will be handled through Airbnb’s Resolution Center.
If it is determined that you owe money, Airbnb reserves the right to collect payment from you using the payment method on file, according to their website.
Do I get my security deposit back on Airbnb?
Yes, as long as no damage has been done in the Airbnb during your stay, you will be refunded your security deposit. Airbnb handles security deposits by placing a hold on the account you’re paying with in the amount of the deposit. If the hold can’t be authorized for whatever reason, they’ll notify you and you can either try another payment method or have your reservation refunded.
Airbnb doesn’t charge you anything up front, and will remove the hold 14 days after check out (or before the next guest checks in to the same Airbnb).