a week ago we just had our first experience as a hosts, and a problem occured.
Our guests booked our apartment for 2 nights in Helsinki while we were our of town. On Friday, they pick up the key from a friend to get into our apartment (they knew we wouldn't be in Helsinki). The first night went without a problem, but on Saturday afternoon, they texted us that they forgot the key inside the apartment and that they were locked out. After speaking with them for a long while, we tried to help with all we could from the distance (we call the housing company from the buiding to try to open the door, we spoke with a locksmith, etc...), but because finnish laws are really strict, they would only open the door to us (the tenants) presenting our ID's. We said how sorry we were, gave them some information about hotels in town where to stay, and ask to wait for us until monday evening to return and pick up their things. Because they live approximately 400km from Helsinki, and they came by car, they decided not to wait, go home, and come back on Tuesday to pick up their things.
One week after, they came to pick up their things, we received an email where they ask "because there was no copy, we had to spend extra money to get back for our things and the weekend was a bit spoiled" to get a one night refund. We believe that forgetting the keys was their mistake while knowing that we will be out of town, and the decision to leave and come back was as well theirs.
Did someone had the same situation? Should we do some kind of refund? Is our first hosting experience and we are not so sure how to proceed.
Thank you, and looking forward to hear from more experienced hosts.
@Albert(and all... impossible to name everyone with the little list that pops up),
What a great stir!
I know what I did (still on SNOOZE, but quite proactive thanks to y'all!): There is a silly garden gnome that came with my property when I bought it a bit over two years ago... totally kitchy garden gnome! I kept it, and just today taped the spare key to his bottom this afternoon. No one is going to forget where to find the spare key now!
Yep, and y'all know my secret. ;-)
I think I'm pretty safe with this crowd.
This really scares me @Kimberly!
"No one is going to forget where to find the spare key now!"
That is correct. I hope I will not be the one staying in your listing when the many people who know where your spare key is located come into the home and steal all my belongings.
@Albert, I agree with many who have said to refund and that this is also a hosting error as much as it is an issue with the guests. The best piece of advice is what @Momi already mentioned. Get a lockset on your door where you can program a code for each guest. It is really easy to program for multiple guests and remove the code when they leave. I love the Schlage sets and have never had an issue with lost keys or locked out guests. That reminds me, I need to go program the door code for the guests who arrive tomorrow.
This is really a management issue, you need a local contact in case something goes wrong who can deal with matters in your absence.
In my city, there is a regulation that requires a local contact that can respond to issues within 40 minutes. You can lose your license if you do not have a local contact. The city is motivated by complaints by neighbors, but I think it makes sense for other issues as well.
@Albert, you are brand new to hosting, and the #1 thing to learn right off the bat is to give and take, especially when dealing with guests. At this point, also good reviews are important to you, thus doubly important.
1-You are away, and had zero contingency plan concerning the guests to be able to get back into your place (with all their belongings in it mind you), IF the ONE key they were given is lost.
2-They locked themselves out. They could have lost the key (fall out), they could have been robbed with the key in her purse or his wallet, the key may not have worked a second time for some crazy reason.
3- Their position is to refund them for only the day they were locked out. Their weekend was ruined. Now, imagine having to come 800km (500 miles!) back to retrieve their belongings, because they didn't want to hang out in a hotel without them till you got back. (Please make sure you give them a 1-star for "Key Misplacement, and 10-stars for being such sweethearts.)
4- Now Airbnb will in all likelihood be involved. If they are, do not be surprised if they refund them in Full.
The real lessons here, in my book, are: A-The unexpected will happen. B- Guest will screw up, it is not their home. C- A 'situation' that could have been resolved amicably, on the spot, but can indeed escalate unnecessarily, when one looses sight of the 'big picture'.
Bad guests do much (much) worse than forgetting their keys inside your apartment.
You can argue that it was their fault, but it has never happened to you?
If you rent your place while you're not available, you need a 100% solid backup on site.
Like in any business, you have to think about all the "what if". And that is a big one.
If the local laws are so strict to prevent the building's staff to open the door to somebody else than you, you have a problem that you have to fix.
You can't take such a big risk. If you're often away, maybe you can think about installing an electronic lock? Or at least, give a spare key to your friend. Make sure that somebody can open the door in your absence ...
Of course, their week-end got spoiled by this incident. How to enjoy then ...?
One night of refund isn't much. If it's the price to learn the lesson ...
I'm not trying to exonerate the guests from their faults, but like I said, there is so much worse that could happen with other guests ...
It's nothing compared to destroying your place or causing other serious problems.
Cat & Alex
first of all thank you very much for all your messages, tips, ideas, etc.. Is amazing how much one can learn from a not so pleasant situation.
After hearing all your messages, we decided to do a partial refund to our guests as they asked even it wasn't our first idea. We wanted to be fair on that and that's why we asked opinions from others hosts. Lesson learned!
Thanks again for your comments and opinions. Have all a good one,
EDITED: to fix typo
You are so welcome! I am so glad to hear that you found my advice and suggestions to be the most helpful. That's my goal here on the CC since so many helped me back in 2015 too. #PayItForward
Thank you for taking the advice of the other seasoned hosts who took the time to write you advising you to give a refund. As I wrote myself, "Put yourself in the shoes of your guests". We all agree that giving a partial refund is the RIGHT thing to do. And maybe, just maybe, you might want to consider writing your guests a private message asking them to give a second chance to host them and then surprising them with something yummy upon arrival that is popular in Finland.
You're the type of host I would want to stay with one day. :)
HELPFUL TIP ON YOUR HOUSE KEY: Do you know what a colorful LONG key holder is (it usually has words on it) that one puts around their neck? Thats what we have our keys on and its easy to carry other things in our hands as we leave the house while our house key is around our neck. Ours says "HAWAII" repeatedly all over it. They sell them in souvenir shops. Bonus feature, makes it easier to find my keys in my purse :))
Great way to contact Airbnb or via Twitter at AirbnbHelp / Facebook