First time host - dilemma

Sorry guys, pls bear with me, I’m a new host and would love any comments on a situation with a guest.

I’m a first time host and had a guest book with me for a whole month as I rented out a spared bedroom in my apt. She’s also a new user and was booking for somebody else. I hesitated but took a chance. Everything went really well for the first two weeks, I had injured my leg so I was working from home most of the time, she was very nice and respectful and even brought me some meals bc she knows that I couldn’t really go out.

I had to go out of town unexpectedly last Monday, texted her Monday night, telling her that I would be out of town and that I will be back this week, and giving her my e-mail address in case she needed anything bc my phone would be turned off. Didn’t get a response, I took off, didn’t hear from her, thought everything was fine.

Come Friday night, I get an e-mail from the girl that booked for her, asking me if I was home, and how she couldn’t reach me as there’s some issues with the apt. I was freaking out, called the guest directly and asked her what’s wrong. She said she didn’t know that I was gone, and is scared of living alone (Have been her whole life, mind you, she’s like a 55 year old woman), so have been staying at a hotel and also the lights in the bathroom went out and she’s scared of the dark. She claims that she never got my text so didn’t know that I was out of town. I apologized for the miscommunication and told her to contact the management company and that they will fix the lights for her. I could have called for her but I didn’t know her schedule so thought it was better that she call herself. I e-mailed the girl the next day (Saturday) asking if guest has contacted management company, she says she doesn’t know.

today, I get an email from the girl saying that the guest has tried “twice” to contact the management company and has so far failed to fix the light, blah blah blah. She said management was unwilling to change the lights for her without the landlord’s consent, but all the while, I didn’t get a single call or email from her regarding management company’s request. Anyways, to make the long story short, I think the guest would like to move out early as she is extremely “unhappy”.

I’m wondering what are my options here? Am I obligated to give her a refund here? If so, how much? If I don’t, its highly possible that I will get a negative review, and I’m a first time host, not a very good look.

I find it extremely weird that the day that I left town, the lights went out, not to say that it doesn’t happen, but she did acknowledge that she doesn’t like living alone. I think she’s trying to use the faulty lights as the reason for her living in a hotel, but in fact, its because she doesn’t like living alone. She claims that she never got my text message that I had left town but the fact that she claims that she started living in a hotel the next day, shows me that she does know that I left town, otherwise, she would have tried to contact me, through however means. If my cell phone couldn’t be reached, they could have messaged me on airbnb, to which I have always replied within a hour.

Sorry to hear about your first time experience. For the refund its easy. It is according to whatever you have set in your refund policy and airbnb will take care of it. If it says strict, then probably no refund. If its relaxed, then they have to give you 24 hour notice. I think there is one for a long term stay as well can’t remember. Just check airbnb refund policy. Have your guest contact airbnb on how to cancel.

For the issue of a possible bad review. well you did all you can. just be honest on the reply and everyone can see that you tried your best. Maybe a mention of a Starbucks gift card on that reply would make it alot better :smile:

You can do a refund for the unused nights and those without electricity. I guess in the future, you will have make sure to always be available to babysit guests. I am totally with the management too, in not being able to make repairs without the landlord’s permission (I’m assuming that’s you? ) I guess you did all you could under the circumstances, and refunding the guest a partial refund would be the fair thing to do.

You don’t have to give her anything back if you don’t want too. You should have the money already at this stage. It’s not your fault she’s scared of the dark - I mean really at 55yo?

I think my problem with her is that everything is after the fact. Ok, fine, management company wants to protect me so they wouldn’t change the bulbs for her, well, she has my number and email, she could have called me from the spot, I could’ve talked to them, and etc. there are always ways to solve issues. It seems to me that she doesn’t want to solve it and simply wants to get out of the agreement. Also, it took her 4 days to contact me after the supposed light bulb went out and she couldn’t use the bathroom.

I read Airbnb’s policy on early termination for long stays with less than 30 days notice. It basically left it up to the host, I could be strict and not refund her anything or I could just charge her for the actual days that she stayed.

Not sure what I’m gonna do at this point. I guess I will get a better feel when I get back and actually talk to her.

This was a bad move. AirBnB does not cover you for a guest if it’s not the person who booked. I had someone ask to book for someone else a couple months ago and AirBnB told me it wouldn’t be covered so I declined it.

I wonder if whatever number you were contacting was actually the guests, considering she’s not who booked…

Maybe, but I think you’d have been better off being the intermediary here. Maybe even doing a conference call to work out the scheduling, then there’d be no excuse for the management not fixing the light bulb.

The funny thing is, having just had my first long term guest book, it looks like the cancellation policy for long term is separate from what you set normally. Basically it’s super strict, they have to pay the next thirty days of their stay whenever they choose to cancel. I didn’t look super closely so I can’t say if there’s a way to manually refund or change the long-term cancellation policy… but by default you’re covered.

I’m not sure if you can do anything about a bad review though…

I would contact airbnb and see what they have to say. Do you guarantee 24 hour companionship? I’m sure not. She rented a room, not a buddy. You can explain to her that, to rent you as well as a room, the price is much higher.

About the lights in the bathroom - well, really, she’s alone, she can leave the door open.

