Smoking deposit collection best practices

in
Chicago, IL
Level 10
1,394 Views

I put together this guide to help other hosts collect their smoking deposit. I have been successful in doing so and there seem to be a number of posts from hosts who were declined by CS and frustrated. Please add what have worked for you

 

  1. This will seem obvious, but start by making sure your guests do not smoke in the first place. If you have a no smoking rule, I am sure your goal is to have a non smoking place, not to collect a deposit. I have it in my house rules on the site, I email a reminder with my welcome message and have signs throughout the property. I also say that there is no smoking on the entire property, including the yard and garage. The reason for it is that some people smoked in the doorway in the winter, in the yard with windows open in the summer and the house reeked of smoked just the same. I tell them they would need to physically leave my property to smoke. This also made it easier to collect proof for CS as even if they smoked in the house, most of the time they threw the butts right outside and since the whole property was covered by the rule, those pictures were accepted as proof.
  2. Have a clearly stated separate smoking deposit. Make it high. Mine is $500. If you have a small deposit, someone can potentially choose to smoke and pay the fine.
  3. Once you found out that a guest smoked, take pictures. I have never not been able to find some evidence, no matter how hard they tried to hide it. Something to watch out for: I once thought a guest drew a line with a cigarette on the decking and submitted it as evidence. A very detail oriented CS representative found the same line in one of my pictures posted on the site and denied the entire claim. Make sure your pictures are of the new damage by this particular guest.
  4. Save receipts for dry cleaning, filters. I used to buy filters in quantity but CS questioned the date on it. If you are changing filters due to guest smoking and hope to collect the deposit, go out and by a new filter at that time. If you need extra cleaning supplies, buy them separately and save that receipt. You can rent a carpet cleaner from Home Depot. They are fantastic. I actually purchased one and it comes in handy often.
  5. Have a detailed invoice from a verifiable cleaner. If you clean the space yourself, all you will be able to get is expenses listed in point 4 even though you have the smoking deposit. Airbnb will cover your actual cost, there is no punitive component. Even if you do not use a cleaning company but an individual, ask your cleaner to create an invoice on their letterhead. Perhaps even help her/him put it together. It should have their name and phone number, it does not need to be anything complicated with a logo but still have valid details. CS verified my cleaning company once. Have a detailed description of the extra work they did. For example, they would probably need to wash all the bedding you keep in the house, not just what your guest used. List everything (so many top sheets, pillow cases, etc). They should wash the walls with water and a bit of soap to remove the tar, list that. List everything.
  6. Be calm and polite. This is a piece of advice I got from one of my favorite posters here. I used to let CS have it. No. Thank them for taking the time to work with you, be factual and polite no matter how ridiculous their response is. Be patient. They will sometimes take weeks to respond to you but will demand that you answer within 48 hours. Breathe in and out and come here to vent.
  7. Ask for a manager if all fails. They will get one

In terms of getting the actual smoke out, ozone machine is magic. I got one online for about $70. I still need to do all the washing and cleaning but the smell lingers until I use the ozone machine.

 

Good luck!

56 Replies

Re: Smoking deposit collection best practices

in
California, United States
Level 10

@Inna22 Thanks for the excellent post! Great stuff here.

 

Do you ever worry about the health effects of the ozone machine?

Re: Smoking deposit collection best practices

in
Chicago, IL
Level 10

@Lenore22 there should be none if used properly. The place needs to be vacated/aired out for double the time it was used. If you run the machine for 1 hour, you air it out for two. I hold my breath and walk out as soon as I start it. If I have a check in same day, I come back and open the windows. If no one is checking in, it can just sit vacant for the night.

Re: Smoking deposit collection best practices

in
Balearic Islands, Spain
Level 10

@Inna22 

 

Thanks for that. It's exactly what we do. 

 

Unfortunately, for business, it has been violated frequently lately, even when the guest is forced to agree to this and other rules and the severe penalties, and all of it has proven to be unenforceable. 

 

But potential guests don't necessarily know it's unenforceable, so in my opinion, it's wise to scare them away with high penalties before they book it. Prevention is the best cure. 

