Guest Screening -- Top 10 Criteria?


I am a new Airbnb host and a little uncomfortable accepting strangers in to my home. For a newbie like me, I would appreciate the rule of thumb criteria for screening inquiries. Thank you.

I’ve only just become a host but already have three 5 star reviews and am booked with seven more reservations into August. For me there’s a lot of “gut feeling”. Do not ignore gut feeling. One thing I never tolerate is when someone asks me a question that I clearly wrote in my description. For example. I have parking available, it’s very prominently mentioned, three times, in three different places in my description. Yet people will make an inquiry and their only message is: “Hi, do you have parking?” That just shows me they did NOT take the time to read the description which to me means a much higher likelihood of some disappointment when they come, and who wants that? One person asked: “Hi! Is there parking? Is it a safe neighborhood? How far are you from the city?” All three of which I answer very definitely in my description…DECLINED


I tend to just reply with a copy/paste of the info in my ad, and then ask if the description was not clear. If they ask more than one question that was blatantly answered in the ad though, I’ll decline them by saying the property is probably not what they’re looking for. These are the fruit cake guests who will complain that there is no ocean view or jacuzzi in my tiny city studio apartment.


You will get a better sense of gut feeling once you have hosted for a while but here are my instant declines.

  1. Guests that ask for discounts right off the bat, because they will disrespect you regardless.
  2. Guests that very young and asking how close we are to the beach, we are not, and they take a lot of time to cancel right away.
  3. Guests that ask about public transportation which is horrible in Miami these guest tend to be a lot older so a lot pickyer.

Almost every single guest asks questions that are clear in my listing - that is human nature. People are looking at a lot of listings, sometimes in a hurry between work and other responsibilities - it’s difficult to read and really understand just what it says. My opening line talks about my proximity to DC yet I’m always asked ‘are you close to DC’? Rejecting people for that purpose is saying that you don’t feel you need to add any personal service - and I’ll tell you - and the experienced hosts here will confirm - that is EXACTLY why people are coming to airbnb - for relationship. For personal interaction. They want to talk to a living person. They will ask you lots of crazy questions - and you in turn will learn a lot about your area.

Also, some of the guests I dreaded the most - poor communicators - odd photos - etc - were the very very BEST. At the same time, guests with positive reviews, or that I ‘bonded’ with through messaging and I was looking forward to, were the WORST.

You can not PREDICT. I recently had a family of 5 from India. In this case my fears were mostly proven legit. However, they also cooked us dinner, we became great friends, and we learned a lot about India. So in the end, while they were loud and the cooking smells overwhelming, they were wonderful, engaging, and interesting people.

Good luck with hosting. Make sure you are ready to pay your sales and occupancy taxes, be ready to be continually surprised by what guests do - and be ready to have fun and make money!!!


In that case, I wouldn’t do it!

As @dcmooney said, there is no way you can predict what your guests will be like, no matter how much you engage with them first. I’ve had guests who I thought would be troublesome who turned out to be absolute sweethearts. Plus of course, guests who have seemed to be perfect but in reality have been less than ideal.

Hosting is a wonderful thing to do as long as you approach it in the right spirit. And you’ll have to take the rough with the smooth. If anyone here has had all ‘perfect’ guests, I’d love to know!


Google, Facebook, LinkedIn. All of these provide a good idea of who you might be dealing with. It isn’t fool-proof, and not everyone is listed, but you can learn a lot through these.

As others have said, asking for a discount or to waive extra person fees is a major disqualifier.

Asking about things clearly not in the listing is also another big sign of trouble.

Asking where the liquor store is, the same…


Hi I am also reasonably new and am wondering why you are doing this if you are uncomfortable…I agree completely that it is about attitude, it is an adventure and mostly a very rewarding and positive experience. I think dcmooney has some useful and excellent comments

Agree with everything DCMooney has mentioned, it is pretty impossible to predict what guests will be like and we are frequently surprised by how guests turn out to be in reality.

