We just purchased our dream vacation home near Disney. It's a 5br house and we have now had three different guests stay there.
As of right now, I am in shock at the amount of things that are being broken. AND... I'm terrified to charge them for what they break and to write a real review in fear of getting a low rating and getting my listing shut down.
First guests checked in the day after the house became ours. The maids came in after the guests left and said a queen blanket was MISSING and two wine glasses were missing and two other glasses were missing. There was a TON of trash left by the guests, despite being told to take excess trash with them. Our community requires all trash to be in bags and they didn't even do that properly. I asked the guest about all this and they denied all of it, but I have photos to prove it. BUT... in fear of a bad review, I told her not to worry about it this time. (so we had to buy a new blanket and 4 new glasses).
The second guest left and the maid sent photos of 3 broken glasses!
The third guest send a photo of our laundry room door frame BROKEN and said she didn't do it. I knew it was not broken before she arrived. She asked how much I would have to charge her for the damage and I told her I would buy the materials to fix it myself and for her not to worry about it (Because I was afraid if I charged her I would get a low review and it would impact my ability to earn money from airbnb). When she left the maid sent photos of pee on two beds and stained pillow cases, a broken grill left by our pool (the guest apparently bought a grill and then broke it and left it), balloons on the ceiling of our house, trash in a closet, and they didn't leave on time and made our maids wait outside for half an hour (after specifically asking if they could check out late and I told them no because the maids were on a tight schedule). The pee on the beds looks like dog pee. The girl had asked if her "cousin" could bring a service dog. I told her service animals are of course allowed, but that the dog has to be with her at all times and if they go to Disney, the dog has to go to Disney and if they go to the water park, the dog has to go to the water park. They said they would not bring the dog, but it looks like dog pee in the beds! And... I know she had an extra guest beyond her 12 because our guard at the front gate sent me a message letting me know another person registered for a parking pass for our house. 12 is the max our house holds. We specificially said no parties.
SO... three guests so far (each with 10-12 people). 7 broken glasses, one missing queen blanket, one broken door frame, lots of trash left around, stained sheets, stained pillow cases.... and with all of it, I'm afraid to charge anyone or leave a real review because of all I have read about how people leave bad reviews for hosts and the hosts get screwed and lose income.
Any advice? This is really stressful! I am such a rules follower and yet all of my guests are being trashy and breaking my brand new home. What can hosts actually do about these things and not be punished by bad reviews??? My husband said it's not worth it to charge them for what they break and risk getting a bad review and losing our ability to get renters at our house. Is this just how it goes??
@Bella624 Sorry you have had some rough experiences out of the gate. A few changes will help you to get better guests.
Raise your prices. At 10-12 people they are paying less per night than a budget motel, or even Starbucks for that group. Raise your prices and lower your guest counts. Bad guests target new listings as they know hosts are desperate for the first few reviews. We made the same mistake when we started not knowing how much we would be booked. I would suggest setting your guest counts at no more than 7 people and raising your prices at least to $299 per night. That will help to cover breakage.
Put more pics of the house rather than all the amenities front and center. That advertises that this is someone's HOME and not a hotel that can be trashed by traveling rockstars or circus performers. Yes its nice to have pools and slides etc. But you need to emphasize that this is your house, your investment. Not some corporate rental.
Make sure your maid isn't the one breaking things. We had this issue.
Set a limit for how much you charge a guest. Glasses and blankets, though annoying, aren't generally too expensive (if they are, buy cheaper replacements.) If the damage is over $50 to repair, we put in a request to the guest. If not, we let it go as the cost of doing business. Decide on your threshold and make it clear in your rules.
Review guests accordingly. Left the place a mess? Low star ratings and "clean up took longer than usual." Didn't take out trash? "There were some problems following house rules."
Also read this:
@Laura2592 Thanks for the tips. We put pics of the amenities front and center so that we would stand out among all the other houses in our resort. When you have a hundred or more houses in one community all trying to get rentals, you have to stand out somehow. lol.
About limiting guest count to 7... not sure that would fly for our resort community. There are 9 beds in the house. But, maybe i'll limit it to 9 people and see if the bookings slow down or not.
In my emails to each guest, I make sure they know it's our personal vacation home that we are sharing with them. We are very clearn about the charges they will incur for breaking things - but now we know we can't actually charge them the fees for broken things without risking a bad review.
I like your wording "clean up took longer than usual." and "there were some problems following house rules." But still worried if I say things on their review that they can give us a false bad review. I read somewhere about waiting until day 14 to leave reviews for guests. Any thoughts on that?
I'm sure our maid isn't breaking things. She sends photos as soon as she arrives. She walks around finding all the damaged things and sends photos and then starts cleaning.
I would stop accepting large groups! What I do is take down their license plates (AirBnB will not help you get your money back on damaged property) and report vandalism to your insurance. Your insurance will track down the name of your guest with the given license plate to collect from the guests insurance. Do a police report so you have that on file. Remember, AirBnB will not help you so do not even think of complaining to them. Do it through your insurance! what I do is I have a renters owner policy that protects my AirBnB business from my Homeowners insurance. I would call your insurance company so hey can help you out.