Re: Smoking deposit collection best practices

in
Auckland, New Zealand
Level 10

Thanks @Inna22 

Have you included Shisha, Vaping amongst other variations of smokes/ imitation tobacco?

Some may try it on if you don't.

 

  I've included those in my Other things to note / Rules in my listing.

I also won't allow any of those things on the property for health reasons and bc I've shared parts of the property and respect my neighbours.

Re: Smoking deposit collection best practices

in
Chicago, IL
Level 10

@Helen427 I just use the term smoking. If I start listing things, I am sure they will come up with something I forgot/ did not know about and smoke that. If they ask, I tell them that while my general goal is to single handedly eradicate smoking and related diseases, my immediate one is to not stink up the place. They can do anything that has no odor. 

Re: Smoking deposit collection best practices

in
Southwest Ranches, FL
Level 2

@Inna22 Thank you for this post. Very interesting. Please note that I am a complete novice in Airbnb terms (actually working hard on opening my Airbnb), so please ignore my question if it is already much addressed elsewhere.

 

My question: Do you leave the guest a review that makes it clear to future hosts the guest broke a house rule, and also to future guests you will will leave a review when disrespecting a house rule?

Re: Smoking deposit collection best practices

in
Chicago, IL
Level 10

@Joris41 yes, it is extremely important to leave an accurate review. When the time comes for you to write your fist one, come back here. There are a lot of great posts about the review process. Every once in a while I do not leave one at all. Usually when a guest was less than stellar first but became a model citizen after a reminder. 

Re: Smoking deposit collection best practices

in
Sayulita, Mexico
Level 10

There's no need to tell guests you'll leave a review if they break house rules. That sounds like a threat. Although not everyone does all the time, it's a given that hosts and guests leave reviews for each other, whether there were issues or it all went beautifully.

 

Yes, you should leave honest reviews, but it's not necessary to go into excruciating detail. Something like "This guest willfully ignored house rules even when reminded of them" or "This guest failed to follow house rules that were made quite clear to them", as the case may be. It's helpful to other hosts to know specifically if they snuck in extra guests, or pets, or smoked in a no-smoking listing, so hosts are aware of what to watch out for if they get a request from those guests, but if it's just something like failing to take out the garbage, a generic "didn't follow house rules" is probably good enough.

 

If hosts shy away from leaving honest reviews, that's how horrid guests just get to carry on booking places and making hosts' lives a hassle. And of course if they were great guests, you want other hosts to know that as well. And many reviews might be a mix- "Guests were sweet and friendly and communicated well during the booking and pre-arrival, but more attention to cleaning up after themselves would have been appreciated."

 

Also some guests are just sort of clueless- they don't mean to be bad guests, they just don't understand some aspects of staying in someone's home, like that the host isn't their personal maid or concierge. Or they're young and simply never learned how to clean up after themselves. So occasionally, if you feel a guest is open to learning, and really had good intentions, you could just mention something to them in private feedback rather than in the public review.

 

@Joris41

Re: Smoking deposit collection best practices

in
NY, NY
Level 10

@Inna22  This is a terrific guide - thank you! 

 

Speaking as a reformed smoker...smokers have almost no control over their addiction and will smoke wherever they think they can get away with it.  When I smoked, I wouldn't have booked a non-smoking Airbnb, but I smoked in every hotel room I ever stayed in and was prepared to pay the fine every time.  When an Airbnb host puts through a resolution to a smoker, unfortunately they're not all like that - or they didn't book the place - or they lied to the person who did.

 

In my apartment I used an air purifier that had an ozone setting, but it was strongly not recommended that smokers use the setting because ozone potentially harms lungs.  However, even the air purifier made a huge difference, and it has the added benefit of removing dust, pet dander, and some other allergens from the air.

Re: Smoking deposit collection best practices

in
Chicago, IL
Level 10

@Ann72 I am surprised no one so far has decided to just pay the fine, particularly since I host big groups. If a group of 10 smokers books my place for 4 days, paying $25 per day and be comfortable would have been a good deal to me if I smoked. So far everyone claimed they did not smoke at all or that they did not smoke in the house.

