Guests leave a mess before the next group...also partly my mistake so not sure what to do?

Hey folks! I have been renting my place for about 2 years (i do it when i am traveling so i am usually not here) and never had any issues…until now. As an die-hard couchsurfer (which is what i do when i am not traveling) I sometimes have too much trust in people and their common sense. Now i guess it was time to get burnt…
So here’s a summary of the story: I get one reservation before i leave for the trip. I forget to deactivate my automatic booking option so I also get another one while i am traveling (I had this situation before, but since not always i have a neighbour to check after one group i would rather avoid having a second one while i am away). However, i needed money so i decided to go for it.

I tell my first group to read carefully the house guidelines, since i will be traveling and maybe not have phone access all the time. Indeed, my battery is off and, after a few hours, i open it and see two messages:

  1. They ask for the towels - which, as written in the house guidelines, were not included. I do have some extra (older) towels which i keep clean just in case, so i wrote them about that.
  2. This is the more serious issue: apparently they found the plastic packaging for a condom lying somewhere on a shelf that i forgot to check (the shelf is very high up above the bed, one needs to stand to see what is on it). Anyways, I feel obviously bad and embarassed for the whole thing, so I apologize and I tell them that they will get some of the money back for this.

After this, i don’t get any reply. I try to call them, and their phone is off. I start stressing since my other guests will arrive the next day at 12:30. I check what is written on their booking as check-out time and it is 11, so that sounds reasonable (another lesson I’ve learned now is to actually set a check-out time instead of leaving it flexible…). However, I have a negative feeling about the whole thing , especially since i cannot get a hold of them. Next day in the morning i write them on airbnt that, since they didn’t answer, i will send a neighbour to make sure that they know the other guests are coming after 12.
I don’t take any cleaning fee, and the rule I have is “leave the place as you found it”. I thought about this originally just as a protection for situations when previous guests leave a mess - then the next ones don’t have to clean. However, so far I had really tidy guests, and since i always leave the place really clean for them, I never had any issues. Another lesson learned, I guess.
So no answer yet. My neighbour went there a bit after 11 (since that was their written check-out time), and they were still there, in the kitchen. They didn’t invite him in and he felt uncomfortable to ask that, so he just told that others will come at 12:30, so they should clean the place and leave before that. This is the same infomration I have wrote them in the messages. After that, they send me a text on airbnb that he came and that they will be done by 12, and that they will leave the place in order. Good - i thought.

However, the next guests find a mess. Trash is not thrown (that is specified in house rules), toilet is not flushed, toenails on the floor, dirty dishes. So now, I’m thinking , the others don’t really deserve any refunding (I was thinking to even take out a cleaning fee from their deposit but given that i also did a mistake by not checking that shelf maybe it is a bit harsh), but the girls that came after definetely should get some money back. I talked with them personally and i apologized and mentioned the refund - didn’t decide yet how much.

Bottom line, I called Airbnb and they were totally useless. They said that it is entirely up to me so they cannot suggest anything. What would you guys do in this situation?
I have a 4.5 out of 5 stars (getting lower ratings always for the fact that the appartment is not in the city center, although it is clearly written in the info), so never had any terrible review. So far, i didn’t get any review from the 2 groups, but they still have about 10 days left.

What would you do if you were me? I do have evidence of the messiness and all that happened through the airbnb e-mails (and photos as well), but not sure if that is enough to remove a negative review. At the same time, it is also my mistake to have two groups without checking the state of the appartment after the first ones left - although my neighbour could have done that if they would have checked out at 11 as they said…

This is my listing in case you’re curious:

Thanks in advance!!

Seems you need a co host to manage things whilst you are away and clean between bookings, you can certainly not assume Guests will do it.

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Oh dear @anac there are so many things wrong here, I don’t know where to start :slight_smile:

If you are going to let remotely it is so risky not to have a local manager on hand to manage your property (not rely on a neighbour who understandably doesn’t want confrontation).

