The following excerpt is from the staff of Entrepreneur Media’s book Start Your Own Travel Hosting Business. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound
Airbnb is successful because it’s built a loyal and global online community that’s comprises travelers and hosts. Whenever someone sets up an Airbnb account and plans to be a guest at someone’s property, they agree to adhere to basic rules of conduct. Likewise, hosts agree to follow Airbnb’s guidelines and requirements for providing their paid guests with a clean, safe and comfortable space to stay.
Related: Essential Tips for Being a Successful Airbnb Host
Airbnb’s business model relies heavily on each user’s willingness to follow the rules and to be respective, honest and law abiding. But what happens when one of your guests break the rules? And what can you do to prevent that happening in the first place?
The first step is to develop clear house rules that leave no room for interpretation. These rules need to be presented as part of your property listing on Airbnb and agreed to by your guests at the time they confirm their booking. You’ll also want to verbally review the house rules upon your guests’ initial arrival and have a printed copy of the house rules waiting for them in their guestroom (within the house manual, for example). Assuming your guests are willing to adhere to their promise and obligation to follow your house rules, this should eliminate a lot of potential misunderstanding and problems.
Next, consider requesting a security deposit. To help protect your property and belongings, request a security deposit from your guests when they book and pay for their reservation. This is a predetermined amount of money. To add or edit a security deposit requirement for your property listing, visit the Airbnb website using your computer’s web browser, sign into your account, click on the Manage Listings option under the Host menu, select the property listing you wish to edit and then click on the Pricing Settings option. From below the Additional Pricing Options heading, add a checkmark to the checkbox associated with the Security Deposit option, and then enter the amount you wish to charge.
Related: 10 Hosting Options Beyond Airbnb
So what do you do when guests don’t follow your rules or something inappropriate happens? If you wind up welcoming a guest who doesn’t follow your rules, who places you in a dangerous situation or who causes damage to your property, you’ll want to take immediate action. Depending on the severity of the situation, what house rules have been broken and the behavior of your guest, you typically have several options when dealing with a problem, including:
- Ignoring the minor infraction and simply dealing with it. Then wait for the guest to check out on their prearranged date. If necessary, you can file a claim with Airbnb or your insurance company to recover a financial loss due to damage caused by your guest.
- Having a discussion with your guest. Provide a friendly reminder that they’ve violated a house rule, and give them a chance to apologize and remedy the situation.
- Reporting the violation to Airbnb. If necessary, impose an additional fee to compensate you for any expenses incurred cleaning or repairing your belongings or property.
- Evicting the guest from your property prior to their planned checkout date. Do this by following the guidelines provided by Airbnb.
- Call the police or dial 911 immediately. Obviously, this is the most drastic measure.
If possible, try to approach the situation with a business mindset, as opposed to an overly emotional one and understand you always have the ability to write a strong negative review about that guest once he or she leaves, plus provide him or her with a low rating.
And what if you have to evict a guest from your property? Assuming you’re not in danger, but a guest refuses to leave, one option is to contact Airbnb via its website or by phone, then follow their recommendations to get a guest to leave peacefully. If your need to evict a guest is more pressing, or you feel you’re in danger, contact the police.
One rare issue that’s been reported by Airbnb hosts is that guests invade the designated private areas of the host’s property when the host isn’t home to steal or make copies of personal documents that provide the information needed for identity theft or other types of financial fraud. As a host, consider investing in a personal safe, or keep financial documents, credit card statements, bank statements, your passport and other legal documents locked up and away from where they can easily be viewed or taken by a guest. In addition to storing these documents in a secure way, add password protection to your desktop and laptop computer(s), turn on the features that prevent guest users from installing or deleting software onto that computer or, better yet, prevent guests from using any computers where you have personal, financial or legal documents stored or from which you handle your personal finances or online banking, for example. If someone is renting your entire property, put your incoming personal mail on hold or have your personal mail diverted to a post office box (as opposed to having it delivered to your actual address).
Related: The Key Factors to Consider Before Becoming a Travel Host
Another way to help protect yourself as a host is to initially communicate only with potential guests via Airbnb’s secure messaging system. Until the potential guest actually books and pays for a reservation, Airbnb doesn’t disclose your address, phone number, last name or any other personal information about you.
If it becomes necessary to communicate with your paying guests on a more personal level, refrain from sharing too much information about yourself or providing details about your life that a potential criminal could use for identity theft or other fraudulent purposes. For example, be extremely cautious if a guest asks questions like, “Where do you do your banking?” or “How and where do you manage your retirement account or investment account?”