Guests likely have ZERO clue about your Airbnb "House Rules"

I was reading the last post about removing the pre booking message and loosened IB requirements. I understand ABB wants to reduce any friction in the booking process. Maybe a guest uncomfortable with their language skill would balk at typing a message. So ABB got rid of it. I’m sure they track each step of the process and see where guests drop out before booking.

I was thinking that it might not be a big deal as the guest still has to agree to the “House Rules”, which can be a very detailed and lengthy.

So I decided to use airbnb as a guest to see what agreeing to house rules entails.
I really thought “House Rules” would be a prominent pop up message that the guest had to agree to.

On the listing description, the guest would have to proactively click here to see detailed house rules.
airbnb house rules 2

At checkout, the guest would have to click on one of three things in the small print that they are agreeing to.
airbnb house rules 1

Disappointing for sure.

This reaffirms my process of messaging the guest all my rules and policies after an inquiry, request, or confirmed booking.

I list my policies and rules in 3 places so they are unavoidable:

  1. Listing description
  2. House Rules
  3. Immediate messages to guests

Some suggested house rules:
Guests must present an ID matching reservation name at check-in.
You must sign our policies agreement (rental contract) at check in.
Confirm # of guests.
An additional $xxx.xx refundable security deposit is required after booking. (This alone scares off 99% of problem guests IMO)
After you leave and housekeeping has reported back to us, we will refund the deposit minus amounts kept for extra cleaning or damages.
Explain the host’s proximity and oversight (good to scare off guests who know they will break rules)
24/7 video recording of parking lots and building entrances.
Check in time + other arrival details
Add any other restrictions on cancellations.
We can’t refund due to last minute illness, road conditions, or “acts of god/mother nature”.
Please consider obtaining your own travel insurance in case of need to cancel.
Utility outages (cable/wifi/power,etc) happen rarely, but are out of our control, and not grounds for refunds.
We are not responsible for items left in the rental after you checkout.
No Pets. Extra cleaning costs will be withheld from the deposit.
No smoking indoors or within 20ft of building.

Please let me know if you have other must include items in your house rules.


A lot of your list has nothing to do with “House Rules”, to me, they are simply info on how you run your business.

House Rules are behaviors guests are meant to follow, like no smoking, no pets, no children, no shoes in the house, children must be attended at all times in pool area, etc.

A huge long list of house rules would lead me to pass on booking a place. Not because I wouldn’t be respectful and comply with them, but because they make the hosts look like control freaks.

And while I don’t see anything wrong with a refundable security deposit for damages, having it tied to cleaning seems like a recipe for hassles with guests. Guests’ idea of the level of cleaning that they should have to do, and their perception of how clean they left it might be quite different from the host’s.


Unless you have a channel manager my understanding is that you cannot charge a security deposit on the Airbnb platform.

I’m with you in spirit on this, James.

Someone might read this and find it off-putting but as Host you weight that possibility against the benefits you receive. So some of us might like this; some not; some adapt it as think best.

In the spirit of sharing, I summarize quickly our most important rules. So this is what I write, not suggesting it’s any better than yours. It’s certainly not as complete.

Dear short code start
[guest first name]short code end

We’re so delighted that you have confirmed your reservation here at our home to become your vacation home.

We look forward to hosting you starting at 4 pm on short code start
[check-in date]short code end; your check-out is at 10 am on short code start
[checkout date]short code end.

Your reservation is for short code start
[number of guests]short code end, and you understand that the home is suitable only for children age 12 and over. No animals. Maximum occupancy, whether overnight or not, is six. Property not for smokers; no parties or events. No third party bookings, meaning that the person making the booking must be staying overnight throughout the stay. Questions? Just ask!

Please do not hesitate to let us know if there is anything we can do to make your stay here more enjoyable, comfortable, and peaceful. Are there events or activities that you’d like us to research or recommend? [No charge]

If you have not installed the Airbnb app on your phone, we recommend that you do so, and enable notifications. You’ll find the app a convenient way to communicate and hold information about your stay. You’ll find our guidebook to Worcester and the area at short code start
[guidebook]short code end and on the site and the app.

