Security Deposit - The Straight Truth

Doug8
Level 3
Toronto, Canada

Security Deposit - The Straight Truth

Hi--

 

All Airbnb hosts should know that the Security Deposit touted by Airbnb is actually non-existent. It is a mirage constructed by Airbnb for the purpose of making hosts believe they are protected from damage caused by guests, when they are not.

1.  If you put a security deposit on your listing, Airbnb does not collect a security deposit or put a hold on the guest's payment method.  There is no deposit, therefore there is no security.

 

2. Airbnb prohibits you from collecting a security deposit on your own and will de-list you if you do.

 

3.  If the guest causes damage, you can make a claim against the security deposit, but you will never get it.

     a) As no security deposit was collected, there is no security deposit to collect from.

     b) The guest can simply refuse to pay and Airbnb will consider that to be the end of the matter.

     c) There is no appeal (as there is no avenue of appeal for any Airbnb ruling against a host).

     d) If a guest leaves a maliciously negative review after receiving a claim for damage, Airbnb approves of and will not remove the review.

     e) The list of things Airbnb does not consider damage is so exhaustive, there is effectively no such thing as damage.

Get your own homeowner's insurance if you are hosting in case of major damage such as a fire.  Be prepared to pay for small damages to your place yourself and factor it into your price.  Do not rely on Airbnb for protection of any kind.  Airbnb is nothing more than a webpage where you can list your place for rent.  It does not offer protection or support.

 

The security deposit is just one of the many deceptive practices Airbnb employs to dupe its hosts.

 

Despite its propaganda about belonging to a community, Airbnb doesn't give a hoot about you.  Airbnb's relationship to hosts is like that of a Queen ant to worker ants.  If one of them is killed, the Queen couldn't care less.  However, unlike Airbnb, a Queen ant doesn't go out of her way to deceive worker ants or actively cause them harm.

Doug

25 Replies 25
Miranda250
Level 2
California, United States

And this is ok with Airbnb terms of service ? I’m down to go the extra step just want to make sure my listing won’t be removed or a guest could come back at me with anything..

Elaine701
Level 10
Balearic Islands, Spain

@Miranda250 

 

The "terms of service" with respect to security deposit is vague. The most applicable term is taking money "off platform", which you don't need to do, since you can request money through the resolution center, with the reason "other trip related charges". That also keeps it credible in the eyes of the guest. We've done it often, and nobody's ever complained.

 

However, our primary motivation has never really meant to get a security deposit, but to scare away risky guests, which it succeeds most of the time. 

 

Why go to the trouble, when you can just decline? You might ask? Well, first, declining carries penalties. But often, the risky guest is booking at top rates, often 3000€ or more. I'd like to capture that business, but not without a security deposit. A security deposit is the only thing that motivates a group of young party animals to be conscientious. Otherwise, there's no penalty whatsoever. May as well trash the place. 

 

All I can say is that so far, the handful that have accepted it have left the house in extraordinarily clean and orderly condition. Very surprisingly. 1000 bucks is a very effective motivator 👍

Cindy1221
Level 1
null

@Elaine701 You request the money through the resolution center before check in and then send it back, minus any repairs, after the checkout? We are mostly interested in making guests very aware that we expect them to respect and take care of our property. This sounds like a perfect solution,  if I am just sure of exactly how to do it. Thank you!

Elaine701
Level 10
Balearic Islands, Spain

@Cindy1221 

 

It's whatever you agree with the guest. 

 

Our terms are to pay it back in cash at time of checkout, if all is well. We have a printed receipt in hand that the guest signs to confirm they received x-amount.

 

We've never had to deduct anything, because when we impose a deposit, the house has always been left in clean, orderly and undamaged condition. They want their deposit back. It's a strong motivator. 

 

Your terms could be different - you could agree to send it back via the resolution center within x-days following checkout. But then, it would require a bit more trust on the part of the guest.

 

Still, as I've mentioned before, for us, the goal of demanding a deposit is mainly to scare off high risk guests, which it does most of the time. When it doesn't scare them off, we at least have the deposit to cover any damages, and again, the guests are always more conscientious when they stand to lose a big deposit. 

 

The one thing that you *must* always do is be fair. Always give it back to the guest as promised. Don't keep it or deduct amounts for petty reasons. This will end quickly and badly if you start to get greedy. 

 

Good luck. 

Cindy1221
Level 1
null

So you can request money through the resolution center for "other trip related charges" before the guest checks in? I'm still a bit confused?

 

Cindy1221
Level 1
null

You request money beforehand and then they get it back if it's not needed?

 

 

 

 

 

Debra300
Level 10
Gros Islet, Saint Lucia

@Cindy1221,

 

Welcome to the forum.  I see that you are new to the community.  Here's a tip to make sure that the person you are responding to is aware of your message.  Type @ and then you will see the user IDs of recent posters to the thread  @ symbol.

Debra300_0-1656634878355.png

 

 

If you don't see a person's ID, keep typing until you see the specific ID that you want.

 

Debra300_1-1656635032826.png

 

To answer your question about using the Resolution Center for security deposits.  First, you must mention the requirement for a security deposit in your listing description.  I state this in the Things to Know Section.  It also must be included in your house rules.  When I receive a reservation, I re-state in my greeting message that a security deposit is required, and that I will send a payment request via Airbnb's Resolution Center about 14 days before arrival.  After I send the request, I send another message via the Airbnb message system,

"Hello XX,

 

I've just sent the payment request for the refundable security deposit as stated in the listing and my greeting message.  The deposit will be fully refunded at checkout, or less any amounts for incurred costs due to loss, damage or use of extra services.  Please pay it as soon as possible to avoid any delays with accessing the space upon your arrival.  If you are using the mobile app, and unable to find where to pay, go to www.airbnb.com/resolutions.

