Reviewing an overly demanding guest

Which is sadly true. I’m not a fastidious, OCD person at all, I can let dirty dishes pile up for 2 days when I’m here alone, but I’ve been shocked at the squalor some people live in. Not talking the poverty stricken, and you’d never know they live like pigs to see them- they dress well, have good personal hygiene, are educated and intelligent.

But their homes are a constant disaster zone.

Hi @HostAirbnbVRBO,

Thank you for your thoughts and feedback.

Well, I see your point, but it seems an overly legalistic approach to the issue.

It seems to me that most people would agree that insect infestations as well as leaving the A/C on all the time are problems, whether or not they are explicitly mentioned or not. In the case of the ants, it’s perhaps excusable once, especially if one is not aware of conditions in subtropical/tropical climates, but with this guest it happened repeatedly.

To try a reductio ad absurdum here, if a guest decided that it would add to the enjoyment of his stay to chase me around the house with a meat cleaver, this would be likely to make it into the guest’s review, assuming I survived the experience. But my house rules say nothing about meat cleavers.

And I write house rules in the listing, as well as the guest guide, and they do differ (the guest guide version is longer). So, do I need to keep them synced? How do others handle this?

My listings house rules and guest guide house rules both mention turning off the A/C. But as regards cleanliness, my guest guide says quite a lot about not leaving food trash in the room, etc, but my listings version only says “Please leave the room tidy on departure.” Also, I nowhere write that guests can’t eat in the room, which I think would be unreasonably constricting.

I guess I could add a line about cleanliness in my listings house rules, but I’m a bit concerned that if I make it too long, it will put off prospective guests.


I have very detailed House Rules, which explicitly state the activities not permitted in the rooms (no smoking, no hanging of wet garments on radiators, no eating in rooms, and so on). I actively want to discourage guests who will treat my home like a pig sty, as cleaning up after them is much more effort, not to mention damage to furnishings. “Good” guests will not be put off by long house rules, in fact I think they are encouraged as they can be confident the host takes pride in their property.


Yes, some hosts seem to think they have to add a new rule every time a guest does something objectionable, regardless of whether they’ve hosted 200 guests who have never done any such thing before. Then they end up with a ridiculously long list of rules that make them look like some micro-managing control freak you’d be afraid to book with.

If a guest forgets to turn the AC or lights off when they go out, that’s irritating, but common. Part and parcel of being in the hospitality business.
If they ignore reminders to turn it off, requests not to leave food in their room- generally ignoring everything that is asked of them, putting out the attitude that they can do whatever they want, that moves from the realm of forgetful to the realm of entitled and disrespectful.

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Hi @muddy,

Yes, I just mentioned that the guest is European. I didn’t want to disclose more details out of a vague feeling of protecting the guest’s privacy. But I guess it doesn’t really matter. The guest is from Finland.

I don’t know anything about the guest’s background, but he didn’t give me the impression of coming from a particularly privileged background. And I expect you would have to be super-rich in Finland to be able to afford domestic help. Though who knows, maybe he was the only son in his family.

As regards the shouting, I guess my main objection to it was that is seemed overly familiar, not to say inconsiderate. It seems like the sort of thing people might do within a family, and maybe when I was part of some sort of family we did it too. It’s been a long time so I don’t really remember.

But it’s interesting that this happens in Mexico. I’ve never noticed it happening regularly anywhere I’ve lived. It certainly isn’t common behavior in India.

Hi Faheem!

Well, yes, on the reductio ad absurdam example, you wouldn’t have to put that in your rules. But that could be simply an argument against reductionism. Many Hosts have rules against illegal activity, which would cover that (assault). In the U.S. where a house could be seized (maybe recent laws changed this) if illegal activity was launched from a home you could LOSE YOUR HOME – all without a court procedure – it seems a wise precaution, succinct too.

But your point is a fair one. One objective is to satisfy Airbnb, and I get the impression from Hosts here that they like to look at your rules. Another objective is to educate the unsuspecting/clueless guest. You’ll find that many Hosts have rules against eating in their rooms, though I don’t know if that is reasonable given your setup.

You raise a good point on whether you need to synch the guide with the rules. Like you, I don’t, for which I expect that I might get some feedback from Hosts here. ‘How do others handle this?’ I long to hear! Great question, and you and I are in the right place to hear.

