Guests Occupied a Listing they Didn't Book?

Hello all! I really enjoy this forum and the advice it provides, and I am facing a weird one tonight.

I’ve been hosting two listings for over a year, am a Superhost in an extremely desirable metropolitan area, and could use some help (/commiseration?) with this one, as it’s a first for me and my cohost.
A young couple (new to the platform, but from the region) booked our Private Room listing for one night. All seemed normal, sent detailed check-in instructions, etc. Some spidey senses were going off, and I wanted to check on our other listing before heading out for an event tonight. Yep, I was right - this couple had checked in to and occupied the space that is usually booked by groups of 3-7. By “Checked In” I mean: food garbage, multiple empty wine bottles, towels and clothes everywhere, bed clearly occupied, sex toy laying directly in the middle of the bed, all lights on.
Luckily, the space was not booked for tonight - a rarity - and I messaged the guests immediately. Had they simply had some garbage and some dropped bags (this was at 6:30pm) I would have happily called them and let them know I was able to move their things to their space, but they had clearly USED the space that was set up for tomorrow’s guests.

This space they occupied doesn’t match the photos, description, or check-in instructions of the space they did book. It is generally over 2x the cost as the space they booked, and is an entire private floor with two bedrooms, bathroom, living room, etc.
I already messaged Airbnb about the issue. I’d be interested to know what your immediate thoughts are regarding responses and fees, so that I can review how I handled this and what I can potentially do in the future.

(No, I cannot limit access to this space due to the nature of both the building and STR laws for my area. Detailed check-in instructions, including photos and immediate text responses, have been 100% successful in all my past experiences).

The two spaces don’t have individual locks? How is that possible?


I don’t understand why you can’t limit their access to the larger rental.


It’s the condition of our building and the STR regulations of the area we live in. We rent out a private room on one floor, and an entire floor just above.
As per C of O rules, and STR rules of the area, a door or lock in between the spaces is illegal.

I hope you reveal that clearly in your listing. Of course if guests don’t read, they won’t know it.

But—good grief—if I knew that about a pair of listings, I would never stay there.

Sorry to say, but I don’t think this sounds like a safe Airbnb for anyone who stays in either of the two spaces.

This is the equivalent of two adjoining hotel rooms, separated by a door that has no lock. Never.


We do reveal this, absolutely. We have a 98% occupancy rate, and are happy to offer folks a safe, convenient, and legal space in an extremely dense tourist destination.
Additionally, the listings are on different floors of a stand-alone urban apartment building - they feel extremely separate, because they are. It’s not two adjoining hotel rooms, because we’re not a hotel and the spaces are not adjoined. I apologize if I was misleading, but I didn’t think that my space was the issue at hand, but was trying to instead to describe my issue with current guests. Any insight is appreciated!

I understand you want advice on how to handle the situation now that it’s happened, but you’ll probably get feedback on how to prevent it again.

What do you think of charging them half the difference between the cost of the two rentals?

Feedback on how to avoid this in the future is absolutely welcome! I feel horrible that I have to interact with guests like this.
I do have a chalkboard sign that welcomes guests by name upon entry, with arrows on where to go. My thoughts are actually that this couple actually just picked where they wanted to stay that night, assuming no one would care or mind.

And charging them half the difference was exactly my first thought, as well! It mainly comes down to cleaning fees for me at this point, though they did reserve a valuable space on my reservation calendar for over a month for a space they decided not to use?

Maybe it’s just me, but I think this is a predictable problem. I’m surprised it hasn’t happened more often.

Guests always seem to explore, particularly if they’re alone to do so. They try doors. If the doors aren’t locked, they open them. It’s up to us as hosts to ensure that they can access only what they are allowed to access. If the rules don’t allow you to separate the two spaces and secure them, then my conclusion is that the entire space must be rented as only one space.

Of course, it’s 2:30 a.m. Maybe others will see it differently. Maybe I’m sleep-deprived.

I think charging this couple anything additional is inappropriate.


Yep, and I allow them to access what they’ve booked. In a metropolitan area that draws travelers from all over the world, where a host also lives, guests are surprisingly thoughtful. This isn’t Ohio, nor a hotel. As I mentioned, this group stayed in a space that isn’t the listing they’ve booked; it’s not as if they opened a closet I didn’t want them to access.

So even by your standards of “lock everything they don’t have access to even if it’s illegal to do so and will shut down the STR and add bad press to Airbnb”, flagrant habitation of a space that isn’t theirs is…ok? What rules DO exist, then?
Again, renting the entire space as one listing is illegal, and I’ve had zero issues like this in hundreds of bookings, I believe that this was done with potentially malicious intent, etc. etc. as previously stated.

Again, it’s 2:30am. I may be sleep deprived and anxious about the people staying in my home who have demonstrated a lack of respect for their hosts.

If the host is resident, how did this happen?


Host is obviously NOT “resident”, or it could not have happened, IMHO. Review them terribly, one. Don’t charge extra as they were left alone unsupervised to do whatever the heck they wanted in a place with no locks.

NO SELF CHECK IN is the solution for the future, I’d say.


Thanks! I’ll definitely be reviewing them - I want other hosts to be aware that this group can’t follow extremely basic instructions.
I’m definitely a resident, as is my cohost, which is how we caught the issue. They weren’t unsupervised as we knew about the issue within hours of their check-in.

We provide self check-in as we provide a wide check-in time (metropolitan area with 4 airports, numerous train stations) and we both work; we are rated at 100% 5-star for our check-in, so guests seem to prefer this.
This is an extremely rare scenario that we want to account for without diminishing future guests’ experience. Message responses from the guests affirm my assumptions that this was a casual, derogatory act of guests not thinking anyone was accountable (again, this is a 2020 account).

Can you name the 2 listings and put the names on the doors?


Why would it be illegal to lock your doors to completely separate apartments @Barley. Why not have separate self check in for each listing?

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The listings are on two different floors, separated by a big, separate stairwell. We write on a cute chalkboard that has arrows indicating whether the group should go to the Left or up the stairs. This is also laid out in their text and photo instructions via the Airbnb app.

I understand that - just makes it easier to point out the error. You book the Emperor room - why are you in the Pauper?


Ask the city! I live in a building on a landmark historic block. The Certificate of Occupancy, as well as the STR laws of our city, are of concern to both me and my landlord.

I do have separate check-in instructions for each listing, but they share the same front door as per law. Believe me, I’d love it to be different so I can charge more, but guests are appreciative of an affordable, legal place to stay in a great neighborhood.

Ah - sounds like it is a way of getting around STR restrictions in your city @Barley


How about pet gate -