I would start buying plastic cups, cheaper bed sheets, etc. Expect things to be trashed or stolen. I do not have anything of value in my listings due to that exact circumstance you are in. I buy garage sale furniture, clean it up and all is good.
@Vivian860 yes I agree. Big groups are asking for trouble. Some hosts really seem to think buying a bigger house will be the way to more $$ but its just a hassle to heat, cool, clean and deal with the "its not a party!" party groups. VRBO seems to position itself as the venue for bigger groups and more expensive listings. Maybe that is an idea for this host.
@Laura2592 Agreed about V. We put our home on there as well. So far we got one booking for July for $2800 (for 10 nights). We prefer to be only on V and not on here, but when we bought the house, there were three months of bookings via Airbnb and we wanted to honor those bookings instead of canceling everyones vacation.
We own 10 rental properties. Most of them are monthly rentals. Then we have our studio unit on the beach in panama city but we have a property manager for that. This is our first home to do airbnb. We wanted a home near Disney for us to live in for a week each month and then rent out the rest of the month. The 5br house is only just over 2000 sq ft. The elect and bills aren't bad at all. They are lower than our smaller homes we own! But... large groups of people clearly enjoy being trashy! 😞
@Bella624 I have had multiple rental properties of varying sizes, both LTR and STR for more than 15 years through multiple OTAs. Currently, I have only one property on Air, and it is a small cabin. I would never put my larger properties here. In fact, since 2017 when there were major changes in the OTAs, (inserting themselves in payments, charging fees and not abiding by state real estate laws) none of my larger properties are with an OTA, and I am renting just fine through other means.
Larger properties lend themselves to careless, inconsiderate group guests who think that it is a "hotel suite" or because you can afford such a lovely home, you can afford the destruction. The primary guest may be a decent person, but their guests may not be. You need to have a backup supply for replacing items; glassware, dinnerware, utensils, pillows, towels, sheets, etc. What can last for 20 years in your own home will last for 10 minutes in an STR. Charge more per night and limit the number of guests. Realize that Air does not actually charge or collect a damage deposit (neither does V) It may take a little while, but you will eventually see an uptick in your nights rented and in the quality of your guests.
This home is in a resort community. Each home was professionally furnished. The house is only 3 years old. We did decide to replace glasses via Dollar Tree! lol.
About hosting large groups.. the homes in the commity are 4-8 bedrooms each. Most people staying in our community are coming with a large group. It comes with the territory of being in Storey Lake. But... I was not expecting every person to break our stuff.
With so many people there will be always something damaged. You need to increase your price with some "damage amount" for those issues. But if it is a big damage, do not hesitate to file a claim to the guest, using the proper procedures:
You security deposit is rather low : $500
Allthough not actually charged, increasing the amount maybe make guests more carefull.
@Emiel1 I thought $500 was high. lol. Only because I am cheap and have never personally stayed anywhere that charged a security deposit. What do most people charge for a security deposit? I have no problem raising it. But... if hosts can't actually file claims against a guest without likely ruining their airbnb reputation (by getting a low star rating from a mad guest who had to pay for damage) and risk losing future bookings, I feel like the security deposit doesn't mean aything except to rule out people who don't have an extra $500 in their account right now.
I'm going through a similar situation right now. I am trying to collect through airbnb since my guest is not responding. So, far it's been one big hassle! I am going to raise my security deposit and start writing down license plate numbers. In 5 years I've only had a few incidents. Sadly, this last one was a doozie. Just know it will get better. Most people are good & respectful of your property.
I would agree with much of what has been said here, with a few caveats:
Raising your rate brings you better guests, less likely to do damage. Airbnb’s system does not really look at the overall inventory of vacation housing, in a market like Orlando. Another service who shall remain nameless but starts with a “V” may have lousy guest screening, and terrible customer service, BUT, as they’re owned by the parent company of another big hotel/travel booking company that begins with an “E,” their rate prediction software is excellent. Follow along as reduced inventory drives up prices, and you can make thousands more off of your airbnb, while enjoying the better screening, and better clientele that the Big “A” brings your way!
@Brian1613 Ha! I love your number 3! And adding $5-7 per night seems the way to go and just let go of the need to do something about damages.
As for our furniture, the houses in our resort came fully furnished and professionally decorated. The house is 3 years old. It just hurts that they are damaging a newly built home - and a home we have only owned for two weeks now!
For pricing, I purchased a software - pricelabs to help with daily pricing instead of trying to rely on airbnb's smartpricing. We are getting at least $30 more per night that the previous owners of our home. (we know this because we honored her bookings and we were shocked at how much money we lost from allowing them to stay with us at a lower nightly rate than what people were paying us for brand new bookings.
Before guests arrive, I always shoot video of my stay, including with me in the continuous video stating the date and who is scheduled to arrive. Having video would help with the broken door frame.
Always use white sheets and towels. OxyClean will remove anything, including blood. The hotel industry has done studies and found that guests prefer white sheets. I go through a lot of bleach too. Bleach each wash.