Yes, my guide and my messages are more explicit (and wordy) than the rules in my listing, which I understand might limit me in redress through Airbnb and the courts. But I am not entirely counting on either except in the most egregious circumstances, and even then I am counting less on them than my Proper commercial insurance policy. You and I might get schooled by others here, which though painful is often worth it in the end.

I am more focused on prevention than satisfaction with Airbnb or in the courts. I am more willing to believe that if I am fair, give adequate heads up that most all my guests will be people of goodwill who will respond accordingly. I understand that the is not 100%, which is why I have a good insurance policy and why I try to communicate in a way that is clear and not off-putting.

To me ‘tidy’ means well organized, no clutter, trash in the trash bin.

It’s not wordy to say ‘No eating in your bedrooms.’ OR 'Eat only in [fill in blank]; ant infestations are common in area when food is not [fill in blank]. Candidly, I wonder whether my younger self would hear complaints about ants as your problem if I felt that I followed your rules. I might think you were playing me. If I don’t ‘leave’ trash in the room, do you tell me where to put it? Is it OK to leave for just a day? Immediately? Is this all clear to the clueless guest?

Maybe some Hosts here have suggestions about that,

I mean ‘What did this guy DO that caused the infestation?’ You seem to be implying that there was an infestation. Therefore he is guilty. QED. Did he throw food on the floor? You talk about the effect as if that proves the cause.

Hi @muddy,

Thank you for the ant killer recipe. Do you use it yourself, and does it work reliably for you? I’ll try it if ant problems recur. (The guest today was eating in the room, and I got a bit panicky.) Presumably you need to use multiple paper towels in different locations. How many paper towels do you use? My guest room is a 12 ft by 12 ft room.

Hi @gypsy,

Thanks for your suggestions. I used some of your wording in my final version.

Though I wouldn’t go as far as to say he was rude to my staff. Or anyone, really. That wasn’t something I was said, though maybe you inferred it from something.

BTW, I see that there seems to be a tendency here, at least, to assume that shorter reviews are automatically better. While Shakespeare did (probably) write “brevity is the soul of wit” (Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2), I don’t see why it should be the soul of an Airbnb guest review. Isn’t more detail better, in order to give other prospective hosts, who are presumably the main audience of such a review, more information in order for them to make up their minds?

It’s a good idea to try to express things more concisely, other things being equal, and I do tend to be excessively wordy. I used to be worse. But a review doesn’t really seem like the place to stint.

Case in point, @HostAirbnbVRBO. I don’t think trimming things as much as possible is some sort of Holy Grail. Context and detail matter too.

An admirably concise version, @PitonView, managing to pack a lot of information in a few words. But I feel I must be missing something here. Are people who read reviews super busy? Are more words really a bad thing? It’s not like I’m paying for it per word. Nor are they.

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I haven’t used it myself, but was posted by someone on a Mexican forum I follow, who has had total success with it.

I don’t know that you would have to put multiple ones in a 12x12 room- it seems like the ants would be attracted to it because of the sugar, just as they would make a beeline for a pile of cookie crumbs. Ants don’t just wander around aimlessly looking for things they like- they have a hive mind and if there is some attractant, they will all go to it.
But it would seem most logical to place the bait closest to where the ants are entering, i.e doors or windows.

There are lots of ants where I live, but in my experience, they don’t come in the house to any great extent unless they have a specific purpose for doing so- either food or food residue, or in the case of some big black ants we have here, to find a place to hide and care for their eggs.

My cleaner found scores of those ants, with hundreds of eggs, under the couch cushion which sits on a concrete platform and I found the same thing going on in a wooden box I keep boardgame pieces in.

When I see random ants of those type running around inside, as opposed to a trail of ants, I know those are the scouts, looking for a hidey hole to deposit and tend their eggs.

Another time there was an ant invasion that was horrific, like some biblical plague. I was upstairs and a friend who was staying with me started screaming downstairs. There was a swath of large ants, almost a meter wide, and coming and coming with seemingly no end to the army. Millions of them. They were swarming up my terrace steps, up and over the dining table out there, through the kitchen door, across the kitchen, up the cupboards and out the window.

Within 10 minutes there was no sign of them- they were just passing through, taking a shortcut to wherever they were headed.

