Extra guest breaking occupancy laws

in
Silver Spring, MD
Level 10
508 Views

I have seen a lot of threads about people arriving with extra guests, however I have a unique situation in that my house is of such a size that county occupancy laws specifically state no more than two people in a room.  If a third person attempts to sleep in the room, it is actually against the law.  So, if I have a guest arrive on a two person booking, with three or four people, it is not an issue about charging for extra guests, but simply the extra people flat out cannot legally be in the home.

 

I also use self check-in and often have people arriving very late at night.  Early in my hosting experience, I had two situations of late night arrivals showing up with extra people.  A group of three Korean girls had one person sleeping on the floor until I discovered this two days later.  They then told me the third girl had moved into another AriBNB but I later saw her back "visiting" and I suspect they were lying and sneaking her in at night.  The other case was a gruff military vet with two sons on active duty.  Again, talk of sleeping on the floor but in that case I insisted they book my second room to comply with occupancy laws. They did, but left a low star rating.

 

I now have a situation where a guest booked for two people but then I received a phone call from apparently a relative who he gave my phone number.  They advised me they would be coming along with the guest, with three extra people (5 in all) and wanted the address, check-in info, and said they would sleep where they could find a spot (sofa, floor, etc).  I told them firmly but also politely it would not be acceptable to have unregistered people in the home sleeping in unapproved areas and also this would be over occupancy.  I suggested they either book my second room to bring their party up to four maximum people or find another place.  They said, "Oh we didn't know" and when I messaged the guest he replied that he would look into other rooms for his relatives but didn't cancel his reservation.  I am thinking they might all five just show up anyway.

 

Does anyone have an opinion of what should be done if five people show up at my home at say 11PM at night and attempt to stay in a two person room?  Sure, I could call AirBNB and leave a bad review, but the main issue is this would be against the law per county occupancy ordinances.

8 Replies

Re: Extra guest breaking occupancy laws

in
London, United Kingdom
Level 10

@Anthony608 

 

I assume there is a reason why you can't personally check in guests or have a co-host do it, but do you have any kind of security camera at the entrance to the property? If guests know in advance that you can see who is coming or going (you would need to let them know about the camera before of course) then maybe they would be less likely to try to sneak extra people in.

 

Also, I would think about coming up with some sort of wording to send to potential/upcoming guests explaining your local laws about maximum occupancy. Try to come up with a diplomatic way to say, basically : "The laws in Silver Spring state XYZ. As I cannot risk prosecution for breaking these laws, any extra, unauthorised guests will be asked to leave immediately and failure to do so will be treated as trespassing and reported to the police."

 

Of course, that is a bit heavy handed, so maybe others have suggestions of how to phrase this in a nicer way!

Re: Extra guest breaking occupancy laws

in
Silver Spring, MD
Level 10

@Huma0- I am usually present when guests check-in.  The few times this has happened with bringing extra people, the guests did it right in front me, obviously thinking that once they arrived, I wouldn't be able to prevent them from entering the home.  The three Korean girls actually simply pushed past me and went upstairs, said it was late and they wanted to go to bed, and that they would deal with the paying for the extra person in the morning.  I am mainly wondering what can be done once they are in the home with extra people, and a host needs to get them out but they won't leave.

Re: Extra guest breaking occupancy laws

in
Gros Islet, Saint Lucia
Level 10

@Anthony608,

Change the door code for the guest, and tell them that you will greet them when they arrive.

 

@Huma0 

Re: Extra guest breaking occupancy laws

in
London, United Kingdom
Level 10

@Anthony608 

 

Ok, these guests are just taking advantage. In this case, I think my suggestion of sending a pre/post booking message stating the law and the consequences for ignoring it might be useful. The guests need to take this more seriously.

 

Because I host in my own home where I live, I don't have this problem, but I have had guests book or try to book my rooms which clearly state a max of two people, and then mention that another friend will be squeezing into it. I say NO every time, suggest their friend can book one of my other rooms if one is available and, if not, direct them to a nearby listing where their friend might stay.

 

What to do when they never mention it and just show up with extra guests? Well, like I said, I think you can minimise the chances of this happening by very clearly explaining beforehand that it is AGAINST THE LAW in your area and those extra people will be evicted.