 

Thanks,

Debra"

 

At checkout, I ask the guest if there were any issues, accidents or incidents that they want to share with us.  Soon after checkout, we do a cursory check for any damages or missing items (our spaces aren't very large and we don't stock a lot of supplemental items), and usually issue a refund immediately afterwards.  I use a deposit primarily as a behavior motivator, because the amount it's nominal, usually between $75 to $300 USD.  That's not enough to pay for any significant damage or loss, but it does give the guest an incentive not to be careless with our stuff.  

Elaine701
Level 10
Balearic Islands, Spain

I collect  real security deposit whenever I feel the need (risky guests, say group of 20-somethings). I request it on platform. It works very well, and every time I've imposed it, the guest has left the house in amazingly good condition. 

Nikki51
Level 3
Lisbon, Portugal

Hello Elaine701, How do you collect this deposit? 

 

This is what the rules are here in the US: "

Hosts aren’t allowed to charge guests a security deposit through our Resolution Center or outside the Airbnb platform. Instead, we inform guests at the time of booking that their payment method may be charged if they cause damage during a stay.

There is one exception: Hosts who manage their listings with API-connected software can set a security deposit using our offline fees feature. If a Host has done this, the deposit requirements will be clearly communicated during the booking process."

 

I was just told by an Airbnb rep that instead of a security deposit, a host can use the management fee or community fee option to impose an additional charge. If one is going to do that, they might as well simply increase the rent and offer a Renter Incentive of refund if the home is vacated on time and left in the same condition it was in when offered to renter. When this incentive is refunded to the renter at the end of their stay, Airbnb would refund the fees paid on that amount (the guest may have to request it but it sounded, to me, as if the refund would be automatic).  When handled this way, the renter doesn't have any ownership of the money until they complete the agreed upon terms whereas with a security deposit it might be assumed that the renter still owns that money and the host has to prove that they earned it.  Does that make sense?

Karen3381
Level 2
Vancouver, Canada

On the platform?   How is this done?  Messaging the guest to pay or using the hosting customer service.  Be good to know.  Thanks, 

Debra300
Level 10
Gros Islet, Saint Lucia

@Karen3381,

 

@Elaine701 explained how to do it.  Send the guest a request for money through Airbnb's Resolution Center.  If you are unfamiliar with the Resolution Center, you should first visit the Airbnb Help Center to become familiar with its processes and policies, where you can find information about the RC before delving into asking for security deposits.  Most of the pages are written in simple language, the topic search is very user friendly, and the site covers a wide breadth of topics.

Karen3381
Level 2
Vancouver, Canada

Ok, thanks

Miranda250
Level 2
California, United States

About to list our vacation home. How binding are the house rules? Do they stand any ground legally? 

We thought about including some sort of rule that if a guest causes damages , they are responsible for fair market price to repair or replace such items. Anyone seen any rules like this? Thoughts /feedback ?

Elaine701
Level 10
Balearic Islands, Spain

@Miranda250 

 

You should avoid using Airbnb for anything other than bookings and getting paid. The use of the so-called "air cover" (Formerly "host guarantee") Is at a minimum, frustrating, and can actually cause more damage. 

 

House rules therefore are largely unenforceable, although having them and publishing them clearly does give you the basis to argue for compensation. However, again, depending on Airbnb to arrange or take responsibility for compensation is always dangerous. It can result in significant additional damage. 

 

Vet your guests as much as you can... before they book... to try to prevent these things from happening in the first place. It's the only thing you can do, really. 

Laura2592
Level 10
Frederick, MD

@Doug8yep. Most hosts find this out the hard way. There have been many threads on this-- the "security deposit" is a psychological deterrent at best. Its imaginary. So you could set it at a million dollars and it would not make a hair of difference.

 

You are on your own as a host. Airbnb is good for getting your listing noticed and booked but nothing else. Good to know that going in.

Ricardo85
Level 10
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

@Doug8 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=huV6ak3ETpQ&t=49s&ab_channel=AirbnbAutomated

 

Ricardo

 

 

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Don-And-Emily0
Level 10
Catskill, NY

Very accurate description. When a “guest” threw a party in our home and basically trashed it, airbnb made it very difficult to collect damages. They offer no support whatsoever. Yoy are on your own.

Linda3345
Level 10
Corning, NY

Don, is there anything you could point to in hindsight that could have alerted you that a particular guest was going to throw a party?  From this experience, are there things that you now would consider red flags?   I keep wondering if this day is coming for us sometime...

Don-And-Emily0
Level 10
Catskill, NY

Sorry, I’m just seeing your reply now.

 

Yes, in hindsight there were a few red flags we did not recognized because we were new at hosting. One of them is an unusual number of viewings in one day. Usually the person renting the house will email the entire group a link to the house before they book it.

 

Another red flag was the selective communication. In the vetting process he would answer some questions but not all.

 

I’m thinking of writing a post listing all of these lessons learned in the past 2 years.

Elizabeth2242
Level 2
Port St. Lucie, FL

I wish I read this sooner.  I just requested payment/deposit for damage caused by a dog peeing all over my house and the guest freaked out and sent me a nasty message.  So it appears all I will be getting is a one star review for my trouble.  It crossed my mind to just not say anything but I thought that's what the deposit is for........

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