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Difficult Guests Over Christmas

I have some picky guests over Christmas (four night stay, leaving Thursday). They’ve had a list of complaints they want me to fix:
Chickens too loud in the morning. This was resolved by me letting them out later in the morning.
Guests left the garage door open and the wind blew the interior door open. (The entrance to my basement suite is through the garage). Guests want to know why they woke up to both doors being open. I told them because they left the garage door open.
They want me to fix a blown fuse. I explained how to fix it themselves.
They say the oil space heater doesn’t work. Suddenly works when I offer to bring a replacement; it just heats up too slowly.
The interior door isn’t latching. They feel unsafe since it is not locked (the exterior entrance, the garage door, locks however). They want me to have the door fixed tomorrow on Christmas Day. I told them I’d try to fix it myself but that I won’t be able to have a handyman come on Christmas Day.

Any one of these issues would be reasonable alone, but at this point I declare this is a finicky guest, potentially after a refund. Of course they rented the space at my rock-bottom winter rates. All communication has been on the app. If they ask for a refund, I won’t give one. I’m getting a bad review no matter what, unless I’m lucky enough they don’t reply.

My question: how much do I bend over backwards for these guests? Am I in the wrong about these issues? I’m at my extended family’s for Christmas and don’t really want to spend my Christmas day coming home early and fixing things for these guests.

I’ll want help with my review too, but no use writing it yet until I see how this plays out. If I get lucky, they’ll try to extort me and I can get their review of me removed.

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No further than you already have! They are being utterly unreasonable with their demands, particularly over Christmas. Change a fuse for them? Words fail me.

As a live-in host, I’ve closed over Christmas for some family peace and quiet, but had an enquiry for 27th/28th demanding a discount as they would be arriving late, leaving early to catch a ferry and I would therefore have very little to do. Before responding, I spotted that she was also a host. I responded that I don’t offer discounts, but nor do I charge extra for late check-in.

I didn’t hear back.

I wish you a more peaceful day, and that they have the courtesy to leave you alone today.


I hate that this so often seems to be the case.

This is the important issue. Check the hinges are screwed in tight, the knob isn’t loose and check the strike plate. You may be able to file it down or move it in on the hole in the frame (that’s usually the issue.) Or it could be that they are simply clueless like they were with the radiant heater.

As for the review I would make sure to make the issues clear: hapless guests didn’t read the listing stating you have chickens, didn’t shut the garage door and don’t understand basic functions of doors and radiant heaters. Do not recommend.

I often say guests are self reliant, these guests are the opposite of that.

Sometimes its not a matter of right or wrong. Put yourself in the guest shoes and imagine how you would feel if the door didn’t latch, it was cold in the rental, and a fuse blew. What caused the fuse to blow? Running blow dryer on the circuit with the heater? As we often say, people should try staying in their rental to make sure everything works properly before opening for the season. I’d suggest pre-heating the radiant heater before guest arrivals in the future.

If they do leave a poor review I might respond saying all the issues have been attended to for the benefit of the next potential guest.

As for it being Christmas, guests have the right to expect things to operate properly whether or not it’s Christmas. You don’t want your Christmas interfered with but they don’t either. So the key thing is are things really not working properly or are they just angling for a free stay.?


I wouldn’t bend over backwards at all. It’s important though to make sure that their problems are genuinely them being picky which, in the case of the chickens, they definitely are. Especially, as @KKC says, if they were in the listing.

I’d want to check on just why the fuse blew. And if essential items are out because of it then yes, the guest should have it repaired straight away. (I mean things like the TV, cooker, etc.) It sounds as though the door wants fixing anyway regardless of these guests complaining about it.

I mean that you should have these things seen to for your own benefit so that you don’t have more guests having these issues. You might also want to mention during the house tour that the heater works slowly, again for your own benefit so future guests don’t complain.


Harsh comment coming up. If you’ve got guests, you should really be available for them at most times. (I tell guests 9 am to 6 pm). Again, you could have mentioned during the house tour that you wouldn’t be around.

I’d like to hear from other hosts about this because I think it’s crazy - our prices go way up at Christmas, Thanksgiving, July 4th etc.

I thought everyone did that?

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Sounds like you’re handling it really well. The only thing I’d be careful of is the fuse. The guests seem a bit clueless, and in that case they probably shouldn’t be around a fuse box (if indeed it’s a real fuse box and not a modern breaker box).


Sorry that you’re having this challenge on Christmas.


Good advice all around. Yes, ultimately this is my question. Were any of these issues singular, I’d address it and move on. But the number of complaints, and the apparent ineptitude about how to operate garage doors and heaters, makes me feel like they’re fault-finding.

For example, the house heat was at 68F. What is a comfortable temperature is subjective. I asked the guest if they’d like me to turn it up, and they said no, they just wanted a working heater. When I asked when a good time to bring the was, they said, “nevermind, it’s working, it is just hearing up too slowly.” I wondered if it was a legitimate complaint about a perceived lack of amenities or just trying to rack up complaints for a free stay?

I will see to the door as soon as I can, once I can examine if it is indeed a problem rather than ineptitude.

