How do you deal with minor damages?

I’ve had a group of guests from my home country, who needed accommodation as they are relocating to my community. They seem polite and friendly at check in, but they left few minor damages without reporting.

  1. One artificial decoration plant damaged, ripped apart (probably the child did it).
  2. Five towels went missing and two tea towels missing as well
  3. Two knives had micro dents at the tip, I guess they used them to open beer but we do provide a nice bottle opener, which they didn’t use. One knife had scorching mark like it had been heated on fire. I’m quite upset with what happened to the knife because it is a new and expensive set. We had one guest suggest that our previous set are too basic (bought from Target at cheap price), so I made the upgrade to a nice set, just before this group of guests arrived.
  4. Two saucepans were badly scratched, not the normal wear and tear scratch. The scratches look like being carved by knives.

I would be fine with one minor damage but when these add up, I’m not happy. But I know it is almost impossible to get any compensation because all these can be argued as wear and tear easily.

I used knife sharpener and the dents are almost invisible from photos, but when I use towel to dry the knife, the dents will trap fibres. I used solutions specifically designed to clean stainless steel and the scorching mark is much better but still quite visible by eye. Also I used glue to fix the artificial plant but because several parts went missing, it doesn’t look good anymore.

I decided to give a below average review for these guests and not pursue the compensation. It is less than $50 to replace towel and the decoration, and it is hard to prove or get compensation to knives and saucepans due to damage being minor only. But my partner was so mad at me because of my decision, he thought these people should pay for damage they did. He said one missing towel is accident, five is not. He also said if they damaged one knife, that might be an unforeseeable event, but two damaged knives are not. He also mentioned the fact these people cleared all our stock for toilet papers, tissues, coffee and tea (I left amount that will last at least 2 weeks to 1 months, they stayed for 7 days). I’m fine with coffee and tea, but toilet papers and tissues just made me speechless.

My experience makes me wonder how do you deal with minor damages that are hard to prove. If you decide it is just cost of business, then what is your opinion if same guest did a lot of these minor damages?
Also, my partner insisted me to ask the guest bring back the towels and tea towels they took. The guests moved to a nearby home. I thought it is so awkward for me to ask, these things are like $15 dollars to replace and it is highly likely I meet the guests in supermarkets, on streets in the near future.

By the way, it is not the first time minor damage occurs. We had to spend a bit of money and a lot of time sometimes in order to fix things. My husband is the one doing all the fixes and probably that’s why he’s not happy.

I told him it is part of doing Airbnb and I ask him to think about the good side, for example, most guests are good, and we also make some profits doing Airbnb. But his argument is we should make more profits if people pay for things they damage, even the minor ones, the costs add up. I’m so tired arguing with him, I ask him not to affect our relationship for small issues. But I also want him to feel happy while hosting. Any advise?

I would take the - hi, did you accidentally pack some towels with you when you left? Would appreciate you dropping them back when you locate them - thanks- method


If you are still within the 14 day, or before the next guests check in window, I would for sure make a claim. It can’t hurt and it might help.

As far as asking for your towels back should you run into them on the street, I’d bet dollars to donuts you wouldn’t want them back because they’ve probably been damaged beyond repair.


I recently had an American guest stay and he sent me a message saying he broke a coffee mug whilst doing the dishes. I have several kinds of mugs and of course it was one of the designer expensive ones that he smashed. But he wrote me and offered to pay for it in a very apologising tone so needless to say, I wrote him back that he shouldn’t worry as accidents happen and I would cover it my self and I thanked him for the heads up!

Your account is a tad different. These guests are clearly not respectful and I would get so offended by the way they treated your home regardless of the value of your stuff. It’s about being respectful and honest so I would listen to your partner and ask for them to compensate you in the resolution center. Also, who steals towels!?
Horrible guests. I would ask them to pay and I would leave a honest review about these things that aren’t minor at all.

Best of luck


Please ask them to pay for the towels or return them. Wear and tear type things like micro dents on flatware and destroyed decor I would just write off as a business expense.


Maybe our husbands are brothers?!

Agreed with others here, you should make a claim for the towels. I would even go as far as listing some of the damages you mentioned. If the guests own up to the damages, you might get a fair compensation. If they don’t, atleast you tried. I believe you’d feel better having done something about it. I can understand your reservation since there is a possibility you might run into them again, but whether or not that happens, it’s more important what you do about how you feel right now about this situation.


In a case of theft (no matter what the dollar value) I would definitely report it! If you are going to report it, it has to be done before the next guests check in otherwise Airbnb will not cover you if the guests deny it.


It’s not the money, it’s the principle. Your partner is right. These guests did damage and you should be able to charge for them. Since the knife set was new, you have the receipt showing that. I would still submit a claim.


There will already be hard feelings on YOUR side because they did not care for your property and they stole from you. They might seem like minor things, but they wouldn’t even think of doing any of that to their own stuff.

I think you should also advise them that Airbnb isn’t a hotel chain - you had provided many more supplies than needed for their stay as a convenience so they wouldn’t run out - and anything extra was not theirs to take with them. You’re doing them a favor by telling them what is appropriate in their new country so they can correct their bad behavior.


It’s almost expected to take stuff from hotels, like soap and shampoo, but I believe even hotels charge for missing bathrobes etc?

We have had shampoo taken, which is just annoying and inconvenient.

