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Top 11 Airbnb Host Problems And How To Solve Them

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Hosting an Airbnb, meeting people from all over the world and making significant side income can be amazing. Still, there are many Airbnb issues a host can encounter in this largely unregulated industry of short-term rentals. I’m going to be listing out some of the most popular Airbnb host problems, what you can do to avoid them, and what to do when faced with them.

It used to be that an unhappy Airbnb guest would go and leave a negative review about a bad Airbnb experience on social media, but nowadays hosts are also coming out to share their side of the story about problem guests.

Image source: Airbnb

There can be a variety a problems with potential Airbnb guests that you wouldn’t even think of! We’re going to start off with an example where the police had to get involved. This is hopefully the worst case scenario but issues like this do happen!

You want to be prepared and have a plan of action.

Here’s one real life scenario from the website Airbnbhell:

“The lady sounded fine on paper; I gave her very clear directions and my mobile number and she acknowledged she had received them.

I came back two hours later and the lady was extremely drunk in her car. She drank an entire box of wine cooler and appeared to be going through some kind of mental breakdown. Rather than going to her cabin down the hill, she got a ladder, climbed my fence, and ripped off my doorknob, trying to crack open my door and breaking the plywood. She swore at me and told me she had paid to stay in my house.

I told her she had to leave the property as I could not risk her damaging my property further. I assured her I would refund her. It’s a kind of yoga retreat and there is a “no drugs or alcohol” policy. There is a gas stove in the cabin and we are surrounded by world heritage forest — it’s too dangerous to have a drunk or unstable person around.

She became irate and said she was too drunk to drive away and that her dog was lost (we ask people to keep their dogs on leash at all times). I could see she was in crisis so I offered her a cup of tea and to drive her down the road to a free campground with a sleeping bag I would donate… more abuse followed.

I saw that this woman had a knife in her car and I no longer felt safe. The woman refused my help and refused to leave. I was left with no option but to call the police, which I have never done in my life.”


Image source: Malaysia Brands

Being an Airbnb host can be demanding. It requires a lot of your time and energy. Most hosts are on a 24 hour on-call status, responding to queries from prospective guests and managing issues from guests already staying at the property. So if you’re planning to host an Airbnb rental, you’ll have to be ready to put in the time and the effort to manage both the property and your guests.

In general, Airbnb host problems fall under 4 main categories:

  1. Local Laws and STR Regulations
  2. Hosting Challenges
  3. Guest Challenges
  4. Post-Hosting Issues

Local Laws and STR Regulations

Airbnb Regulations By City - Nestrs.com
Image source: Nestrs

You may think getting a place nicely set up with furniture, stocked and staged, and creating a listing for it is all you need to do when it comes to hosting an Airbnb. If only it was that easy!

A lot of people miss this first step, which is to check laws and regulations regarding the short-term rental industry by local governments in the areas where your properties are going to be. 

In some cities and countries (such as Thailand), Airbnb’s are outright banned. Operating an Airbnb improperly may also result in your short-term rental business getting fined or even shut down.

To avoid potential issues related to Airbnb legalities, here are a few things you’ll need to look into before getting your business off the ground:

  • Special permits
  • Building and housing standards
  • Business license requirements
  • Landlord-tenant laws
  • Zoning regulations (which are vastly different from that of a hotel or a hotel room)
  • Vacation rental tax rules
  • National laws
  • Tax codes

Hosting Challenges

You’ve got your local laws and STR regulations all sorted out – yay! Your next step will be to understand the possible common issues that come with managing an Airbnb account

Some of these include:

  1. Having someone you trust (usually a property manager) to meet and welcome potential guests.
  2. Having a dependable cleaning team come and clean your property before and after every rental. 
  3. Being available throughout the day (and night) to respond to your guests’ queries and concerns

A great way to overcome the potential problems listed above will be to create a team of people who can help you whenever they’re needed, such as a cleaner, an Airbnb co-host (or a property manager), a plumber, an electrician and so on.

These contacts will make it easier for you to solve your rental issues especially when you’re out of town or staying somewhere far away. Check out some of the tools you can use to elevate your business!

Another good idea will be to prepare a yearly maintenance checklist, which includes things such as:

  • Ensuring that the air conditioning units or heaters are fully functioning
  • Blocked gutters are all cleared, and that
  • Leakages (if any) are promptly fixed

Property owners who fail to respond to their guests’ needs or demands in time may end up getting a bad review or having to offer a full refund, which is something no host wants. 

Let’s move onto some of the top Airbnb host problems that I’ve encountered.

Check-In And Check-out Time Changes

Most Airbnb listings clearly state their preferred check-in times. This does not mean that your prospective guests are going to readily follow them, however.