About the neighborhood around short code start
[neighborhood]short code end

Thank you for selecting our home as your vacation home. We look forward to hosting you!


Good point. All those may not fit airbnb’s desired use case. But I’m coming at this from closer to a professional property manager POV. We host over 1000 check ins a year on abb. If not in House Rules, then where should the host stipulate our terms and conditions for renting?

I was told by abb CS to put the 24h camera stuff in there. So it seems like a good place for everything.

Abb hasn’t left much room for host terms. Large management companies require Airbnb guests to sign rental contracts after booking. DocuSign? So I’m trying to get as close to a signed contract protecting myself and not having to rely on aircover process.

I can fill almost every weekend with 5 star guests and nobody has a problem with the deposit. So it doesn’t discourage enough guests to hurt my business.

97% of time we refund in full and 60% of the time I waive it anyway if they are a small group and\or have many 5 star reviews.

We don’t require anything except take the trash out to bin. No laundry or other stuff. Just take out trash and lock the door.

The cleaning being part of the deposit is if they spill drinks on carpet, trash the place, have party, sneak an animal in, etc… we get large groups with families and kids. Accidents happen. But the deposit is 90% just to scare away guests that know they might lose it.

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Yes. I use a similar canned message to reiterate my terms in a welcoming yet ‘be aware’ way.

But the point of my post was that I’m guessing 99% won’t read any of the house rules anyway until you message them!

So how could they be put off before booking!?

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They could not be put off before booking, just afterwards. I don’t want them put off at all, ever.

But look, you have 1,000 bookings/year and this is working for you!

Believe me, I’d like to do something like that you’re doing, but I’m getting feedback here at the forum (and I’ve heard this before) that I’m controlling or micro-managing or such. I get the feeling that a lot of people don’t like it, so I hold back these impulses of mine.

My approach will be to keep the BIG rules in a nice message – what you call welcoming yet ‘be aware’ way, and when I am on OwnerRez to include everything in the agreement. I think people will be more accepting of things in a electronically signed agreement.

Thank you again for sharing. Great points about putting in three places.

Well, some of the info you listed as House Rules, would go in the listing description itself, like explaining the host’s proximity and oversight, which would go in the “Interaction with guests” section. (Yes, it’s definitely a good idea to let guests know that there is someone close by keeping an eye on things. I’ve read fretful posts from hosts who say they are attracting partiers, but when you read their listing info, they go out of their way to mention how the guests will have “total privacy” and that no one will be bothering them during their stay. Or that they live out of town, so won’t be available to attend to things personally. That is basically the kind of wording partiers and those with nefarious intentions look for)

And I think that the camera info is supposed to go under the Safety and Health section.


I am API connected for this very reason. And price sync to other sites.
Use the resolution center to collect and refund deposits.
or credit card in person if they want.

Speaking of Channel Managers and API connections to Airbnb.

I have not seen this mentioned in any of the talk of recent changes. But up until a week ago, as far as I know, it was required to be on IB if you are API connected to ABB.
But it seems like they quietly got rid of this requirement.
I turned off IB on one listing and I am still connected and can change pricing from my PMS calendar and it syncs to ABB in 30-60 seconds.

I’m happy with this change. During holidays and busy times, I may revert back to RTB instead of IB to avoid guests booking without reading etc… Sometimes it just helps avoid issues when there is a little back and forth before booking.

Finally something LESS strict for hosts!

I hate a crazy guest once who complained to Airbnb about the cameras on the outside as not disclosed. Airbnb shut my listing off immediately without notification. As soon as I realized. I emailed support with screenshots of the disclosure in House Rules, Safety and Health, Listing Description… It took a few hours, but all that proof made it easy to win my case. Not sure why ABB didn’t bother to check my listing when they received the complaint. But the moral of the story is to cover you ass by reiterating disclosures everywhere. CS told me to put whatever in the house rules. Like deposits etc… So this is probably a case where ABB wants you to keep the House Rules basic and easy (ABB example is “no shoes in house”… haha, good luck with that!), but they also realize professional hosts demand to have all their terms and conditions somewhere, and House Rules is the perfect small print (frictionless) place to put it.

