One way the "double-blind" review process may be unfair to hosts

Most rental sites that allow both host and guest to review each other work on the double-blind system for obvious reasons. They don’t want the review of one to negatively (or positively) directly affect the other’s review. This is most understandable but there is one issue about this I wanted to throw out there that I have noticed to see if any other hosts had the same concern.

One of the aspects we are to rate guests on is their Communication. That means if there was something wrong or needed fixing or that they had any issue with that they will relay it to the host, especially if it is something significant in their mind to impact their review. While we have guests sign their checkout sheet saying they have reported any issues to the host (along with acknowledging that they have performed the short list of basic checkout chores), some have signed it and checked items off that they did not perform, as if the goal was simply to check off boxes.

If a guest has absolutely no complaint, or if there is something needing attention they did not inform us about, that is considered poor communication. It is therefore unfair to knock down the host or rental in their review about an item that is too late to be addressed or even verified if true.

Guests of ours from a month ago left the place in great shape and there were no issues or communication from them (even though the night before they departed they completely ignored our text asking how their stay went and if there is anything that wasn’t working or that we should know about whatsoever), so we gave them 5 stars across the board. We should have been a bit wary of the fact they ignored our text because now we know why.

Had we seen their review first we would have given them 1 star for poor communication. They made allegations that were false (AC wasn’t working which it was fine with no reports or complaints), calling the carpet “shag” which it is not, and just being negative without explanation. They even went so far as to fault certain decor that was exactly as depicted in the photos when they booked! This to me is unreasonable, especially since we have a long string of satisfied guests who left 5-star reviews, especially for that 2 bed/2 bath premium poolside unit at prices starting at $65/nt). They most likely knew they were being unreasonable and extremely nitpicky (at best), or dishonest (at worst) which is why they didn’t report anything while here, even when directly asked by us.

The one thing that was indeed an issue was the electronic lock that worked perfectly their first five days here, but sensed a low battery the last two days so wasn’t locking correctly. Of course they did not report it (new battery takes a minute to change) but instead their solution was to leave the place unlocked when gone (including at checkout) then claim that “the lock didn’t work” in their unfair review".

BOTTOM LINE: I feel it is unfair to have to award the guest a Communication score when that all depends if their review makes claims that they never disclosed and/or are untrue. In that case we should be able to reflect that in our review of the guest, but of course we have no way of doing so until we read their review which is obviously too late. Have any of you encountered a similar unexpected ambush in a review?

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But I tend to think that you are putting the onus on your guests a bit too much. Asking them to report anything not working implies that you (or your co-host) haven’t checked before they arrived.

It’s similar to the battery - it’s a good idea to change all batteries at the same time. The frequency will vary from rental to rental. We change them all - locks, remotes, smoke alarms, etc - on more or less the same day every year. So again, I would have seen that as something the host should have attended to.

I really don’t like (sorry) your checkout sheet and the fact that guests have to sign it agreeing that they’ve reported issues and done their checkout chores. It’s as though they’re not being treated as humans but as naughty kids.

However, that’s just me and not really what you were asking about.

I do see your point in the above example about communication but I wonder if you have an idea for an alternative to the double-blind system? I can’t think of one.

Communication is a strange one anyway. Some hosts want and expect a lot of communication but I believe that’s mostly before the stay, rather than during.

I often read here about guests who leave reviews that, according to the hosts, are untrue and wonder why they would lie.


BTW, I don’t understand why describing the carpet as shag is worthy of a mention by either party.


Can’t speak for guest intention. It’s rare but does happen. I’m a little surprised at how incredulous you are I must say. I guess you’ve never heard of people blaming others for their own inequities. Can’t figure something out? Blame the host or the item for not working, not yourself for either A) not asking for help or B) not knowing how to do something basic and assigning blame in order to save face.

I can’t speak to your disapproval of our checkout sheet, since its necessity not only seems obvious, but is explained by this very experience if anyone didn’t already grasp the concept and reason for it.

Not sure how long you’ve been doing this but every rule or policy we enact is out of experience or necessity, not just for fun. And like I said, these types of guests are the exception, not the rule.

