Last week we had 6 guests, whom police agreed were likely dealing drugs out of our unit for two days. This guest listed one adult and two children on the reservation, and said they were coming into our city to help “run her husband’s restaurant.” During the next day and night, we collected security footage of a total of 6 adults in 3 cars coming and going constantly.. At least 23 times in one day. We were reserved about kicking them out because the last time we kicked a guest out for throwing a party, the partiers got to leave us our only bad review among 125 5-star reviews.
After checkout, we entered the apartment and it reeks of smoke. Two hours and 22 minutes after check-out, two of them trespassed inside to retrieve “something they forgot”... which was a sandwich bag of drugs that our cleaner saw them pull from under the mattress. Our cleaner called the cops, but by the time the police arrive, the guests had already left. We explain to the police what happened and they agree that the guests were probably using our home to deal drugs but now that they’ve left there’s not much we can do. Our cleaner continues cleaning and finds a joint left in the apartment. We take a picture of the joint.
I call Airbnb and explain all of this to “General Support.” I repeated several times, “Please do not contact the guest because we don’t want them to retaliate.” The Airbnb employee refused to confirm to us that AirBNB would not contact the guest. She instead dodged the question each time and told us that “Trust and Safety” will call us back within an hour.
No call. The next night Airbnb support messaged us saying “We will reach out to your guest about this matter and will educate her about the house rules….”
Alarmed, we call AirBNB about contacting the guests because they are drug dealers who have no problem breaking into our home when people are in it. The guest broke house rules, yes, but they also broke several laws. After getting transferred between two departments, we eventually talk to a supervisor of the “consumer [sic] service department.” We explained why contacting the guests put us and our property at risk. He told us he couldn’t do anything about it and that a supervisor from Trust and Safety would reach out to us tomorrow morning. By this time it is 1:44am and we have no confidence in AirBNB’s support.
Again, Airbnb never called. Two days later, another case manager from customer service (not Trust and Safety) attempted to call once, but when it went to voicemail they sent us an email saying that since we didn’t answer the phone, the support case has been closed. We call them back, and after 2 hours and 12 minutes of playing “ring around the department” again, we finally speak with someone useful. He apologized profusely saying he’s embarrassed by how grossly our case has been mismanaged. He was helpful and we had a productive discussion. He was sympathetic, competent and explained several specific policies in detail. Sadly, AirBNB limits what he is able to do, but we did come away from that conversation learning a lot. Here’s what we want other hosts to know:
AirBNB has several incidentally anti-host policies.
Pro Tips for Navigating AirBNB Support
Learn how to cancel a reservation properly. If there’s any chance the guest will retaliate after hearing that you’re shortening their stay, kick them out immediately. We once had a guest get a noise complaint and display highly disrespectful behavior after 1am. We made the mistake of shortening the guest’s stay instead of ending it on the spot. Had we canceled it, the guest would not have gotten to leave a retaliatory review and we would not have had our bedding destroyed with human feces. People who flagrantly disregard rules likely will not appreciate any small kindness you extend to them.
When canceling a reservation, know that if the stay is shortened the guest will get to leave you a review. If you smell trouble before the first night, follow your instincts. When talking to AirBNB Support, confirm whether or not the rule breaking guest gets to review you. If they throw in any words of uncertainty, ask them to confirm. It may be worth it to cancel their booking outright because the cost of one bad review is far more expensive than the reservation itself. Ratings matter. Any overall rating below 4.9 gets visually rounded down to 4 and a half stars on mobile. The competitive properties on search results are ones with 4.85+ ratings.
Is your safety at risk? When you call Airbnb support, be very clear that your safety is at risk and don’t give any more details until you are talking to someone who is allowed to make decisions. Otherwise, your ticket may get mishandled and the support agent may do the exact opposite of what you request.
Keep calling. If Airbnb doesn’t call you back, call again. As a host, if you don’t hold Airbnb support accountable when they don’t resolve issues sufficiently, the problem will only get worse. In our experience, they are more than happy to draw out a resolution if they think the host will go away. Call them out on bad processes and don’t just give up because it’s too much work. What’s the saying, the squeaky wheel gets the worm? We need to be the squeaky wheels when it comes to being able to trust guests and trust AirBNB. The entire system is based on trust, and trust can’t be one way.
Have an issue with drug dealers in your home? Don’t say “weed” and say “trespassing” instead of “coming after check-out time” or the Trust and Safety team skimming the case notes will read “weed” and refuse to take the ticket. Airbnb does not care about people smoking marijuana in your home.
List a fee for breaking house rules in your “additional house rules.” This can deter guests from breaking the rules in the first place (since they view and agree to the rules when they book), but the fee may become enforceable (without jumping through hoops).
