Guests enter suite before check-in time

Hello dear group,
I’d so appreciate your feedback on the following incident:
With the code for the private entrance to the guest suite, guests can unlock the door and let themselves in.
I was doing laundry in my separate part of the house and when I returned to the suite I rent on air, my guests were already in the bedroom - 25 minutes prior to check-in time.
" Oh, I hope you don’t mind, but we arrived a bit early.“
I replied " Your suite isn’t ready yet. Please wait outside until check-in time.”
" Well, it looks ready to me." she responded.
" I haven’t moped the floors yet. Please wait outside until 3pm."
I was probably a bit terse and certainly didn’t greet them with my usual friendly welcome. I was startled and alarmed to unexpectedly find strangers in my house before check-in time.
My listing shows check-in as any time after 3pm.
I had sent the guests two reminders of the code for the door and stated they could check themselves in, any time after 3pm, if I wasn’t home.
This is my standard note to guests, most of whom come to my front door and knock, before checking in.
I don’t mind that these guests chose to just check themselves in, but I find the unannounced and unrequested check-in presumptuous and discourteous.
I haven’t communicated with them since their arrival as I’m still stewing…
They do have two reviews from other hosts, both positive.

In three years of hosting, no guest has checked her/himself in early.
How would other hosts react to it happening? And why am I still upset by it?
Thanks so much.

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I often have people trying to turn up early, in your case do not give them the code until 3pm? Some dooe systems will not work until the programmed time, another option.

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I had a guest show up hours early with his dog. He was part of a larger group, his transport just dropped him off and left. My place is remote, so I couldn’t get rid of him.
I was still cleaning this was disturbing as I lost my concentration. It was very rude and the head of the group apologized. That being said, it wasn’t the end of the world. I think you were surprised and perhaps overreacted, 25 minutes isn’t that early, and as a guest I would have apologized, but if the host didn’t defuse the tension, i would be uncomfortable. If you are that strict, you should set the code to work at 3pm and no earlier.
I was an Airnb guest in February, my flight landed at 0900, due to complications from a head injury, I can’t stay upright for long periods. I offered to pay for the night before when I requested an early checkin. The host made me welcome early and refused my offer to pay.
I think we need to be flexible within reason. If I were you, I’d bring up the issue, say, I hope I wasn’t unwelcomeing, and explain that you were caught off guard and wanted to give them a fully cleaned suite. Apologies cost nothing and carry more impact, when in fact the other party should be apologizing. Life is too short.


Thanks, Como, for the hint about the timer. I’ll see if i have one on the lock.
And thanks, Louise, for your reminder to take the high road.
I did as you suggested, and apologized to the guests for not greeting them in a welcoming manner.


I think you were probably still stewing because they caught you off guard and in a way, invaded your privacy. Glad to hear you’ve implemented the tips below and regained your equanamity. These things happen and I try to eventually find some humour in them. A couple I can laugh about;-

The infamous family who wrote in their review " we turned up half an hour early, they were having lunch, we felt like we were intruding". Guns and feet come to mind!

A couple who arrived three hours early, not having read my email or the listing about check in. I won’t say where I was… but I did hear the old bell outside being vigorously pulled. There was nothing I could do at that point, and I thought it was probably a delivery, which they would leave in the pub next door. A few minutes later I heard Roger, the pub Landlord, shouting for me over the fence in the back garden. He’s quite elderly, prone to accidents and frequently damages his very fragile skin, which I dress if his wife is out. Skates on, hurtle downstairs and out the door, only to crash into the couple on the doorstep. They laughed their socks off after I explained over tea.


Delightful reply, Joan.

Thank you.

NO EARLY CHECKINS NO LATE CHECKOUTS first line on your listing description

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This is also what I do. I tell them the code when they arrive. If for some reason they have to self check in, I tell them the code after the unit is completely ready. You are still upset because they were rude and presumptuous; I would be too. I love that you took the high road; puts it back on the guest and life is too short to stew about things.