Expect regular communication from the guest in general? No. Expect that if they can’t lock the door that they let us know and do not leave the place unsecured? Yes. Expect if they are going to make claims that bother them so much that that mention it in a review that it would bother them enough to report while here or have it addressed and resolved in general, much less when it is something they agree to do and are irate enough to write about it? Yes again.

I’m afraid we’ll have to agree to completely disagree on this one, but thanks for the response.

Well, it isn’t obvious to me, I’m afraid, and hasn’t been so during my many years in this industry. That’s included in-home (in the UK) and separate rentals (in the US).

It’s been my job (full-time mostly but part-time only for about fifteen years) since the early eighties.

What’s more, I have been very successful despite not having, ever, the ‘obvious’ requirement of a checkout sheet.

Weird, that.


I can see the need for YOU or your cleaners to have a ‘checkout sheet’ - you have many responsibilities as a host and failing to complete something like changing batteries on the main source of entry/exit on your property sets you up for a mention in the guest’s review.


This seems to be something that a lot of hosts lean on but I don’t think it should be stated as fact. I also think it’s foolish to count on it.

Reviews are inherently subjective. They are also intended to be subjective as stated by Airbnb. And something like communication is particularly subjective. Some hosts rate communication based on specific communication they desire like arrival time or understanding the house rules. Some hosts just want a lot of communication. Some want as little as possible. And some hosts, like myself, rate communication based on whether or not it was pleasant.

As a guest, I am loath to contact a host during a stay. I won’t do it unless it’s necessary. Of course, I will contact you if you need to protect your property, like if there’s a broken pipe. If it’s something I can’t live without like a broken refrigerator then I will contact you. And I won’t hold it against you because it’s not your fault. Refrigerators break, I totally get it.

But I’m not going to contact you to tell you that the bathroom is dirty. If the bathroom is dirty I’m going to clean it myself and then deduct for it in the review because that shouldn’t happen. It should’ve been checked. And it sure as heck shouldn’t inconvenience me further by having to contact you about it during my stay. I don’t owe you that as a guest. You as a host owe me a clean bathroom upon arrival.


LOL, yeah because every host knows when every one of the dozens of batteries in ever rental needs changing right …seriously??

Funnily enough, not only have almost every host we talked to or network with used a checkout list but not one guest has ever objected to it out of thousands. What a strange thing to keep bringing up, but whatever. That was not the subject of this post.

Absofknglutely. There’s a spreadsheet and the time to change them is on the calendar. We change each floor all at once to simplify things. It will take less of your time to keep up with it than to deal with poor reviews because of it. I’m pretty sure every home owner has a system for this without doing Airbnb. I’m honestly surprised.


So, like you, I also ask the guest to let me know if anything needs our attention. I AM hopeful that a guest will let us know if anything is amiss but the truth is that they are not the quality control team. If they don’t advise us of something I don’t ding them for it because that’s not their job.

I have once been ‘ambushed’ by a guest not letting me know about something in real time and then hearing about it in a review. Like you, I don’t like that and it strikes me as unfair.

Another time I wasn’t at all ambushed, not in a negative way – here’s what happened. A water sensor under the kitchen sink went off. The guest asked what to do. I said to put in a dry spot above the sink and within five minutes it would stop beeping. When we went in after they checked out the sensor was on the counter still beeping (so annoyingly). I asked the guess what happened. They said it wouldn’t stop. I asked why they didn’t tell me. “They didn’t want to bother me.” This guest ambushed us with a five star review and no complaints, not even privately.

Some people just don’t want to ‘complain,’ interact , however you describe it. I SHOULD have written back to ask whether the problem was solved. I keep learning as a co-Host.

But I can also imagine a scenario where something was ‘amiss’ in the guest’s mind but chose not to bring it up for whatever reason (it’s a small thing, don’t want to complain, fearful that they might get a rude response that might set them off, don’t like ‘confrontation’, shy). But then either something else happens or they notice something else, so it is now in a larger context. Or they discuss it with a member of the group who now chimes in that they didn’t like it either.

We don’t know what happens that makes them later mention it. Like you – I want to get a chance to correct the issue in real time for the guest’s benefit as much as mine, we just don’t always get that chance. [Cue Hyman Roth: This . . . is . . , the business . . . .that we’ve chosen."]