Submit your requests where they’ll get read. If a guest breaks one of Airbnb’s standard house rules (no smoking, no pets, no parties), and the host has reasonable evidence (security footage of extra guests, guest admitting in a message that they threw a party, photo of cigarette butts) we believe the guest should forfeit their right to leave a review for the host. Many hosts are afraid of enforcing their house rules because the guest will leave a bad review. But these are our homes and disrespectful guests cannot get away with it! The helpful Airbnb employee we spoke with recommended that we submit this reasonable suggestion where it will actually get read by Airbnb’s decision makers, here: https://www.airbnb.com/help/feedback. If enough hosts submit similar feedback to call attention to the problem that hosts cannot enforce rules for fear of bad reviews, Airbnb is more likely to implement the suggestion.
General AirBNB Pro Tips
While the platform is actively sabotaging its hosts’ abilities to screen guests, we plan to help other hosts by writing clear reviews that explicitly state if we would recommend the guest. When instant book isn’t on and hosts are filtering potential guests, other hosts cannot see the number of stars a potential guest has, they can only read the text reviews. We recommend other hosts write clear reviews too. Warn your fellow hosts about even the mediocre guests.
Turn off instant book. If you feel that AirBNB is not supporting hosts properly, turning off instant book is a very loud and clear message to AirBNB’s senior leadership. Instant book grows AirBNB’s platform, but comes at the cost of hosts losing control over their property. As much as AirBNB strongly recommends instant book, we have had it off for more than 6 months. We haven’t seen a shortage of bookings. We are still in the same position on searches. We tried enabling for highly reviewed guests, but that wasn’t good enough. We’ve hosted at least one group who passed through instant book with a 1-star rating for partying, trashing an apartment and urinating in another host’s parking lot. They weren’t good guests.
Hesitate to accept guests with limited reviews. Problem guests usually have zero or a few generic reviews, are vague about why they are coming, or act entitled/impolite in their first message. Prevention is easiest since as you’ve seen, problem guests are hard to get rid of without suffering. The booking money is almost never worth taking a risk on a guest that shows a red flag from the get-go.
Don’t accept guests from your own city. If there’s something they don’t want to do in their own home, do you want them to do it in you home instead? There are exceptions, of course. Message the guest and understand why they want to book.
Don’t discount last minute stays. Most of our worst guests booked within 2 days of their stay. Guests that pay less than your listing is worth and can’t plan ahead are far more likely to cause problems.
AirBNB, Are You Listening?
We have put a lot of effort into making our guests feel at home. We have 125 5-star reviews and a wall of guests whose reviews glow with how special their stays felt. The vast majority of our guests are wonderful and we want to provide them with an exceptional experience. However, we will not put that kind of effort into hosting guests we can’t trust. Here’s how we recommend you balance things out, so hosts can put more faith into guests again:
Thank you for taking the time and effort to write such a thoughtful post. You have made excellent points, which Airbnb would do well to consider addressing, and your tips are very clear and well-reasoned.
Hopefully, hosts, especially newer ones, review what you've written and are forewarned and thus forearmed.
I had to look up the term "bikeshedding". I couldn't agree more that that is often what happens on the forums - and sadly in conversations with support, as well.
There's one thing I would add to your list. When calling "Customer Service", be really clear about the resolution you want to see. If you ask someone on the phone to interpret your experience and offer to do something, most times, they will do nothing.
Example: if you want to make a claim for monetary damages, or pursue a guest to recoup payment for extra guests or broken items, message the guest immediately, (likely they will ignore you, but you did document that you tried), and then go straight to the Resolution Center and open that case, with all the documentation you can assemble. If they do respond with something threatening, you have it documented.
Once you have done all that, then you can call Customer Service, and they can see what you already did, and if there was any guest response. You''d have to wait the obligatory 72 hours, if you are seeking monetary compensation, before they will take any action, but you have something concrete that you want them to do.
You'd then also have a documented paper trail in case they leave you a retaliatory review, which you know they will, anyway.
When I don't understand why something is set the way it is - I just look at the big picture to see where the money goes and suddenly, everything gets a sense. It's not rocket science to figure it out
In some instances, tracing where the money comes from in the first place, paints an even clearer picture.
Almost 2 full months since the tragedies in Orinda, and the publication of Allie Conti's scamming article in Vice. We've had "exciting update" after "exciting update" from Airbnb in the meantime about all they're doing to better protect hosts, yet still, not a single thing has changed. Nor will it ever.
Thank you so much for taking time to write here.
We just had trespassing experience over 2 months now. And airbnb only agree to pay $75 then offering $100.
It cost us over $1000 to hire staffs and security officer and lots scares, stress over late hours. Glad we read this now. We will not give up our rights to claim the cost.
We just also changed our list to add: if any trespassing accured. The damage fee is $900 plus kick out at once without questions. We have lots cameras to provide footage. We hope all host use security cameras to protect there home. We took instant booking out long time too. Because. As you said: airbnb don't care.
Wishing all airbnb host add solid fee on each house rules.