You may frequently receive requests for an early check-in or a late check-out. If you have a list of house rules that your guests have received prior, you are at liberty to decline these requests. In most cases, the guests will accept your decision.

TIP: Create a 5 star Airbnb House Manual with information like check in and out steps. This can be displayed at your property and sent to the guests over Airbnb.

However, if it is not a hassle for you to accommodate their requests, go ahead and make your guests happy by letting them in early or leaving late!


Managing Last-Minute Cancellations

No host wants last minute cancellations. While this can still happen despite our best efforts, there are ways to minimize such occurrences, such as:

  • Vetting the guests’ profile: Ensure that there is a full photo, a verified ID and good feedback from other hosts.
  • Ask about your guests’ travel plans to see if they’re really sure of their destination or if they’re open to changes
  • Impose a strict cancellation policy (though it may affect your booking rates in some cases)
  • Turning off the instant booking option and checking reviews of your guests, especially if they’re planning to be long-term tenants.
  • Go with your instinct. If something feels off, then you have every right to not accept the booking, according to Airbnb.

Having To Cancel A Reservation Made By A Guest

You’ve accepted a booking, but now things are starting to feel strange.

Your guests are bombarding you with questions that are making you wonder if they’re the best fit for your rental property after all. Maybe you suspect they’re going to be throwing a party at your new place and you’re understandably worried.

Whatever it is, you want them to cancel their reservation.

Bear in mind that there may be penalties incurred with Airbnb when you cancel a guest’s reservation, mainly because this can have serious implications on your guest’s travel plans. It also gives them a bad experience, especially if it is their first time with Airbnb rental.

As such, there are only 3 types of reasons that you as a host can cancel a reservation without getting penalized:

  • You have evidence that your prospective guests are planning to throw a party in the form of text messages, emails or previous reviews from other hosts.
  • You have evidence that the guest is intending to smoke in your property or bring pets when your house rules are clearly against smoking and pets.
  • There are extenuating circumstances which are out of your control taking place around your area, such as natural disasters, political instability, and so on.

Airbnb Guest Problems

We’ve discussed operational problems, local laws and the challenges related to your property and your listing.

Now you’ll have to look out for problems that will happen during the stay itself. Here are some popular examples so you’ll be prepared:

Problems With Amenities

Leaky faucet from real home - Airbnb host problems with amenities
Image source: Real Homes

You may receive calls about the Internet being down, or that the light in the washroom isn’t working. You may even get calls about your guests being out of toilet paper. Whatever it is, always handle the calls with a kind response. Make sure to let them know that you’ll be getting it taken care of ASAP.

As mentioned above, checklists are a great way to make sure your entire house is ready for any unforeseen amenity issues. Check out top amenities every Airbnb property should have to boost your bookings!

Something as simple as having old pots and pans that need to be replaced can upset new guests, especially if they were looking to cook in your Airbnb Kitchen.


Complaints About Neighbors

It’s important that your Airbnb property is situated within a nice neighborhood and has nice surroundings. That’s not always the case, however, and sometimes you may get calls from your guests complaining about the noise and the disturbances they’re getting from your neighbors, such as loud partying, constant fighting and arguments, frequent door slamming, pets coming over, and more.

As a host, it is important that your guests have a good experience staying at your place. It’ll be your responsibility to talk to your neighbors and come to an agreement. 

If these problems persist despite the police getting involved, you may want to rethink your decision to list this particular property on Airbnb.


Partying Guests

Airbnb has taken steps to ban parties at all rental properties in 2020, which include removing the ‘event friendly’ and ‘parties and events allowed’ filters from their website. 

Despite this, many guests blatantly flout rules and hold parties during their Airbnb stay that usually end with serious problems such as damaged property, loads of rubbish left behind and sometimes even with a team of the police showing up in response to complaints. 

If you suspect that your guests are planning to throw a party, reach out to them and remind them of the ban against parties and the fact that Airbnb may take action against them. If they persist, you may consider canceling the booking and provide proof to Airbnb support in the process.


Guests Not Following House Rules

House Rules Infographic For Airbnb
Image source: Stasher

If you come across guests that are behaving poorly, such as smoking and littering on your property, try talking to them and reminding them of the house rules as well as the vacation rental agreement they’d signed.

Actual Host Quote:

“This guest and their family arrived very late and then proceeded to cook outside of the designated hours. They booked for three people and four people arrived. Just about every rule was broken by the family. There was not supposed to be eating in the bedrooms; the extra guest did so. We have a policy of no air conditioning on in the daytime and these are specifically written in a set of do’s and don’ts in each room. The option is to pay additional money during the daytime if air conditioning is required. We did not charge despite the violations.