Thanks for all the replies, dear hosts.
I sent an apology to the invaders for my abrupt greeting and received a delightful reply.
All is well and
the very best part
is that I feel warm towards them now
instead of irritated and twitchy.
Another lesson learned in graciousness.
Special thanks to Louise.


I’m glad it turned out well.

I’m a bit ruffled by my current guests. I have a inflatable kayak which I let guest’s use for $25 day, below local rental prices, I ask for a $400 damage deposit, as that’s what it would cost for me to replace it. Guest implied that the deposit was too much. I showed him local website that does the same as I do. After the second conversation. I left feeling he didn’t trust me. So, if they do ask, I’m going to say it’s been promised to a friend.

Is the damage deposit in cash? Maybe it’s a psychological thing that it’s difficult for them to temporarily part with $ 400,00 are maybe they are used to paying with bank cards and simply don’t have that amount at hand.

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In the past I’ve had guests send the money via e-banking, no, the guy said the boat wasn’t worth that much.


“…the guy said the boat wasn’t worth that much.”

Oooo, how rude. I agree with you, if the guest changes his tune and asks to rent it, I would go with the “sorry, it’s been promised to a friend.” :upside_down_face:


Hi, my rental (which is a self contained annexe adjoining our house) is in a rural area popular with walkers and hikers and we often get requests to “park our vehicle early before check in (2pm) so we can start walking” we always try to accommodate these requests, but last month some guests asked if they could get into the accommodation to change into walking gear after their long drive, again I said that would be OK because they said they would arrive only 1 hour before normal check in time. I told them I would still be getting the house ready, They turned up two hours early, I was out in the garden dealing with a guy who was going to do some gardening work for us. They let themselves in (the door was open) I was in the middle of cleaning, vacuuming, mopping, hadn’t done the bathroom etc, when I’d been called away by the gardener. I went back into the accommodation and said I’m still getting it ready, It was a bloke with 2 teenage sons, they had already started bringing all their stuff in and dumping it. I had presumed their request to change meant quick clothes change and off. I stood in the middle of the lounge waiting for them to leave, with cleaner and mop in hand and said “I need to finish cleaning” He said, can you give us 20 minutes?" I was so taken back that I just walked out. 40 minutes later they were still in the accomodation, My husband returned and I sent him round to find out what was going on, They were waiting for another couple who were also staying with them, who were running late (or rather on time for check-in) I was fuming because I felt I’d been duped into letting them in early, My husband tells me not to take it so personally and that some people are just not very organised with times etc. The rest of the stay was uneventful but when he left he gave me a long list of things I could do to improve the rental- which made me laugh because most of the things were part of the information that is in the listings or that I send out when the booking is confirmed, I so wanted to say and here is a list of all the things you need to do to be a better guest. READ THE BLOODY INFORMATION!! but I smiled sweetly and thanked him for his comments…


Setting the code is the last thing I do.

Not all coded locks can be timed.
Like @Como says, giving them the code only at check-in time is an option. But this won’t work if they’re from overseas and are not likely to have Internet on their phones once in the country.

The solution might be to give the code beforehand with the explicit mention that this will activate at check-in start time, and then you set it once the cleaning is done or at check-in time.

I’m not sure shouting helps.
We are inviting people to pay us to stay at our place. Using such a ‘rulesy’ approach to describe our offering to them will only risk driving away some of them to other listings that adopt a friendly approach.

This can be very hard to do at first - offering an apology when you know the other party’s at fault. But I’ve learned to do this, as it makes the whole experience better. I can imagine having said ‘my reaction was really because I wanted to give you a perfectly clean and ready setting’


That’s a thoughtful response, Astaire.
Thank you.

Whilst it felt disingenuous to offer my apology, the outcome brought harmony between the guests and me.
I’ve been pondering this event, since it happened, because there’s a deeper lesson here, for me, than what may appear on the surface of it.
I’ve long felt saying " I’m sorry" is a meaningless act because those words are spoken far too often and far too lightly, whereas true amends are best demonstrated through ensuring one’s offensive behaviour is not repeated.
In this situation, it’s not something that will be repeated, by these guests, in my home, so I can’t try to react differently towards them in the future.
I can’t even be certain I’d act differently to other guests I found unexpectedly in my home, because I was truly startled, activated by a past event from which I carry residual fear.

