I'm terrified of asking my guests for money to pay for damages

Since guests don’t often leave reviews, I’m at their mercy if I ever ask for money from damages. They can then blast me on their review and destroy my reputation. As a result I’m terrified of asking guests for money for things they damage, even when I have photographic proof.

How do you guys deal with this problem?

On another note - I’m also afraid that my cleaners may have missed damages, and then find them a guest later (a week later usually) and I’m concerned I could be harassing the wrong guests for money. How do you ensure your cleaners are accurately finding problems right when they occur?

The title seems to indicate that you’re a very timid person! It’s easy to ask guests in person if you’re aware of the damage before they leave - ‘hey John, I see that you’ve broken the wine carafe. Can I have $20 so that I can replace it for the next guest please’. Nothing unpleasant, you don’t have to be nasty, just ask. The guest is only a human, not a fire-breathing monster.

And please don’t be worried about guest reviews. Why would they give you a bad review if they broke something? They did it, not you. If you’re pleasant with them and the place is lovely, why on earth wouldn’t they say so?

I’ve had guests who have broken things, paid for them, and we’ve parted on friendly terms and their reviews have been fine. Why are you letting guests hold you to ransom? You’re the one who is supposed to be in charge.

If you have cleaners because you’re not local, then get a co-host as soon as possible to deal with issues. If you are local, then inspect the rental after every guest.

I really don’t understand that part - can you elaborate?


Co-host isn’t a possibility unfortunately. It’s up to my cleaners to report damages, which frankly they should be just as good as anyone else.

If a guest hasn’t left me a review yet - and I go to request damages - they can leave a bad review, upset that I charged them money. The only time I can request damages is after they’ve left a review, because then they can’t alter it in anger. The only time I’ve requested someone pay damages I asked for $80 because they damaged the dining room table with watermarks all over it, and they fought me about it over the course of a week before sending the money. It was not a pleasant experience to say the least. Keep in mind my rental goes for $1000 a night, and this person was squabbling over $80.

Your logic is assuming guests are reasonable people who would gladly pay for things they break and not be upset. I just don’t find that to be the case.


Pick your battles: broken wine glass. Cost of doing business. Broken TV: ask for money.


Yeah this has been my mantra so far. I just brush off anything under a hundred bucks as it’s not worth a negative review. I just think it’s a piss poor system giving guests a lot of power if they withhold a review, was wondering if anyone had a better way of navigating this issue.


I am about to go meet a carpet cleaning service at my place because of my last guests. After they checked out master bedroom had a huge coffee stain on the carpet that was still wet and didn’t appear to have been wiped up at all, and the guest room had what looked like soda all over the carpet and wall, lamp shade and throw pillows, also fresh. I knew she wouldn’t pay but I sent her a request for payment anyway. She declined, and said that the stains were there when she arrived 5 days prior, which is comical. I probably wouldn’t have even bothered had it looked accidental, but it was obviously malicious. She was angry that I have a camera at the front door and she got caught breaking house rules. I also got notification that she has already left me a review, which I’m sure is terrible. As an Airbnb host I have felt stuck between a rock and a hard place thus far. Still learning I guess.

I clean my place myself, but if I had cleaning people they would have a checklist and would document damages between guests.

Edited to say, I took lots of pictures of it all, and she had already left a review before I sent the request.


If it’s something minor, I let it go. If it 's something major and I’m 100% sure which guests did the damage, I sent them a request for payment. I have only done so once and the guest acknowledged the damage done and sent me the money ($147) with an apology. He did not review me although I left him a bad review. I was lucky.


I wonder why? Since I’ve been hosting (in one form or another) since the early eighties almost non-stop and never once had a problem, then it’s more than logic, it’s nearly forty years of having guests on a very regular basis.

Maybe the fact that you’re assuming that guests aren’t ‘reasonable people’ could be colouring your viewpoint? Just a suggestion.


Dawn you should leave your review immediately. Once you’ve left a review they are no longer able to edit theirs. If you don’t leave a review, they have up to 48 hours to edit theirs.


I forgot about that :frowning:
I would have been super shocked if she’d left a decent review in the first place though. I should have cancelled their reservation immediately when they checked in with extra guests because it just got worse and worse. So it’s my fault and a learning experience I guess.

My very first rental (started 1 month ago) he damaged the table, and fought with me about $80 for a week. Telling people that it’s just their viewpoint isn’t exactly helpful. I’m glad you’ve have good experiences but it could easily be chalked up to your area, or guests, or perhaps you’re on site so they meet you and feel guilty if they break something. Assuming someone else’s situation is down to their perspective instead of circumstances is classic victim-blaming.

