I have a security deposit listed on my Airbnb listing. However, after two unfortunate experiences where guests damaged/soiled my property, I found that Airbnb does not actually honor or collect that security deposit when damages occur. In one case, the person left a mess AND brought in a shedding pet when I have a no pet policy. My only recourse for payment was to have the guest agree to pay for cleanup; without the guest's approval, no reimursement would be made. This was in spite of the fact that I had photos of cigarette butts and beer cans on my porch, other trash around, and photos of pet fur all over my carpets. In a second case, we had damage (deep scratches on closet doors) that Airbnb called "normal wear and tear." Note that the doors had been knocked off the track and the scratches were more like gouches; they were not there prior to guest check in. In both cases, I had pre-visit and post-visit inspection reports from my property manager; these reports validated that the damages had occured during that particular guest's stay.
What I found out in this experience is:
1) AIrbnb does not actually collect a security deposit.
2) Airbnb sides with the guest unless the guest admits to causing damage.
3) Host has not recourse to claim damages.
What I would like to know is how to do other hosts avoid this issue? Are you collecting a security deposit on your own? Offering damage insurance? Something else?
@Miriam402 You're correct: the Airbnb "security deposit" isn't really a security deposit at all. It's only an amount that the guest could be charged if there is damage, but there's no guarantee that Airbnb will rule in your favour. If you search "damage" or "security deposit" here on the community centre, you will find many, many instances like what you describe. It's difficult to get them to pay, and if it's just extra cleaning rather than actual damage, it's pretty much impossible. If you need to claim, make sure you take lots of pictures, have your receipts, and claim as soon as possible. Also remember that Airbnb will never give you replacement value: they give you a current value for the item, based on depreciation.
I would say make sure you have your own insurance against damage, and expect that some guests are going to be more work than others and keep some money set aside for it for extra cleaning and minor damage. You are not allowed to collect a security deposit outside of Airbnb: that voilates the terms and conditions, and can get you de-listed.
Some other platforms like Home Away/VRBO do let you fully control your security deposit, and it may be worth your while to list on multiple platforms.
Thanks Alexandra. I am on other platforms like VRBO; so, I can see the difference in the way they help protect both owners and guests versus Airbnb's methods. Fortunately, I've only had 2 issues in more then 50 Airbnb guests, but depending on how the issue is resolved, one can be too many. For example, bringing a pet in and breaking the rules, means more than a little extra cleaning, it means a deep cleaning of the house to get rid of pet dander in case my next guest (who is renting a pet-free home) has allergies. I have had multiple conversations with Airbnb about the general feeling that guests are more greatly protected than the hosts who put up their homw. I put this post up in case it is a concern of other hosts. If enough people respond with a shared concern, perhaps Airbnb will change it's policy and either collect a security deposit upfront or offer damage insurance, like VRBO and other competitors do.
@Miriam402 yes we can hope... Airbnb have said they're rolling out a proper damage deposit, but no definite date or any details. I'll believe it when I see it.
I agree that extra cleaning should incur charges, but that's not how Airbnb currently views it. I don't think it's fair if there are pets, smoking, bodily fluids, etc you can't get extra money unless something is actually damaged to the point of needing repair or replacement.
Again, it's a super common complaint here and you're definitely not alone in finding it frustrating and complaining about it to Airbnb. If they address it remains to be seen.