How would you handle semi-bad guests?

I just had a group with children leave my 3br house (that is family friendly). They were very nice guests but left things overall a little dirtier than most of my Airbnb guests and the kids left greasy handprints on the walls, pulled the thread out of a throw pillow, and peeled paint off the staircase (which was already semi peeling). Nothing huge that I feel is worth trying to recoup through the resolution center. But I’m struggling with how to write the review for this guest and whether I should contact him to let him know his kids left some damage.

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That doesn’t seem exceptional to me. I’d mark down stars for cleanliness but wouldn’t say anything in the review.


I might leav a neutral review and just some private feedback. Or not. The greasy handprints on the wall would piss me off. I had twin boys, and you can bet a million bucks i never allowed that to happen in someones home. The parents were careless. So i might just say,

Xx could have supervised the kids better. They left handprints on the wall and unraveled the pillows.

I don’t think that is just wear and tear that should be overlooked.


“While this family was friendly and pleasant to host, I feel that the parents should have watched their children more closely with my belongings.” And then rate like 3 star for cleanliness and house rules.


Not mentioning peeling paint in the review would seem like a no brainer!

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This doesn’t sound like 5 star cleanliness to me. For undamaged things, I prefer to mark down a star or two depending on how bad it is. If it doesn’t cost me any extra cleaning time, then I don’t bother saying it was a cleanliness issue at all.

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@Robert_Dudley - luckily this peeling paint was something I painted myself a couple years ago, so I know it is not lead-based! But point well taken. All good things to keep in mind. That is often how I feel about leaving reviews or making issues of things… part of it is the cost of doing business and it seems that complaining about the smaller things isn’t worth the hassle or potential repercussions. Hard to know where the line is though, which is why I was feeling particularly torn about this review. I’m like you @konacoconutz - I have a 5 year old and would never, ever leave a house in this condition.

Are they new to AirBnB? If so, I’d give them a bit of a break. They’d get away with these things in a hotel with no problem, so that might be their only point of reference. If they were nice then they’d probably be mortified to get a public review citing their kids as messy and semi-destructive.

I’d say, “The ___ family was easy to communicate with, very polite, and were enjoyable guests. I’ve left some private feedback as to how they can be even better for their future stays.”

I’d dock them a point on cleanliness and keep everything else at 5 stars.

In private feedback I’d say something like, “Hi, just wanted to thank you for your stay, and to also bring up the reason I docked a star on cleanliness: the kids caused some minor damage to the place, namely (insert things here). To be clear, nothing of what happened warrants filing a damage claim and it’s no big deal on my end. That said, I’d be a bit careful if choosing to use AirBnB in the future because other hosts may not be as accommodating on these points. Your children are lovely, but like all kids, they can be rough on houses! Something to keep in mind, spoken as a fellow parent [assuming you are]. Cheers!”

Nice, polite, and something they’ll remember down the line.

As I see it, if you’re blunt in your review they’ll just assume you’re overreacting and not take it to heart. If what you want to accomplish is for them to change their future behavior then I’d say this is the best way to handle it.


Yes, this was their first trip.

I totally get being torn about giving a review. I tend to be on the lenient side. I really appreciate when guests are nice in their reviews even if I wasn’t perfect, so I pass along the kindness. I’ve probably given more stars than were earned, but if the people were nice, I give the benefit of the doubt.


Beautiful advice. Thank you!

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I tend towards leniency too, @dccross9999. I’ve been super lucky with some guests who could have given me a terrible review (like the one who was subjected to my long-term tenant blasting his music until 4 am–that was mortifying), but they were total sweethearts and still gave all 5 stars. I think there’s such thing as AirBnB karma so I definitely try paying it forward to my guests!

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Just left them a very kind review along the lines of what @PHX suggested (with 4 stars for cleanliness and a very kind private message explaining why) and they left me 3 stars for cleanliness! Because of DUST ON THE WINDOWSILLS BEHIND THE BED FRAMES. Sigh, of course.


