Make the most of House Rules: host tips & how-to’s

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Airbnb Staff
Airbnb Staff

Make the most of House Rules: host tips & how-to’s

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When it comes to setting House Rules, you’ll want to strike a balance between protecting your home and ensuring a great stay for guests by setting clear expectations. That’s why Airbnb’s House Rules tool allows hosts to select from a list of standard rules, as well as write their own, and requires guests to acknowledge and agree to the House Rules before booking.

 

“Rules are just another way you can really see a host’s true personality shine through,” Superhost Kelly, of Austin, Texas, U.S.A. said. “I would never rent from a host who had no rules. And if guests are able to see from a list of rules that they wouldn’t enjoy that host or that property, then that is a good thing to learn.”

 

Almost nine out of 10 hosts have selected from Airbnb’s basic rules, which touch on issues such as smoking, parties, pets, and kids*. However, hosts who write custom House Rules book more stays than hosts who don’t, according to Airbnb’s internal research. This may be because those hosts set clear expectations, and their guests have a better idea of what kind of stay they’re in store for.

 

By writing clear rules in your listing, guests can view them before they book, during their stay, and even after checking out. House rules are also sent directly to them once a reservation is confirmed, so you don’t have to rewrite or resend emails to every guest. Setting rules can help you save time and help prevent miscommunication.

 

Here’s how to set up and make the most of Airbnb’s House Rules feature. Plus, hosts share some of their best rules and tips:

 

How to create House Rules

 

On the web:

  1. Go to your listing(s) on Airbnb.com
  2. On the listing you want to add House Rules to, click “Manage listing”
  3. Click “Booking settings” at the top of the page
  4. Next to “House Rules,” click “Edit”
  5. Select your expectations and write rules for guests, and then click “Save”

 

On the app:

  1. Go to your listing(s) on the Airbnb mobile app
  2. Click on the listing you want to add House Rules to
  3. Under “Guest resources,” click “House rules”
  4. Select your expectations and write rules for guests, and then click “Save”

 

5 House Rules tips from hosts

 

  1. Keep it simple

“You don’t want to add so many rules that guests think they’re at mom’s house,” said Superhosts Wendy & Frank, of Stonington, Connecticut. Some hosts offered up suggestions**:

House Rules should NOT read like legal mumbo jumbo; otherwise, nobody will read it or potential guests will go to another listing that’s less complicated:

  • Parties not allowed.
  • You may not exceed the number of people specified at the time of booking.
  • The internet may not be used for illegal activity.

 —J Renato, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

 

Don’t add things you can’t enforce, like extra security deposits or charges for something broken.*** I don’t put courtesy requests or pointers, like where to leave towels and what to do with laundry, into my House Rules. I communicate those in person when guiding guests through the apartment or leave friendly note. While the ones that really matter to me absolutely belong in the House Rules.

  • Our place is meant for either a couple or for a single adult.
  • No children.
  • The couch in the living room is not to be used as an extra bed.

—Annette, Prescott, Arizona, U.S.A.

 

  1. Talk about local customs and climate

When writing your House Rules, take the opportunity to teach guests about your cultural norms and the local area. “Many times guests come from cultures and customs that are very different from ours, and want to spend a few days relaxing without too many obligations,” Superhosts Andrea & Ricardo, of Buenos Aires, Argentina, said. More hosts offered up their rules:

  • We ask that you be prudently silent and discreet, especially at night or during the siesta.—Beatriz Elena, Medellin, Colombia
  • No shoes inside. This is very common in Thailand.—Nutth, Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • Do not leave the lights on and the windows open at sunset, or the house will be filled with bugs, mosquitoes, and moths.—Monica, Santa Maria de Palautordera, Spain
  • No eating/drinking of any food/drinks, other than water in the Airbnb room. Please do not keep any food in the bedroom. No one is a fan of bugs.—Momi, Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.A.

 

  1. Point out safety concerns

Much like customs and cultural norms, it’s wise to assume guests come from other areas of the world with different laws and safety issues. These hosts address this in their House Rules:

  • Please close and lock all windows and doors when you leave the suite.—Dave & Deb, Edmonton, Canada
  • No candles. None. Instead, we provide flameless, battery-operated candles for you to use.—Heather, Ithaca, New York, U.S.A.
  • No business involving the public or unauthorized guests is permitted. External security cameras are in use.—Jayesh, Urangan, Australia
  • Illegal downloads are forbidden. If you’re found guilty, government fines can run about 1,700 euros per movie.—Branka & Silvia, Zagreb, Croatia

 

  1. Use some humor

When in doubt, lighten things up to show your personality and encourage guests to read your House Rules. These hosts share some tips:

  • I expect guests to behave like grown ups:
    • Don’t burn down the house.
    • Don’t kick my dog.
    • Eat drippy food at the table.... It's a nice table.
    • There are several waste baskets around the house: the toilet is not one of them.

