Being an Airbnb host is hugely rewarding. As well as the extra income it provides, you get to help your guests make long-lasting memories on their holidays. However, you’ll inevitably encounter some hurdles from time to time. As long as you’re organised and prepared for these situations, you’ll be able to get through them with minimal stress. Here are some of the most common issues at all stages of the booking and how you can deal with them.
Before the booking
Check-in or check-out changes
Guests wanting to arrive earlier or leave later can be inconvenient or maybe even impossible. The best way to avoid this problem is by stating how flexible or inflexible you can be directly on your listing. If you are willing to allow changes to check-in or check-out times, make sure you set a deadline for requests. Then if guests enquire in spite of your clear rules, all you can do is politely decline if there’s no way you can make this happen. A professional property management support team can deal with this on your behalf.
Last-minute cancellations from guests
This is the last thing you want when your Airbnb has been cleaned and prepped for your guest’s arrival. Good communication is the best way to avoid this problem. For example, you could ask them for their flight information so you have some confidence they intend to arrive at your location. Checking guest reviews before you accept the booking is also sensible as you can see whether they’ve made last-minute cancellations before.
You could set a strict cancellation policy to avoid this Airbnb problem but then you run the risk of putting off potential guests who want a bit more flexibility. It’s up to you to decide what would be the more costly outcome.
Last-minute cancellations from you
Another possible issue is you wanting to cancel a reservation last minute. That may be because you found a couple of bad reviews that have left you concerned, or perhaps something about their communications makes you feel uneasy. Whatever the reason, know that Airbnb hosts who cancel on guests will have to pay a cancellation fee between $50 USD and $1,000 USD. There are only a few occasions where you can do so penalty-free:
Valid reasons beyond your control, like emergency repairs or personal illness
Extenuating circumstances (for example, a natural disaster or political instability)
Unauthorised parties (though you will need to provide evidence a party is being planned)
Instant Book reservations if the guest states they intend to break a rule, have negative reviews, or haven’t completed their profile (you can only cancel these bookings penalty-free three times a year and will have to contact Airbnb after that)
Generally speaking, you should avoid cancelling unless you have a very good reason and if you still want to cancel, inform Airbnb as soon as possible.
During the booking
Issues at the property
To prevent issues from occurring at the property, make sure you do a thorough check before your guests arrive and after they leave. That way you can try and fix problems like a broken shower or poor internet connectivity as soon as possible and minimise the inconvenience caused to guests.
Even so, unexpected problems may still arise, so make sure you’re contactable and responsive, apologise, and do everything you can to solve the issue as quickly as can be. Keep guests up-to-date and check when they’re happy for you to enter the property to fix things. Hiring a professional maintenance service can help you resolve these types of problems faster.
This can be a tricky situation to manage. It’s wise to build a good relationship with your neighbours so if guests complain about the noise, you can quickly contact them and ask them to quieten down. Similarly, they can contact you if the guests are behaving in an anti-social manner. Ultimately, all you can do is ask both parties to be mindful of their noise. If that makes no difference, you’ll have to lodge an official noise complaint or contact Airbnb for advice if it’s the guests who are the problem.
Guests are not allowed to throw parties in any Airbnb, but you should still mention that this is forbidden in your listing. If you have reason to suspect your guests are planning to throw a party, remind them that this is not allowed and that Airbnb can take action against them if they break this rule. Remember you can also enquire about cancelling their reservation if you have evidence that a party is in the pipeline.
If you’re made aware that the guests are throwing a party, you can ask them to leave and tell Airbnb what has happened. You could also consider installing a noise-monitoring device, which respects privacy by not recording audio or video, so you’re aware as the situation unfolds.
After the booking
Accidents happen, and the first preventative measure you can take is to charge guests a security deposit which you’ll refund as long as they leave the property in the same condition. If the guest causes damage and agrees to the amount you’ve requested as compensation, Airbnb will release the funds to you within five to seven business days (as long as you make this request within two weeks of the guest checking out and before the next guest checks in). If not, you’ll have to contact Airbnb’s Resolution Centre with evidence and request to collect money from your guest’s security deposit.
However, don’t rely on Airbnb for compensation alone. Claims are rejected and there’s also the possibility of damage that cost more than the security deposit. That’s why you should also make sure you’re covered by a short-term rental insurance policy.
Lost or stolen items
First of all, check that the items in question haven’t simply been misplaced. If you’re certain they’re no longer in the property, reach out to your guests and see if they can shed any light on the situation. Depending on how valuable the things are, you may decide to do nothing. Otherwise, make a claim through the security deposit route or your insurance (an inventory with photos can help keep track of changes before and after a stay), and potentially consider taking legal action. Remember that there’s no guarantee you’ll be compensated so it’s always sensible to remove anything you really wouldn’t want to lose from the property.
A bad review is a common problem and the best way to avoid them is to manage expectations from the start. Make sure your listing is completely accurate and don’t fabricate things to make your place seem more appealing (a listing management service will help you create a listing that is enticing but also honest).
This applies to your property and the local area in general. It also helps to check in with guests soon after they arrive and see if there’s anything you can do to improve their stay.
Bad reviews may still come up regardless, so take in the feedback and acknowledge the complaint. You may be able to learn from their comments and provide an even better experience to future guests. Respond to all reviews and be honest about where things have gone wrong and what measures you took or will take to avoid the situation repeating itself. However, don’t be afraid to defend yourself if the reviewer makes claims that aren’t true, but also make sure you are polite and respectful when doing so.