There is a lesson for all of us - don’t rely so heavily on text messaging - call the person and speak to them, make sure they’ve heard you.

Sorry for this rotten experience, hang in there!!


No need to refund anything. Anytime I hear “crickets” from guests who I normally have been able to communicate with- it means they are up to something. Yes, you were being nice by leaving it up to her to take care of the lights. But now you know to never ever let a guest handle anything in the future. They may give permission for all kinds of work. I think she is playing you and would give her nothing back. I think your gut is right. People think of all kinds of things they can take advantage of. Especially if they think you will be a pushover. Of course they could have contacted you…because they did.


Hahaha…Seems like everybody is pretty divided on what I should do. I dunno…I don’t think she is out to get me, but I do think she took advantage of the situation and warped it to her favor (doesn’t like living alone + lights went out in bathroom thus can’t use it = unhappy guest)

I do think I made a number of mistakes as first time host though. I definitely should have called her, in addition to the text, telling her that I would be out of town. Also, I should have talked to the management company directly to try to get the light bulb fixed. I was careless bc I’ve had such a good experience with my management company that I expected them to provide the same service to a tenant.

I’m prepared to refund her for the rest if she does decide to leave early, I think I’m ok with it. And for the days that I was gone and that that she claims the light was broken and so she had to resort to living in a hotel, I’m not so sure. I’m inclined to not give any refund for this period, but if she insists, maybe a 50% refund during this period if I go back and find the bulb is really broken and after I talk to the management company and try to get the whole story. Again, it took her four days to contact me from the day that I left until she told me there was a problem.

Do you think that I would get a ‘fair’ resolution if I get airbnb involved in this? they most likely will side with the guest right?

Didn’t you already receive the payout ? If so, Airbnb does not take any money back from you. I am afraid of the dark. I am 40 years old and afraid of the dark but I am less afraid of the dark when I am in a different area. And I don’t need lights in the bathroom when it is daylight outside. Don’t think you will avoid a bad review by accommodating this ridiculous person. You will kick yourself for refunding and then she slaps you with a negative review anyway. Just set her straight.


I would let this go and chalk it up to lessons learned. Never EVER accept a guest who is different from the one who made the booking. That was a major error on your part. Be glad it didn’t turn out worse than it did and move forward.

What do you mean if she decides to leave early?? Is she still there?

Your guest was crying that she couldn’t contact you - yet the person who booked was able to contact you. Someone is lying here. Don’t fall for it. Guests prey on newbies and hope they cave in.

Yeah she was two weeks into her 4 week stay w me when I left town. She still has about a week left and I think wants to leave early

Yeah I did receive the payout but was thinking I could refund her some in cash…if she does want to leave early. For the days that she didn’t use

You make an excellent point!!! Thx

And yes, I should not have let her book for somebody else. She was booking for someone “that did not really know how to work the web”.

I think I will get a better feel when I get back tonight and speak to her in person.

I am leaving town again soon so if she wants to leave a week early, that’s fine w me so I don’t have to deal w her again. I don’t mind refunding her for the last week that she didn’t use…

All in all, a lot of lessons learned!

Just out of curiosity, what do you guys think Airbnb would do if she escalates the issue, if I decide to give no refund whatsoever?

Amygirl, don’t refund her. Really this whole situation is just silly. A grown woman is affraid to be in a house alone, and for some reason you have to feel responsible for it.
She didnt rent you, she rented a room. Most guests would be happy to be in a house alone. And then she couldn’t reach you but the booking person could? And she never received your texts? I just don’t believe her. And bulb went off?? I changed so many light bulbs in my life that it’s hard to imagine someone can’t do it. It takes less a minute. You don’t know how, go on line, they have instructions. Or just leave bathroom door open, and turn the light in a hallway.
There is no one in a house anyway.
Of course it’s better to call and talk just to be sure your guests got the message. I usually text first and then if no answer, call.
You didnt even have to inform her about your leave. I stayed in so many places where I hardly saw my host. I wouldn’t even know if they are in a house or not, and honestly wouldn’t care. I had my keys, my bed, shower, that’s all I cared about.


Not with this guest. If you called them earlier, they would make her leave. Third party can’t book for someone else’s.
also, when you mentioned she is about 55 and doesn’t know how to use Internet, this alone tells me a lot. My father is 73 and he is surfing Internet
Ike there is no tomorrow


Amy - No don’t refund her. Something is a bit fishy here … plus you won’t be refunding her you’ll be refunding the person who booked it for her


If you do go the route of refunding her and give her cash, then I would make sure to speak to the other person who might try to leave a negative review - make sure all the air is clear. I would hate to see you give back money and then they leave a scathing review too. I would be so scared to have someone living with me for a month. These silly guests book an place for an entire month and have no idea what they are getting into.

You did nothing wrong at all. You don’t owe her anything. The most ridiculous part is about how she doesn’t like to live alone. Like Yana said…most guests are ecstatic to get a whole place to themselves when they only rented a room. So to turn this on you, is just ridiculous. And I would love to hear how the bathroom is set up? I mean, surely she had light during the day…right? Isn’t there a light from the hall that she can use in the middle of the night? Could she not have gone to the drugstore to purchase a few night lights to keep her company?