I currently have in my house an Instant Book guest with 2 positive reviews. I was concerned from Moment 1 because she said she grew up in the area but now lives elsewhere, though her profile shows her residence as 10 minutes away. OK, maybe she hasn't changed it. But she really didn't answer anything I sent her for days, thru email or text; I have a large house and kept asking if anyone else was joining her. Finally had to get Airbnb involved; they could't reach her either, but left voicemails. Finally, she responded to my several messages about check-in, house info, question about additional guest, with "Thanks." OK, some people just really aren't talkative... But my neighbor reports several cars at all times at the house and a big blue tarp on the front lawn. She also saw a "young couple" with a guitar leaving early in the morning. I have in my listing "no unregistered overnight guests." I haven't gotten any response from the guest since "she" checked in... reminded her about garbage pickup day, etc. I live 1.5 hours from the house... Is there anything I can/ should do? How can I enforce any rules if the guest just won't communicate? I don't know who the heck is in my house!
Oof, Marcia, this doesn't sound good! I can understand why you'd be concerned!
The lack of communication, combined with the observations from your neighbor, are certainly worrying. Without more information I'd hesitate to take action. It could be as innocent as a guest who doesn't have the app installed (not receiving notifications). Or it could be that she's filled your house with extra people and is ducking your calls. If I couldn't reach her via phone call, I'd either show up in person or send a reliable friend.
You could also ask Airbnb to cancel her, due to the unresponsiveness and report of extra people, but whether you could do so without stiff penalties is another question.
To eliminate further issues, and since you're not close to your listing, I'd seriously consider getting a few cameras to monitor your exterior doors. It's an enormous amount of reassurance to see - yep- that's the person who booked and -yep- that's the # of guests they reserved for. -Whoa- is that a (Dog, Stripper, Keg) coming through the door?!? (Plus you have video evidence)
Thanks, Allison, good idea about the camera(s). I've been extremely lucky in 3 years or so, doing this from a distance, but it's good to have "eyes" on the property. My neighbor is busy and doesn't notice much if I don't ask. This is the first case of genuine concern. And honestly I would've rejected this guest without 2 positive reviews...
But can I just show up? I mean, I'm the homeowner, but the idea of it just feels creepy... Can I prove that others have spent the night? Is nonresponsiveness grounds for host arrival? I can ask my house cleaner or a friend to stop by, but... what should they do or ask?
Yes, of course you can show up. You can't enter the space, but you can knock on the door, or intercept them in the driveway and say, "Hi! How is everything? Do you have what you need?"
I would definitely send someone by the house ASAP to see what is going on. Drive by, don't go in. Then, if they tell you there is a massive party/event going on, which I am sure there IS or was, then I would go there, but not send a message until about 30 minutes prior to your arrival, so there is no time for them to erase the evidence.
If you are uncomfortable with the guest, and so uncomfortable that you feel you need to investigate in person, that seems fine to me, especially since you have already gotten airbnb involved previously over this guest's failure to communicate.
But be ready for a bad review, as guests who are called on this level of lying and BS always give terrible reviews.
I recently needed to look it up in the TOS for a guest dealing with this from the other side. Here's what they say about you re-entering the accomodation. It sounds like you'd be well within your rights to drive by and knock on the door. Whether you can enter is another story, and dependent on your local laws. (INAL)
8.2.1 You understand that a confirmed booking of an Accommodation (“Accommodation Booking”) is a limited license granted to you by the Host to enter, occupy and use the Accommodation for the duration of your stay, during which time the Host (only where and to the extent permitted by applicable law) retains the right to re-enter the Accommodation, in accordance with your agreement with the Host.
In my city it is a requirement that there is a local contact that can respond to any issue within 45 minutes. I think this is a good idea for both the host and the community. Bad guests can cause a community reaction against short term rentals.