As a host, I wouldn’t want ants in the house, as it’s cause for guest freak-out and bad reviews. But when I’m here alone, ants that come in to eat crumbs or gather around a food spill don’t bother me at all- they don’t carry disease and I consider them to be nature’s cleaners. They feast and leave.
Of course, if they are biting, stinging ants, and you need to remove them, that’s a pain, literally.

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Hi @muddy,

Thank you for your thoughts.

I don’t have strong feelings about ants, though I know many do. I’m also not bothered by spiders, though I think negative feelings about spiders are not uncommon (Arachnophobia). Mostly I leave both of these alone. Though as you say, in a guest room both are potential problems, because a guest may not necessarily feel the same way.

However, I really detest cockroaches, and will try to kill them if I see them. I’m also not fond of mice or rats, though I hear some people keep them as pets. Both of them are unfortunately a problem here in Bombay. Though I’ve managed to get rid of cockroaches, mostly.

We (or rather my cook), used to spray for cockroaches once a week, and still do, but this wasn’t a complete success. in particular, tiny cockroaches continued to scurry around the kitchen.

I read on the internet about the use of Diatomaceous_earth for pest control. The theory was that when a cockroach touches this, its body becomes dehydrated and dies.
I was sceptical about this, but decided to give it a try. The effect of this was magical, and all the cockroaches disappeared. I don’t know if this will work with ants. I guess I could try it. But guests might not be happy with random piles of white powder in the guest room. And I doubt it would quickly fix an existing infestation.

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Yes, there are lots of cockroaches where I live, too. They’re so disgusting and I’ve never met anyone who thought they weren’t.

I’m familiar with diatomaceous earth, and it works to kill many insects, but not sure if it works on ants. It’s the fossilized remains of tiny aquatic organisms called diatoms. It just feels like powder to us, but it is actually sharp to insects and cuts them up. Like someone ground up a bunch of oyster shells into tiny bits and we had to walk on it.

It’s great that it worked to rid your place of cockroaches, I’ll try that.

I remembered something else- ants won’t cross a line of cinnamon. I’ve sprinkled it on windowsills where I saw them coming in. It won’t kill them, but they hate it.
A different color powder to weird out your guests, but at least it smells good :slightly_smiling_face:

The current “wisdom” is that you have eight seconds to get someone’s attention. And it’s absolutely true that PEOPLE DON’T READ. I just had a guest complain that our staff is at the villa most of the time despite having that exact statement in the contract AND they had to initial next to that statement.

But I think the best reason to be concise is that you appear more professional. Long, rambling rants make the writer look bad and can signal personal frustration with the guest’s style.


As a new host, I read the reviews from other hosts very carefully. I will never accept guests who had bad reviews. I even prefer detailed reviews, they told me things about the guests.

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Wordiness is not a positive thing in today’s online environment. Conciseness is. It’s not that the other hosts that will read your review are super busy, it’s that they are often multitasking, with a short attention span, or may not have the patience to read all the way to the end.

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I’m just not particularly interested in whether a guest specifically failed to remove their shoes in the house, or left used tissues or a condom under the bed- we all make mistakes or forget, or overlook something important sometimes, so the specific little details aren’t important to me- people are either generally respectful and clean, or it’s obvious that they don’t care what kind of mess they leave behind. That’s the succinct info I care to read when looking at reviews.

That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate reviews which it is obvious the host took some care and time to compose- I actually like those better than the ones where I can’t tell if it is written by a remote host who just took the word of the cleaners, or the host just prefers to dash off one liner reviews, which to me is a bit lazy.

And as a home share host, I like it when a host who has dealt personally with the guest gives some indication of the guest’s personality, so I know what to expect- were they friendly and sociable and fun to talk to and have around, or did they keep to themselves. Either is fine, it’s just helpful to know what to anticipate.

I hope you do because it’s lovely to hear from you. :slight_smile:

The guest you describe sounds to be a bit of a pillock. (Well, maybe a LOT of a pillock).

You may remember that I am a very relaxed host and a pillock doesn’t bother me once in a while. Swings and roundabouts. Although the problems you had with this guest is why I much prefer to have guests who stay for three or four days rather than weeks.

If I get guests who are bothersome for whatever reason, I can console myself with the fact that they’ll be gone in a couple of days.

I think that there are a few things that you can do to protect yourself from this type of guest in future.

