Welcome! We are a community of AirBnb hosts

This forum is dedicated to connecting hosts with other hosts. Sign up to get the latest updates and news just for AirBnb hosts! Note that we are not affiliated with Airbnb - we are just passionate hosts!

Newbie questions from a host sharing guest bedroom


#1

Hello everyone! I started hosting on AirBnB earlier this month, and was soon booked for a month solid! I have been lurking on these forums for the last view weeks and decided to post. Your advice has been really helpful! I’m renting the basement bedroom in my home (including a living room and private bathroom), and have learned from reading these forums and related blogs that I am targeting budget travelers such as backpackers who don’t expect anything fancy but want something a little more private than a hostel, and those who enjoy the cultural exchange of meeting locals in the city they’re visiting.

I do have some questions!

(1) How accurate is AirBnB’s by-the-day price recommendation they suggest on the calendar? Do they move you up in the search results if you use it? When I’ve used AirBnB’s recommendations, I have received reservation requests almost immediately. However, I notice that it puts me notably lower than my competitors in my neighborhood. Such as $5-10 lower than what my neighbors are charging per night for similar accommodations. (This seems significant when bedrooms in a house go for around $50 a night in my area.) I live in a great neighborhood, about three miles from a major city’s downtown, and the AirBnB price recommendations are pricing me similar to those in the suburbs (6-10 miles from downtown). I want to attract guests to look at my listing, but I also don’t want to be severely undercutting myself.

(2) Because of my affordable pricing (at least until I get reviews), I am getting requests from folks who just created their profile and haven’t carefully read my listing. It seems that they just want the cheapest place in town. They seem to think it is a private apartment, or not realize that I have noisy pets. (This could also be a language barrier, perhaps.) After reading these forums, I have been able to identify red flags, such as requests for airport pickup or that I open my calendar on blocked days. (What I charge per night is less than the cost of the cab ride from the airport!) I feel confident declining such requests. However, do you have any tips for attracting the kind of guests you do want? I’d like to see more requests to book from guests who realize this is a shared home, who like animals, who are easy going about noise, who are happy to crash in a clean-but-not-luxurious basement. And of course I’d love any other tips on how to get good reviews from such visitors! I’ll be providing light snacks, beer, and wine, and bought some tourist guide books for the city I’m leaving in the guest room.

(3) My first guests are about to check out after a three-week stay while apartment hunting, and I am not sure what review I should leave them, if at all. They are nice, but not a good fit, and definitely were just looking for something cheap/last minute. In hindsight, I would not have accepted their request, but I was new and excited to have a booking request. As you all have noted, guests who are apartment-hunting stay in their room all day and don’t really go out! I’m not sure these guests understand how AirBnB works because they recently asked to extend for four more days, and seemed surprised I had more guests coming. I’m not sure if they plan on using the site again, as they created their account in December and checked in the morning after booking their request.

The main issue is that we have different values about recycling and “green” living. I wrote in my “anything else” section that we are an eco-friendly household and into having a small ecological footprint etc. I didn’t write this in the rules because I naive assumed guests would self-select and we’d get like-minded folks. These guests have produced a lot of trash (in 1-2 days what we produce in 1 week), leave all the lights on and leave the space heater on when they aren’t home. Is this appropriate to write in a review of guests to warn other hosts, or is this minor/petty and I should just let it go since I didn’t explicitly say in my “rules” section to sort your recycling and turn the lights off when you leave? (I’m definitely adding a page about recycling in our city to my house manual, as we live in a city where you are fined for throwing recycling and food in the garbage, and I need to make this more clear to future guests so I’m not footing a big trash bill in the future.)

(I also shortened my maximum stay to 2 weeks since I am looking more to host tourists who are out having adventures.)

(4) When I have guests who are here for more than a few days, what kind of cleaning is appropriate? I’ve cleaned the bathroom once for my long-term guests, but their belongings are covering every surface (couches, tables, floor, etc.) so I can’t really dust or vacuum without moving their stuff, which I am not comfortable doing. I did ask them if they wanted me to launder their towels, and they said they’d do it (they have access to the washing machine).

(5) My neighbor left an old mattress in the alley not far from where my guests park. Do you think I should hire a truck to pick up this mattress and take it to the dump? Is this the sort of thing you’d get rated down on for location? Getting my neighbor to dispose of his own mattress isn’t really an option; he already has a few fines/complaints against his property from other neighbors for overgrown weeds and storing an abandoned vehicle in his yard.

(6) If I am not charging a security deposit, can I still file a claim through AirBnB for something like keys or towels that go missing? I’d like to charge a security deposit, but I worry the $95 minimum will scare off potential guests, at least until I have established some positive reviews.

Thank you for sticking with my long post! I appreciate your guidance to a newbie host like myself, and hope to pay it forward when I am a more experienced host, sometime down the road.


