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THANK YOU! And some questions about damage from a fairly new host!

hosting
#1

I am a fairly new host - December, 2018. I have had (mostly) 5 star guests. I have 22 - 5 star reviews and made super host three months after I opened, for whatever that is worth. I also have stayed in a variety of AirBnbs myself, whether I booked or a friend booked. I always have meticulously followed the rules, but I get that this is NOT a hotel and someone’s home, even if a business.

THANK you to everyone who has posted. I combed this forum before I opened and everyone’s comments/suggestions/experience has helped me tremendously. I will go into each thread that I found helpful and contribute my experience. I didn’t want to comment (of course) until I had some experience.

So, my question comes regarding damage. My house is newly remodeled and the furniture can be tricky - a wall bed that requires setting up, technology stuff, etc. I have a VERY detailed Guest Book that I ask guest to read. I have now included reading the Guest Book in my house rules. The questions I get when people are there are 99% covered in the Guest Book. I send them a link when they book, and there is a hard copy there with there welcome, by name, on the kitchen table. I also leave treats because I love to cook and find it enjoyable - even though that is a mixed bag in this forum. However, the treats are right by the STANDING guest book.

Here is the question: The last three guests have done damage to the house. It is clear that people are not following directions on the cabinet bed, as it is now not closing cleanly. I had one dog owner leave with scratches on the paint on 4 doors. Lots of scratches. One left a huge hole on the table in the entry way as well as a house FULL of dog hair AND scratches on the counter tops. I have not claimed damages on any of those items.

The paint job on the doors was bad and they need to be redone. The table in the entry is Amazon and cheap. It is an old house with the original laminate counter tops that were in perfect condition. But the cabinet bed was fairly expensive.

I just need perspective. Is damage just part of the deal? Should I make a deal of it?

I gave the dog owner a relatively bad review “guest left the house clean but left full doggy bags in a corner in the yard without telling me and there were scratches on the door - a mixed bag.” I thought it could have been MUCH worse. And there is NO way I will not leave an honest review. If we can’t stick together, as hosts, this system really falls apart. But she harangued me via AirBnb messaging for days about that review and denied they left the scratches, but acknowledged the doggy poop bags. This left me leery about reporting damage. However, I am going to start charging per dog/per day as suggested in the forum.

Does everyone here do a detailed picture inventory of the entire house before each guest? Is that the only way that AirBnb will acknowledge a damage claim? When, if ever, have you claimed damages?

By the way. I have instant book on. Each and EVERY single one of these guests gave me a bad feeling. Each asked for some kind of variance from the rules - check-in, check-out, something. I should have canceled their reservations. Not a super big deal as I can chalk this up to the learning curve. I am pretty easy going and sometimes this is to the detriment of this business.

Thank you! I just want to have reasonable expectations about this. Here is a link to my listing. Any feedback would be MUCH appreciated.

https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/23688200?preview_for_ml=true&guests=1&adults=1&sl_alternate_dates_exclusion=true&source_impression_id=p3_1557693737_nd5ZW%2B0bVaSy%2B%2FGu

#2

Why is it I’m not seeing the wall bed? Could you tell me which pic. My quick answer would be you have to dummy proof your home. Don’t put things that are too tricky. Note I am not saying dumb down your home. Like technology is great but make things as easy as possible.

If you have been lurking here awhile surely you know that guests don’t read.

They get the treats whether they read or not. If you have some important things that you can see a pattern developing about maybe you could have an “easter egg” in your manual. If they read the manual and find the code phrase hidden then they get a treat. (obviously this requires reading in advance of arrival.) I believe @Allison_H does this.

My next thought it that you are setting up for people to cram as many as possible in there. Personally I’d get rid of Air mattresses. Price for 4 with fees for everyone over 4. Max of 8 still possible but no more than that under any circumstance. By my count 9 easily fit with couple in the big beds. For people with kids or who like to cram them in you could fit more.

Definitely charge for dogs. For a whole house it would be no less than $25 per dog per night, you can discount from that for longer stays or multiple dogs.

