I'm looking for some advice. I have a long term guest who is about a week into his three month stay. He texted me with a picture of what looked like a smoke detector in my unit saying "This thing keeps beeping and making noise." Thinking it was a smoke detector I told him to replace the batteries (I keep spares in the drawer for my guests.) He said it looked like a fuse, and that the unit didn't seem to have a battery. I texted "unscrew the fuse," which my guest wasn't able to accomplish. I had him call my local Property Manager (who was out of town and couldn't swing by) who tried to walk him through trouble shooting the unit to get it to stop chirping. Finally, my guest said my Property Manager said to call an electrican.
Since the unit is 1 1/2 hours from my home, and I couldn't find an electrician in Sacramento to come to my unit at 6pm on a Sunday, I had my local electrician drive up from the Bay Area to fix it (I'm lucky to have such a loyal local guy who's done tons of work for us in our home and business.) When my electrician, Mike, got there he determined my guest thought the fire sprinkler system was chirping, when in fact my guest had unplugged the Carbon Monoxide alarm to plug his laptop into the wall electrical outlet. All that was needed to stop the chirping was to plug the Carbon Monoxide unit back into the wall, as the low battery alarm was going off because the Carbon Monoxide detector had been unplugged from the electrical outlet too long.
I'm lucky I only paid Mike $260 for driving 3 hours round-trip from the Bay Area to Sacramento to plug in the Carbon Monoxide alarm (Mike didn't get out of there until 10:30pm do to getting off of his other job, the drive, etc). However, now the sprinkler system will also need repair. I don't know how much it will cost yet. But, I'm pretty frustrated with all the drama...when my guest could have just plugged the Carbon Monoxide alarm back in. I'm sure my guest couldn't tell the Carbon Monoxide unit was the unit actually chirping as it was only a few feet from the ceiling mounted fire sprinkler unit...but...OMG!
So, what do I do? Do I charge my guest for Mike's visit of $260, AND the repair of the fire sprinkler unit? Do I charge my guest for just Mike's visit and not the fire sprinkler unit (as me and my Property Manager told him to do things to get it to stop chirping)? Or, do I let it go and suck it up and NOT charge my guest anything in hopes that my guest will leave me a better Airbnb review/rating when he leaves in eleven weeks?
Any advice is appreciate.
This is definitely a tricky situation.
I was an apartment/property Manager in California for years and had to deal with situations just like this and, the short answer would be, yes. If this was a resident, with a signed contract/rental agreement, he would be charged for damage fees if he damaged the sprinkler system, or any other part of the apartment. I wouldn’t charge him for the visit/labor though.
In California, we have about 48 hours to answer a maintenance call, unless there was valid reason that it would take longer for repairs, i.e. purchasing parts. If I didn’t have maintenance on hand to take care of the situation, especially something as simple as changing a battery, I would make it work! Call another property, call an electrician, even do it myself if I needed to (if it meant saving the company time and money) and I wouldn’t charge the resident.
Unfortunately, with Airbnb, these are not residents and the landlord/tenant laws, or contract isn’t the same.
If you added a Security Deposit to your listing, you may want to try submitting a claim. In case you are concerned about causing tension while your guest is still in your home, you do have 14 days of the checkout date or before a new guest checks in, whichever is earlier, to submit your claim. Here is the link for more info: https://www.airbnb.com/help/article/140/how-does-airbnb-handle-security-deposits
After a claim is submitted, Airbnb will open a case and everything will be resolved through Airbnb mediation. Here is a link for the details: https://www.airbnb.com/help/article/352/what-happens-if-a-host-makes-a-claim-on-my-security-deposit
Hopefully, host and guest will come to an agreement, and this issue will be resolved.
If you don’t have a Security Deposit listed, it might be something to consider adding to prevent future mishaps. Here’s the link on how to do this: https://www.airbnb.com/help/article/59/how-do-i-add-a-security-deposit-to-my-listing.
If not, I would count this as a loss. Speak with the guest, make sure he understands all the House Rules and, because he will still be there for a few more months, explain to him the best procedures should this happen again.
As Property Manager, we had binders and meetings and trainings that helped us avoid and trouble shoot these types of situations. One of the policies was never advise a tenant to make their own repairs, as they may end up making things worse and damages cost may be transferred to the resident(s), as was the case here it seems. You may want to consider this in your House Rules (https://www.airbnb.com/help/article/472/how-do-i-share-my-house-rules-with-guests ) moving forward.
There are other ways you can try to prevent this from happening again and if you would like further assistance I’m happy to help.