@Karla128 Unfortunately, you can't charge fees for breaking house rules. Even if it's written in your listing, Airbnb would never uphold that for you. You can only charge for actual, provable damages, and even then it's a struggle to get anything.
Thanks, I am learning how to be fair from guest adding extra works that was not supposed to be providing in our agreement. Any suggestion?
@Karla128 Can you explain what you mean by "extra works"? If a host doesn't advertise that they provide something and the guest arrives expecting it, or demands it, you, as a host, need to learn how to say No. Not rudely, but firmly and professionally.
"I'm sorry, but we don't offer use of a washing machine, or laundry service, in our listing description. It's unfortunate that you failed to read that. But there's a good laundromat just down the block".
"As is clearly stated in our ad, there may be on-street parking available, but it's not guaranteed, as we don't own the street and anyone is allowed to park there. We also mentioned that there's an inexpensive paid parking lot just on the corner, if you can't find any free street parking"
"We provide once every 3 day towel changes, not daily. We made sure to make that clear in our listing information and guest information we send out, I'm not sure how you missed it?"
"Yes, well, you may have found those things in your past Airbnb, but every Airbnb is unique and not all hosts provide the same things, it's very individual. That's why it's so important to read the amenities lists for each place."
let me try to explain my words.
I had read some host listed all breaking rules rate to agreed before booking.
So, I thought if that is acceptable on Airbnb platform . ( I thought it is that host doing with AirbnbPlatform.)
I am confused from your last email. So, I replied on “extra work” , which I mean is: maybe if I itemized each house rules broken fees from guest, will be collectable from Airbnb from the rules on Airbnb platform. And from what I read with your reply, it seems saying, even if it is on house rules. Airbnb will not homer it from guest agreed on before booking?
did I understand what you’re saying?
If so, what do you suggest to host to make that possible on guest breaking house rules? We are not able to putting extra time to dealing with trouble maker with low rate in our area. From what we already replied. We trying our best to keep low cost for good respectful guests to stay, not adding extra cost as hotel for any trouble makers, since Airbnb will not help on host in Managy many trouble maker guests. That we are getting more and more this year. We just declined 7 requests from our experience with all this. Just not worthy to support lower price for trouble makers.
thanks for your time on my questions.
@Karla128 No, what I was saying is that if a guest is demanding about things that you don't offer, that you shouldn't try to accommodate their demands because demanding guests are never satisfied and a host is under no obligation to provide something they don't list as available.
But I misunderstood that you were talking about the breaking of house rules. Airbnb doesn't support charges to the guest for breaking house rules. So all you can do is what you already are doing- screen the guests before you accept their booking, decline the ones you feel won't be good guests, and talk to the ones who do get accepted, but ignore your rules. If they get nasty and still ignore your rules, don't be afraid to tell them they need to leave.
I've read some hosts say they have fines listed for the breaking of some rules, but the way Airbnb works, the guest would have to be asked to pay this, and would most probably refuse to pay, and I doubt that Airbnb would enforce it.
I think the only way collecting fines for broken house rules would be viable is if you had your own direct booking website, rather than booked through Airbnb, and took a deposit that you could keep if the guest violated your rules. As long as Airbnb is in charge of payments, a host is at the mercy of whatever a CS rep decides.
Thanks again Sarah
I wonder if it is time for good hosts gather together to create a solid foundation to secure a way to protect our property from those miss behaviors. Those dis respect guests. Perhaps a dugsign with special rules from security deposit rules. Could add to airbnb. So airbnb can go on as they don't care about protect good hosts. And that special dugsign will be a good layer protection for good hosts.
Airbnb is not force guest to sign it.
However if the guest signed it.
Then airbnb has reason to with hold the security found for hosts.
Plus: this will make hosts has chose to decline it or accept the guests. Without risk penalty from host also when hosts has ividence to support the iseus.
This will stop most disrespectful guests or at least. Guest will have to learn to pay there own behavios. To go to the hosts accept them without dugsign special agent fine.
I don't hope they go to mess up other host's property.
I do hope there is a better way to make public aware that: Hosts are ready to protect ourself by law.
Another question: are we allowed to do back ground check on guests? Especially for over 30-90-120 nights booking?
If a guest even resembles a "red flag" in any way-they are not staying here. Likewise, I commonly refuse 0 review guests who do not respond to messages. They are not for my place.
We have seen a trend this last year of rule breakers and people who aren't really prepared to "join in" with the AirBnB community nor it's host's standards and we have become very selective while hiking up pricing.
Just last night I refused a 0 review guest who lived just 30 minutes away that wanted extra late check out. I said "You are checking out late likely because you are going to be up all night and potentially breaking our noise limit-no thanks!"
Thanks for sharing. I never tried to speak that way in my life. I Give guest chance to explain there reason to check out late? If they don’t. Then I just decline it. I will not give them idea to come out a story to try it to next host. But I understand the way you Handel it just to protect your home.
Appreciated your sharing