Guests Locked Out Had to Get Hotel

Our guests locked themselves out of our property at midnight and were not able to reach us as we were asleep. I usually have my ringer ON but this is a highly unusual week; my mother passed away and I haven’t been sleeping at all. I’ve been in desperate need of a good night’s sleep. Anyway, they contacted Airbnb support who found them a hotel at $300+ per room. I’m not sure yet how many rooms they needed for their group.

Question: do we reimburse them for the hotel expense? Give them a night free ($550) for the trouble? Refund a set amount as a nice gesture?

They are an incredibly sweet, mature group of young co-eds. They are here for an executive leadership team retreat as a part of their college organization. They are very understanding but we want to do the right thing.

Thank you!

yes reimburse for their costs



Yes, I’d pay for the hotel. And try to figure out how they could possibly be locked out so it doesn’t happen again. Perhaps a key in nearby lock box with instructions in the guest guide?

My condolences on your loss. This is tough anytime but this year it’s especially so.


I would see what air bnb wants to do. Did air bnb pay for the rooms? Are they being reimbursed by their college organization? If the guests paid for them personally and made reasonable attempts to knock on your door in addition to callling, I would consider reimbursing them for one night of the rental. The additional expense is theirs, since they made the mistake.

If you would have been off site and had to call a locksmith, I would have charged them the fee for locking themselves out. No different than renting a car, locking the keys in, and calling a locksmith.

I am assuming 24 hour desk service is not something you offer as an amenity.


Guests cannot expect you to be on call 24hrs in the day

It was late night, so in my opinion you are entitled to go to bed in the knowledge that your guest won’t have locked themselves out.

At a certain point, guests need to take responsibility for their actions

Moving forward, invest in a smart lock. It will change your life and avoid incidents such as this


Thank you so much and thank you for the excellent suggestion!

I don’t think their organization is reimbursing them but that’s a great question. Maybe they are taking it out of their budget? We manage the property ourselves and we live about 20 minutes away. Normally I would have had my cell ringer on. Unfortunate series of events. I offered her 3 options:

  1. Credit back one night stay
  2. Extend their stay another night free of charge
  3. Offer future credit for a one night stay
    I haven’t heard back from her yet.
    Thank you for your response!
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Thank you for the response! Yes, we have a Smartlock but they locked the lower handle that requires a key. I have a sign posted right next to it that says DO NOT LOCK the lower handle. We have had this happen before but during the day and we simply use our garage app to open the garage door remotely. It’s never happened in the middle of the night when we can’t be reached. I think we will replace the lower lock with one that doesn’t lock and rely on the Smartlock deadbolt only.


My door setup is just like yours.

Anticipating something like this could happen, i immediately removed the lower lock when i installed my smart lock

The three options you’ve presented your guest are great. You sound like a very reasonable host.

Don’t beat yourself up about this. This is the guests fault imo.


Replace that with either another smart lock OR remove the lock.

Before you pay, find If Airbnb paid for their rooms?

I ask because Airbnb paid for a hotel room for one night for my guest when the A/c went out (extenuating circumstances).

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One x per year I have something go wrong. It’s usually a guest booking at a ridiculously low price because I missed changing my nightly rate on my prime season or goofed up some discount for a longer stay combined with the early booking discount.

Anyway point being, hopefully this one is your one time & the rest of the year will be smooth sailing.

You are in a personally difficult time, so give yourself some grace. I am sorry for your loss.

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I had this happen and this is what I did.

Sometimes there are still malfunctions, it’s the cost of doing business.

We often discuss here how a rental needs to be guest proofed and this is an example why. Although it’s their fault for doing what they are explictly told not to do, it’s also your fault for continuing to allow a set up where they can do it. I’m not throwing stones, I had the same issues with guests not being able to get into my Airbnb. I’m right here in the same building but never like having to deal with a guest problem during the stay.

I’m on the fourth lock set up situation in 5 years now as my most recent guest couldn’t get the digital lock to work. One problem with my door has been the fit of the door. I had to take the strike plate off and enlarge the hole. When the weather changes the door doesn’t always close the same way.

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Thank you and I love the positivity!

Agree. I will be changing that lower lock. It’s a constant learning process even after almost a year into hosting!

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Good to hear! Was this recently? It sounds as if this would fall under the same category and I was wondering if Airbnb has traveler coverage for things like this and the host isn’t personally responsible. I did already tell her we will credit the one night at $550. Paying for their hotel in addition to the nightly credit would put us in the hole. Hopefully, Airbnb will step up here. Thank you!

Recently? Summer 2019…

It sounds like by refunding/crediting the one night, you’ve done the reimbursement by trading off one night stay at your place for the one night at the hotel. You shouldn’t be expected to give them a free night AND pay for hotel. (Double dipping) They were going to pay for a place to stay either with you or a hotel.

If the hotel is a large difference from your rent maybe refund a tad more Or (I like this better) offer that amount as a discount on a future stay.

I think you are wanting them to not have additional expenses so one night refund may do it

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Sorry for you loss. Take comfort in the fact that there is sometimes more than one right answer. Put yourself in their shoes and do what you think you would like to have done as a guest.


I would argue that every host should be on call 24/7 to respond to emergencies related to their listing.


I think the death of one’s mother is an extenuating circumstance… It sounds like the host is usually available.