—Amy, Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.A.

 

  • I have incorporated a question in the middle of my House Rules in all UPPER CASE. If the guest answers, it demonstrates to me that they have taken the time to read the House Rules:
    • WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE MUSICIAN? There is no right or wrong answer.

—Eloise, Winslow, Arizona, U.S.A.

 

  1. Be yourself

Some hosts have a long list of House Rules and others have hardly any rules at all; either way, they still come away with five-star reviews. Hosts recommend reflecting your hosting style — whether it be relaxed, flexible, formal, strict — in your rules to help guests determine if it’s the right fit:

  • Live and let live! Most guests are on vacation and don’t want to be lectured. I make soup, and lay out bread, cheese, and croissants. They feel as if they are welcomed.—Aija, Welcome, Hicksville, New York
  • My listing is very clear on what I need from our potential guests who share our space:
    • All of the House Rules below MUST be read all the way through to the end. It will not be in your best interest to skim thru my rules. Therefore, please do not do so.
    • This is OUR home. We want our wonderful guests who stay with us to respect that this our home and we are raising our child in this home.
    • No raising of voices, arguing, or vulgar language.
    • No drugs in/out of our home.
    • Any violations and you will be asked to leave.

—Momi, Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.A.

 

Superhost Momi includes 12 more detailed House Rules after this, and she’s received more than 100 five-star reviews. Guest Steven, of Pullman, Washington, U.S.A., wrote: “I must say after reading [Momi’s] House Rules, I was a bit nervous. I soon realized that this would not be an ordinary stay. And to my delight I was correct.”

 

Once you’ve published your House Rules, confirmed guests will automatically receive them and can access them at any time. Creating House Rules once will help set guest expectations and set the stage for many five-star stays.

 

___________________________________________________________________________

 

*House Rules include limits on smoking, areas beyond the listing space that are off-limits, permission to have visitors, and more. To add information about how to use appliances and amenities in your home, see our House Manual tips.

**Host tips have been edited for length and clarity.

***If a guest violates a house rule, the host and guest are encouraged to communicate and resolve the issue. Creating House Rules helps Airbnb CX mediate a disagreement; however, Airbnb CX cannot enforce House Rules. If a host asks a guest to leave because of a House Rules violation, the guest will be refunded for the nights not spent and Airbnb CX can help facilitate that. If a guest refuses to leave, then the case will be escalated and be handled on a case-by-case basis.

165 Replies 165
Lorraine192
Level 2
Regina, Canada

beware of BUK  books for 1 shows up with 2 extra  belligerent, nasty, very dirty  my other guest had to call police....that was saturday june 15/19  was promised call from AIRBNB sunday june 16/19   nothing,,was promised call om monday june 17/19  guess what  STILL WAITING  they gave the guest half their fee ( i agreed just to get rid of him  under duress) I THINK IM ENTITLED TO THE FULL AMOUNT, CONSIDERING WE HAD TO CALL POLICE

Jeannie53
Level 2
Goldthwaite, TX

The house rules examples and tips are very helpful. We have been lucky to have wonderful guests on the property--until today when there are people coming and going. I'm stressed! I am editing my house rules as they pertain to guests inviting guests. Thank you, fellow hosts!

Esther359
Level 4
Seri Kembangan, Malaysia

Helpful post. I think we should not refund those guests who had failed to adhere to any House Rules otherwise it serves no purpose for hosts to put up the list of House Rules. Just last month I experienced a guest who had failed to swicth off all the fans, air conditioners and lights before checking out, and another guest failed to lock the main door and safe box while checking out. I did ask for refund for the latter case. We need to show to the guests that the platform and the hosts take things seriously. Thanks.

Joseph686
Level 2
Thiruvananthapuram, India

These posts gives me how to frame house rules. 

Greg-and-Vicki0
Level 2
Otago, NZ

Yes I can see I need to do some tweeking after reading this article.  As a person that dislikes manuals of rules and signs and notices everywhere in accommodation places, as the years go by being a Host the world is a changing place and what was is no longer.  Sadly I feel the need to spell it out to my guests in writing is now necessary.  Thank you for an informative article.

Susan1028
Level 10
Oregon, US

Great suggestions here that would be awesome if Airbnb stood by us in enforcing them.

 

I have a strict no smoking/no pets policy fir health reasons...which doesn’t matter.  It’s my home, my policy.  It’s mentioned in the listing & house rules before booking, and posted in 3 places in the unit and all mention a minimum $109 fine plus cleaning time, materials, and any list rental time.

