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Airbnb Damage More than Deposit [2021]: Next Steps for Your Vacation Rental

You’ve covered your bases, set a security deposit, gone over the rules, and still found yourself with more damage than your deposit covers. What can you do? There are several steps to making sure you’re treated fairly and get what you’re owed, so be sure to follow along!

Airbnb damage more than your security deposit? Take THESE steps for your vacation rental!

  1. Try to collect from the guest
  2. Contact Airbnb
  3. Leave a review
  4. Make an insurance claim
  5. Consider raising rates

Before you go any further, make sure you’re covered by the BEST vacation rental insurance around. Get a quick quote from Proper Insurance today!

First… try to collect from the guest themselves!

Ideally, the guest will notify you of any damage if and when it happens. They’ll let you know in advance so you can (hopefully) remedy the situation before they leave. It’s easier to have a face-to-face conversation, whenever possible, than it is to try to collect money through text message. 

If the guest notifies you in advance, assess the damage and try to get an accurate idea of what it will cost to repair. This may involve replacing items, getting a professional out to give you a quote, or contacting your insurance company. While the guest is still with you, inform them of the cost and what they will owe on top of the security deposit they’ve already paid. 

If you’re using Airbnb, there is a Collect Money feature in their messaging app. This is a safe and secure way to transfer funds, and is the best way to go about it . I do not recommend going through a third party, as there may or may not be an accurate record of the transfer or the conversation involved. 

If the guest does not notify you at the time and you find out after the guest has left, I would communicate solely using the messaging app of the booking service you used (i.e. Airbnb, VRBO, etc.). Again, this will provide you the most accurate record of the conversation if you or the guest need to dispute the charges.

Hopefully the guest is willing to admit the mistake, and they’re able to send you the money you request right away. If not, it’s critical to have photo evidence (and more evidence, like video or repairman bills) if at all possible. These are a good idea to have even if the guest is friendly and compliant, just in case!

If the guest is unwilling to work with you and you have all your ducks in a row, be prepared to contact Airbnb (or the booking service of your choice) to open a claim. 

Next, contact Airbnb.

Airbnb offers some services to all of their hosts aimed at protecting you from liability, damage, and more. These are all free and don’t require you to sign up; in fact, you’re automatically enrolled just by hosting on Airbnb! Take advantage of these services when you need them, they’re there to help!

The service we’ll be discussing is Airbnb’s Host Guarantee, which provides hosts with coverage for damage caused by a guest that is above the security deposit (and also if there was no security deposit in place). This is a great additional layer of coverage on top of your insurance, which we’ll discuss below. 

If you need to make a Host Guarantee claim, you’ll need to have your evidence in place. Airbnb states that this may include “photos, videos, and/or receipts”, and we recommend all three if applicable. You must request reimbursement within 14 days of the damage-causing guest checking out or before your next guest checks in, whichever is earlier, so make sure to stay on top of it!

This initial request is sent to the guest, who then has 72 hours to respond. If they aren’t willing to pay the full amount requested, you might still be able to get reimbursed. Airbnb support will get involved if this is the case. 

Don’t forget to leave a review!

Whether your experience with a guest is positive or negative, it’s your duty to leave a review! Future hosts should know if someone owned up to their mistake and worked with you to find a solution. They should also know if someone was purposely difficult or careless so that they can use their discretion in renting to them down the road. 

On Airbnb, you have up to 14 days to leave a review. This goes for both guests and hosts. The catch is that neither party can see the review left by the other person until either A: both reviews are posted or B: the 14 day waiting period has elapsed. This helps keep people honest, and prevents them from posting in retaliation. 

Your review should always be professional while remaining honest. If a negative incident happened with the guest, be sure to be clear on any details and your efforts to resolve the incident. If Airbnb ended up having to be involved, mention that as well. Most hosts hate to have to go to those lengths!

Keep in mind that the guest leaves a review for you as well, so it’s crucial to keep all of your communication with them calm and professional. If they leave a review that you feel is unfair, you do have the option to post a public response after the review is published. 

Use this space to explain your side of the story! Again, stay professional, and keep in mind that the guest can respond to your review as well. 


Check Out Our Other Articles on Rental Recon:

Your Insurance is Here to Help!

If your booking service and the guest both fail to come through, insurance has got your back. Hopefully by now you already know the importance of a good vacation rental insurance, and what we’re discussing in this article is the number one reason why! 

Rental Recon’s top recommendation for vacation rental insurance is Proper Insurance. They’ll cover you for damage done by a guest to the property itself, your belongings, and even some things outside of the property like shared or outdoor spaces. 

Get Your 5-Minute Proper Insurance Quote
Don't Rely on Your Standard Homeowner's Policy!

It’s still a good idea to try to collect from the guest before counting on an insurance claim, but insurance is always there as a backup as well. With Proper, you can choose your coverage amount so both you and your wallet stay happy. Even better, you can get personal and commercial liability insurance all rolled into one policy!

Rental Recon Tip: If you’re like a lot of other hosts, you might feel that short term rental insurance is too much of a hassle. In reality, this couldn’t be farther from the truth! In fact, you’re legally required to insure your vacation rental as a commercial property, so don’t skimp out!

Going forward, try raising your rates (or your deposit).

If this becomes a recurring issue, it might be time to re-evaluate your security deposit or even your nightly rate. Remember that collecting money from a security deposit is a hassle, and if you’re constantly putting in the work to do that you might as well charge a little more as a base price. Don’t forget to pay yourself for all your hard work!

I'm an Airbnb Superhost sharing my Airbnb journey and tips that I've learned along the way.

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