Is there an exterior camera or two? If not get them ASAP.

Some damage is part of the deal, some isn’t . Dogs scratch doors. So require they not be left alone or that they be crated. Take pics of doors before and after if that’s a problem. A hole in a table? Not normal wear and tear and I would put in a claim. I wouldn’t do pics and inventory of everything every time.

Thanks for reviewing honestly and don’t let the losers intimidate you. I think as you continue hosting and hit Seattle’s high season you will get more 5 star reviews and people will quit damaging your place.

Welcome to the forum.

Also…that view!

1 Like
#3

:slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile:
If only more hosts were like that. I love your house, by the way.

You’ll find that claiming from Airbnb is a time-consuming process with no guarantee of success. You’ve read that many times here, I guess. Not all hosts do this, but I value my time at x per hour and time spent chasing nebulous claims isn’t on my weekly schedule.

I agree with @KKC’s post and particularly her point about cramming too many people in. It sounds as though you’re going to have trouble with this extra bed so why not remove it altogether?

This is your business and you need to make it as efficient and streamlined as possible. So avoid anything that’s going to cause problems, such as this bed. I’ve said here before that we babyproof our homes when our kids are young so there’s nothing wrong with guest-proofing our properties too. This is for your own sanity and peace of mind. (Something you need to balance against the needs of the guest).

I’d put the max number of guests at 6. Sometimes you’ll get a guest who enquires about sleeping more people and if you want, you can increase the total back up to 8, explaining the wall bed scenario in advance making sure that the guest understands.

Now @KKC won’t agree with me here more than likely but if I had a gorgeous house like yours, I’d be inclined to make it pet-free. Read some of the other topics here about that. You are increasing your potential client base by accepting animals, but at the same time decreasing it because of people who have allergies - real or perceived.

And welcome - I look forward to chatting with you :sunny:

3 Likes
#4

HA! I finally get to tell you YOU’RE WRONG! If I had a gorgeous house (like this one) I would not allow pets! I think it’s possible to make a home almost pet proof and be gorgeous but that would have to be the nexus of the design from the get go. And if I had a not so gorgeous house the pet fee would have to be enough that it was worth it. Allowing pets in my 200 SQFT room has been perfect for the kind of booking I get and it’s made me a lot of extra money. But people taking their dogs for a week to a 1500 sq ft house is a different situation altogether.

If I had the OP’s house I’d MCM the crap out of it, get rid of the dogs, get vintage ashtrays and allow smoking inside just like it was 1955. (kidding of course)

#5

:slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

I’d do exactly that - except for the smoking - although me being me I’d allow smoking on the property :crazy_face:

1 Like
#6

I own an ashtray for outside use. When I was just starting out and it was a rental down the hall I let a girl stay all day waiting for her friend to drive in from a few hours away to pick her up. She asked if she could smoke on the back patio and I said yes. I came in from work and the smell of cigarettes in my house was the first thing I smelled. From the looks of it she sat out there all day smoking and a good bit of smoke smell had wafted in. Now I don’t prohibit it but I don’t encourage in any way and most guests I’ve seen smoking have been out front well away from the door. One other older woman spent a lot of time on the front porch smoking. So based on my 2 person sample I have to say porch smokers are the worst. :smile:

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#7

I agree with the above posts, do not accept pets. It seems like the pets and not the humans are causing most of the damage. Plus it’s creating more work when it comes to cleaning. I imagine there might be a lot of dog hair everywhere.

3 Likes
#8

No, damage that you described is NOT part of the deal. If it were, we’d never make any money. There is going to be more wear and tear on your home with loads of strangers regularly staying there, but any significant damage needs to be paid by the guest who caused it.

You do not need before photos. Those are in your listing anyway. Take photos of the damage and immediately create a claim (you can estimate the amount before getting real estimates or receipts). Timing is crucial, as claims must be made within 48hrs.

If damage is catastrophic (thousands of dollars, like water damaged wood floors, for example), then know this: Airbnb will not honor the $1m insurance policy if you allow the following guests to stay after the damage occurred. Better to err on the side of caution, contact Air immediately to cancel the next guests and make the insurance claim.