That’s all that, and then there’s this:

Astaire writes:
" This can be very hard to do at first - offering an apology when you know the other party’s at fault. But I’ve learned to do this, as it makes the whole experience better."

Yes, you’re right, Astaire. It did make the whole experience better. As soon as I apologized, my energy changed and I felt calmer. Then the guests sent me a warm reply and several other ones since.
Perhaps saying " I’m sorry" is more than just empty words, or a social contract we’ve created. This seemingly mundane incident happened for a reason and I’m considering it was to teach me the power of the words " I’m sorry." I once believed I lacked integrity should I say “I’m sorry” when I didn’t believe I’d done anything wrong. Now, I’m thinking I can say it sincerely if I’m sorry for an existing situation, and it doesn’t matter one jot who’s at fault.

Thank you. For many thoughts.


@astralita12 - What a wonderful and insightful post. Thank you, that made my day brighter.


I learned this after a family tragedy. Feelings were high and walls were put up between siblings. Although I felt I’d done nothing to deserve shunning, I made an effort to repair the breach and wrote an apology which resolved the issue, it didn’t hurt me to do this. It resolved the rupture and thus the apology took away pain I was in due to the situation. While that was an extreme situation, I’ve leaned that giving people an apology defuses anger that arises for trivial and serious reasons. There are some people who can’t admit they are wrong, you can’t change them, but give them an out to defuse the stress.
There are limits as some people are bullies. My response is to disengage from them. I’ve told my managers I won’t deal with a certain person due to bullying, they are supportive. I’ve been asked to write a complaint, as I’m not the only one bullied, but have not yet as it’s so hard to define how I felt bullied.


This is the problem I’ve encountered most of the time. We get many out-of-country visitors and they need the code before they travel. I believe it is worth the investment to buy a coded lock to work at specific times if the check-in time always needs to be adhered to.

While we don’t have a timed lock, I also do not change the code until we’re done prepping the house. But it is hard to ignore someone knocking on the door.

I’ve found that about half our guests arrive early, completely ignoring our policies. So if we have a same-day changeover I specifically tell them that check-in is at 4PM and do not arrive early or it will mean we will not be able to have the house ready for them on time as their arrival will distract us.

We had a multi-family group over New Years - he is a dignitary from another country (I won’t mention here). He informed me that they would be arriving early. I told them that we couldn’t accommodate an early arrival because it was a same-day changeover, being the holidays.

But he wouldn’t take “no” for an answer, saying that the shuttle service was set and they couldn’t do anything about changing it so they would be there at 2:30PM. I was so upset. It takes 20 man-hours to prepare the house after another rental.

I realized he was used to getting what he wanted, so I wouldn’t be able to argue with him. But I thought “what can I do that IS in my control”? So I wrote back to him and said we would make sure the beds were changed over and clean towels, and then we would prioritize everything else. Whenever he arrived would be when we stop preparing the house for them… it bought me another 30 minutes.

We did just that! They arrived at 3PM and we packed up and left. The floors weren’t mopped, some showers had only the shiny bits polished. We didn’t dust. The foyer wasn’t swept. But they were warned and got what I promised.

I thought this was quite an ingenious solution to early-arrivals. So that is what we do now - starting with the basics of a clean bed and linens, then prioritizing, and stopping if the guests arrive early. It happened again with a rental in February. Part of the group arrived unannounced 30 minutes early and we stopped working and turned it over to them “as-is”. (Mopping and the foyer are always the last things to get done now.)


Whew, you’re brave! My guests receive their code a week or two prior to arrival along with the admonition that they may not have entry prior to the 3 pm check-in if the place is still being prepped. The housecleaner changes the code on her way out so they can’t enter anyway.

I have instructed her to ignore anyone knocking at the door and to listen to music with her headset if it bothers her. She also places a note on the door, “Housecleaning in progress – please return at 3 pm.”

She never encounters that problem anymore.