 

I just had a set of guests leave after having smoked anyway. The inside reeks, and they didn’t even have the grace to dispose of the evidence (cigarettes and weed).

 

the curtains, the extra sets of bedding in the closet, Towels, carpets, curtains, all stink and I’m booked solid with only 3 hours to turn over, so I’m having to spend extra time to deodorize what I can, remove the tainted cloth items, deodorize and clean carpets and upholstery, get the curtains dry cleaned, and purchase new linens, towels to reset and essential oils to mask/ remove the odors to meet my next bookings, many if which have sensitivities...none of which would be needed otherwise.

 

The person who booked is a seasoned guest with good reviews.  That booking person is responsible for the behavior of thier guests.

 

Problem:  Im a 5star Super host who’s worked hard and hosted all kinds, colors, and persuasions of folks with excellent results.

 

Go read the community threads about what happens when you address a valid compliant politely and professionally with the guest, even with evidence.

 

As @Susan0 noted above (who had her place damaged and had evidence to back it up)

the guests can trash you in the reviews and ruin your business, and Airbnb sides with them calling it a “personality dispute.”

 

So....I find it interesting to see this topic here as I have to choose between eating the cost of this booking and more...or losing all I’ve worked for here when I get trashed for standing up for myself.

Beulah1
Level 5
Mill Valley, CA

I now ask the reserver guest that ALL the grown ups read the listing and I print more specfic localized rules  to put in each bedroom.  It's no help if just one adult has read them.  

 

It's tricky to write rules for some abberation I never imagined, like dying ones hair and leaving indelible stains on the marble counter top, but I now say, "Hair dying is not allowed.  I can give you the names of lovely local hair stylists."  

 

It's a bit like raising kids.  You never know!

Susan1028
Level 10
Oregon, US

Yes, I had someone stain sink and shower dying their hair 

Sue-and-David0
Level 2
Kareela, Australia

We really enjoyed the discussion. It all helps to know where one stands should a problem arise. Thank you to all who contributed

Lorraine192
Level 2
Regina, Canada

susan you have issues   if you are not happy with AIRBNB    quit   but we don't need a novel

Lorraine192
Level 2
Regina, Canada

i had a guy tried to book    said could he has a few friends over? i said yes my back yard is for small gatherings......turned out he was invited 20 friends  lol  i said no way and declined  all 22 can pitch in for a hotel room  lol

 

 

Frances167
Level 2
null

 Oh so very true!  Last nite my 2 guests  with reservations arrived, with 2 additional guests, at midnight. Told me they didn’t have a place to stay, could they stay? Being the softie I am I let all 4 in, and went to bed, did I mention 2 had sleeping bags, did I mention I have a two guest limit?

ln the morning I called Airbnb to ask how I could be compensated for the additional 2 guests. The initial response was I don’t have a fee posted for additional guests. So I must go into my post to add an additional guest fee! With a 2 guest limit! 

Thank you for reference to, “1984”, now it’s making sense to me, ha-ha.

Susan1028
Level 10
Oregon, US

Hey y'all...

 

We've just been "gaslighted" in writing by the very entity that has financial control over our business as long as we're listed here.

 

gas·light /ˈɡaslīt/

verb, gerund or present participle: gaslighting

To manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.

Anyone is susceptible to gaslighting, and it is a common technique of abusers, dictators, narcissists, and cult leaders interested in gaining power and control over a particular person or population.

 

In the novel 1984, the author George Orwell called it "doublespeak."  Currently in the US and elsewhere, it's called "politics as usual" when leadership makes a statement, elaborates upon it, then denies it.

 

The result is something called "cognitive dissonance," aka a mismatch in realities.  Some people see it right away and call it out.  Those who do not like confrontation try to make peace/ignore it and hope they were hearing things incorrectly (which is most people)...which is the point.

 

This whole article was allegedly about creating thoughtful, accurate, appropriate "house rules" as hosts to mange our businesses.

 

Then, we are told that even when we do, they will not be enforced by the very entity that has recommended them and has financial control over the situation.

 

Bait and switch...carrot just out of reach...

 

Airbnb published a narrative (above) in thier own newsletter for hosts, in which they made an assertion, contradicted themselves and retracted thier support, disrespected all hosts, and thought we'd be OK with it.

 

Classic example of gaslighting.

 

Go figure...

Kelly332
Level 2
Hamilton, Canada

Wow....so why even have house rules at all?  Not to mention a "tutorial" on why house rules are important when they actually mean nothing at all.  How insulting to us hosts!  Like reallly!  (Its important to make the rules - even though we dont require any guests to follow them and we will give them all thier money back when they dont......)  So why make them at all.....?