I’d say rather than must include, I have some must remove items from the list. Particularly those that only affect < 10% of the guests, and would scare off the 90% of the good guests.

I believe these are covered in Airbnb listing or booking terms. IMO it’s not necessary to put these in house rules.


I recently got rid of alot of my guest rules, as 99% of guests do the right thing. And the ones who don’t ignore rules anyway. Extra cleaning and breakages are an occasional cost of doing business IMO. And I got rid of my cleaning fee. I want to transmit to guests that this is a laid back, welcoming place, seperate from mine above them. Not that the host’s wife Mrs Rochester will be pacing around the attic space at 3am, worried the guests might be breaking rules about using too much toothpaste and enjoying themselves.


This is their standard procedure. Hosts are considered guilty until proven innocent. And even if all they have to do is take a few minutes to look at your listing and see that you mentioned the cameras and their locations in 4 different places, they put you in suspension purgatory pending an “investigation”. The lying or confused or misinformed guest is believed over the host.

There are several terms that all a guest has to do is mention, and Airbnb has this knee-jerk reaction- cameras, safety, bedbugs or other insects, privacy violations, and discrimination. Nasty, savvy guests who are seeking revenge because they got called out on bad behavior, or are p’ed off because they didn’t get an undeserved refund, are well aware of this.

So yes, it is good to mention things like cameras or other things that could be deal breakers or cause for complaint in several places so guests can’t claim those things weren’t disclosed.

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ABB doesn’t know what they want. This is a quote from Catherine Powell’s post in the ABB community forum about their guest refund policy:

Your house rules are another important tool to help ensure the guest rebooking and refund policy is used as intended. House rules set and manage expectations for guests. For example, if you have a backyard pool, you might include a note that you make every attempt to keep the pool as clean as possible, but at times leaves and debris may end up on the surface. This can help guests understand why there may be leaves in the pool.

In case you don’t know, Catherine Powell is ABB’s Global Head of Hosting. What I inferred from her post is that ABB CS is either a) clueless, or b) trained to refund for ANYTHING a guest complains about unless it’s addressed in the house rules.


She’s a very highly paid idiot. “Head of Hosting”, what a joke. Everything has gotten worse for hosts since she took over. I can’t figure out what she actually does, besides spin. She used to put up those videos and posts, but she doesn’t even do that anymore.

“As Global Head of Hosting at AIRBNB INC, Catherine Powell made $9,601,996 in total compensation. Of this total $600,000 was received as a salary, $650,000 was received as a bonus, $4,656,420 was received in stock options, $3,683,302 was awarded as stock and $12,274 came from other types of compensation. This information is according to proxy statements filed for the 2021 fiscal year.”

Meanwhile, hosts are being encouraged to drop their prices.


Sure. I’m not trying to suggest this is a master list everyone should use. I was more thinking of a long list of everything imaginable that could be included. To form a custom version of a concise rental contract which hosts could pick and choose from to put in House Rules.

To your points.
I often have guests ask to cancel with a refund, even though I have “strict” policy. So having reiterated the cancel policy in house rules and confirmation message. I just direct them to that part of the agreement.

We do our best to return lost items to guests, but for some reason guests think that when they lost their laptop, the housekeeper took it after they left. Or maybe guest wants to scam you. So this simple “not responsible” caveat takes care of it.

I’ve been a superhost since 2016, so I have fleshed out all these strategies over 7+ years of trial and error with thousands of stays. Again, people don’t usually read this stuff, but it protects you as a host. If it scares some people off, that is great. They are more likely to be the problem guests. And you can be sure someone willing to pay a deposit is going to take care of your place. I think the 1800 mostly glowing reviews on my profile go a long way toward NOT scaring people off. So you have to consider multiple factors of how a guest would view these ‘terms’.

