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How to deal with bad guests

As short-term rental hosts, we all experience challenging and disruptive guests from time to time (writes James Varley).

A few weeks ago, four Airbnb guests at one of my rentals managed to damage a shower, leave a stain on the carpet, and – worst of all – upset the neighbours after partying past 1am.

Thanks to Air Cover, the extra costs I incurred were reimbursed straight away – but it was a frustrating experience nonetheless.

To help our community deal with handling difficult situations, we have compiled the below strategies to ensure you maintain a positive hosting experience.

Establish house rules clearly

Ensure that your house rules are clearly communicated in your listing and provided to guests upon arrival. This helps set expectations and provides a basis for addressing any violations.

Stay calm and professional

When faced with challenging guests, remain calm and professional. Avoid getting emotional or confrontational, as this can escalate the situation.

Open communication

Initiate open and honest communication. Reach out to the guests to address any concerns, clarify expectations, or resolve issues. Sometimes, miscommunication can be the root cause of problems.

Document issues

Keep detailed records of any issues or incidents, including photographs. Documentation can be valuable if you need to involve a platform's resolution centre or take legal action.

Have a guest agreement

Consider implementing a guest agreement that outlines the terms and conditions of the stay. Having a signed agreement can provide a legal basis for addressing certain behaviour. If you have a direct booking option, you must have a guest agreement in the terms and conditions.

Contact the platform support

If your property is listed on a platform like Airbnb or, contact their support team to report any issues or concerns. Provide evidence and a clear description of the situation.

Offer solutions

Propose constructive solutions to address the guest's concerns or behaviour. This could involve moving them to a different property, providing additional amenities, or offering compensation for legitimate grievances.

Involve authorities if necessary

In extreme cases, if a guest's behaviour poses a threat to your property or the safety of others, don't hesitate to involve local authorities. This step should only be taken in situations where it's necessary for the safety and wellbeing of everyone involved.

Implement security measures

Consider installing security measures such as CCTV or smart locks to deter inappropriate behaviour and ensure the safety of your property.

Seek legal advice

If the situation escalates and legal action is being considered, seek advice from a legal professional specialising in property rentals.

Review and adjust house rules

After dealing with challenging guests, review your house rules and consider whether adjustments are needed to prevent similar issues in the future.

Deactivate instant booking

If you consistently encounter issues with guests, consider deactivating the instant booking feature on platforms. This allows you to screen and approve guests before confirming reservations.

Focus on positive reviews

Encourage positive reviews from other guests to counteract the impact of any negative feedback. A history of positive reviews can help mitigate the impact of isolated incidents.

Remember that prevention is key, so establishing clear communication, setting expectations, and having well-documented rules can help minimise the likelihood of dealing with difficult guests. Regularly reassess and update your policies based on your experiences and feedback from guests.

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