Please help blocked sewer

Dear fellow hosts. My current guest contacted me and said all the toilets are not flushing and sinks not draining. I’m onsite now and I found only slow draining in the toilets and showers. Kitchen and laundry sinks are normal. I have called a plumber in and waiting for him.

My question, it seems to me it is possible guests flushed something which are not supposed to be flushed into the toilet. I’m not saying they must have done that, I just think it is one of the possibilities.
What happens if plumber can not fix this quickly? Do I relocate the guests and refund their unstayed nights? Or even all nights?
If plumber later tells me it is something flushed into toilet that causes the problem. Do I get a chance claiming the plumber fee from Airbnb? Thanks for your advises!

Btw, the guests have stayed for three nights and today is the fourth day.

Just wait to see what the plumber pulls out of the system.

If this is the 3rd day, most likely the guests are responsible.
I would definitely notify AirBnB of this issue, tell them it is the 3rd night and the problem has not been there before.

AirBnB will not pay anything, you will have to claim this from your guests.

Yeah I would call and let Airbnb know and perhaps put something in your rules about putting stuff down the toilet that isn’t TP

Thank you Chris and thank you Kirsty! It turns out nothing to do with my guests. It is a problem not only on my property but also on my neighbours’ property. It took a few hours for the plumber to come and found out it was not their jurisdiction, and he contacted the water company. The staff from water company fixed the problem for all of us, and he discovered it was caused by tree roots. He said it is very common problem, it may occur once a year or once every 10 years. There is no way to prevent this from happening, and there is no way to know which tree caused the problem. It is a bit weird cause we have no big trees around our properties, so may be from further away.
Anyway, my guests were unable to use toilets or shower for five hours. It is awful and I offered to refund them one night, and they seem ok with what I proposed.
I know this kind of thing will happen again in the future, but I truly wish it doesn’t occur too frequently.
I just found being a host is quite challenging. There are many issues to deal with, but I hope I will get used to all this.

One thing though, I submitted the refund request and the system told me “$195 will be deducted from your next payout and sent to xxx”. I don’t have reservation until next month so I asked the guest if it is ok for them to wait but they prefer the refund earlier. So I’m going to call Airbnb tomorrow morning to see if I can do a bank transfer to Air and Air pays my guest earlier. Does anyone know if this is possible?

Actually, I would not have offered a refund so easily.
This is “force majeure”, there was no way you could have known this or prevented this, and the problem was outside your property. You did everything in your power to solve the issue as soon as possible.

You are probably right! My husband just educated me about this :joy: But I have done so already, I have to honour what came out of my mouth. Next time (hopefully never) I would call water company directly and hopefully my guests do not expect refund if things are fixed quickly.

The inspection shaft is actually located in my garden, though it serves several properties nearby. From the guests’ perspective, they may think it is problem with my property, but they never blamed me and they totally understand it was not my fault.

Roots growing into a drainage system is quite common in some areas. For a 5 hour delay I wouldn’t have offered a refund.

You’ve misunderstood how the refund system works. Your guest gets their refund immediately. You have to pay Airbnb back however, as you now owe them money. That comes out of your next payout. Airbnb is the one who waits in effect they’ve extended you credit.

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Hi Zandra, thanks a lot for the clarification!

Hi Ken, thank you! I have never encountered such problem and I have only hosted for less than a month. Next time I would know how to deal with this. I have lots of big trees on my main residence and I have never had a blockage due to tree roots for many years. The rental property however had no big trees at all, not even many small trees around, but the plumber from the water company said it could be from somewhere else. Several properties share the shaft located in my garden.

My internet went out once and I gave some refund, I don’t remember the amount. Another time workers came at 7 am making a lot of noise. I gave another partial refund. If my plumbing were to be blocked in just the guest bathroom I have another bathroom across the hall from their room they could use. If all were blocked I would offer a refund. There isn’t one right answer.

For me, I offer a refund because that’s what feels “right” for me. If you don’t need to do this, don’t. And you should realize that what review you get isn’t dependent on your choice. One partial refund person gave me 3 stars, the other gave me 5. But it makes sense that not refunding is more likely to negatively impact your review.

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If you want to do something, give them a bottle of wine or a box of chocolates or something else.
It will give the guest a feeling of compensation, but saves you a lot of money.

Also giving them things instead of just a refund, gives them compensation at the moment of their stay and to the whole group, instead of some cash on the bank that most of the group will never see.


On the subject of refunds, I might have offered half a night on that one because they were not impacted a full 24 hours. Every case is different. I was just away on holiday when the guests called saying they were cancelling because they claimed there were bugs crawling in the bed. It’s highly unlikely but to save the reservation I had the sheets changed, the room cleaned again and gave one night off. They seemed happy with that. Right before I returned home, they wrote again saying there were too many bugs outside and they wanted more money off. I felt they were taking advantage of me at that point. When I got home, I didn’t see evidence of lots of bugs and opened a case with Air, because they had left the apartment in atrocious shape. The Air rep, while helpful, still encouraged me to give more off ( you are essentially doing their customer service work for them by refunding.) so I gave a token $25 more and am writing up a bad review for the guests.,I cannot mention the case that was settled and can only mention the bad shape of the apartment and the trash they left everywhere, and the house rules and instructions that were not followed.

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