Hi! Newbie to this forum, not new to hosting on Airbnb so forgive me in advance if I’m hitting on a redundant thread.
My prior Airbnb hosting experience was sharing my condo in downtown San Francisco as a host. I just finished a long top-to-bottom remodel and my place is now set up to accommodate unhosted stays as well.
My first unhosted guest checked out at the end of his five-week stay last Sunday… and I’m still picking up the pieces.
He didn’t follow house rules. He broke light fixtures and appliances. He disappeared towels and bedding, leaving me with incomplete sets of everything. Did he report any damages? Nope.
He called me in a panic on his last night after he’d locked himself out of the building to ask me to come let him in. I interrupted dinner to do so, letting him know that I’d waive the missing key fee listed on my house rules but that he would need to pay my cab fare to and from the building. He agreed. After I let him in, he tried to haggle over my cab fare and asked for screenshots from my phone!
Anyhow, you can say all those things are simply the cost of doing business with demanding people. But the worst part was his parting gift on check-out.
I placed a brand-new heavy-duty lockbox at the building entrance for guest keys. When he went to return to the keys, he discovered that the lockbox had been tampered with - someone had literally taken a torch to it. He didn’t call or text me - he had my cell and had no problem calling many times before.
Instead of calling or texting, he placed the keys inside the badly damaged lockbox, took a picture and sent it to me on the Airbnb app AFTER he left. When I saw his message I immediately went to retrieve the keys. Being downtown San Francisco, by the time I arrived whoever torched the lockbox came back and finished the job - the cover was melted open and the keys were gone.
I called the building HOA and then a locksmith to rekey the front gate and entrance and cut 30 replacement keys for everyone in the building. $300 dollars later, I called Airbnb support to learn that before I could initiate an Aircover claim, I first needed to reach out to the guest seeking reimbursement.
I did that and while I was fully expecting this guy to shirk any responsibility, he did me one better by blaming ME for allowing self-check-in in a “dangerous neighborhood” in the first place.
Nothing but his refusal matters to me because that’s all I needed to get my claim started. And I have started a claim, to which I’ve been adding with regularity over the last several days as I discover more surprises. It stands at about $1,500 in damages to date.
After putting A LOT of work into my home of the last 17 years and staging it with hosting in mind, and with new guests only days away, I’m still digesting what my next steps need to be to be better prepared.
At first, my big concern was getting a bad review FROM this guy. Then I was worried about Airbnb’s response since it appears that Aircover will be scrutinizing very closely even undisputed items on my claim.
I thought I’d taken steps to protect against problematic guests: I set a 20-day minimum stay and I read ALL the guest’s reviews. And while limited, all his reviews were positive, without a hint of what I encountered. Remember that while this was my first unhosted stay, all my prior (hosted) guests were fine, some affable, some quirky, some I wouldn’t want as friends, but all fine, really.
This experience, however, shakes my faith.
So ultimately, my question is much more about whether I need to reconsider using Airbnb as a hosting platform at all, and forego the higher earning potential in favor of a traditional (furnished) rental.
In any event, I thank you for reading this far. Any and all feedback appreciated and especially interested to get the take of more seasoned hosts on what I might do differently IF I stick with Airbnb.