In the meantime, I’m sorry that you had to go through this experience and I hope everything works out in the end.
Hope this is helpful! Let me know if you have any more questions, happy to help!
LOV Puerto Rico
Thanks for the thoughtful responses. One of my frustrations is I would not have had a service free/labor for Mike's visit if the guest hadn't unplugged the Carbon Monoxide Alarm from the wall-plug.
Now, I will have a second repair and service fee for the Sprinkler Heat Sensor unit...very frustrating.
@Christina142 Please trust me when I say, I understand how you feel as I have been through similar situations numerous times as a Property Manager.
Just put those preventative measures into place and be prepared. No two guests are alike and things may not always turn out the way we planned.
As long as you continue to abide by Airbnb policies and procedures, practice responsible hosting, and stay kind to all guests, the "Super" host that you are will shine through and future guests will see this, even thogh the "unique" guests post bad reviews.
Remember, you Airbnb not only provides some great customer service, but you have a whole community you can always count on for assistance and support.
LOV Puerto Rico
AS FOR REVEIWS… I understand your concern. I don’t like getting bad reviews, but I also don’t like losing money, or risking the safety of my household, guests and neighbors.
Don’t worry too much what the guest is going to write, rather, how can I make guest, and host (you), happy in this situation? Unless you are going to cancel his booking due to broken House Rules, you have to make sure you go over them with the guest as he is going to be there for months! But I digress…
I read this article that states, "It's no exaggeration to say that reviews are the glue that keeps the sharing economy together, instilling a potentially chaotic or unpredictable process with a sense of humanity and order. Reviews are what separate Airbnb from Craigslist." - Seth Porges, FORBES CONTRIBUTOR
I think as hosts, and guests, it’s important that we share our experiences with each other, and are honest about it.
Grant it, I haven't had to write too many bad reviews, but in the instances I have, I have a formula for when I do.
Finally, remember, when writing the review, or any review, always be sure to adhere to the Airbnb policies. If you’re not sure about something, ask, or don’t include it at all. Here is a link: How do Reviews Work.
I think there is a positive way to be honest, even with a negative experience, without sounding rude. I also like to remember that these reviews are for future hosts and guest, and I would hate to lose out on potential future bookings.
Hope this brings you a little ease.
LOV Puerto Rico
Hello @Christina142. I took some time to review your other posts and issues you have had with your listings. Although you are very successful with many positive reviews and Super Host status, I wonder how you manage so well :D! You are remote to your listings. It appears your property manager is not the primary contact for issues, right?
I am wondering if you had considered finding a local co-host to help you instead of a property manager. A co-host can manage the listing with as much administrative responsibility as you choose. There might be a co-host registry in Sacramento which will include hosts that Air BNB has invited to sign up due to their high stats. Just a thought.
I haven't considered a co-host because this is a historic property and I screen the guests as carefully as I can prior to accepting them. the house is about an 1 1/2 from our home. I have a Property Manager near the property but I manage the bookings and finances. I prefer it this way as I've had issues with Airbnb'ers being irresponsible.
I've heard this sentence recently in an documentary and remembered it because it is so true :" Human kind has never been so uncapable to perform simple and logical tasks as it is today."
Charge him for stupidity
I would not charge the guest for this situation. He had no way of knowing that unplugging something would cause a problem. However I would clearly label the outlet with warnings not to unplug anything. Do they make locking outlet covers? Also put in your house rules that certain things are plugged in and must be left plugged in.
@Christina142 I have to agree with @Branka-and-Silvia0 and the quote she posted. I think less and less people are using their common sense and/or their ability to complete "simple tasks," but I don't think you should charge the guest for "stupidity."
Again, I'm sorry for your losses, and I would hate to have to eat up the costs if I were you, but I don't think the guests should have to pay. I would, however, inform them of their error and... if anything, you can still file a claim and Airbnb can mediate and help you, and your guest, find a resonable amount that you can both be happy with.
People may surprise you. My guests always seem to.
LOV Puerto Rico
however you call it, stupidity, simple error or else, the fact is that Christina had significant extra cost ,( not to mention few hours extra work to organize the repairman at sunday evening) and her guest/tenant caused it.
As it is a long term, 3 month stay, I assume this guest as a tenant has some contract and damages are ( or should be) mentioned in it.
Most of the damages guests do is a "simple error", like when they lose keys , stain or break something and that is why we have a security deposit.
In the future put a note "CO detector - do NOT unplug" on the socket or even tape the plug on the socket. Tape everything your guests and tenants should not use, touch or adjust