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Family leave their 14 year old son behind

We have a family of four staying with us at the moment for a 6 night stay. We have 2 private guest rooms in our house. Today our guests have gone out for the day but have left their 14 year old son in his room. He seems like a nice enough kid but it occurs to me that he is a minor and so, while his parents are out of the house, I guess we’re legally (and certainly morally) responsible for him. They didn’t discuss this with us before leaving. What if we want to go out? He’d then be left behind in the house on his own. This is one of those situations where, in all likelihood, there won’t be an issue. But I’m surprised by their assumption that this would be OK. Am I overreacting?

Actually the parents should still be legally responsible. You’re not a babysitter or opted to look after.

I know thats how it works in the UK.

On an unrelated side note, I read up about it. If you have a 15 year old babysitter looking after a 10 year old the parents are still legally responsible, not the babysitter. Most people don’t know this. But I think it makes sense.

You’re in the UK, right? If I remember rightly it is illegal to leave anyone under sixteen in a house alone. As you say, what if you need to go out? Who has then ‘left the child alone’? You or the parents?

I wonder if they’ve done this because they are accustomed to hotels where it wouldn’t be noticed? Are they first timers? Maybe the way to deal with the parents is to kindly and gently explain to them that unlike a hotel, they can’t do that in a private home.

I would send your guests a message through Airbnb just so it’s at least documented. Perhaps say something along the lines of, “We wanted to let you know that we need to leave the house this afternoon and wanted to make you aware that your son will be here by himself.”


Well this is what it says on the uk government website.

There is no min age for a child to be left alone and parents should use their judgement.

Children under 12 are not usually mature enough to be left alone.

Children under 16 should not be left alone overnight.

But in both cases the parents or adult looking after are responsible.

But you did not choose to look after them so the parents are responsible.

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So If I was the host I would message the guests (via the Airbnb platform) and say something along the lines of @Chloe’s suggestion. That way it’s documented.

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This happened to us but it was 2 boys. Ages 16 and 14. Albeit 16 is a little older but we had no choice to leave the house to head to work letting the boys stay there alone. I was nervous with having a pool but thankfully it worked out that they just wanted to play video games and watch TV.
I didn’t think to message the mom but thanks to @Chloe suggestion if this happens again I will!

I know that as a teen we were on vacation and I occasionally stayed behind. It’s normal. They weren’t even thinking about it because teens stay home alone all the time. In our listing and rules it says “children under 14 must be supervised at all times”, but I would allow 14+ to be left alone as long as they were following the rules.

BUT, my listing is a separate apartment. You have to do what you feel comfortable with, and make it clear in the rules going forward, either with an age minimum or blanket “no unsupervised minors”, etc.

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I would also be surprised by their assumption that they didn’t need to check with you. Like you said, probably everything will be fine. And the parents probably told him to stay in his room and behave himself.

BUT - you don’t know the kid, and have no idea if he would get into a bit of mischief if everyone was gone. The least the parents could have done is checked to be sure you were okay, along with a “So and so is really a responsible kid, and he has been told to not bother you, etc. blah blah blah.”


I wouldn’t word it like that. Of course they are “aware.”

I would be more emphatic.

Please be aware that we don’t allow minor children to be left alone unsupervised in our home. We need to leave and aren’t comfortable giving your son run of the house. Please make sure to take him with you when you leave or have one of you stay here with him. Thanks.

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