Remedies for unrentable unit due to smoking

I’m new to it all, so please be patient. We just started renting our newly constructed guest house. We have had a few interesting stays, but not real issues. This past week, back to back, we had 2 sets of bad guests. The most recent checked out today. We have a 760 sq ft loft, non smoking. I’m not sure the man ever left, it seems as if he smoked all day, all night. The cleaners were the first to contact us about the intense marijuana smell, and that nothing they did helped. On the way home, I picked up an air purifier, and when I got there, realized it was not going to do the trick. We have now scheduled a professional cleaner. We had to cancel tomorrow’s booking, as the cleaning will take 3 days. We are now out 2 nights, and potentially this weekends as well if the cleaning takes longer. We work through a 3rd party, who has insurance for the cleaning, but what about the lost reservations? Can we go after the bad guest?

Smoke “smell” is a tricky one, because you can’t prove a smell, nor photograph it, so the guest can just deny that they smoked inside. If there is evidence in the form of ashes or marijuana roaches or cigarette butts inside, photographing that could help.

You can file a claim for extra cleaning by a professional, the cost of an air purifier you had to buy to deal with it, but you won’t get compensated for the lost reservations.

And there is never any assurance that you will get paid. If the guest refuses to pay (and the reality is that guests who ignore house rules are not the type to agree to pay for the aftermath), you have to file an Aircover claim with Airbnb, which can be more time, trouble, and aggravation than it’s worth for minor damages or extra cleaning.

From other posts I have read over the years by hosts who have had to deal with guests smoking inside, there are types of air cleaners which remove all traces of odors within a few hours, although I couldn’t tell you which ones those are, as I am not familiar with them. For an entire house rental with an off-site host, it might be worth researching and having locked up somewhere to use if needed in the future. It isn’t just smoke smell that can be hard to remove- some guests may heavily douse with perfume, cook fish or strongly spiced food, the smell of which lingers, leave a garbage can full of poopy diapers, or even have some terrible body odor.

Also in your house rules, make sure to say not just no smoking, but no vaping, as well. Vaping marijuana can smell the place up, but vaping is not “smoking”- there is no smoke involved, it’s just water vapor. So make sure you address both in your rules.

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All of the curtains, carpets and any fabric items been cleaned?

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We are in the process. I asked our managing company about getting lost income, and they said they don’t handle it. “Proving the guest was the only one there was difficult”. It’s a bit easier to prove with digital locks & cameras, but it would be an out of state small claims case. I think my irritation gets the better of me.

I don’t know if you take back-to back bookings, i.e. same day turnovers, but if you do, you might consider using the “one day prep time” setting, which will block one night between bookings (the wording for this setting is confusing, it makes it sound like it will block two nights between bookings, but it doesn’t- it only blocks one). So if there are any heavy duty cleaning issues, or damages that need to be dealt with before the next guest checks in, you at least have some time to deal with it.
This may seem like limiting your potential earnings, but as you’ve found out, having to cancel upcoming guests, and scramble to get the place acceptable again may balance out with losing a night’s profit.


I thought I remember a while back where hosts here said the smell of marijuana smoke goes away very quickly on it’s own?

I’ve read that an ozone generator will remove the smoke smell but all living things need to be removed from property whole in use and for time afterward.

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Yes, I think it’s an ozone machine. Not only can there be no living thing in there during and after use (I’m not sure about plants), but I think the place needs to be aired out with fresh air for a period of time afterward. Definitely something one needs to do adequate safety research on before using.

ozone machine works a treat. highly recommend.
And you can charge a guest the extra fee for having to use it, it’ll pay itself off in no time.
approx 20mins per room, plus another 20-60mins airing time (really depends on airflow)

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when i was researching ozone machines i learned that pot growers use them to kill bugs in soil. I have left plants in the room and not noticed any plant death, but i never run the machine longer than 20mins.

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If you use an ozone generator, read about it carefully. We considered getting one early in the pandemic, but both of our guest rooms have hand-painted murals in them. They would have been damaged.


Yes, lots of people seem to have that experience, others say not. I imagine it depends on whether the pot was very strong smelling and resiny, whether someone just smoked one joint in there or the smell was just on their clothing, or sat inside smoking constantly, how much absorbent material there is in the unit, whether the guest kept the windows open or not, and some people are much more sensitive to smells than others.

You also can’t discount the psychological aspects of tastes and smells. My neighbor had a glass of water one day, and thought it tasted a bit funny. He went and looked in his well and saw a big dead frog floating around. He almost puked, removed the frog, dumped some bleach in the well, and changed the filters on his whole house water filtration system, but said he couldn’t get the taste out his mouth for a week, even though it couldn’t actually have been there anymore. So if someone detects a smell that is overpowering or disgusting to them, they may still perceive the smell as persisting after a thorough cleaning, when someone else could walk in and not smell anything.

I bought activated charcoal, based on a recommendation on this site 2 years (s) ago. Didn’t end up using it for the lingering perfume smell in the room. We tried everything else, including rinsing the duvet and sheets in vinegar.

Turns I had grabbed my normal detergent, but the variety labeled “fresh scent” - which it definitely was NOT!

Just wondering if you explained to the upcoming guests about if the smell would bother them. I just wonder if the inconvenience of a smell is worse than having you accommodations cancelled so close to your trip.

That’s quite true. Not everyone minds the smell of marijuana. Wouldn’t bother me or most of the guests I get, unless it was really overpowering.