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New Host, first guests last night, already a problem...what to do?


#1

Hi everyone,

I’m new to hosting on Airbnb (I’ve been a guest before though) and new to this forum. We are renting out an entire house on Aurbnb, 2 bd, 1.5 ba and it is self-check-in. I’m not new to landlording at all. We have 8 houses we rent out; three of them are fully furnished and have been let as short term stays.

Yesterday, our first guests arrived. The reservation was for 2 people, a husband and wife coming to the area to go hiking. We did a fair bit of messaging back and forth in the week before their arrival. They asked for an early check-in. I said yes. They didn’t show up at the time they requested. I was there, hoping to greet them, but hey, no biggie…they could check themselves in. I went back later in the day, hoping to meet them, but they weren’t there.

Last night, well after midnight, I drove by the place (I live close by) just to check that nothing crazy was happening. Lo and behold, there were two cars at the house with out of state license plates. The place was quiet and all lights were out. This seems to me a strong indication that there are more people staying there than the married couple that booked. They were coming from 3 hours away–I can not imagine any scenario where it would make sense for them to have come in two separate vehicles.

I know exactly how I would handle this as an independent landlord. I would be polite and tactful but make it clear, if there really are more people, that they owe the extra fees for additional people. It’s only $5 per person, per night…so if it’s 2 couples staying, they owe me another $20. Believe me, they could afford it; one of the vehicles is a BMW.

However, this is an Airbnb listing…and my very first guests. I know how important that 5 star FB is, and I know how important it is to warn other hosts about these scofflaw guests. So, I’m opening myself up to suggestions…what would you do?

Please keep in mind I have ZERO hosting FB and these are my very first guests!


#2

Hello and welcome to the forum!

One thing to know is that Airbnb seems to respect and help hosts uphold things that are in a host’s House Rules. So, if you don’t already have this in your House Rules, add something to the effect of, “Only registered guests allowed on property. Additional guests will be billed at the rate of $X per person/per day.”

Second thing to do is to install outside video surveillance so you have proof if more than the original number of guests enter your property. This way, it’s not a he said/she said when you present your complaint to Airbnb. You will have proof. Just be sure you disclose the presence of outdoor cameras in your listing.


#3

And don’t get discouraged. As a new host you’re on a learning curve. Read everything you can on this forum so you don’t have to learn everything first hand.

And @Chloe suggestion is key, even if it’s just a Ring doorbell (inexpensive and easy to setup yourself.) Then there’s no wondering what’s going on at the property.


#4

I would say something via message. If you get them to admit via message that there are more people staying than what they paid for Airbnb will usually give you the money. And mention it in your review. We have had this happen many, many times but we live on the property so we catch them immediately every time.


#5

I’ve had guests surprise me with two cars when I thought they were arriving together in one. In this situation my approach would be to go by again and try to engage them in person. Maybe park down the street and message them saying I’m coming by. If they message back saying they aren’t there but both cars are in the drive. Or just show up on some pretense. I definitely would not assume and send any kind of message that sounds like you are accusing them of something if all you have as evidence is two cars.

I second every word of @Chole’s post. Welcome to the forum and get cameras. LOL. You can also install an app on your smartphone to check and see how many devices are logged into your wireless network. It’s only one data point but if a couple has six devices that might be more reason to belive something is amiss than if there are just two devices logged on.

Unless you can catch them with clear evidence I’d say just suck it up this time and get the good review.


#6

K9 makes a very important point: Don’t make assumptions on just one data point. Misunderstandings happen that way and create issues when there were none.


#7

$5 per person extra charge is too little for a whole house. If the house sleeps 6 then make a rate that you are happy with wether its 2 or 6 and don’t monkey around with the extra charges. And as said above welcome and get cameras.

RR


#8

That’s an option but depending on the area and price point it might not be that practical. The difference between a couple paying $80 a night and $120 could be the difference between getting booked and not getting booked. And if a host wants to have an accurate guest count the extra fees are a way to enforce that. If it’s the same whether there are two or six then guests say “oh I didn’t think it mattered.” And then when you discover six people trashed the house instead of the quiet couple you expected you have one less tool to use afterwards.


#9

Thanks for the great advice everyone. I have already told my husband we are definitely getting a video camera. It is in our house rules about only registered guests allowed and I made her say in writing she had read the complete house rules and agreed with them.

My husband thought of a plausible scenario for two cars and only one couple…what if it’s a couple having an affair?

They are definitely dodging me. I went by about 30 minutes ago to drop off the check out instructions. I texted and said I needed to drop off the instructions and would love to meet them in person…they ignored the message for about 30 minutes, then said…”we have already left for the day, sorry we missed you.” :rofl: yeah, I bet!