Don’t ignore your gut but sometimes you need to leave your preconceptions behind and you will meet some really wonderful people.

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Well said, jaquo

Being a host, especially when the people are sharing your home, is very challenging - it really causes some people - like me - to stretch and bend and grow. I’ve had guests do some very unexpected things. Some of those things I realized were no big deal and I had to bend and grow, while some were unacceptable and had to be stopped - so I had to grow in that way. Some things guests were doing offended me until I asked why they were doing it that way - and their explanation was totally reasonable. Think: CULTURAL DIFFERENCES IN YOUR FACE.

Think about when you are in a hotel. There are front desk clerks, catering staff, cleaning staff, laundry, accountants, tax people, purchasing staff, AND a security person/system. You have to be prepared to be all of these, all while smiling and being gracious. Sometimes I feel like I’m channeling John Cleese of Faulty Towers. Everything can be falling apart in my life - sick kids, unexpected work schedule - overflowing toilet - whatever - but still I do what I can to put that behind my back, put a smile on my face, and ensure that my guests are having the time of their life.

Sometimes, I may add, you will like your guests and people and want to stay in touch, but as guests, they drive you CRA CRA!!!

Some you just can’t wait to see the backs of. And it’s not that they are breaking rules or doing anything horrendous, you just - don’t like them.


Just awesome. Totally agree. You never know really how it will turn out till they have the keys.

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Very true. I very rarely have guests who i just dont like.Most are very likable, but i will remember those few that i could not wait for them to leave. And its not something wrong they did, its just the whole energy in a house changed with their presence, if that makes sense. I remember a 23 year old girl who swipped my floors as soon as she arrived after i just washed them before her arrival. Then she started converstaions with me every time she saw me, asking endless questions about me and my family. She had no car, so she stayed in a house most of the day,and even when i offered to drive her to the beach where she could spend all day, just to get her out of the house, she did not want to go.
These were the longest 3 days for me. How do you screen behavoir like that, there is no way.

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Check out the company Safely Stay! They help verify guests and provide insurance, & check guests against 200+ global fraud & crime databases. Their office is in my building, and I’d definitely recommend them to hosts.

There’s a bit of a difference between screening and being uncomfortable. There is naturally a bit of caution when allowing someone into your house, especially if you have kids. So, some basic searches are settling.

For example, we recently got a request from a local who wanted to come for one night. This made me just a bit suspicious. A quick web search revealed he had some notoriety as a provider of certain illicit substances. Of course, he was denied. That’s just one example how a little bit of legwork can potentially save you a lot of trouble and liability.


I’m curious how a quick web search reveals a provider of illicit substances?

There was a Reddit commenting on items he had been able to provide.

I think you’ve got the wrong show. Basil Fawlty was anything but gracious. Especially to Germans. :slight_smile:

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I think all hosts should watch Fawlty Towers again! We’d look at it through different eyes these days, I’ll bet. And we’d be a lot more sympathetic towards Basil!

Despite having one of the most fabulous views locally, and despite being a short distance from the beach and everything else worth going to, I still have a few four star ratings for location.

So next time this happens, I’ll remember Basil…

Guest: "When I pay for a view, I expect something more interesting than that."
Basil: "But that is Torquay, madam."
Guest: "Well it’s not good enough."
Basil: “Well may I ask what you expected to see out of a Torquay hotel bedroom window? Sydney Opera House perhaps? The Hanging Gardens of Babylon? Herds of wildebeest sweeping majestically across the plain…?”



Hah, you make a good point. :slight_smile: I’d forgotten that part of the reason Basil was insane was that idiotic guests were making him crazy. Hmm, now, does that remind me of anything? :slight_smile:

Minor sidebar: one is occasionally reminded of the fact that even though FT has an iconic position in British comedy, it iconsists of only12 episodes. That would not even be a single series of a US sitcom.

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Yeah, I didn’t watch it often - but weren’t there some guests that he would fawn over and treat like royalty, if he felt like they could benefit him? That’s what I was remembering. Maybe it was just one show.