Fair enough. I did tell these guests when I’d be gone and asked what should be fixed before I left. They said, “oh it’s fine” but then brought the door back up. I’m currently waiting while they decide if they are comfortable with me entering the suite to fix it while they aren’t there.


Perfect. :slight_smile:

I also tell guests that I turn my phone off at 6 pm. My reasoning is that if they have an issue that can’t wait until the morning then it’s serious enough to be calling the cops, the paramedics or the fire department rather than me.


I don’t think there is much of a market for guest suites here (Seattle) during holidays. I think whole-home rentals do better on Christmas since there is room for whole families who want to cook. I do well on New Year’s Eve, however.

I think the lesson here is I should not host on Christmas. The absence of a premium price means it is not worth it. This is an especially hard Christmas because I recently lost my dad, who was my also my handyman.

Thank you. It is a breaker box, but even then I’m worried the guest will flip every single breaker in the house.

We know guests don’t read, so they aren’t reading my house manual about avoiding tripping the breaker. Basically don’t run the hair dryer, heater, and microwave at the same time. Maybe I need to add more notes to the appliances that say this. There is a note on the hair dryer cord but not the heater or microwave.


I tell my students just that! (I am a community college professor.) I should do the same with guests since I’m on site, they can knock if the issue is bad enough.


I don’t up the price for my private room/bath during Xmas, New Years, Easter or any other time. Nor drop it during low season. It’s the same price every day of the year. The less I have to fiddle around with my listing the better, as I’m not in this to make as much $ as possible, what’s important to me is that I get nice, hassle-free guests. And it doesn’t cost me any more to host on one day or time period than another.

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I forgot to say above: if these guests decide to check out early I’ll give a refund for the unstayed night. I’m prepared to suggest this if they want me to fix the door and I’m unable to. However, I won’t be giving any refund voluntarily if they complete their stay.

I hope AirBnB won’t force a refund under the “missing amenities” rule. That is a 50% refund if I recall correctly, though I don’t recall if that is issued if the guest declined relocation. These guests have a number of reviews and are hosts themselves so they probably know the company’s policies. Their guest rating is 5.0 stars, but I can see through AirReview that they have left nitpicky reviews for some of their past hosts. I deep cleaned and did some maintenance prior to their stay, too, after reading these nitpicky reviews.

I’m glad that works well for you. I am in a saturated and highly seasonal market. I am able to charge 3x (or more) during summer what I do in winter. However, we just had regulations go into effect here in Seattle so the market may change. I’m already able to charge about $10-15 more per night than I did last winter, but the regulations just started on December 15 so I’m not ready to declare how it’s changed the market.

I would be able to charge more during high season- my bookings are definitely seasonal. But I like being able to offer an affordable place to budget travelers, as that’s what I’d look for if I was travelling, and for the 3 years I’ve been hosting, I have gotten wonderful guests- no lowlifes or cheapskates, just people whose needs are simple and want a quiet place to stay. They may look to save money on accomodation, but have generously brought me gifts, bought a bottle of wine to share, or insisted on taking me out to dinner. Almost all have left their space clean and tidy and all have left 5* reviews. I’ve upped the price by a couple of bucks each year to cover rising costs, but that’s about it.
And it’s not worth it to me to drop the price in the low season just to attract bookings- I use that time to do needed projects and repairs, take a holiday myself, and enjoy having the place to myself.
But we all have a different hosting formula that works for us.


Yes, ultimately we do, and it seems we are both successful long-term hosts, probably in different markets. My own experience has been when I offer a “deal” I get worse guests. However, someone on my block started hosting a basement suite about about a year ago and he charges mostly the same price year round, a number between my winter and summer rates. He seems to have a similar occupancy rate as me and gets similar reviews (similar stars, accolades for communication and thoughtfulness, and complaints about the unit being a basement). The difference is he is already getting summer bookings now, and I’m only booked out for the next two weeks. I only open calendar a month or two out.

Remove the hair dryer.



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There’s an idea. Though I’d still have a problem with guests bringing their own or still blowing a fuse with the microwave.


Removing the hairdryer is a great solution!

But if you still want to have it as an amenity, keep it in your own place and tell the guests that it’s available for their use and they only have to ask. And if they do, tell them not to use it when they’ve also got the heater and the microwave on.

I’d still be concerned though and have the electrics professionally looked at.


I know it’s expensive to get things rewired, and older places may only have a few breakers for the whole place, but there really shouldn’t be more outlets on a circuit than that circuit can handle. Then there’s no issue about people popping a breaker.


I use smart pricing and it does seem to raise prices around holidays (maybe 10%) but not “way up.” I’m not a destination. The folks here this week are visiting family for the holiday and with the pet fee it is a great booking, but I’m also happy they just need their own space away from family and they chose me. I don’t think anyone in El Paso has exceptionally high prices on holidays.

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I’m not convinced this is the long term answer. The handful of issues are not insurmountable and one xmas booking might pay for a new circuit to be added so you can run all the needed appliances at once.

I suspect this is real issue. In most cases it will get easier over time to deal with multiple issues. You can start to do more maintenence things yourself. Your kids won’t always be little and 15 years from now you’ll be one of the most well established legal hosts in your area.

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