[quote=“SWLinPHX, post:1, topic:55664”]
While we have guests sign their checkout sheet saying they have reported any issues to the host
[/quote] [Emphasis added.]

Whoa! Well, this could be the smoking gun right here! You have guests SIGN the checkout sheet?? Well, I wouldn’t much care for that as a guest. Maybe that’s just me but if feels a little bullying. I’ve got to tell you I wouldn’t like it at all. I never agreed to sign anything and now you’re trying to ‘lock’ in admissions? This alone could trigger complaints about things I would never otherwise complain about. But that’s me.


@SWLinPHX I understand what you are saying, but I guess we just have to regard the “Communication” category as pertaining to their communication from booking to check-out. Sure, if things were wrong enough, in their opinion, to mention in the review, they absolutely should have given the host an opportunity to address it during the stay.

But since we can’t know what they will put in the review beforehand, I don’t see how this type of poor communication could be noted, aside from leaving a review response along the lines of, “Guests are expected to bring any issues encountered during the stay to the host’s attention when the issues become evident. Most issues can be remedied right away if hosts are given the opportunity to do so. It’s unfair for guests to complain in the review about things that would have not been an issue if the guests had bothered to communicate during their stay.”

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Sorry but again I don’t see that at all. Yes, they are signing that they complete the checkout that is required. Signing something that indicates they did the most basic but required items is not at all an infringement not only according to me, but all the other hosts I’ve spoken to over 20 years about it and every guest we have had (while we have had the occasional odd complaint, that was never one of them, including the guests I am referring to). And again, I would’ve explained why, although I thought it was obvious and never heard this kind of incredulity before today, but this very post explains it in and of itself, that they lock the door and report issues, etc. and this is exactly what they said they did by agreeing but did not. Which is the whole point of the checklist. I seriously can’t believe I have to keep explaining this.

Again, no idea what “spreadsheet” you are talking about. While I am amazed how you seem to know everything we have and how it works, if you’re batteries come with a spreadsheet we’ve never heard of that. And we’ve never ever heard of anyone expecting a host or anyone to know when any battery will go low. There is no fixed period because it depends on usage so they can last a year or two or three. Now if you what you meant is that we should check all batteries, TV operation, telephones, etc. before arrival and between bookings (although that’s something many don’t do that I always say they should) then yes, that is something we do do. And yes, all was working fine before they checked in and during their stay until one battery went low their last two days as I already explained. Never ever had a problem with guests mentioning needing a replacement for even a remote control or any other issue nor any other replacing the battery, much less something as important as locking the front door. But no, it is definitely not okay to leave the place unlocked and unsecured due to negligence or failure to notify the host. And they would be responsible for any loss of items if it were their fault. Again, am I really explaining this? Truly can’t believe it. :man_facepalming:

I am sorry you don’t see the need for guests to perform basic things upon checking out and you’re the first I’ve heard that does not, but I am glad you are comfortable with guests leaving your place insecure and unlocked and that you assume all blame. But since I’ve never heard of such a thing until today, forgive me if I completely disregard that very strange attitude.

It was simply their attempt to be as critical and nitpicky as possible. They made an extra effort to complain about things in their review that no one has ever complained about over many years, just not (as this post explains) an effort to mention any complaints to us while here, when it counts or can be addressed. Even common sense things they agreed to.

Thank you muddy. Exactly what I’m saying which I thought was obvious – and still do from re-reading my initial post.

Yes, that’s the point of this entire post. If they indicate things they never communicate after the fact in a review that speaks to poor (or nonexistent) communication.

Which of course I did in my response.

Those are all valid reasons for why guests might not report an issue. But being shy or not wanting to be seen as a complainer and then suddenly not being too shy or reticent to slam the host in the review is just cowardly and rude.

I do agree with JJD’s point that there are some issues I wouldn’t bother alerting the host to during the stay, because they are things that make it obvious the host is slacking on being generally responsible, and I’d save it for a review.

For instance, a moldy shower stall doesn’t get that way in a matter of a day or two, so even if the host is trying out a new cleaner who wasn’t thorough, that mold isn’t the result of one poor cleaning. Likewise if the pillows were old and flat or the pans provided scratched-up non-stick with old kitchen utensils in poor condition- it’s up to hosts or their property managers to pay attention to things like that, not wait until a guest complains to go buy and deliver new pillows or a new frying pan or offer to send someone over to clean the mold off the shower.

