City caused sewer crisis- how to compensate guests during unforeseen circumstances

We have a multi-unit AirBnb in Houston. The City sewer backed up and the toilets to overflow (with water, but smelly water), and obviously we are mortified and the guests are upset. The Questions are:
-How do we compensate guests beyond giving them their money back? If they have “damages,” how are those things addressed. I realize that ABB’s insurance/protection plan/guarantee probably isn’t going to be that helpful, but we aren’t going to be in a position to PAY for electronics, etc. (they aren’t ruined, its just BS, there was just a little puddling, not tons of water).
-Cancelling with guests (do I ask them to do it or do we?)
-How to prevent this from ruining all our reviews (we have proof that this is city sewer/outside of our control)

I’d really appreciate anyone who has had experience firsthand or knows how others have addressed a similar situation


Anybody? Looking for some help from the experts.

Have you had a conversation with the guests?

You can probably call Airbnb customer service and have them cancel due to extenuating circumstances. Throw it right back at Airbnb. That’s what your fees are for.


Where did your guests go & when? Do you have upcoming reservations soon for whom you will need to cancel?
Did the guests do anything to cause the back up? Whose electronics were damaged—yours or guests?

What to do depends on these answers.

In general notify Airbnb immediately. Provide them with pictures & documentation of the event such as dates & time.

Notify your home owner/STR policy holder including pictures, documentation &
date & time

Smelly water means bacteria infested water. Take care cleaning.

This 100%. Wear as much PPE as you would walking into a Covid ward if you’ve never dealt with this type of contamination before.

I’m saying this as someone who picked up a rather nasty infection from (unknowingly) coming into contact with waste water in the south of Turkey a few years ago. Not nice.



@ediefromcleveland You haven’t been very clear about this. Your guests are trying to claim that their electronics are ruined because the toilet backed up and there was some puddling on the floor?

Why would they have electronics on the floor?

Give nothing, pay nothing, promise nothing!!
It does not matter what you do or give them, there is little chance they will give you a 5 star review.

Inform AirBnB CS of the problem, send them all the proof and hand it over to them. By moving this into the extenuating cicumstances/disputes , there is a chance you can prevent them from reviewing you or getting the review removed.


Correct answers above.

Don’t attempt to refund or otherwise compensate the guest yourself, let Airbnb handle it.

The review is out of your control. The guest will be allowed to review and there’s almost zero chance of getting it removed if it’s bad (although you might get lucky if the guest says something that violates ToS).

1 Like

Gotta love the folks who are “desperate” for advice, but can’t be bothered to come back to respond or update.


I imagine they are busy cleaning up the mess and dealing with Airbnb and the guest.

1 Like

We ended up giving the guests a free night.