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New Host Accused of False Advertising?!?

Hi fellow hosts, I am a newer to AirBnb and have had a great time getting set up and hosting a few times. However I ran into a problem with someone communicating for a booking. I have a 4BR house but I lock off the Master and rent the whole home as 3BR with access to the entire home. This person was very upset that it was listed as an “Entire home” when they would not have access to the entire home. I tried to clarify that it is a 4BR home listed as a 3BR because I do not want anyone utilizing my master and they said their lawyers would say that is not access to the whole home and requested a refund… In summary it was a weird interaction but made me want to ensure I was advertising properly. I tried to change the room type to private room so folks know they have three private rooms but then AirBnB automatically changes the bedroom count to 1.

Anyways I am trying to lists this thing properly and may have it but I was hoping that folks here could offer some assistance in clarifying how my space should be listed. I want to show 3BR for rent and access to the entire home. I travel a lot and may or may not be home but to stay on the safe side we’ll say that I will also be there. Please take a look at my listing and let me know what you think!

If you are not in the home, it is the full home even if one room is off-limits. However if you are staying in the master, it is no longer the whole home. whole home assumes that you have no roommates, no landlords, no caretakers, and no adult children. It would be prudent to actually put In your listing, that one bedroom is off-limits and will be locked. This doesn’t sound like a very strong case. How much money would they pay a lawyer to recover a few bucks? Very often the threat of the lawyer gets them what they want.

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I am confused. It looks like you have pictures of 3 bedrooms and one full bath. I don’t see a picture of the half bath.

But I do see a picture of the the master bedroom and master bath. Are you saying guests do not have access to these spaces? If they don’t - then do not post any pics of that space.

Yes, you do have a right to close off spaces. You don’t even need to explain that it is a closed off bedroom, etc. I have a room that was supposed to be turned into a bedroom/bath. It never happened so now it is a storage room. I advertise as an entire home, but it does not mean the guest is entitled to use the storage room.

Some people close off their garage, basement. a hall closet, etc. Just because the house has a garage doesn’t mean guests can utilize it.

Thanks for the feedback! Initially I rented the entire home, all 4 bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms. Blocking the master does take the master bath out so it is 3BR with 1.5 bath. I have the AirBnB photographer coming tomorrow and will include the photo of the half bath by the living room.

Also I just removed the master photos!

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Do you give a walk through in person upon arrival? If not, you definitely want to have some kind of conversation before the guest arrives to let them know where the locked off room is located and to let everyone in their party know to not try to pry it open.

How many guests were in this group? Did they happen to have a need for 4 bedrooms?

It does kind of suck that the listing states 3 bedrooms, 1.5 bath, but the pictures showed 4 bedrooms with 2 full baths.

There were supposedly three guests in his group which is why I did not see that it mattered if they had access to my master. I do give a walk through in person and explain the off limits areas that I also have locked. This was just over our initial contact after the guest had instant booked their stay.

So since I want to list this with the possibility of me being present for their stays I will update the ad to state private room. Is there anything to indicate that there are in fact three private rooms then? Because it automatically change it to 1 room previously and greyed out the other options. I can screen shot that if anyone needs to see it.

yes, with private room you can only list one bedroom. A big issue for us, too, but I got over it by saying ‘two bedroom’ everywhere. It works out, but, if people are shopping for two bedrooms they won’t find you. I brought this up to airbnb a year ago and the rep said “oh, great idea, I’ll push that up the chain” or whatever - still the same way.

but if you are not in the home at all - yes, entire home, with those bedrooms, NO PHOTOS of the master bedroom at all and you should be fine.

Maybe someone else can chime in - but I thought you could create separate listings for each private room, and then one listing for the whole house??

When did the three person group discover that it was three bedrooms and not a master bath? Did these guests fully stay?

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I agree that it’s misleading for a listing to have photos of a master bedroom that guests cannot access. Common sense, right? Also, if you planned on sometimes being in the house in your master bedroom, it’s definitely not “an entire place” listing.

So are you only renting the 3 rooms to one party at a time? Guests (regardless of how many rooms they use) will never be sharing the house with strangers?

You have absolute and full right to lock off a bedroom, and bath, and rent it as a whole house, as long as you are not using your bedroom. I live in a apartment in my house and rent the rest of the house as a whole house.
BUT - I am very clear in my listing that I live in an apartment, and the guests have the whole house. I also reiterate this once more…because people dont read - and require a second “go ahead” before I finalize a booking.
ALSO - I would never show photos of my personal apartment. It is not rentable space.
In this situation, you erred because you had photos of the Master Bedroom and Bath. Chances are…just guessing…that the master is the most desireable bedroom in the house and the master bath is the most spacious. So the renters did not get the house that they were expecting to get, according to your advertising and photos.
It is good that you have now deleted those photos…and if it were me, I think they are owed some kind of financial adjustment and I am surprised that they have not opened a case with Air.
Have you offered some compensation for closing off the master?
Be sure to update your description to clearly state that the Master is Locked off and guests have no access to that area of the house.

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Now that I am not on my phone, you will make more money if you have two listings. The first would be whole house with three bedrooms and 1.5 baths; the second listing would be private room which is actually 3 bedrooms, 1.5 baths, with privileges for all the common spaces.

