Guests not reading house rules. How do we deal with this!

I guess it’s frustrating because I’ve had a few in a row, but is it just becoming common place that guests simply do not read listings anymore?

I’ve just been over my last two reviews and, while one of the guests was totally crazy (complained that the towels were navy, not pink, and I should provide pink towels to female guests), both of them complained about things that were clearly listed in the house rules and guest access. One complained that I was “late for checkin” (she was granted access 2 hours prior to the published checkin time) and another complained that “cooking was not permitted so I didn’t feel at home”. Again, cooking not being permitted is clearly listed in 2 parts of the listing.

I think the issue is actually AirBNB plugging the service as a hotel, and therefore people don’t bother to read through what is actually in the listings. I did contact AirBNB and suggest they ask the guests to read before booking next time (they were both new guests), however only received broken English responses (I’m guessing the AU AirBNB staff are very much offshore) that said:

“The house rules clearly state that cooking is not permitted, correct? - YES, in your listing its stated that cooking is not permitted, how ever you still received a Feedback about this, it only means that your description is effective with your Guest. So it would be better if you change the description of your House Rules especially the DONT’s on your lists.” - not sure what that means really… The agent went on to state that I should tell the guests all the house rules in private messages. Very helpful.

Any ideas on how we can deal with these guests? Or is it just operations normal now?

In my experience, guests have never read the listing, the house rules, the emails I send them or the emails generated by Airbnb. It’s frustrating, but it’s nothing new. I recently had guests for whom I had to wait all afternoon as they didn’t respond to my emails and texts asking when they would arrive. They told me that they were “taking a vacation from technology”.

The advise that you should tell guests your house rules in private messages is ridiculous. Why would they read your emails if they didn’t read the rules?

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You can’t control other people and neither can Airbnb. You must adjust yourself to this reality. As for reviews that complain about towel color, she will look silly and no one will hold that review against you. The one about no cooking may help you avoid guests who cook.

I think I’m ok with the reality of dealing with guests.

The fact that there is clearly a long standing problem of guests not reading listings. This is something AirBnb can fix with systematic changes. What I’m asking is for other peoples experiences and possible ways to improve issues.

Please see

And for cooking:

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AirBnb has several Customer Service Centers, so you can more or less pick who you speak to by what time of day or night you call them. For example I’m on the East coast of America, +5 Universal Time. If I call the general CS number in my morning hours, I’m speaking to the CS people in Ireland, where it is mid afternoon. If I wait until my afternoon to call, I’ll be speaking to California.

How exactly would Air do this? I believe guests are already asked to check a box stating they have read the house rules.

I’m not saying this is the way things “should” be. People ought to be able to read a few simple rules and abide by them. The fact that many won’t, leaves you, as a host, in the position of doing what you can to make people behave as you want them to while they’re in your home.

Every time a guest does something undesirable, I ask myself if there is something I can do to prevent or discourage this behavior in the future. For instance, yes, if guests are putting luggage on the bed, get a luggage rack and make sure it’s in a prominent location where they can find it, or point to it during your welcome tour.

And still, guests are going to do lots of things you wish they wouldn’t, and unfortunately this is just a reality of hosting. You simply cannot “house rule” out all the things you wish guests wouldn’t do.


This is so true. Guests have never read listings properly, or the house rules. And really, why should they? I’ve never read the ‘rules’ at any place I’ve ever stayed, I’m a relatively civilised adult and I don’t expect to be treated like a child.

But the house tour is the time to talk about what you expect from guests. Once you’ve met them, you’ll get a feel for their personalities and any rules that you think they might ignore.


Quite easily. They really should bring the house rules up on the final reservation confirmation page so that they are right there in the guests face before they make payment. It seems Air are simply trying to treat this as a hotel service (and this is becoming worse) and hide rules so guests don’t actually find them. The fact that an agent has now stressed with me several times that I need to “send a private message to all guests before booking to confirm house rules” proves that they really aren’t interested. These are our homes, not hotel rooms, and unfortunatley some basic rules will differ from place to place and Air need to make sure that is clear to all potential guests.

Because they’re staying in peoples houses, not hotels. Each listing will be different. I am renting out a room and ensuite in an apartment, some people are renting out entire homes. There’s a big difference between being “treated like a child” and being told what is and isn’t acceptable.

The issue with waiting until the tour is that, by then, it’s really too late. The guests who complained about the kitchen seemed very unhappy when they were told that they couldn’t use the kitchen to prepare elaborate meals and had clearly not read the listing. There’s not much I can do at the time of arrival if they didn’t bother to read the listing.

That is already the way it’s set up.

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I guess then the system is clearly not working.

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I believe that it’s important to read the house rules before you book. Many people have house rules based on the quirks of their listing or their schedule, having nothing to do with civility or the lack thereof. Many hosts have restrictions on the number and length of showers guests can take. As my husband showers in the morning and at night such a listing would be unsuitable for us. Some hosts restrict what hours guests can eat hot food in the listing. I prefer to be able to eat when I’m hungry. My house rules include, “Don’t let the dogs out the front door or the side gates.” I’m a lifelong dog owner, so I never leave any front door open. Since I’ve been hosting I’ve come to understand that many people leave the front door open while they go back and fourth to their cars. This is not uncivilized; just having grown up in different circumstances.

Ellen, we are looking at this issue from different perspectives. Our rental is a separate apartment and I only stay in similar places. Letting out dogs or restricting showers does not apply in these cases.

However, I cover any quirks of the apartment during the house tour, face-to-face. I expect the same from hosts that I stay with and not a list of rules.

That’s interesting and definitely can make sense in a separate listing. @EllenN also has a point though; imagine booking and then only finding out during the tour that you couldn’t eat hot food (and that was important to you).

I probably agree that the rules should be as expansive as possible …without being ridiculous. it’s somewhat like a piece of string and how long that piece of string may be. I guess the ideal will be different for everyone.

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Clearly, no matter what you do, there are always going to be people who can’t be bothered, or forced, to read anything, let alone a list of rules. Below is a screenshot of the very top of my listing. It appears directly under the lead photo. Even on an iPhone, you only have to scroll a half a page to see it.

I just got an inquiry. “How far are you from downtown where the Pier is?”

LOL. Same.

My first paragraph says “late and self check in available.” On my Check in policies I have 3pm to 2 am checked. (Though I don’t know at what point potential guests see that information). Under “other things to note” it says “You can check in at any time after 3 pm. Yes, you can check in at midnight or later. Check out is at 11 am.”

Today’s inquiry at 10 am: “Hello my name is xxx and I’ll be driving up to Texas today just to pass through and head to Orlando Florida tommorow morning with my girlfriend. I am 23 years old my girlfriend is 22. We are very calm . No smoking or drinking or loud noises of any kind. Just need a warm cozy home to sleep in to prepare for another big drive tommorow . We are coming from San Diego CA right now :slight_smile: I won’t be there till night time as it takes me 12 hours to get to your location. Would it be okay for a late check in?”

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Oh I have fond memories of Old Orchard Beach!

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Friend just posted this sign she saw in a Theatre kitchen. Somehow it made me think of host rules about kitchen cleanliness:

It took me a few seconds to work out this is talking about mice. Mice are incontinent.

At least I think that’s what the picture means but I think something may be going over my head.

@Zandra, thank you for this laugh! For some reason, this strikes me as hysterically funny. I’m just picturing all these mice wearing Depends!

I’m not certain either, and it took me some time to work it out, but I think it’s a double entendre on the word Pest. Mice are considered pests, but Lilly, as well as being a mouse (pest), is a pest because she’s always bugging you about something?