Agree with other posts, a claim is important, if not for the money, important to get the message out that we’re not hotels. If people want to steal stuff, they should pay the premium for an international hotel chain

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Hi everyone, thank you so much for your valuable input. I’m too busy with work recently and the cleaning task killed me yesterday, I spent 9 hours to clean the house (too dirty)! I couldn’t make the claim yesterday, and now it is just too late. I have also reviewed the guest with a below average review but I didn’t put much detail down, only in private feedback, I mentioned a few. BUT now I regret SO MUCH because of what I discovered this morning!

WARNING: the picture may cause discomfort, especially while you are eating or about to. Please don’t look if you hesitate.

This is what I discovered in my garbage bins when they are emptied this morning. I have never seen such thing in my 30-year life, and the yellow bin is for recycle, I don’t understand why there are sauces(soups maybe?) at the bottom. And the red garbage bin, I couldn’t recognise what’s inside and it did not look anything near that one week ago. My poor partner rushed to get these disgusting things out and washed both bins, cause we were expecting new guests in 1 hour (at the time we discovered what happened to the bins). Finally, he managed to clean both and dry them before new guests arrived, while I made the bed and mop the floors.

The real thing looked a lot worse, it was quite thick and my partner had to use shovel to get them out. You really have to teach guests from China (I’m Chinese myself) how to handle waste properly, though I doubt it is always useful. I’ve had two groups from China, the first group created a lot of sauces/soups in the bins during their first week of stay, I spent 5 minutes educating them how to dispose waste properly, the second week we discovered same problem, just slightly better, it was very frustrating. But it was not as disgusting as what happened today. Nevertheless, Chinese guests are quite polite and friendly in my personal experience, but I may reject them in the future unless it is low season. My partner had to wash garbage bins three times in his life, all for guests from China. We don’t wash our bins for many many years as we are able to keep them reasonably clean and free of sauces.

Anyway, I should have written a more honest review with these guests. I learned my lesson and I won’t be shy to ask for compensation for small items next time (minor accidents doesn’t count, deliberate damage counts), and I won’t be shy to write in detail if guests were not respectful.

Hi Stuart, thank you for your opinion. I think it may be cultural difference that they took the towels and some stock. They may think these are all paid and they are entitled to take if they like. That may not be intentional steal. Though, I’m not 100% sure cause I don’t live in China for the past 12 years, and I rarely go back, my parents come to visit me. But I plan to chat with a Chinese friend and see what she knows.

Hi Kona, thanks for your input again! I agree what you said, just I was too tired recently and too lazy to pursue the matter, it was my bad. But I will stick to the principle and do the right thing next time.

I believe it is impossible to claim anything for the knives, as I said the dents are very tiny and couldn’t be shown clearly on photos, especially after I used a sharpener to make it look better. Only close inspection or touch can discover these dents. If they are just invisible I’m ok, but these dents trap fibres when I use towels to dry them, a bit annoying but I doubt Airbnb would acknowledge such damage. They want loads of proof, quotes, etc.

And the scorching mark, I wish I took photo before I soak it in the solution, after treating it, the mark are not too obvious, and it does not affect the functionality of the knife, so again, Airbnb may not favour me, and even if they do, it is hard to judge the compensation amount. It is one knife in a large set, and the damage does not affect functionality, I may only get $10 for battling in a case, just feel too exhausted to deal with these matter.

Sure, I agree we need to respect cultural differences, but it goes both ways. Guests need to respect the culture of the country they are visiting, and the laws.

Eg, you’re allowed to park cars in the ‘wrong’ direction in the UK, but you get a ticket for it in Australia.

It may be acceptable to take items in China, but in Australia, it’s theft.

On the topic of Chinese, we had a guest stay for a week, quite as a mouse. Next thing you know, 3 Chinese bookings in a row!! I don’t know if it was through coincidence, social media, or simply Chinese people favouring the ratings of fellow chinese, but we seem to have become destination of choice for Chinese travellers!!



It is interesting that Chinese book in a row :slight_smile: I hope you have had good experience most of the time. I have decided to write a Chinese house manual in detail when I have time, and hopefully trouble free hosting ever after.

Well I guess here is a final update, as I said I mentioned the issues with the one who booked with me, and he felt very sorry about my loss and offered to compensate me.

It was him (who live in Australia) and his cousins’ families (two different cousins and just landed in in Australia) who lived at my property. He wasn’t aware of these issues and he didn’t want to bring these issues (ask them for missing towels) to the relatives as they are his guests.
But he wanted to compensate and apologise, and he feels there will be a long way for them to learn the dos and don’ts by themselves in this new country. I kind of understand him not planning to bring up these issues with his relatives.

I don’t want the compensation from him. And I warned him that he needs to teach them proper ways to dispose waste, and I mentioned sauces/soups in bins, and unbagged food covered in mould in the bin as well (because he took a house to share with the relatives, he is moving to Melbourne and the relative’s kids going to school here). I spotted one roach near the bin already and I bet there will be many roaches in a short amount of time if they don’t deal with waste properly. He was a nice guest who probably didn’t deserve the review I gave. But I think the one who booked is always responsible to make sure others in the group have a good understanding of Airbnb as well.

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I wash my garbage bins all the time, then a slosh of bleach. Plastic bags can leak.

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I wouldn’t leave out toilet paper etc in the future, what I’ve found is that whatever you leave out people will use, if I leave 5 tea towels the will use all of the, if I leave a basket full of toilet paper there all gone and this is only in a short time generally a few days to a week! Now I only put two or three rolls out at a time they can buy more did they want.

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