Now that I can see your verbiage, I think it could use some tweaking. For one, there are some punctuation and grammar errors. More important are phrases like “The master bedroom, not pictured, is locked off.” I might say something like, “the owner’s rooms are private and not included.” “Locked off” sounds pretty crass, to be honest. I also think you might want to think about your pricing. At the moment, you have an offer of 5 queen beds [3 in bedrooms plus 2 air mattresses], which can be 10 people for one flat rate. Do you really want to spend a weekend with 10 people in your house, all using one shower/tub? I smell disaster. And for goodness sakes, if you are charging $300 a night, get a $30 hairdryer at the way-mart!

Last comment is, write a bit in your profile. This does seem to increase trust from potential guests.

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The only problem I see is the fact that you might sometimes be there.

If possible, make sure you never stay there when you have guests. AirBnB yourself an inexpensive room somewhere nearby if necessary. Raise the price slightly and/or raise your cleaning fee, which sees rather low BTW, to offset that expense.

That way your guests are truly getting the whole house experience along with the privacy one would expect with a whole house rental.

Also, no matter how many times you list in your write-up that you may actually be there, a lot of people will not read it.

My listing is for a locked-off apartment in my house with a separate entrance and absolutely no shared space. My write-up states this no fewer than four times, plus the obvious pictures. Yet, I occasionally get people thinking it’s the entire property.

I have it listed as “Entire home/apt” as that is really the only option AirBnB provides that fits. Any misunderstanding is in part AirBnB’s fault for not having more accurate options and also the guest’s fault for not reading the description of what they’re renting.

When I was a new host, I showed all sorts of photos from my upstairs lanai… people would write asking if they could use those lounge chairs, and the patio table with umbrella. Ooops! I tried writing captions… “not guest accessible,” and then just asked myself why do that? Deleted and I realized it was so bad of me to show anything that the guests did not have access to. So yes, I think your guests have justification to say there was false advertising. Absolutely NO reason to show any rooms that are locked off!

So I am confused… Are you there most of the time or not? Even if you are there only one night, you can’t say it’s a whole home… unfortunately! I think you should be clear that you might be there or might not.

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As others have said, I think you should clarify that you won’t be on the premises, but that the master bedroom is not available for guest use. Generally the master bedroom is the most desirable so it’s important to do your best to make sure that guests know in advance that they won’t be able to use it. I don’t think that calling your listing an entire home is false advertising. Although the phrase could confuse people it is commonly accepted among consumers of Airbnb that “entire house/apartment” means that the host will not be on the premises, not that the entire house is available. However, I do think that showing photos of a room that is not available for guests’ use is false advertising. The guest wouldn’t need to hire an attorney. He/she could sue you in small claims court. If I were you, I would offer at least a partial refund.

It’s quite straight forward, if you will be living there at all, it’s not an entire house listing & they would have a strong legal case against you. It is very misleading so they have a right to complain especially as they are very inconvenienced and looking for a new place after all the effort to find and book yours. People book entire homes for total privacy.

If you want to list 3 rooms for one price, put the total number of guests allowed eg 6 and put 3 rooms in your listing title under private room listing. If you want to list all 3 separately do so but someone, not the other guests, needs to be there to let them in when you’re not & they need to know they are sharing home and bathroom with strangers and host will not be there.

You can also have a separate listing for entire home & clearly state one room is locked and only make these dates available when you are away. Many people do this but you need to carefully manage both calendars.

All - Thanks for the great constructive criticism! I will be updating the advertisement ASAP!

For this particular instance guests did not arrive and then have this issue, the question of my master was discussed via the in-app messenger and we were able to get his full refund and ensure that they had a place for their visit.

I totally understand the confusion if I am there or not based on my description in this forum. Historically I have never stayed at my home while guests are there so they do get the whole home experience. However, I have been entertaining the idea of advertising it as me being a true “host” with the 3 rooms instead of vacating the property. Obviously that would change my pricing and several factors about my rental.

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Don’t post pictures of any room not included! Locking off a room that isn’t pictured should be fine for entire home so long as no one is staying in there. Just like you could lock off say a store in the home - guest can’t demand access to it if not advertised.

In our situation we have a four bedroomed house but can host even one person. Our listing clearly says that the number of rooms available will depend on how many booked!
If one guest, we lock up the other 3 rooms! If they want access to all four rooms then clearly they must pay for that. If we didn’t do that, parties of 8 would just book as one or 2 people to trick us and save money!

If guests are only having one room we ensure they have the best room ie the Master that is pictured, and not one of the smaller rooms!

I have the same situation. IF you had the master bed/bath in your pictures, that’s a problem. I have describe the property and the rooms they have access to and the areas they do NOT have access to. I also state that the locked doors are monitored and opening those doors are grounds for immediate removal with no refund. So far I have not had any problems. The doors to the master and basement are monitored and I would know if they forced the doors.

BTW, I do all keyless entry and security system and send them a full explanation of the system about 5 days before they arrive. I invite them to email or text me if they have any questions at all because I would rather clear up any issues before they arrive. I have had over 30 guests from 2 nights to 8 nights with no problems. Please don’t say I am due!

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