And you can’t rely on guests leaving your place clean. As you have found not all will do this and it will impact on the experience of your next guests and your ratings.

You need to leave adequate time between check in and check out for a cleaner to go in and clean the property and change the bedding (who does that at the moment?) and make sure there is no damage. Leaving an hour and a half is simply not long enough (Airbnb says check in is normally from 3 p.m unless otherwise state.)

I can’t believe to be honest, you let your next guests check in without having someone check that the property was in good order.

What did you expect Airbnb to do about this. I don’t mean to be harsh but this is completely down to how you are managing the property.

In your situation, I would have apologised to your next guest, paid for a professional cleaner to come in and clean the property and give them their first night for free.

If you didn’t use a professional cleaner then I am not sure how you would go about making a claim for cleaning costs, but you can definitely leave an honest review to warn other hosts.

I don’t know if you have Airbnb co-hosts where you live but if you do you can approach them to co-host your place.


I understand it was my mistake , i was just asking about what to do given the situation. I just thought cleaning after yourself is common sense, but that is obviously wrong. I also didn’t have any cleaning fee, but maybe now i should have one since i should clean myself. And if this is the case and guests are not expected to clean, what is the point of having the rating for cleanliness? How would you rate somebody like the guys that first stayed there?

Hi @anac

The cleaning fee charged normally covers a deep clean of the property, washing linens and towels, making beds, any refreshments and basics you might provide ie shampoo and soaps, coffees and teas. Whether you do this yourself or have someone do that you can charge. It also covers you checking for and addressing any maintenance issues ie shower working, windows opening properly.

You preparing a property between guests doesn’t mean guests don’t need to tidy up after themselves.

With guests you need to clearly outline your expectations around what you want them to do. This varies from host to host but would normally include, ensuring dishes are cleaned and put away, rubbish put in bins. towels used put in laundry baskets etc.

I didn’t see the property so am not sure how you should rate the guests but definitely mark them down for communication and cleanliness.

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Thanks for the answer, that was very useful. This is the cleaning part from my house guidelines (I do have a lot of information on that part and from past experience i can tell that most people don’t really read it…):

C: Cleaning
Basic rule is to leave it as you found it. I always strive to leave it as clean as possible, but if for some reason it isn’t (for example I had other Airbnb guests who did’t clean that well), of course you won’t be penalized if you leave it in the same condition. In that case, however, I appreciate if you let me know before leaving a negative feedback. For that reason I also don’t charge any cleaning fee.
I am trying to always leave enough needed for a decent cleaning. The cleaning stuff is under the kitchen and in the cupboards above. The vacuum cleaner is in the dressing room,

What do you think? I always thought that since it’s cheaper (I do have lower price than average) the standards and other things cannot be the same as in a hotel. But maybe i am wrong.

I’ve already said what I think :slight_smile:

You need either yourself or a cleaner to clean and maintain the property between bookings.

You need to provide guests with a clear check list - not say things like ‘leave it as you found it’

It is not about having hotel standards it’s about having a standard that you can guarantee each guest can expect to have when they check in.


No matter where they are from,

  2. Guests Do Not read. If they do read, 99% of them are not capable of following instructions.

Leave a negative, factual (not emotional) review for the first guests == “Guests did not follow house rules and left the rental a total mess. Cannot recommend them.” The review is for us fellow hosts, not for the guests…

If you are not going to be at the rental, do not rent until you find someone to co-host for you. This will save you lots of problems in both the long run and short run.


@Annet3176 has a system that’s working for her where guests do the cleaning. Perhaps she’ll have time to chime in.

Good point @KKC

But she is the only host I know who has made this work.

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I’ve been fortunate that guests performing the exit cleaning has worked so well.

BTW you didn’t make a mistake in trusting others. The mistake was their’s for taking advantage of you, unfortunately you paid the price.

Following is a LONG explaination of what I do.