#2

Not accurate or relevant. Keep your prices low in comparison to the competition until you get some reviews. Reviews should place you higher in Search as well. [quote=“Xena, post:1, topic:2741”]
(2) Because of my affordable pricing (at least until I get reviews), I am getting requests from folks who just created their profile and haven’t carefully read my listing. It seems that they just want the cheapest place in town. They seem to think it is a private apartment, or not realize that I have noisy pets. (This could also be a language barrier, perhaps.) After reading these forums, I have been able to identify red flags, such as requests for airport pickup or that I open my calendar on blocked days. (What I charge per night is less than the cost of the cab ride from the airport!) I feel confident declining such requests. However, do you have any tips for attracting the kind of guests you do want? I’d like to see more requests to book from guests who realize this is a shared home, who like animals, who are easy going about noise, who are happy to crash in a clean-but-not-luxurious basement. And of course I’d love any other tips on how to get good reviews from such visitors! I’ll be providing light snacks, beer, and wine, and bought some tourist guide books for the city I’m leaving in the guest room.
[/quote]

I describe the kind of guest I want. See the thread I started with that topic. Some of it is learn-as-you-go and then you can refine and hone your house guidelines and rules. State from the OUTSET in very clear language (so it can be translated), exactly what you have to offer. show pictures only of the space they will be renting and have access to.
I think it’s nice of you to offer booze and snacks but I think it’s going to quickly cut into your profit margin and not win you any extra points. In fact you may get guests who take advantage of all your hospitality and smack you because you didn’t offer “craft beer” or GMO-free snacks, or organic wine. Know what I mean? We experienced hosts have mostly discovered that doing extras for guests results in no or few benefits such as good reviews and can be costly.

If you think they will not leave you a good review (or are not POSITIVE it will be good), don’t review them. If they do leave you something, you can go ahead and tell it like it is. "X and Y were nice but not a good fit because… (name the reasons). However, I would say it would not be fair to leave them a negative review because they stayed in the room all the time. As hosts, we do hope they will be GONE ALL DAY… but alas, sometimes they DO want to hang around and there’s nothing you can do as that is their right.

If it is this much of an issue, you need to add it to the rules. When they check in very clearly explain it, exactly as you’ve stated here. I would caution you though, not to sound TOO nit picky in your house rules (which they review before booking) though, as that sort of personality scares off guests. I would state no more than 6 very important rules. Leave the others to explain in person. It’s really hard to control what guests do 24/7 and you are going to get your share of those who are not liked minded about Green and recycling. However, I would be emphatic about the one about not throwing it away in the garbage, as this would get you fined. Where are you BTW? I know in Japan, they are very strict about what goes in the garbage.

I don’t offer a home share but I wonder if they thought you were hovering too much? Let them wash their own towels and linens if they have access to laundry. I would not go into their room to clean. That seems to me to be a violation of privacy and many guests wouldn’t like it.

Can you call the city and have it removed because it is a “health hazard?” I would definitely not like to look at that if I were a guest somewhere.

There’s some debate here, but I think security deposits are a must. Their card is not charged, just “held,” so it’s not really a huge impact. $95 is not much and having a security deposit demonstrates to guests that you demand respect of your house and belongings. You can still make a claim through Host Guarantee but it’s a bit of an ordeal. Also Air likes to see that you have a deposit in place, and it’s just MHO that they will side with you more often in the end. When you make a claim, you have to show actual damages, upload photos of the damage and upload an estimate for repair or replacement. I don’t think I would go to resolution center for a missing towel or keys. In six years of hosting, none of my guests have ever lost either. I guess you can think of Host Guarantee for the bigger things. Such as when my guest broke a table. I claimed it, she denied it, Air sided with me and paid me the damages which exceeded the guest deposit. My deposit is now $180. Most of my claims have been mutually settled. (Guest lost snorkeling equipment, advised me to take it out of their deposit). Even with a deposit in place, it’s still not a comfortable process because it requires you to confront the guest.


#3

Thank you for the thoughtful and detailed reply, konacoconutz! I think I may be being nitpicky but I will probably relax more when I get used to renting my guest room. I am located in a liberal city in the continental US where we have a very big recycling and composting culture. I fit right in here!

That is a different perspective on the snacks/alcohol than I’d read on the “newbie hosting guides” but I should not be surprised some guests would complain the free beer wasn’t microbrew!

I should clarify that I have not been going in my guests’ room unless they left the door open and I saw they left the space heater on when I passed by (I sent them a text letting them know I turned it off because it can be a fire hazard when left unattended). I was unsure what the etiquette was because I’ve read the horror stories on here about the guests wanting daily turn-down service when renting a private bedroom! I have wanted to clean the living room so I didn’t get dinged for cleanliness, but didn’t feel right moving their stuff, but I don’t think it has been an issue with these guests because they asked for a vacuum and did some of their own cleaning, which I appreciated.