Re: Smoking deposit collection best practices

in
NY, NY
Level 10

@Inna22  I agree with you 100%.  It's one of those "It's better to apologize [pay a fine] than to ask permission" situations.

Re: Smoking deposit collection best practices

in
Deerfield Beach, FL
Level 2

I have just had a situation where the guest caused over $500 damage, including $300 smoke damage form starting a charcoal grill inside the attached garage to my home.  I require a $500 "security deposit" on ALL my bookings.  AirBnB refused to pay because the Guest did not respond to their inquiry.  

There are additional details to this story, which is the issue where AirBnB was notified of this on day one, and did not respond for 22 days... which pushed past the 14 day window that AirBnB says it places a hold on the Guest's credit card.  AirBnB never once in that time contacted me to let me know what the process was regarding damage claims.  Only after 28 days did they say communicate that I was not eligible for reimbursement because I did not reach out to the offending Guest prior to the arrival of my next guest (which in my case was only 3 days).  None of this useful information was shared with me.  Now, I did EVERYTHING else that was required, provided receipts, pictures, invoices, estimates, etc., to AirBnB on day one.

 

I responded back and explained the above, and mentioned that if CS responds 28 days later informing me of what I needed to do but did not do (no idea, never had this happen before), then they could equally have responded with an automated message on DAY ONE notifying me of ALL the required steps I must follow to ensure I would be compensated.

AirBnB admitted they dropped the ball and opened the case back up.

 

However, it was well past the 14 day deposit hold.  So, I am thinking that this will fall under the Host Guarantee.  Nope.

Here's what I experienced / learned ... 

The AirBnB "security deposit" is NOT a security deposit.  AirBnB does NOT place a hold on the Guest's credit card.  More importantly, as a Host / Property Management company = LEASOR, in the "real" vacation rental / property leasing industry a security deposit is between  LEASOR and the LEASEE, and the company who executes the payment transaction of that held security deposit is NOT a third-party arbitrator who unilaterally decide whether the Host will receive all or a portion of the security deposit. 

Nope.  AirBnB inserts itself as arbitrator related to security deposits.  But ONLY after they require YOU to contact the Guest directly to get them to "agree" to pay you!!!  Good luck with that.

Now, here's the dirty little secret ....

 

After the Guest responds to you and denies any wrong doing ... and after you have provided evidence, receipts, invoices, estimates, pictures, etc., to AirBnB on day one, if the Guest refuses to respond to AirBnB inquiries about this,  YOU DON'T GET $.

 

So, in conclusion:

 

1) Regardless of actual damage, pictures, etc., AirBnB determines if you get any funds, and how much based on some undisclosed methodology 

2) You will only get funds if the Guest responds to AirBnB inquiries.


So, the Security Deposit is NOT a security deposit AND the Host Guarantee is not a guarantee ...  because in my situation, both require the Guest to respond to the AirBnB inquiry.  If they do not, they continue on without any repercussions.  

Sounds like a Guest Guarantee to me.

Re: Smoking deposit collection best practices

in
Chicago, IL
Level 10

@Doug-And-Leslie0 yes, I should have included the timeline in my instructions. It has to be done before the next guest's check in and no longer than 14 days out. 

You are correct, the security deposit is not really a deposit. No, the guest does not have to respond. This is something CS told you in hopes you go away. I have heard this happen to others but never encountered it myself

Re: Smoking deposit collection best practices

in
NY, NY
Level 10

@Doug-And-Leslie0  I'm so sorry you had this miserable experience.  

 

The dirty "secret" that may have tripped you up is that you didn't go to the guest first, before the next guest checked in.

 

I recommend writing the guest with a photo or two and saying, "Can you tell us what happened?"  You're not straight out blaming them, but you've communicated the problem to them.  With my last claim I simply asked the guest what had put big black stains on the sheets so we would know how best to clean them.  She did not respond, so I put a claim through.  She refused to pay, so Airbnb paid.  I was surprised, but I think it was because of the steps taken first with the guest.

Join the conversation