  1. My listing description 3X states a version of the following: NOTE: Part of the reason that the unit has such favorable pricing, is that it is largely self-service. Meaning that there is not a daily maid service, no laundry service, and you are responsible for the unit’s exit cleaning. Cleaning supplies are provided.

  2. My first communication with the guest includes:

Thank you for the inquiry. Before I accept your reservation, let’s make sure the following is acceptable to you.

—-Cleaning the unit: To help make the unit affordable, it is self-service. (no daily maid service ) You are responsible for the exit cleaning. Cleaning supplies are there.

Linens and towels are there. You must wash and dry the unit’s linens before you leave. (Many guests bring their own)

  1. House rules include.: -A cleaning fee of $75 will be charged against your security deposit if your unit is not left clean.

  2. House Manual (included in guest iteniary) includes:
    Upon DEPARTURE: 1:00 pm (13:00) check out
    —-Please leave the unit clean. If you don’t find the cleaning supplies you need in the owners closet, look under the bath and kitchen sinks and in the exterior storage closet. Leave it the way you would want to find it including vacuum the floor, empty trash cans, wipe off counter tops & tables, clean the bathroom and if needed dust.

If the unit isn’t left clean, a $75 cleaning fee will be charged against your deposit.

—-Empty the coffee pot and coffee grounds. Empty water from Keurig.

—-Check the washing machine & dryer and dishwasher. Leave all clean & empty.

  1. Many guests couldn’t handle the general ness of “Leave it as you found it”. So I email a cleaning checklist to them prior to check in and there is one posted in the unit.

  2. The day before guest A checks out, I send them a message thanking them for their rental, remind them to share suggestions for future guests of fun things to do or good places to eat AND Thank them in advance for leaving the unit clean for the next guest.

  3. When guest B checks in. I message through Airbnb and ask “Did you find the unit clean & in good shape?” And explain this is part of my routine guest check in. In other words, if you don’t leave the unit clean, I ask the next guest to tell on you.

Whew—It would almost be easier to clean the unit myself if I didn’t live 4 hours away.

It is not uncommon for cleaning fees to run $150-$200 for a 2BR condo so Ive had several guests tell me they appreciate having the option to clean it themselves. My check out time is 13:00 vs the usual 10:00 and my check in time is 15:00 vs the usual 17:00 so my guests have longer condo-stay time


I am sorry but I can’t understand why originally you were going to refund them? For what? You don’t provide towels it says in your listing.
They found condoms? So? I don’t get it at all. Condoms are bad?


I think you were being hair-triggered in offering a refund for finding a wrapper when an apology would suffice.
Rewarding some people for finding faults can motivate them to find more to see what else they can wring from you.


Nobody wants to think about what happened in the room they have rented before they got there - a left behind wrapper make it very obvious!

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So? It’s obvious that we humans have sex, all of us… I hope😂. To refund for found condom wrapper?
In my stays with Air I saw so many overlooked things left behind that were pretty explicit.
It’s someone’s house. Things happen. I paid little comparing to hotels and was very forgiving as everyone should be too. If they want to fuss hotels doors are wide open .

I’m impressed that’s worked. Has to be your communication :smile: If the next guest ever answered that it wasn’t clean upon their arrival, how would you/have you handled that?

Check this thread for the answer


Whoa, this forum is much more useful than expected:)! Huge thanks to all of you for taking the time and especially @Annet3176 for writing such a detailed and super useful answer - this is exactly what I need to do since I personally prefer charging less and letting them do the cleaning. It is also interesting to see different perspectives on this. Finally i did refund more than one night (out of 3) for the later guests and half of a one night price to the first ones - even if I don’t really think they deserved it. I didn’t get any review yet, but i am thinking to leave a worse review for the ones who left a mess.


LOL. Welcome. Hope you stick around. Some people we only see when they have a problem and that’s somewhat disappointing.

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Thank you for posting info about my follow up. I have two condos at the beach: a 2BR & a 1BR. The $75 fee is for the 1 BR & the $150 fee is for the 2BR. I didn’t think to mention it earlier.

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