I should ask about the security deposit: is there opportunity for guests to retaliate in reviews if you charge the security deposit? I imagine many guests won’t have reviewed you yet when you make a claim within the 48 hour window.


#4

Yup… which only adds more worry to the process. So Yes, you can claim on their deposit and yes, they can knock you in a review before you’ve completed the claim. (Maybe not about the deposit but about something else.)

Only had two bad claims in all these years and neither set of guests left a review, probably because they knew I would knock the heck out of them!

Air starts pestering you for a review right after they leave so there is plenty of time for a review while you are trying to negotiate the claim. :frowning:


#5

I use this and it is some what accurate (for me) - keep using it until you reach say about 20 reviews then then compare prices to everyone else in your area then change accordingly.

I get that too and I decline people I don’t feel comfortable with us well. The only real way to change this is to jack your price up, and don’t there are slow periods of the year.

Unless you are pricing quite high, cut out the beer and wine. If you are really catering for backpackers they’ll think its OK to party party down there. Plus it just eats away at your bottom line, its not worth it. There is no hard and fast rule with reviews my one advice is to wait until your guest reviews you, and if they have had terrible guests post a review at the very last minute.

Nothing much you can do about this either, you need to very clearly state in your house rules your way of living. I would suggest creating a guest book with rules etc in the room. Three weeks is also a very long time for guests to stay they are almost flatmates at this point. Personally, I only have a weeks max’ but we only Air our spare bedroom and don’t have a separate bathroom for guests. Over a week guests and can get to comfortable.

That’s called flytipping here in the UK and it is the local council/authorities problem to take away. I’ll give them a call.

Nope you need to have a deposit and $95 is not that much. They don’t charge the card.


These are of course all my opinions and other posters thoughts will be different!


#6

First of all be very very careful with accepting guests who have no permanent residence. As soon as I read your guests were apartment hunting and staying for 3 weeks, it through up a red flag for me. And then I read the part where they wanted to extend their stay which really got me worried. I know you said other guests are coming in. But many of these people with no home have researched and are aware of when they can legally become a tenant. Then you have to go through a lengthy eviction process to get them to leave. They prey on newbies too.

As far as finding guests that are a good match for you…start out the important things in your listing such as “This is an eco-friendly, recycling household and only rent to guests who fit with our values. Please read the entire listing and house rules before making a booking request.” - Or something similar to that. You need to get their attention right away so they don’t waste your time. Then when they put in a booking request you need to to confirm with them they understand all the house rules before accepting them. This will solve so many issues.

How much beer and wine are you leaving? Costs? And the snacks?

As far as Air’s pricing model I ignore it. Air suggests you lower your rates so Air can make money. They don’t care about you.


#7

Thank you Cabinhost and Kirsty Jane for adding to the helpful advice given by Konacoconutz. My apartment hunting guests found a place pretty fast and are just waiting for it to become available. They thanked me for hosting them when I reminded them about checkout time tomorrow and that we had new guests coming later in the day. I don’t think they’re trying to pull a scam or lying, but I am wary of that happening down the road, so I changed my reservations to 14 days max. Luckily, my recent requests since my first post have all been the types of guests I’m looking for that said they specifically booked our place because they liked that we have pet chickens, what we said about ourselves, etc. I’m feeling better about having guests read my listing and seek out the specific accommodations I’m offering without me having to lower my price.

The beer, wine, and snacks are from the bottom shelf of Trader Joe’s (two-buck chuck, granola bars, etc.), so I’m spending probably $5-7 per booking, on bookings where I’m making $150-$250.


#8

Update: My 3-week guests checked out early (leaving tonight instead of tomorrow), happy and smiling as they departed. They shamelessly left a big mess, but nothing I can’t clean up in a few hours and nothing permanent. They chipped some paint off the wall (about 2 square inches) and dented the drywall with a chair, but nothing we can’t spackle, sand, and paint over tomorrow morning before our next guests arrive. Since I didn’t ask for a deposit and I have everything I need to repair the damage, I don’t think I’ll go to the resolution center for reimbursement. Do you all charge your renters for chipped paint, or do you consider that normal wear-and-tear? I used to rent this room roommate-tenants and I always had to touch up paint after they moved, but they never chipped off this much (despite staying a year at a time, instead of three weeks!).


#9

Gosh, this is a tough one. Take photos before you clean it up. You have to go to resolution with claims and receipts within 48 hours… What on earth did they do that with furniture that was so bad and hard that it left a paint chip! don’t make excuses for these clods by saying oh, it’s easily fixed. Just NO. They weren’t careful with your house, caused damage and put you to extra time and trouble. This is not ok!!!
l[quote=“Xena, post:8, topic:2741”]
but nothing we can’t spackle, sand, and paint over tomorrow morning before our next guests arrive. S
[/quote]

I think this is a bad guest. Leaving a big mess is not cool. I wouldn’t leave a good review for them. I would mention the chipped paint and the mess in the review. Do it at the last minute --midnight in their time zone-- so they aren’t prompted to smack you before you can smack them.

