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More guests than booked, infants, exceeding capacity and guest swapping (1 for 4!) Did I handle it correctly?

I’m trying to do things differently. My fear of bad reviews has lead me to suck up a lot of blatant rule breaking & associated consequences (ruined items, extra cleaning & expenses) in the past. But, totally inspired by this forum, I’m trying to turn over a new leaf.

Tonight I had someone checkin that seemed great in communications so I didn’t even check the security camera to verify guest count. 3 hrs post-checkin I got a message asking to swap 1 person out who “cancelled” with someone else the guest invited in their place. I reply “no problem, give the name of the new person & the 1 who “cancelled”. They reply with a family of 4 (mom/dad/4 yr old & infant) they have squeezed into our upscale, all white, master bedroom & they’ll use our pack’n play they didn’t reserve for the infant they didn’t book. Note: our capacity is 6 persons. They are now at 8. They could not have even booked this new configuration via AirBnb. And our listing says “unsuitable for kids 2-12” (we legally can’t turn them away but come on…it’s super not childproofed, light decor, glass, etc).

Oh, and no persons are allowed on the property who aren’t part of the reservation & they threw in they wanted to have someone over as well as going from 5 to 8 people for no additional charge.

I wanted to just say no to all of it but (1) this is all after the fact and (2) it’s Friday night! I reminded them of the House Rules they’d seen & agreed to more than once, said yes to all they wanted but that I’d have to charge them according to our Policies (but that I’d give them a discount). Mostly I was put off by the “ask for forgiveness, not permission” approach they took. But I guess that is better than 100% sneaking, although I’d have still found out eventually (@ChristineAZ - this exactly why I need cameras out front)

Also, we are on septic & we limit for a reason (also clearly stated in the rules). The guest says he thought he was paying for rooms, not guests (seriously!!?! I’m not even going to comment). They figured the septic would be fine. What!?! Is this your house? I know the number of people, days & what was done in the stays just prior to yours…it’s not your place to make that decision. Ugh!

He even said he was a host (turns out not AirBnB but another set of rentals - so he knows better). So, I send over a discounted bill & say it’s payable immediately if they wish to stay (that was scary/hard to do…won’t lie!).

I also called AirBnB to tell them I may need to cancel this reservation, just in case. After payment request was sent, the guest replies they will go back to the original reservation & the family will find a hotel. I reply - “to be clear you are now 4 persons” & I name them. Oh, no, they say. The person who “cancelled” will stay and the family of 4 will swap & take his hotel room. So much for all that fake drama.

So, they are still there (supposedly 5 overnight persons and 1 visitor once the family packs up and leaves), I cancelled my payment request and I guess we’ll see what kind a lowball review I get & how many people actually end up hanging out when it’s all over. I won’t check until after the stay at this point.

I felt like I was playing chess. I had to ask all the right questions to get the full truth. Tricksy! I did thank them for contacting us & asked if they’d please tell us what part of our House Rules/Policies were unclear that may have led to this situation (no reply).

So, did I do it right? What did you do if you’ve had this happen & what do you think the consequences will be? BTW, I always want to be “tough” but I’ve only had super egregious behavior early on when “kicking people out” wasn’t even on my radar. Now, yeah, I would. But I would not feel good about any of it. :frowning:

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  1. They shouldn’t have tried a last minute change

Worrying if you handled it correctly isn’t the question. What’s done is done. It is, “how to best handle it in the future?”

  1. In the future always check your cameras when they arrive (pets & #guests) (live & learn)

  2. Do your house rules say infants & children are included in your maximum allowed guests? If not then consider adding it. It gives you cause to consider them breaking house rules if they bring unregistered children.

  3. If this happens again (too many people) consider explaining :
    A) this home is on a septic system and occupancy of more than x is not allowed by zoning & your insurance (this is probably true). And/or

B) your pricing is based upon X guests, any extra guests cause additional resource use & wear & tear.

  1. It’s ok to decline last minute changes. Yes they won’t like it and may give a bad review. If you accept their last minute change do an “Alteration request”. Consider a change request fee because it is causing you more work & you probably are going to need to supply additional towels or cleaning than you had planned

  2. Manage your listing as you need. We all are concerned about bad reviews but even the best host can have a bad guest. If they rate you badly, after you get a few more reviews, it will drop off.

Superhost status is nice but lots of hosts who have nice rentals are not superhost. You can keep going

  1. Review the guest honestly including guest states he was a host on another platform. He brought unregistered guests that exceeded my maximum occupancy and asked for a reservation change after check-in to accommodate his new companions.

  2. If they leave a poor public review, several people in this forum (@KenH, @jaquo, @kkc and several others can help with succinct, accurate response wording)

Other hosts can offer good input on how to handle this moving forward. We all have different perspectives. Take it all in & decide what works for you.

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  1. Agree; I’m flexible when possible but the policy is all counts/names are to accurate before checkin

  2. I’m torn. I’m glad they messaged me before I saw it as I would have been really angry. I just wanted to think these folks were trustworthy & I wanted a drama free stay (last weekend was a bit of a disaster). Definitely my bad.

  3. I refer to everyone as “persons” & have had “regardless of age” wording in the past. It felt redundant but I guess I’ll put it back. When they book, children count towards the max capacity such that the AirBnB site would not have allowed the booking.

4.I call out the septic thing multiple times in the listing & give damage charges linked to capacity overages. This guy just decided he “knows better” than us all the way around.

