First time host/ disastrous guests

Hello! Looking for some advice. My wife and I spent the past yr buying and renovating an old house on the river. We’ve made a ton of progress-- and for the past few months have been renting off and on to friends.

This was our first airbnb tenet-- and it didn’t go well. The lady was sketchy from the get go-- but bc we had checked the instant booking option we didn’t know if we could refuse.

When I showed up hrs after they had checked out: Basically every listed house rule broken.

  • entire house smelled like weed
  • every window was open
  • ashes on several windowsills
  • decorative retaining wall driven over and cracked
  • chair broken
  • multiple candles lit and still burning
  • neighbors fishing poles had been removed from his property and left on our dock
  • cheetos ground into carpets
  • multiple liquor bottles and cigarette butts in yard

And then of course they leave a nice review in our guest book…
How is the best way to handle this?? I’ve contacted airbnb and they’ve said we should resolve w tenet. Honestly I don’t think that would go over well— getting worked up just typing this.

My wife thinks we should just let it go and be more selective going forwards-- she’s worried about us getting a bad review or being flagged as difficult host. Any advice is much appreciated.


Clean up and move on. I would consider raising your prices… Review honestly, do not tip off guest you are upset you do not need a bad review for your first review it will be hard to overcome.



I agree with @RiverRock and would add a couple things:

  1. Make the review brief but factual. No emotion. Nothing personal (for example, don’t say the guest was a slob or nasty or anything like that). I suggest that you post your review on this forum first for input by other hosts before you submit it to Airbnb.

  2. When you do submit the review, you should get a prompt asking whether you would host this guest again. If I were you, I’d say no.

  3. Turn off Instant Booking until you’re comfortable with it—if that ever happens. Airbnb may bug you to turn it on, but it’s entirely up to you.


Thanks for the reply – we raised our prices – raised security deposit-- and got rid of minimum 1 night stay


Yea we turned off instant booking-- actually all booked for the next month woohoo

Crazy how hard airbnb trys to get u to keep instant booking on


You need to be aware that the security deposit on Airbnb isn’t really a security deposit- Air doesn’t hold the money. It’s only there as a warning that a guest could be charged up to that amount for damages. You have to first ask the guest to pay, then if they refuse, which a large percentage do, denying all culpability, you have to escalate it to Airbnb, which may or may not help- it’s a crap shoot.

Also, unless you are taking long term reservations (not a great idea on Airbnb because of the lack of support), they aren’t “tenants”, they are guests.

And I don’t recommend using Instant Book for new hosts (and I’ve never used it at all). Better to be able to communicate with guests before accepting a booking and having the time to learn how to vet prospective guests and recognize red flags.

Don’t let Airbnb pressure you into using IB with their scare tactics. Host in the way that works best for you- all Airbnb is concerned about is their profits, not whether guests respect your home.


FYI, make sure to check your settings frequently as hosts have reported that some settings (including instant book) magically turn themselves on/off occasionally.


Thank you all for the advice! We have some new guests coming in a couple days. Do you guys recommend contact by phone ahead of time? Or does email and text suffice?

Thankfully everyone for the next 2 weeks has been more responsive than this 1st person was

You want to have communication on the Airbnb platform or if you must, in a text. In other words Airbnb needs a record in writing of what was said or agreed to. Phone calls are a last resort.


Best-est advice ever for new or any host!

1 Like

Wait till the 14 days are over and give them the review they deserve. Take pictures and save your receipts so you can write off the damages on your tax return. Since it was your first Airbnb booking, if you send them a request for damages, chances are they will give you a terrible review which would affect your listing when potential guests are looking to book. Take off instant booking. Sorry you had this awful experience but please know that most guests are decent folks so hopefully this won’t happen again.


Hopefully you’ll get a couple of good reviews out of these guests! Once we had even just 1-2 positive reviews on our listing we were able to increase our prices and the guest quality went up so much. I think some people just want to know they won’t be the first ones staying there.


I want to put a plug in for instant book. Maybe turning it off is great for some but I use it, love it and would be upset if they took it away. The few times I’ve been uncomfortable with at reservation I’ve cancelled easily online with no penalty.


I agree with the 14 day wait on the review but be sure to time it right - use the search in this forum to read more about that. If the amount of damage done was signifigant in terms of cost to repair you may want to request $ but think about the timeing - if it is before they review you will get a bad one. Any request through the “host gauarntee” needs to be fully documented and submitted before the next guest checks in. I’d chalk it up to your learning curve and move on. Additionaly I’d reach out to the neighbor with an apology and perhaps a gift card to a sports supply store along with reassurances that you have a plan moving forward to prevent it from happening again.


I’m not against instant book. I’ve used it. 90% of the bookings were good.
I stopped because I realized it wasn’t a good fit for me.

I can’t tell you when we develop the sense of “this reservation feels like trouble”. We need that skill for successful IB.

I think I’ve developed it to a point BUT apparently I still don’t listen to it very well so no IB for me.

1 Like

If you don’t have remote cameras you can see from your home, you must get them now, and fully disclose in your listing. You need cameras covering entries and any decks or patios, and any other place trouble could happen — the pool, the (I hope not) fire pit, the grill…

You need to put in your House Rules that disconnecting or disabling cameras, alarms, and computer networking equipment will result in instant termination of the rental with no refund.

A lot of browsing in this forum will get you up to speed very quickly. I would have a 3 day minimum if you are in a vacation or weekend location.


I think it makes a huge difference if the host is onsite or remote. I’m onsite.


To add to what @NordlingHouse said, the remote cameras must be outside, not inside the house. And you must be notified by them when activity occurs—or you must monitor them for activity.


Lots of hosts are fine with it, but I don’t think it’s a good idea for new hosts- it takes time to learn how to vet guests, the right questions to ask and to learn the red flags.

Since new listings get a boost in search for awhile, hosts ca take advantage of that without having to use IB to get a decent search ranking.

And yes, as you said, better for onsite hosts who can keep a eye on things, also listings that don’t tend to attract partiers, and I guess for those faceless places that are run by property management companies.

As a home-share host who shares my kitchen with guests, I would never use IB, though. I want to get a sense that the guest is a good fit with my place, my lifestyle and me. Especially since my average booking is a week-10 days. Although I’m closed until the virus is no longer a threat, not using IB hasn’t ever hurt me, even though my search ranking isn’t usually good. Guests seem to manage to find my listing, and it has attracted compatible guests, which is what I really care about- hassle-free quality versus quantity.

1 Like

If one is interested in vetting guests or thinks it’s necessary. If I still shared my home with the guests like I did the first 2 years I’d probably be vetting guests by now. But I never did and never want to. I didn’t always use IB at the beginning because of working away from home and the in home dog business.

I just wanted to give balance to all those who have their rigid “never use instant book!” advisories. There isn’t one right way to do it.