Some younger people cancel after they read the part about the deposit which they didn’t read before. I assume they don’t trust their friends to be responsible, so they cancel to avoid a deposit loss situation. Problem averted!! Without any effort of vetting on my part.

I JUST now accepted an alteration request from a guest. A few days ago, they booked 1 guest for two nights on a weekend in a unit that can sleep 10. My automatic confirmation message asks them to confirm the number of guests is 1. And explains extra guests aren’t free and how we do our extra guest pricing. So the guest just updated the reservation to 6 guests. Problem averted again, with no effort on my part. And an extra $250 charged.


“We can’t refund due to last minute illness, road conditions, or “acts of god/mother nature”. […] Utility outages (cable/wifi/power,etc) happen rarely, but are out of our control, and not grounds for refunds.”

IOW: We can’t refund due to acts of god/mother nature that happen to you. Or to us. S*** happens, only that YOU’ll be paying for it, either way.


PS: I am a host myself and don’t refund last minute, either. But I do if my guests are left without utilities in my facilites.

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My list is similar to James333.

I do not use IB. Period.

I vet my guests, wait for their signatures on contracts, and their registration that includes a full listing of ALL in the party and the lead guest’s photo ID. If the guest balks at that – I say to them…:wave: buh-bye better luck with your next choice.

In response to a collection of points made above -

  1. Regarding security deposit- Correct: “Unless you have a channel manager my understanding is that you cannot charge a security deposit on the Airbnb platform.”
    I use OwnerRez to help me manage direct bookings via my home’s website (SeaRanchAbaloneBay) and the 5 other OTA listings I book through, including ABB. I include a required security deposit to assure that guests who refuse to read and follow the rules have the pain point of potentially of losing money if they are not respectful and responsible to the home, and the HOA

  2. Guests must sign my Legal Rental Agreement drawn up by a Real Estate Lawyer. It is long and boring and certainly to include an auto-clicked signature. For that reason I highlight in yellow the pieces that are not to be missed and have them initial it as well. Failing that the booking is canceled. Period.

  3. I use TouchStay to provide an online/app of my thorough guidebook that includes not only house & HOA rules, and local business and things to do info, but also info on the history, flora, fauna, troubleshooting and more - see attached chapter list. Each chapter expands to include more detailed sections. The beauty of this is the search bar in both the app and the desktop versions. When the guest has a question or a problem if they have the where-with-all and initiative to self solve they can do it without pestering me by “Googling within the system.”
    And to hedge the bet that they would never bother with using it, I send them structured memos via system emails and/or texts within OwnerRez that cue them to issues that could come up, things to prepare for, how to independently enjoy and survive our home and location without continued hand holding- note TouchStay also offers system emails and Text options too. The messages are pre-written templates that I send in a specific order based on their confirmed booking date with links to the guidebook for more specific and and detailed info prior to arrival- each with the heading “SAVE- and specific topic.” Information in my Guidebook includes written info, videos and photos showing how-tos and specific things of interest.
    The emails I send are:
    a. How to use the guidebook reminder - (15 days);
    b. Trip planning tips (13 days);
    c. Preparation and Packing info (4 days);
    d. Maps & Driving Directions (2 days);
    e. Access Codes (1 day);
    f. Alert to Emails in Spam Follow-up that includes a listing of the earlier emails they were sent and topic outline in each and linked to those topics

Right from the start, through the time frame between inquiry, booking and arrival - My guests know my policies and my expectations of them (following house rules, respecting, HOA rules, County laws, and caring for my home). They also know that I host them as guests to my house and am prepared to help them have a wonderful time.

  1. They are informed of not only our use of cameras, but also of noise monitors
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If interested in my guidebook I’m happy to discuss offline here. Unfortunately and despite the mechanics to include a photo the system will not allow me to upload a copy of my table of contents to my guide.

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