Thank you for your input & the review wording. Thanks to this forum I gave an honest (not good or bad per se) review of my last VRBO guest & I did it while we were in the middle of damage negotiations (super nice guy; I cut him a break and he promptly paid what I asked). In the past I’d never have done that. And, because he was remorseful & paid I’d have given him a good review. The one I gave was balanced and fair, although I felt bad about knocking down his grade a little due to others in his group but hey, they were his responsibility.

Bet you won’t have any of the extras leave. I even updated suggest you or your cohost drop by to ensure only those who’ve booked are staying.

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It’s supposed to be 5 people now. It’s a 2 night stay & 1 is done. I’ll check the security cameras when the stay completes & bill accordingly. They don’t strike me as partiers, no noise alerts or neighbor complaints thus far & I will be firm about any damage reimbursements if needed. Because they bothered to even tell me what they’d done I trust they’ll pay what’s due if needed & I will give an accurate review to them. If I thought they were troublemakers I’d have canceled them. They are just presumptuous. We’ll see tomorrow if I am wrong…praying I’m not. :sweat_smile:

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You seem to be making a lot of work and trouble for yourself. It’s not difficult to deal with guests in a pleasant yet forceful way and when you have a lot of rules (and some guests might not understand the reason for them) people are going to break them.

But it’s not enough to simply put them in your listing or in the house manual - you have to be seen to be enforcing them. Please don’t be afraid of bad reviews - you still need to make sure that guests behave properly.

You can easily prevent more people coming by greeting them and doing a house tour. (Or your co-host). If your local authority needs the name of every guest, photograph their IDs before you let them in.

However, if a guest is bringing an extras person (our apartments are only one bedroom) then I’m happy to turn a blind eye if it’s a short stay.

Going forward, I’d look at your rules and work out ways to reduce them and to ‘rehearse’ ways of dealing with guests who are doing something unacceptable.

As it is now, you seem to be adding too much hassle for yourself.

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I love this forum so much! I’m starting to really see that this hosting adventure is so diverse and greatly impacted by personality, culture, priorities, proximity, location, etc.

I really have whittled my rules down to a readable list of short sentences that fit a screen. They are born of interesting experiences :slight_smile: People agree that they’ve read then & will follow them. If they fib about that I’m not sure what I can do.

Vetting is what I’ve determined my biggest source of issues is honestly. I’ve tried to do better & have dodged some bullets. I’m not really a “heads in beds” person. I want folks who will appreciate, enjoy & respect my home. I’m happy to say I get a lot of those. But occasionally I get people who think they’ve rented a house & now it’s theirs to do as they wish. My greeting & follow up messages are nice but have specific reminders about booking accuracy & the associated consequences since that is by far the biggest issue (comes w/ entire house rentals I think).

Thanks for all of your great feedback! I will definitely think on it & see what I can incorporate.

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I thought Airbnb’s policy was that infants don’t count in your guest count. I.e., you can specify that your listing is not suitable for infants, but if you allow infants, they don’t count toward your maximum guest count.

You’re right. AirBnB says they don’t count toward the max capacity but I specifically say they do in my listing. I don’t charge more for them per se but little ones need to be cleaned up and cleaned up after, all impacting septic (it’s not just for the toilet). AirBnB allows 5 infants that don’t go toward the max capacity. I think that’s crazy. I am super accommodating to people & have never turned down an infant (love them, in fact), even for a group at my max, but I can’t pretend they aren’t little people who require resources.

From Airbnb Help. Also Must mention in house rules children/infants count. (I’ll look for that reference)

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@Annet3176 Whoaaaa! Thank you!!! Best news I’ve had in a long time. How’d I miss this??? I had updated everything but I’m going to go back a double check.

I decided to stop allowing free infants when a reservation for 4 disclosed 3 adults & 1 teen child plus 1 (4 year old) infant! (Max occupancy 4)

Airbnb considers infants to age two.
An infant is newborn to 12 months. Baby=12 months to age 4. Airbnb just made up their own infant definition.

@Annet3176 I hate that. I’ve had to do it many times…add/change rules due to someone’s sneaky or discourteous behavior. It’s a bummer. I’ve also raised my prices and it’s helped lower my number of “incidents” because it draws more out of state vs w/i driving distance folks (ie fewer travelers & last minute tagalongs).

I just cleaned up my listing, rules/policies and my house manual to clarify “ages 0-150 (that includes “infants”) count toward the house maximum capacity”.

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@aelilya
Including infants in guest count

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You’re my hero @Annet3176 :smiling_face_with_three_hearts: I’ll do some further refining. And clearly I need to spend some time on the AirBnB Community Center site.

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@aelilya My guests often have changes. Nobody ever asked me for a refund when people cancelled on them (usually found out accidentally in conversation after they left).

And I’ve never asked for extra payment if they brought extra people. My max is 7, or maybe 8 now, and I do charge extra for more than 2 guests.

But why bother to nit pick?

Win some, lose some.

With all the crap that goes on in the world and in my life, I’m not looking for MORE stress and I’m happy for every rental with a 5 star review and no major damage.

My ONLY major problem is Airbnb almost always refunding my guests when they don’t show up.

It rained, it snowed, they were sick … and they always get a full refund.

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Where is the EDIT button to fix typos?

Click on the 3 ellipses to the left of the arrow. That gives you more options including the edit icon which is a pencil.

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Oh yes, right there now, thanks. May have been missing because I’m new, just got this “promotion:”

“We see you’ve been busy reading, which is fantastic, so we’ve promoted you up a [trust level!]”

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Yeah, @ChristineAZ, that is very frustrating…I now have a recommendation for travel insurance in my listing to my guests; hopefully, they’ll take a hint :thinking:

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