I still think the wine, even a two buck chuck, is just an extra you don’t need to provide every time! And as I said, most of the time it doesn’t result in better reviews or even appreciation… so why do it?? Means extra time out of your day to go out and get it… etc. I just wouldn’t, but I understand your temptation to do so… I still just wouldn’t as I have learned these extras are not appreciated and take off your profit margin.


#10

Thank you for the validation! Today when I was cleaning, I also found a soft spot in the drywall in the bathroom that wasn’t there before these guests stayed. Maybe they weren’t using the shower curtain??? And some kind of food stain baked into the space heater!


#11

This is too bad, for you as a new host to have this. I would take photos and take it to resolution. I hope you have a deposit in place. Air is more likely to side with you if they see you are serious about making the guest (and not them) responsible for damages.

A space heater?? Ok I am in Hawaii, but aren’t space heaters a bit dangerous? Don’t tell me they were trying to BBQ something on your space heater!!!


#12

I didn’t have a security deposit in place because I was new and didn’t know any better, though I’ve added one now. If I put in a complaint to AirBnB when there is no damage deposit, does AirBnB pay for the damages or attempt to bill the guests? I still worry about a retaliatory bad review. I’ve definitely learned a lot from the experience and what types of guests I should reject. In addition to adding a deposit, I’ve updated my house rules to be more clear I expect people to take care of my home and pick up their trash off the floor and the like.

I keep my heat at 62 degrees Fahrenheit, but they asked for a space heater and like a chump I provided because I was new and so eager to provide. They would have went out and bought their own if I hadn’t, though, since they were buying stuff for their apartment while they were staying with me. I have an oil heater, which is the safest kind, but the giant warning label says not to run it within 3 feet of anything, and they kept leaving it on high, shoved against the wall, when they were out! I asked them to turn it off when they went out and sometimes they remembered, sometimes they didn’t. As for the spills, perhaps they did try to heat a meal or melt chocolate on it? It could also be BBQ sauce!!


#13

Good GRACIOUS! Does this story keep getting worse and worse or what! You asked them to turn off the heater and they didn’t comply???

I would take this to resolution right now. Call Air first though to open a case. Explain exactly the way you just did to me…you are a new host and just plead ignorance.

** I cannot believe they barbecued on your space heater!!! Are they 12 years old???**


#14

Xena, 62F is very low. Aren’t you cold yourself at night?
I would probably ask for heater too. I dont know but may be its the reason why they left it on? Because they did not want to get back home to a cold room?


#15

What heat any given person likes to keep their house at is very subjective, and I have read is a common source of disagreement in shared housing on AirBnB. I think a personal space heater may be a good solution so one can set their own temperature (and heat one room rather than the whole house), but I would prefer the safety instructions be followed. And of course that it not be used to cook!


#16

Of course not for cooking, but how can you even cook with it? Are you sure this is what they did?
Of course you can keep your house as cold as you want but 62f is sweaters and boots weather for me. But what do I know living in tropics.
With my 70+ guests I only had disagreement with 2 of them about house trmperature


#17

Just an update: I went to review my bad guests today, since they checked out 2 weeks ago today, but it seems the review period expired a day early. Air didn’t email me any reminder emails, either, after the first initial “Leave Z a review!” email. Darn it!


#18

I agree with everyone about there being no need to provide beer, wine or snacks. I have a candy dish in my bedroom and I provide breakfast items. They can help themselves but I don’t make breakfast. Because the room connects to my house I have offered guests to sit and have a beer or two with me or some wine. Sometimes I hit it off with them and we all enjoy it. No one should expect it though and I appreciate that guests don’t mention it in their reviews when it happens. Also I have the security deposit but never made a claim. I’ve been doing this about 2 years but I also board dogs in my home so that is a very prominent part of my listing. One one guest who left 3 stars didn’t seem to understand the dog situation here. So just make it clear it is a pet’s home too and you can attract pet lovers. I also allow guests with animals to stay here. Like everyone I don’t enjoy guests who hang around. In addition, because I have to balance boarding dogs with boarding humans I have a limit of three nights but I state that if someone needs a longer time, let me know and we’ll see if it could work. Don’t do instant book either. You need to screen your guests. I’ve had many many first timers and all good experiences but I do read what they’ve written and I ask questions before accepting them if I’m not sure.


Altcoin Fantasy - Crypto Fantasy Trading and Simulation Game - Win Bitcoin and Altcoins!