It’s not just a checklist, but a SIGNED checklist.

“Whatsoever.” So you’re really covering yourself. Are you a lawyer?

On the signed check-out thing, do you disclose this in the listing? Do you say something like “Upon checkout you will be given a check-out checklist that requires you to sign that you have completed specified check-out tasks and have satisfied your commitment to disclose any problem that arise in real time, and apprise us of anything not working or that we should know about whatsoever.”

I’ll have some fun by suggesting you add: “You also agree not to mischaracterize our carpets (they are NOT ‘shag’), fault décor that was accurately depicted in the listing or critique without explanation.”

Seriously, I think you would not put this SIGNED checklist requirement in your listing because you know it’s off-putting.

I know you think the signed checklist thing is tangential, and maybe it is for most of your guests. But you’re getting feedback here that a few us find the signed aspect of this off-putting. For us it’s not tangential. The very fact that you ‘do not see it’ is the point. Look, I’m not saying that I have the ‘correct’ reaction to your signed check-out statement requirement. My reaction and those of others here are data points for you to consider.

No problem with a check-out checklist. Explain the signing requirement and whether you disclose that in your listing. If not, why?


You don’t think you are being a little over-sensitive maybe? If you’ve got loads of great reviews, don’t you think that it’s possible that potential guests have the sense to see that one weird one doesn’t really matter?


Your response here feels sarcastic. Members here are trying to help even though you might disagree or not like to hear what they have to say. I can’t believe I have to say this (to use your condescending phrase) but many Hosts change batteries according to a schedule, understanding that the batteries might not need to be changed but that it is better to err on the side of replacing too early than too late.

So is your test of a binary nature: the batteries are working or they are not? Or do you use a battery tester to test how much power is left?

I suspect that you’re testing just whether they worked in that moment. But in the life of every battery that became dead there was a moment before when it worked. This is why many Hosts replace batteries earlier than absolutely needed (like with a spreadsheet). Some use rechargeable batteries to avoid waste.

Whose negligence?

You installed batteries that died when you could have tested the batteries for their remaining strength. Or replaced them periodically. Do you just wait for them to die before you replace them?

“Failure to notify the host”? That would have been nice for the guest to do. Did they contract to do that? Is it in your listing “It is your responsibility to notify the Hosts immediately if the batteries for the locks fail. Failure to do so is negligence.” It’s not in your listing and you know why.

You need to take responsibility. Call it “guest proofing,” hospitality or taking responsibility. Call it what you will but don’t blame this guest.


Er, no, that is not what I said and no you shall not mischaracterize my comment. I never said I don’t see the need for guests to perform things upon checking out. I am of course not comfortable with the negative scenarios you mentioned but the guest is not the responsible one here - you should be.

I have a few ‘rules’ I use for myself as a host: first, I have a spreadsheet I use (like many here) to schedule routine things. Things like buying new towels, or, as in your case, simply replacing batteries on a schedule. On my smart locks, I use my app which reads out their percentage left, but it is just as ‘safe’ to replace batteries every few months - I cannot imagine letting things go or as in your case assuming that a lock battery will work into the future because it is working today.

Second, I keep my ears open for new thoughts and ideas. Sometimes what you always do is ultimately not the best way.

Third, anything that requires a guest to do something that is not ‘automatic’ for them or is a ‘new thing’ has to be changed. For example, if your handle in the bathroom is loose, don’t expect the guest to live with it or even tell you, just fix it. If you seem to need more TP then simply put an extra roll in the BR, don’t send them a list saying to let you know when it runs low.

Lastly, and this is the one ‘rule’ I take most to heart, is to always step back and take advice. Seriously, your guest had a valid complaint. Guests are not there to solve problems or be the host’s eyes and ears. Your job was to give the guest working technology. Yes, things happen, things fail unexpectedly, etc, but this was so easily preventable that I can’t side with you on something like this.