What alarmed us most was the number of cartons of beer that were brought into the property, filling my spare fridge completely. I could tell we were in for a champagne holiday on a beer budget. We are a no-smoking home. The guest’s parents said they only smoke a couple a day, so I allowed them to smoke on the deck. Biggest mistake ever because a couple means two packs a day where they are from and I spent days trying to rid the house of the awful smell.” – Airbnbhell

Walking new guests through your house rules in advance is probably the best way to avoid such issues. For example, you can bring them around the entire house and let them know which areas are off-limits and which are not for smoking in. Also give them your phone number so they can reach you should they have any questions. All of this information should be included in your house manual if you do not greet each guest in person.

All these should be a standard part of the Airbnb service rendered to guests in order to provide them with a comfortable stay and to ensure that both parties are happy. If all else fails, lodge a common complaint to Airbnb so it takes action against these guests.


Post Hosting Issues (After Guests Check Out)

While renting your property out and offering Airbnb service can be a good source of additional income, bad guests will definitely cause you Airbnb host problems you don’t want to repeat.

Broken Amenities And Damaged Property

Ensure that your property is always guest-friendly and well-maintained. Badly maintained houses can cost you a lot of money. Hire a property management company to manage your property if you are not able to be there yourself. 

Install security cameras where necessary to prevent disputes. Do not leave your personal items on the property to reduce the likelihood of theft and misunderstandings.

Most guests are great people and respect your property as well as your house rules. However, getting damage protection insurance for your property can do wonders because everyone wants a quick reimbursement rather than have an issue drag on for months. 

Longer stays involving a duration of over 28 days are classified as long-term rentals, and in such cases, a security deposit and a proper rental agreement (much like a tenancy agreement) will come into play.

Actual Host Quote:

A few months ago I got a request for a long-term stay from a lady who claimed to be friends with my gardener, Harris (name changed). The money was good, and it meant that I didn’t have to worry about dealing with new arrivals for a while. I accepted the booking.

I came back two hours later and the lady was extremely drunk in her car. She drank an entire box of wine cooler and appeared to be going through some kind of mental breakdown. Rather than going to her cabin down the hill, she got a ladder, climbed my fence, and ripped off my doorknob, trying to crack open my door and breaking the plywood. She swore at me and told me she had paid to stay in my house.

I told her she had to leave the property as I could not risk her damaging my property further. I assured her I would refund her. It’s a kind of yoga retreat and there is a “no drugs or alcohol” policy. There is a gas stove in the cabin and we are surrounded by world heritage forest — it’s too dangerous to have a drunk or unstable person around.

She became irate and said she was too drunk to drive away and that her dog was lost (we ask people to keep their dogs on leash at all times). I could see she was in crisis so I offered her a cup of tea and to drive her down the road to a free campground with a sleeping bag I would donate… more abuse followed.

I saw that this woman had a knife in her car and I no longer felt safe. The woman refused my help and refused to leave. I was left with no option but to call the police, which I have never done in my life.”


Bad Reviews

Disgruntled guests may leave less-than-pleasant reviews, but how you respond to them will minimize any negative impacts stemming from this kind of feedback.

Always stay professional and thank them for their reviews. Do not get emotional and where necessary state your side of the story clearly and calmly.

The goal is to always get 5 star reviews with your amazing hospitality and unique amenities at your short term rental. Don’t let the few (hopefully) negative reviews get to you too much.


Recap

Being an Airbnb host can be fun. You get to meet people from all over the world and make lots of new friends. The extra income can be pretty significant, too. 

The United States alone has over 660,000 listings – higher than any other country in the world. It goes to show that the short-term rental market is a hot one. With more and more people traveling to the United States and wanting to stay in a house versus a hotel room, having a well-kept property can make you a lot of extra money.

There are two sides to everything, however, and Airbnb hosts have their fair share of challenges and frustrations.  Therefore, it makes sense to stay on top of common problems and issues before they happen, even as a new host. 

As your property becomes more and more popular, you may also eventually hire a hosting team – which is a team of professionals that helps you to manage the property. This includes setting the pricing to welcoming your guests and managing last minute requests to scheduling regular maintenance to upkeep your property. This way you’ll be able to make money and at the same time, avoid Airbnb hosting problems!

Kristy - guest post author

This post was written by Kristy!

Kristy is a pharmacist turned digital marketer. She builds funnels and copywrites for 7 and 8-figure businesses. Also an avid blogger, she loves geeking out over SEO and writes regularly for publications on Medium.com. She shares her journey and tips for freelancing at https://kristyting.com