 

If they still ignore this, I wouldn't worry about bad reviews. I would just say, no, sorry, the extra person/people cannot stay because it is against the law and then call Airbnb if necessary, explain the situation and ask them to rehouse the guests.

Re: Extra guest breaking occupancy laws

in
London, United Kingdom
Level 10

PS @Anthony608 

 

Your rules are your rules and you have every right to enforce them. Some are maybe less important than others and you can let it slide, but that is YOUR choice, not the guests'. Their choice is to book a listing suitable to their needs, not to book a listing and decide which rules they will or will not follow.

 

I have a max of two people per room. I also do not accept under 18s, for many reasons. I have often have guests who want to book try to argue these points with me, but I never back down. Those rules are there for are reason, not just for the fun of it! If guests had the audacity to show up with extra people regardless and without having discussed it with me, sorry, but I would have zero tolerance with that. Sure, I would state my case politely, but I would hold my ground.

 

I host long-term guests, who are usually lovely, but I did have one problematic one. Amongst other things, half way through her stay she asked me if her friend could 'move in'. I told her unfortunately the other rooms were booked. She said no, her friend would stay in her room and they would 'split the rent'. I explained to her that is not how it works. After that, she became very unpleasant and called Airbnb with a bogus complaint. Luckily, all the conversations were via the Airbnb system, so they dismissed her case and agreed to contact her and tell her to leave ASAP.

Re: Extra guest breaking occupancy laws

in
London, United Kingdom
Level 10

So, try to make sure you have everything written down in the Airbnb messaging system. If you have any kind of verbal disagreement with a guest, either in person or over the phone, follow it up with a message on the system saying, "As we discussed earlier..."

Re: Extra guest breaking occupancy laws

in
Silver Spring, MD
Level 10

@Huma0- It definitely sounds like you and I have had similar experiences.  I live in my home as well, and rent rooms, and have had numerous guests try and take advantage of me.  The military vet and his two sons were probably the most aggressive, but I have also had others that surpassed their arrogance.  In addition to extra guests, I have had people flagrantly disregard off limits areas of the home , such as walking into my study-office and trying to enter my bedroom.

 

I have never had to call AirBNB about someone breaking occupancy laws, however and I wonder what AirBNB really would do.  In such a scenario, 1AM at the front door with four people on a two person booking, what options does one really have?

Re: Extra guest breaking occupancy laws

in
London, United Kingdom
Level 10

@Anthony608 

 

Actually, luckily I haven't had too many experiences like you describe. I have had guests TRYING to book the rooms for three people, rather than two, but I just say no, so I've never had extra people just turn up or sneaking in.

 

The closest situation I had was a lady visiting her son in London. They had booked the room just for her but, although he didn't stay overnight as far as I know, her son was here ALL the time, cooking, eating, hanging out, going up and down to her room. This did annoy me because I was never asked if that was okay (my house rules do state that guests must ask permission before having visitors over), but it was only a two day booking, so I let it slide.

 

Anyway, that is far from the situation you describe. What is your check in window, by the way, and why would guests be showing up at 1am? I would not allow such late check ins. My window is 3-9pm and if they want to come after that, there's a late check in fee that increases by the hour. I have found that worked really well, i.e. the guests who were coming on later flights asked me first if that was okay, but it stopped the ones who were showing up super late because they'd decided to leave me waiting for hours while they enjoyed a night out on the town.

 

You say there is not much that can be done, but I believe there is. You have to take control. So, firstly, make it crystal clear - I mean really stress - that you WILL NOT accept more than two guests on the booking and that any additional guests will be turned away, and put this in writing not only on your listing and in your house rules but in a message to every guest via the Airbnb system.

 

This should help to reduce the likelihood of these situations occurring but, when they do, you will be well within your rights to say, "I'm really sorry, but I did tell you that it was maximum two people and I'm not willing to break the law." You should maybe have details of a nearby hotel or guest house etc. where you can redirect the extra people.

 

I would follow up with a message to the booking guest via the Airbnb system along the lines of, "I'm very sorry I was unable to accommodate your extra guests, but as I mentioned when you booked, the rooms are for maximum two people as this is the law in my area. Also, guests not on the booking are not covered by Airbnb's insurance etc. etc." That way you have this all in writing should they try to come up with some complaint/try to get a refund.

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