#10

This is why I suggested waiting down the street, texting, then rolling up. When they said “we left for the day” you say, “I’m right outside and there are two cars here.” LOL.

Since they are “gone for the day” you can still go over there to “do some maintenance” or even go into the place and see how many bedrooms are being used. I don’t recommend that unless this is just really, really important to you. If they find out you’re spying on them they are going to be mad and probably say something in the review. Already I can see them getting annoyed that you keep bugging them and checking on them.

The affair idea is quite plausible. Or even a couple who met online and aren’t married but are meeting for the first time. It seems suspicous but I still think you are probably better off to just forget about it unless there is an additional problem.


#11

We sometimes get couples booking who arrive in 2 cars,did they actually say husband and wife. I’ve had 2 lots of brother and sister having a meet up & slept in separate rooms.


#12

I’ve decided II’m not going to worry about it. I wanted to meet my first guests to try to make their stay more personal to help ensure they leave FB but they aren’t cooperating so, oh well…I did my best.

I did think of another plausible scenario for the two cars. He may be working down here in the oil and gas fields and may have already been in the area and she drove down to meet him. I may just be too suspicious.

That said, I’ve been landlording for several years and I’ve had tenants lie to me more than once on everything from unauthorized pets to unauthorized people living in the house. Being lied to is an occupational hazard in this business. I should be more used to it but it still annoys me.

I guess I am a little anxious about starting to host on Airbnb. I’ve read so many stories about things going badly for Airbnb hosts–before I ever even joined this forum–that I am apprehensive about it. I’ll calm down after I get a few more bookings/stays under my belt, I hope!


#13

Quick reminder: people only post problems and horror stories about airbnb on the internet. There is no reason to post “I’ve hosted almost 500 guests and had no major problem.” (True story, that’s me.)


#14

I think that’s the best course of action. $20 isn’t worth having your first review be a bad one, imo. But like others have said, get a camera. Then you know exactly who’s coming and going.


#15

Hi River Rock,

I’m in West Virginia and this isn’t a high priced area at all. We are in Parkersburg, which is the west side of West Virginia, right on the Ohio River. We are well-situated for weekenders…Columbus, Ohio is a 2 hour drive, Pittsburgh is 2.5 hours, Cleveland is 3 hours, Canton is 2 hours and we are one hour from Charleston, WV (our capitol). I’ve already got bookings from Canton and Pittsburgh. We currently have a lot of people coming in to work in this area on the oil and gas fields–lots of them are from Texas and Oklahoma. Plus, we have a lot of federal employees here and senior federal staff visit from Washington frequently. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2013/10/31/national-debt-is-good-for-parkersburg/3288103/

The extra $5 per person per night is just to cover the costs of having extra people in the house…more laundry, higher utility use, etc…and a little bit to discourage people from packing more folks in the house thinking it won’t cost them to try and squeeze in unauthorized guests. I think I’ve got the house priced about right, judging from the other rentals in the area, but of course Airbnb keeps urging me to drop my price!

All our rentals are fairly high end, especially for this area. Our most recent tenant (for one of our unfurnished houses) is the president of the university here. This Airbnb listing is one of our nicest so I guess I am more worried about it being mistreated because it is my favorite!


#16

K9Karma…that makes me feel much better! Thanks! And congratulations–that is an accomplishment. Trouble free guests don’t just happen–you have to know how to weed out the ones who will be problems!


#17

Airbnb will consistently and constantly urge you to lower your price. If you are getting bookings at the rate you want then don’t do it!

Lots of threads on the forum about this practice.


#18

Welcome to the forum @Keugenia.

I think once I had a husband and wife drive separately. The mother and child showed up for the tour, and then the husband showed up later that evening. I do have cameras, and there weren’t any extra guest.

I recently had a family of five arrive. They were all driving from the same area, and arrived together. They drove two separate vehicles because the grandparents were leaving a day early.

It’s a shame in this business that so many guests will lie about how many are arriving, sneaking in dogs and cats, etc. One thing you can do is ask the guest to note in the reservation whether there will be visitors during the stay. That will often times get them to say “oh…well another couple will be coming, etc.” If they don’t mention it, then confirm back that they have read all house rules, reservation is for 2 adults, 0 children, and 0 visitors.


#19

Hi TuMo,

Yes, the nagging to lower my price is nearly a daily occurrence. But so is a new booking, so I figure I can’t be too off target.


#20

Again, respectfully, I do very little weeding. I have had instant book for the last 3 (out of 4) years. Out of all those 100s of IBs I cancelled two. One is hanging around town going from Airbnb to Airbnb and getting about 1/3 bad reviews and the other I had previously hosted 4 times but was tired of her wierdness and took my chance to get out of hosting her again. I have had a few inquiries that I managed to avoid booking through a combination of wit and luck. LOL.


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