As airbnb is trying to eliminate hosts who have ‘chore lists’ (we have heard of hosts asking to mop floors etc) you should widen your circle of influence and at the same time narrow your focus on the guest. Sending them a list of ‘to dos’, as you are being told, will not end well for you. I suggest you rethink what you ‘require’ of a guest and take over those responsibilities.


@SWLinPHX Just wanted to point out that it can go the other way, too. There are guests who wrote lovely 5 star reviews for places they stayed, only to find that the host unfairly slammed them in the review.

One of my guests told me about a homeshare stay she had in Europe. The host offered full kitchen use in her ad, and as my guest and her boyfriend loved to cook and eat healthy meals, they prepared breakfast at home before setting out for their days of adventuring, and made dinners in the evening when they got home. They cleaned up after themselves (as she did when she used my kitchen).

The host slammed her in the review, saying they “overused” the kitchen. My guest said she was broadsided- this was a homeshare- she said, “If we were in the way of her preparing her own meals, why didn’t she just talk to us about it- we would have been happy to comply with some kitchen schedule so as not to be in the host’s way. Instead she was apparently seething with hidden irritation during our stay and slammed us in the review.”

There are plenty of hosts who are loathe to speak to a guest about unacceptable or irritating behavior during a stay, in fear of triggering a “revenge” review. They say nothing, smile sweetly when the guest checks out, saying how lovely it was to have them, then turn around and leave the guest a bad review and ratings.


Airbnb tells guests to notify their hosts first about issues so the host has an opportunity to address it. It’s basic guest etiquette.

Aside from situations where it’s obvious the place is generally neglected, if an issue is worth mentioning in the review, the host should be given a chance to rectify it, IMO. I certainly wouldn’t have ignored the non-working door lock and just left the place unsecured.

Even if a host replaces all batteries on a regular schedule, a battery could be defective, a guest could spill water on a remote, causing the battery to corrode, or a guest might remove the batteries to use in some device of their own, and when they then stick them back in whatever they removed them from, they may have used up almost all the charge.

It takes 30 seconds to shoot the host a text saying something stopped working. Guests who choose not to do so should also choose to not complain about it in a review.

Well, that would be nice but the guest is not required to do so and ‘failure’ to do so is not negligence.

Airbnb says this:

They suggest, not require that the guest contact the Host ‘first’ – that is, before contacting Airbnb. This guest did not contact Airbnb about the lock. They’re not required to do so. They have no obligation to diagnose why the lock was not working or even message the Host that the lock or any other device is not working.

The simple solution is for this Host to replace the batteries periodically.

“IMO” In your opinion. Again, that’s nice. Guests will do as they choose to do. Maybe these guests have violated your code of guest etiquette. How is that working out for this Host? IMO, presenting a guest with a check-out checklist that they are asked to sign is a game changer.

How long does it take the Host to change batteries periodically?

What does it say about the Host’s sense of care and hospitality that they apparently wait to change the batteries only when they die?

That they shift the burden of maintenance to the guest to send a message when the batteries die and then to make a signed statement that they have done so?

Why do the guests have to suffer this inconvenience? Why doesn’t the Host just change the batteries??


The OP never said he always waits to change batteries until they die. You all are making assumptions. As I said, there are other reasons why something can cease to function besides the host not being on top of things.

There are plenty of things that both guests and hosts don’t have an “obligation” to do. But good guests and good hosts do many of those things anyway.

I don’t understand why some of you are focusing on the OP’s signed check-out list. That wasn’t the topic of his post, nor is it what these guests complained about in their review. As far as I’m aware, this host has been renting out several places for several years. While I wouldn’t have such a thing, and many hosts would concur that it’s over-the-top, if his signed check-out list had been something his guests objected to and wrote bad reviews about, I imagine he would have scrapped it by now.

Different things work for different hosts, there’s no one-size-fits-all. Some hosts have a long list of house rules and consider that necessary. I have basically none and have never found it necessary. Some hosts consider any sort of attempt to educate guests about the Airbnb rating system to be tacky and chastize other hosts for doing so. But some hosts have managed to convey some kind of ratings “education” and found it has served them well- that their ratings improved since they started doing it.

If a host finds their guests are complaining about something or marking them down about it, of course the host needs to look at that and make changes. But if something is working for them, there’s no reason for them to take onboard advice from other hosts that what they are doing is wrong.