I use a ‘speak and translate’ app that is fabulous. There are dozens, if not more, available. Prior to the pandemic most of my guests were from South America, Europe, Russia, etc. and the app was invaluable.

Consider too that some of his foibles might be a cultural thing as @muddy suggested. Or he might have had mental problems of some sort.

I get this often. I tell the guests every time it happens. But I also make sure that the margin on my nightly price is enough to cover this from time to time.

We have just about every bug known to man here. When I go in to clean a guest’s room I check the garbage to make sure there are no food wrappers or debris. If I see any of these, I tell the guest that they must put food in the fridge because of the potential for insects.

I once had guests who, on their second day, alerted me to ants in the apartment. They were fine about it but I had the exterminator come straight away. (The are on a monthly contract and their last visit had only been a week or so before the incident).

I might be wrong but it seems that you are pussyfooting around a little here. If a guest is doing anything I object to, I confront them straight away in person. When I first started using Airbnb, I found that guests were pretty good at ignoring messages if they so choose!

Sorry, I’ve been ranting on a lot more than I meant to. Great to hear from you.


I had 5 - count 'em FIVE - sets of guests in a row who ate in the bedroom in my shared home in spite of my stopping them on the way to the bedroom while they carried their food. I tried everything - humor, not responsible, etc. Including telling guests that I would charge $80 for the pest control company if I caught them eating in the bedroom or food in the bedroom. I started to feel like the food police. And despite my telling the next guest “The last guests ate in the bedroom, which is against my HR, so if you see any bugs let me know immediately and I’ll call the pest control company,” and they STILL ate in the room.

It was exhausting and my HR state “If you eat in the bedroom, you pay.”

I’ve closed because I can’t take the blatant disrespect and if I go with Furnished Finder, my lease will state "you’ll be kicked out right away if I find you’ve eaten in the bedroom. "

I raised my children. They know better and treat other people’s homes better than that. I don’t want to be bitchy mom to a bunch of entitled 20-40 year olds.


I think that most folks think it’s like having room service at a hotel. I wonder how hotels control pests, especially when guests are consuming sweets.

I think that if it is not important enough to put in your rules then it is not important enough to comment upon in the review. You can’t have it both ways: rules intentionally incomplete lest you discourage a prospective guest with communicating your expectation s and then criticizing the guest for not following what was never disclosed when they were considering making the reservation.

I suppose there is a caveat that if ‘everyone knows’ that something should be/should not be done, like attacking the Host with a meat cleaver, then you could reason that you shouldn’t have to state the obvious. But given that you think it is overly restricting to say that guests should not eat in their room, and given that you know that ant infestations are common in your area and how to prevent them, I think you need to say specifically what you want guests to do beyond being ‘tidy.’

It seems reasonable to say something like "Ant or other insect infestations can occur suddenly when food, even crumbs, are left to be found. So, please after eating it is essential that you [fill in the blanks – what do you want them to do?? Sweep up any food remains into [what?] and put [where? how?]. Do they need to be in some lidded can? Is that provided, along with a small hand brook and dustpan?

I’ve been thinking about this, as I’m in the same boat, and recently had a guest that did not follow the guide but it was not a rule to hand wash the chopping knives in the kitchen.

If it’s not in the rules it would be unfair to mention this in a review or dock stars, in my opinion. I now added a label on the knife holder to please hand wash knives. If I felt that this was more important – some people don’t know not to put a wood cutting boards in the dishwasher – I would add it to the rules or get different knives or cutting board.

It is also reasonable and I think courteous to say in your listing things like breakfast is served from x am to y am/pm. This is common in my experience.

Or for the rules to say “Guests should turn off lights and the A/C for when they’re not in the room.” This is a very common request that is made.

You may want to craft some statement on how far you accommodate non-lodging related requests (like locating the jewelry he wanted), and/or providing local resources the guest could hire for such needs/wants. It’s about communications that manage expectations and tell guests what they are buying.

I have no “rule” about eating in the bedroom, although I live where there is a massive insect population.

I just casually tell guests when they are checking in and I am orienting them, “As you are in the tropics, where there are tons of insects, unless you fancy sharing your bedroom with ants and cockroaches, I strongly suggest you keep food, food wrappers, and eating confined to the kitchen and outdoor dining table.”

Seems to do the trick most of the time.