@barefootNM, I’m so sorry, UGH. Since you can respond to their review, I’d say, “thank you for your review! Admittedly, I’m a little dismayed by your cleaning score when the overwhelming majority of guests find our place spotless. However, we will take your suggestion to heart. Likewise, I do hope you take to heart the earlier feedback given regarding your children’s behavior at houses should you continue using AirBnB. Thank you!”

I mean, maybe it’s snarky, but if I were a prospective guest reading your reviews I’d assume the guest left a bad score due to retaliation or just being high maintenance and with annoying kids. Which uh, they kind of are!


NO… do not leave a snarky or defensive response! barefoot I know you are experienced to know better than that. Some people giving advice here haven’t been hosts very long, so take their suggestions with a grain of salt.

Responses to bad reviews MUST not be defensive or hostile. Future guests are looking to see how you solve issues. You don’t want to engage or extend the drama. It’s best to say nothing at all unless it is a factual correction.

I bet you had now wished you’d been more honest in the review instead of “kind.” Guests like this have already shown you they are disrespectful and are rarely “kind” in reviews.


Sorry, but you’re wrong, @konacocnutz: I had a guest who clearly had a party and in your view, was “disrespectful” and would be the type that you surmise would leave a terrible review. Well, she also left me the best review of any guest!

It’s ALWAYS better erring on the side of kindness. Bringing up her guest’s behavior in a kind but direct way in her response highlights why said guest might have left a not-so-great review. It doesn’t take an experienced host to realize this; just common sense.


This way of thinking is the reason why the current review system doesn’t work. Everybody is busy trying to second guess what kind of review the other party will leave when instead they should be focussing on leaving an honest account of their experience.
I recently left a terrible review of a truly horrible group of guests. When I saw they’d left me 5 stars I initially felt SO guilty. Until I remembered all the reason why I’d had to leave such a bad one. And why should I feel guilty they left me 5 stars? I did deserve that.

My point, and I don’t know if I’m getting it across very well, is that it doesn’t matter what kind of review you think the guest will leave you. You should still leave a review appropriate to your experience, positive or negative


They left me a kind and positive 5 star public review overall so I don’t have any need to respond to it. And to be fair my cleaner left dirty dishes in the dishwasher when they arrived (forgot to run the washer and put the dishes away) so the lower cleaning rating wasn’t completely unjustified, and they kept it in the private comments. They seemed very understanding of it at the time though and I was apologetic. And it stings that they would be so critical when they left the house such a mess themselves!

Anyway, c’est la vie, it’s not a huge deal, just one of those things to show that you just never know what a guest is going to say or do, and now that I saw their rating I wish I had been a little bit harsher in mine :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: But I do agree with the philosophy of erring on the side of kindness…in most cases.

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These two things are not unrelated. People are less careful with the rooms if their perception is that the rooms were not “cared” for in anticipation of their stay. Messy rooms are left a bit messier. My daughter had to do some research on this for her doctorate, and it turns out that lots of people lower their own bars if the bars around them are lower.


Because i have an experienced “opinion” about this situation doesn’t make me “wrong.”

You are so typical of the newbie host who has very little experience, or only experience with “good guests,” joins this forum with a know-it-all attitude, and comes here spouting off your platitudes to all of us who have been doing it YEARS, (Nearly eight in my case!), telling us we are “wrong” and it’s best to err on the side of kindness. You have no idea how naive you sound.

Your day WILL come…

Then guaranteed, you will be back here posting your sob story about how guests stabbed you in the back over something trivial, left a bad review when you didn’t deserve it… or some other betrayal, and then you’ll be back here, trawling for our sympathy.

I’ve seen the above over and over with new forum members like you. It will happen. Guaranteed. This is just as sure a thing as death, taxes and childbirth. And then we will see who may be not so willing to err on the side of “kindness.”