Early Check-In W/out Approval

Am I over reacting or is it fair to write in a guest’s review that they checked themselves in early? The scenario: guest booked several months ago and stated then that they plan to check in at 3 PM. They could see when they booked check in is 4 PM. I let them know that check in is at 4 PM unless special arrangements have been made. Not comments past that first message where made about them wanting to check in early. I emailed check in info with the check in time included 24 hours before arrival, an automated message sent the morning of check in with the check in time, was sent via the AirBnB messaging system not to mention any information found and sent automatically by AirBNB. We are more than willing to accommodate early check in when we can but not always does it work with the cleaning needed between guests. Thank goodness this time around we were ok on scheduling but I guess I was a little put off when I have mentioned how many times that check in is at 4 PM to the guests and they have the braze to just keep on with their plans and not be willing to discuss or ask if this is ok. Or do I just overlook it??

I would mention it in the review. But it also sounds like beyond telling them months ago that check-in is at 4pm, you didn’t follow up with them re check-in time (automated messages aren’t really follow-up,as you don’t even know if they read them).

If a guest indicates they intend to do something against your policies, it would be prudent to dialogue with them and require an answer so as to ensure they understand.

  1. They could have been confused by time zones?
  2. Do you have smart locks set up? A guest could tell me that they’re going to check in at 9am after I tell them that check-in is 4pm. If I don’t okay an early check-in, I hope they enjoy sitting on the front steps, b/c if the space isn’t ready, it’s not ready and they’re not getting in. I’ve learned the hard way not to rush your cleaners just because someone wants to check in early. They can sit and wait in their car.

Reread your post, they already stayed. I’d mention it in the review that they didn’t follow directions well.


– Were they good guests except for this?
– Would you like for them to book again with you? [That’s the long game.]

IMHO you need to answer these two questions before mentioning this in a review.

I agree with @muddy 's point that it would have been prudent to respond directly to their statement [not just an automated message] that they intended to check-in at 3 pm.

If they were otherwise good guests, I might just leave private feedback that says something like:

“I was so happy that I was able to get the place ready for your early check-in at 3 pm! Hope you enjoyed your stay.”

Let’s not be scolds. [Not saying you are, but they’ll feel that way, and you could have been more direct or have automation that would have prevented access before 4 pm. I’d let this go.]

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Did the guests actually check in early or did they just not respond to your messages that included the correct check in time?

There must be some sort of guest tip site that recommends this approach; I’ve had more than one guest message something like “We will be checking in a 12 noon, if that’s OK,” or “We plan to arrive at 1:30.”

That gets a specific hard no response message from me.

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Both. Did not respond to my messages about check in time being 4 PM and our security cameras show they checked in at 3 PM.

As far as the different time zone, they told me where they were coming from and it was a time zone behind and so that possible scenario would have meant they checked in two hours early.

I probably should have forced a yes or no answer out of them instead of stating the facts and assuming they got it and just didn’t want to discuss it.

One way to completely stop unapproved early check-ins is a keypad lock with set times the unique codes are usable. If they message that they can’t get in, I kindly reply that check-in is at 4 PM and their code will become valid at that time.


Bear in mind that host reviews often tell the viewer as much about the host as they do the guest.

If I were to read a review that said that the guests had entered the rental early without permission I’d think 'why did the host allow this? Why weren’t they managing the guests properly?"

I have never given guests details about how to enter the rentals before they arrived. In the old days, it was the keys then after that the keypad code.

The only way to prevent unauthorised early check in is by managing your guests.


Agree with @shinylizard and @jaquo. The best way to manage this is to make sure their code isn’t active until the acceptable check in time or don’t provide the code until the unit is ready (if possible). My booking message tells guests that they will receive their code on arrival day as soon as the unit is ready, usually around 2:30PM (check in is at 3PM). Every once and awhile I have people that want it sooner but very rarely. I like this approach because it really helps keep things secure until I’m pretty much certain the guest is coming and I don’t have to worry about them coming before we are ready. Guests like it because they don’t have to go hunting for check in info and they usually get to check in at least a little bit early.