Break them and you shall not be accountable for anything.  Hmmmmm! Not sure paying Air BnB thier fees and they in turn refunding guests after breaking house rules is not really the business I want to be in.  If they do not change this rule,  I will go to VBRO and cancel my Air BnB website.  Totally unaceptable oversight by the Air BnB team.  

Martin421
Level 2
Auckland, New Zealand

I agree with Alex and Vaughan I had very awkward  guests who completly disrespected the house rules from the time they arrived. With this they had been drinking down at the local Sports bar and had a few to many to drink, this i first did not mind. As i was talking to them i relised they were smoking and putting the cigurete butts out in a drinking glass. I made a comment about the smoking as being a non smoking enviroment as per the house rules. In further conversation with them they started to complain about every thing including not recieving the Itinerary. They also commented that they will be leaving a poor report. This all happened within ten minutes upon there arrival.

I phoned Air BNB and asked for there advise mainly about the booking procedure to ensure where we stood and what they receive. I new I had a difficult and very unusual Guest where my thoughts was to leave it be and hope they have a enjoyable there stay. 
To top this on the second night they decided to bring a third party in to stay with them once again breaking the house rules.
With the review they left was acceptable but when it came to the stars and  comments very unfair. This affecting our ratings.
The guest new exactly what they were up to as they were travel gents with no to very little respect for others.
We would like to here form others how they would of handed this guist.
 
Sarah_Matthew0
Level 5
Whitstable, United Kingdom

Really interesting article we are new to this and I have now added some more rules 😊

Pamela-and-Andre0
Level 2
Progreso, Mexico

After reading comments from hosts I was concerned so reached out to Airbnb.  Below is the converstation.  I still need to check into the guarantee they mention.

24 APRIL 2019
Pamela & Andre17:37
Reading in Community Centre regarding House Rules Tips.
"***If a guest violates a house rule, the host and guest are encouraged to communicate and resolve the issue. Creating House Rules helps Airbnb CX mediate a disagreement; however, Airbnb CX cannot enforce House Rules. If a host asks a guest to leave because of a House Rules violation, the guest will be refunded for the nights not spent and Airbnb CX can help facilitate that. If a guest refuses to leave, then the case will be escalated and be handled on a case-by-case basis."
I hope someone is reading the comments from hosts. If guests are allowed to break house rules and get their money back there is no point to house rules. Basics such as no smoking, pets or children, given prior notice must be followed and if not no refund should be given for breaking the rules. Health and Safety concerns must take precedence.
I am very concerned after reading this policy.
󹀁
Please wait while we are routing your case.
17:37
󹀁
Thanks for your message - Airbnb Support is connecting you to a chat agent. Your chat session will begin in 1 - 2 minutes.
17:37
Airbnb Support17:39
Hi Pamela, my name is Asher A and I'm with Airbnb support. I'll be helping you today. Please allow me a few minutes to investigate.
I understand you must be worried about how we protect our hosts in cases where house rules are not followed.
Please know that hosts are an equally important member of the Airbnb community.
If a situation arises where the house rules are not followed by a guest, please feel free to contact us, immediately
We will take immediate action as appropriate and ensure that you are not impacted because of someone else's fault.
You've been an amazing Airbnb host and we really appreciate all that you do for our guests!
Please be rest assured that we are there for you round the clock and will help you when you need us!
Pamela & Andre17:49
These are lovely words but I don't feel confident that there will be follow through based on other hosts comments if a situation should arise. If there is a policy that shows a guest can be evicted with proof of breaking house rules without loss of income or affecting my rating I would be more reassured.
Airbnb Support17:52
You would be happy to know that all our hosts are covered under Airbnb Host Guarantee.
You can read about it here: airbnb.com/guarantee
Pamela & Andre17:54
I will look into it. Thanks. We have had some violations but resolved them with the guests. Thank you for your time.
Airbnb Support17:56
You're most welcome. Please do not be concerned about this. Feel confident in hosting with Airbnb. We have you covered, Pamela!
Is there anything else I can help you with?
Cathy282
Level 3
Warwick, United Kingdom

I couldn’t agree more!!! 

Michael-And-Alina0
Level 1
Corpus Christi, TX

people do not read the rules of the accommodations and then there are problems between the guests and the host.

Gabriela618
Level 2
Broomfield, CO

It is not fair that a guest gets refunded when they get kicked out for breaking the rules. When they smoke inside even though the house rule states NO SMOKING, it is very dificult to remove the bad smell. Everything gets impregnated, the curtains, the sofa, the mattres, and we the hosts have to spend extra money to get rid of the cigarrette smell so the new guests don't cancel on us because they requested a non smoking place and they come to find one where the previous guests have smoked in. This should be reviewed by AIRBNB and changed to provide a more fair solution for the hosts.

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