To add to this - I’m in no way saying that every guest is a nightmare. Simply trying to avoid the bad situations that come up 10% or whatever percent of the time.


Good. We have to bear in mind when we post here that many of the readers here are new or potential guests and blanket statements about guests do not help them in any way.

Area, no, as I have hosted both in the UK and in the USA. Guests have been of all nationalities. And I’m sure that you’re right about being on-site - I can’t imagine letting total strangers have the run of my most valuable possessions without being there to keep an eye on them. That said, I did use a well-trained co-host for a couple of months and although reviews weren’t as good, there were no calamities either.

Interesting that you see yourself as a victim. In that case, I’m so sorry.


Never said I was a victim, just stating the assumption you’re making. Sheesh. Relax.


Honestly in your shoes I probably would have done the same thing. I would have tried to salvage the stay, make them happy without kicking them out, and simply asked for extra money to compensate for the additional cleaning/guests. Sounds like you did the right thing to be nice to them. I guess the downside of that is that they retain the power of negatively reviewing you! Definitely stacked in their favor…


Exactly. Cost of doing business. In the past 6 years of hosting I’ve learned to pick my battles. I’d say 95% of our guests are great. 3% are tolerated and the last 2% are just unhappy people and nothing will make them happy.

The way airbnb has it setup it’s almost always going to end up as a negative review to the host. No way around it. Even if the guest is completely at fault, they can and will leave you a negative review just out of spite.

We just had a recent guest that stayed 4 nights at our vacation condo. On the morning of their checkout I received a panicked phone call from the guest saying we had a water leak. They said it was coming from our upstairs, leaking through our downstairs ceiling and soaking our carpet below. Great. After speaking with this guest I found out she clogged our toilet and overflowed it. That was the source of the water leak. They said they were checking out and what should they do. Since I had another reservation coming up I immediately called our handyman to access the damage and make sure the toilet was clear. I also scheduled the carpet cleaner to come by as soon as they could. The handyman said the damage was minimal and the toilet was clear. The carpet guys came and took care of the carpet. No real damage.

Through the airbnb resolution center I asked this guest to split the cost of damages. I asked for a hundred bucks. He came back very defensively inquiring why I wanted the money as he felt he did nothing wrong. He said he used a plunger and cleared the toilet himself therefore I shouldnt have called the handyman. I could see where this was heading, I was getting PO’d. I told him to keep his money. I didn’t review this guest and thankfully it worked out because he didn’t review us either. As I said…pick your battles.


And seriously, Conestoga, you should reviewed that guest …
Make it a Last Minute review, but please let your fellow hosts know what to expect with this guest.


Yes and the process of requesting money for damages is a perfect example!

“Hello Guest! I’m still being unnaturally pleasant in an effort to avoid a bad review, but here are the pictures of the damage to my condo and an estimate of the cost of repair”

Guest: “I decline”.
leaves a retaliatory review

Easy peasy—nothing to be afraid of! :slight_smile:


No, sorry but do not agree with you. This was my whole point as to pick and choose your battles. I have given a number of poor reviews to guests through the years that did cause damage or went against our house rules. And in each case they came back over the top with a poor review toward us which knocked our ranking down (which I knew they would). In this case it was a judgement call. Except for the last day they were great guests and have a number of great reviews. I really didn’t think they were a danger to anyone else and I chaulked up our interaction as one of those things. Trust me, if they caused significant damage they would have definitely received more than a poor review. Again…the whole point as to pick and choose your battles.


I’m not understanding how they “came back” with a negative review, you can’t see each other’s reviews before they are submitted, and at that point, they can’t be changed, so it really doesn’t matter if you you write a positive or negative review.

Just write an honest review.


True. Maybe I termed it wrong by saying over the top. In each case I received a poor review I already had initial correspondence with the guest in regard to a problem before any review process took place. Maybe they were expecting a poor review, so they gave one as well? One example. I had one guest sneak in their hairy dog (we don’t allow pets). When my cleaner showed up she said our place was covered in dog hair. She also said they left us a bottle of wine and a nice note. Obviously they enjoyed our place. Our cleaner had to charge us more for the deep clean. I nicely asked these people through the resolution center to please pay for the additional cleaning. They got upset over it and ended up paying nothing. I gave an honest review of them which actually was pretty good. Only mentioned the dog hair and additional expense. A couple days later I received a 3 star review from them. The same people who left us a nice note and a bottle of wine suddenly had bad things to say. I’m sure they expected worse from me. In any case, the review system works really well as long as there’s no problems to deal with before writing the review.