There is something right on the Airbnb site that tells guests to ask the host if they want a different check-in time.

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Yes- you need to ask guests to please respond. Otherwise they often think a message doesn’t require a response. Some hosts get miffed when they send a check-in message,for instance, saying they hoped the guests checked in okay, and saying to feel free to contact if the have any questions or can’t find something, but many guests wouldn’t feel that requires any response.


Although I agree that either not sending check in information before check in time or having a smart lock will fix the problem, I don’t agree with putting all the blame on you. The guests still violated the check in time. I don’t care if it’s check in time or no smoking or no unregistered guests or “no string quartets on the outdoor balcony after dark.” If they broke your rule then they may think my rules don’t apply either and as a fellow host I want to know that.

Sometimes I word things for this kind of situation like this: (paraphrased from a review I actually left a guest)

“This guest smoked weed in my rental in violation of a no smoking rule. They might do fine in a 420 friendly rental but I wouldn’t host them again.”

Or in case of early check in I say something like “The guest stated they would check in at 3pm even though my check in window opens at 4 pm. I reminded them of the 4 pm check in time. They didn’t reply to my message and arrived at 3pm anyway. I wouldn’t host them again.”


Thank you everyone for your thoughts. A few good pointers to being a more proactive host. We’ve been frequent AirBNB guests ourselves and we always assumed it’s our responsibility to know the Rules and Check In, Check Out times as they can vary upon location, just as access into rentals can vary also. I always figured if I’m smart enough to figure out how to book a reservation, than I’m smart enough to be a responsible guest also. But maybe we are just old fashion, as from experience with being a host, not all guests’ view their rental experience as a privilege into someone else’s home and property.


I have a key pad lock on the apartment door and way early in my hosting days I used to send out the code a day or so earlier. Then one night I went to the apartment the night before the guest was to arrive and found they were asleep in beds !

We were both rather surprised as you can imagine. They said they got the dates wrong. I beat a hasty exit and later AirBnB charged them for another day so it worked out okay. Now I send out the code of the lockbox on the day of check-in and say, my cleaner will set the code to xxxx at 3pm when they complete their final check. So no early check-in even on the day. I am thinking of a deadbolt I can set the code remotely but it hardly seems worth the effort now.


If able for your AirBnb, I would highly recommend investing in the Yale x Nest Smart lock. Allows you to remotely change the code. Some vacation rental softwares like hospitable also have integrations with the lock that will automatically change the door code for you!

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That’s a bit expensive. I have a kwikset that I manually have to set the code but that’s good enough for me since I’m the one who does the prep so I’m there regularly.

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We use a Weiser keyless locking system. I set a new unique door code for each guest and our check in time is 3:00 and I set it for 3:00, and time for check out is also programmed into the lock with some leeway for checkout time. Works well for us.

Airbnb provides a link internally that Remotelock uses in their software that allows many many locks to auto setup access codes. When your guest books, it sends check in and check out codes to your lock, and them deletes them when the booking is completed. It also provides a message that you can customize for your guest.

I would not recommend manually going to set codes etc - after all, you need to be respectful of your guests staying and scheduling someone putting in codes during a stay could be a problem. Also, changes in reservations are painless as well.

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RemoteLock (among others) also integrates with OwnerReservations and probably other channel managers. That lets me send an automatic “your stay is almost here!” message that includes the lock code.


A variation on your post on early check ins - as an in home host I am increasingly getting guests who do not let me know when they expect to arrive in the check in window that is 2pm to 8pm. It clearly states in the listing and then the message I send to them (not automated) the day before arrival to please advise their eta and that if they need checkins outside of those hours, eg some of the international guests we can negotiate that before arrival day.
Lately I am getting guests coming from the city who give me a weak ‘sorry’ when they have failed to give me an eta and turn up without notice. If coming from the city nearby, its easy to advise an eta because it takes 2 hrs drive or 2 hrs 20min by public transport. What surprises me most is some of these guests are business coaches or working people who must know whether they are working and what time they finish on the day they intend to arrive. Any suggestions - shorten the check in window, put up a late check in fee, have a stiff gin or several while waiting? LOL! :slight_smile: