Guest used my laptop without my permission

I will implement all those frequently suggested ways to leaving a review for this guest (such as waiting till last minute). But wondering if I’m overreacting. Surely I’m not overreacting? Was I completely at fault? I am willing to assume some fault for ya know…trusting guests.

The scene: I’ve been streaming live coverage of Irma from the ABC station that covers the area where my family lives. I had left my laptop on a chair in my living room, with my earbuds connected, if it matters, my laptop was placed sideways on the chair (meaning not facing the room as the chair is in a corner) and the top of laptop was half closed (that’s just the way I always Ieave any of my laptops, work or personal).

I went out to put trash cans to curb, got sidetracked by deadheading some flowers, then putting a cooler I washed out yesterday into the shed. I was out maybe 7 minutes.

I knew guests were awake before I went out, as I heard the shower running (guests rent my upstairs bedroom/bathroom) and it’s quite clear in my listing and in the greeting tour that guests can feel welcome to sit in living room, and use the kitchen for self serve continental breakfast and any food they bring in. I specifically pointed out to this guest with their tour that they could sit on couch, chair, use kitchen table, toaster, microwave.

When I got back inside, the husband was in the kitchen eating breakfast, watching my laptop that he had moved to the kitchen table. Earbuds disconnected, left on chair in living room. With a completely different news channel in full screen mode.

I said to him, 'Did I leave my laptop on the table?", He said no, but that ‘it was running the news’. (I have no idea how that grants someone to think it’s ok to grab someone else’s laptop, pull up a different news channel, and use the laptop.)

I calmly told him that using my laptop was not an amenity included in my listing and that it was an absolute violation to my privacy.
He was casually cool and indifferent to my words, just sat there eating his yogurt, which I was tempted to take away from him and start eating because ya know, it was open. But, germs.
He again asserted that the laptop was running as I must have had a look of disbelief on my face, or maybe he felt the threat to his yogurt.

But he could not have known that it was running, unless he opened it up. It was not open enough for him to know it was logged in and running. I did have the news channel streaming, but the earbuds were in so there was no sound, and with the lid of the laptop in the position I left it, he would have had to literally opened it up to notice that I was logged in and the news was streaming. I immediately took the laptop back and told him again, use of the laptop was not an Airbnb amenity and was an invasion of my privacy.

He and wife checked out very shortly after this incident.

So, I should mention this in the public review? Perhaps not the actual intrusion, but just mention lack of boundaries, I think lack of boundaries sounds better. Or maybe just state best suited for a non-shared space? Or was I so wrong for leaving the laptop out and logged on, that I shouldn’t mention it?


Absolutely mention this. It’s shocking chutzpah to grab a personal laptop and start using it. Just because you left it and walked outside does NOT give anyone license to grab it and start using it. And then to argue with you about it?!!! JUST NO.

I’m in my own personal situation right now with a really bad, undeserved guest review.:poop::poop: They don’t hesitate to crack you over nothing, so please, don’t hesitate to recount this situation in a review. If you would not want your fellow hosts to host this inconsiderate jerk, please leave an honest review.

Don’t know about you guys, but I’m experiencing serious burnout right now. I don’t know if I can keep doing this. :cry::weary:


I’m sorry to hear about your guests, and burnout, but do appreciate your advice.
As to the burnout, I was thinking maybe I may have overreacted because I had such a busy August, but I really had one great guest after another, so it was just burnout from all the work involved.
What happened with the recent guest review? Did you post about it and I missed it?

1 Like

No, you were not wrong for leaving your laptop unnattended for a short period of time. If your jacket is hanging on a coat rack in the living room…does that give the guest permission to use it?

I don’t even like family or close friends touching my laptop. I don’t need to be concerned with them coming across something personal, nor worrying about them accidentally downloading a virus while just checking email.

It seems strange behavior that this guy would think it was okay and wasn’t even trying to hide his behavior. I would specifically mention what happened in the review.


Your guest’s behaviour was absolutely horrible! I can’t believe someone could do that. It was a complete invasion of privacy. Please include it in your review. I would like to know such a thing so that I could refuse hosting such a jerk. Mention exactly what happened in your review. “Lack of boundaries” can be anything, it is not really helpful for other hosts.


Was this as planned or precipitated by the laptop incident?

1 Like

Sent you a PM…

They were due to checkout anyway.

1 Like

Ok, so should I say exactly what the incident was (guest helped himself to using my laptop without my permission), or something like “Guest did not respect boundaries”.
I guess I really need to be specific.

Don’t just say, “guest did not respect boundaries.” That could mean anything, and different people will interpret that in different ways. I would be very specific about the details. This will allow hosts to make their own judgement about the guest and his actions. Reviews that are factual and without emotion or opinion carry the most weight for me as a host.

I agree that the guest overstepped, but I would also suggest that in the future, you don’t leave your laptop out for the guests to see. I doubt he was being deliberately malicious, some guests are just clueless.


Agree just referring to boundaries is too vague.

Might say something like…

Unfortunately I can’t recommend this guest. He helped himself to my open laptop while I was out of the room and began using it. He argued like a child when I strongly requested that he return it to me. Shocked by the nerve of someone who would not only think this was okay but then argue when I asked for it back.

Wait until the last minute to leave it. This guest knows you are not happy wi him. Or maybe not, being as clueless as he is.

It’s a shame you can’t use your own laptop in your own house though it probably won’t happen again.


You are right, I do tend to be too trusting. Admittedly, I have valuables locked up, in my bedroom during ABB Season. But for the most part, I am generally trusting. Obviously too much so. Agree with you, I will never leave my laptop in the shared space again unless I am present.


I know that many here don’t permit guests to use their laptops. I always offer guests that if they need to print something they are welcome to use my laptop. As many people use devices as their way of watching news, television, etc. I can understand why the guest might not have automatically viewed your laptop as private.

However, there is no excuse for how he responded when you confronted him. If he’d had an iota of manners; he would have profusely apologized.


I can’t imagine anyone assuming that someones electronic device of any type (phone, tablet, desktop, laptop) was not private.


Put that in the review too!!!


Hi @brook2adks,

Sorry to hear about your guest’s intrusion.

However, I have a concrete suggestion. Add a screenlock which kicks in if the laptop is left unattended for some time (configurable, obviously). The most recent release of the operating system I use (which goes by the official moniker of Debian GNU/Linux) added a screenlock by default, and on balance it is a plus. This requires one to type in a password to regain access to the machine. If you have unauthorized people around, I think it is a must have.


Mine does go to a lock screen, but I think it’s after 10 minutes.
What you just talked about…is Greek to me!
In any case, the new protocol in my Airbnb is to never leave my laptop in shared spaces unless I’m actively using it.

1 Like

I see. Maybe shorten the interval? Though that does make it more of a nuisance. One day we’ll all have touch screen laptops that unlock with our fingerprints, and we won’t have to type passwords. Though that functionality might already be here. I tend to be behind the times technologically.


You know, I think it’s the principle here. Brooke should not have to inconvenience herself with constant passwording because guests can’t keep their hands to themselves.

The issue here is with the guest character. Someone who would do this!


Absolutely. Most importantly, though, was his subsequent attitude. Fair enough if he misunderstood and thought that it was left there for guest access and then apologised profusely for the mistake/misunderstanding, which is what most normal people would do. But he didn’t. He was a dick about it. So he must pay the price in the review!
My suggestion for the shit-sandwich review:
‘X and Y left the room clean and tidy and respected stated house rules [as applicable]. I was not comfortable that X thought it appropriate to use my laptop when it was briefly unattended and did not apologise for any misunderstanding. I recommend [as appropriate] this guest for a shared home stay as long as all boundaries are firmly established’.