But for more typical damage, no…you don’t need before photos. Just pics of the damage. The type of guests who damage properties and don’t want to pay for the damage they caused, are the types of guests nobody wants, including Airbnb. We have had good support from CS for damage claims, even when guests didn’t want to pay, or ignored the claim altogether.

We have had both types. Guests who paid for the damage without issue, and others who balked. I don’t absorb any damage costs beyond a few dollars. I gave them what I promised, and they gave it back damaged. In any other business, if you break it, you bought it. Why should this be any different?

It is 100% up to you whether or not you choose to eat the cost of damage, but what you described is not remotely resembling anything that could be categorized as normal wear and tear…and then the jerks said their dog didn’t cause the scratches? Rude! I would ban all pets after that.

Our guests have caused damage on occasion (usually it’s permanently stained linens, but also from smoking, broken lamps, broken coffee pot, broken fixtures, broken garbage disposal from improper use, chipped porcelain, scratched surfaces, etc.) If it is something that could be remedied, like a towel rack breaks from the wall, then we fix it and don’t bother the guest, but when our guests cause damage, we send them the bill. If they balk, we involve Air.

GUESTS DON’T READ. Even if everything is in your book, even if it’s on the listing page, and even if they promise to read it…chances are great that they will not, especially if it is voluminous. Maybe you can shortlist the most important parts? Increase/create a damage deposit?

This is just my opinion…but I am convinced that bad guests seek out new listings. We have had five listings over the years. All started out “bumpy,” with the most problematic guests before we garnered a healthy amount of reviews. Hmmmmm ???

IB or not, you can cancel any guest with whom you do not feel comfortable, at any time, even after they have checked in. It’s your house. If it’s before they arrive, but after they book, just click cancel, and the correct “not comfortable with this guest” button, or you will be penalized and lose SH status. You get three free cancellations (for this reason), in one year. After three cancellations in one year, you must call.

We have cancelled many guests who made us leery or uncomfortable, especially in the beginning. Now it seems like I let almost anybody book, but we also have hundreds of reviews and that feels like a good enough cushion/insulator where I don’t freak out anymore about the odd keyboard warrior or retaliatory review from a guest who didn’t want to pay for damages. But I also don’t even look at the stars anymore, just the public remarks.

The review system is deeply flawed, but should not stop you from making a damage claim and ensuring profit. If you’re paying for significant damages caused by a guests, then you’re not making the profits you worked hard to earn.

3 Likes
#9

I seem to remember that Airbnb’s host guarantee doesn’t cover damage from pets.

2 Likes
#10

I’ll reiterate:

Do not rely on any financial help from Airbnb. Yes, there are hosts who have claimed successfully and you’ll find some of their stories within this forum. You’ll read also that it’s believed that you have a better chances of claiming if a) you are regularly making money for Airbnb and b) you are not a serial-claimer.

The time it takes for the headache of claiming from Airbnb might be worth it for some people but many hosts simply don’t have the time and are busy earning money so can’t afford to take that time.

Be sure to set a large enough nightly rate so that you have a slush fund for repairs and replacements when necessary. It’s easier and simpler to order a few towels from Amazon to replace damaged ones rather than go to battle.

In addition be sure that your STR insurance covers you properly and that it’s up to date.

I’m not saying that hosts who claim for every small thing are wrong - just putting another point of view that you might wish to consider if you value your time.

1 Like
#11

Sorry, but I got to chime in: while looking like a great place to stay, it is anything but a Treehouse.

I hope you are not offering it under the sub category for Treehouses.

Here is a photo of the Treehouse I am listing in Costa Rica …:wink:

2 Likes
#12

Very cool place! Nicely decorated, spacious feel and great views.
The only caution I have for you is to be careful to not respond to private comments in the public review section, also smooth bedspreads a bit more!

1 Like
#13

NO DOGS! NO PETS! EVER! Your place is WAY too nice! Plus, there are a lot of people, like me, who will NOT rent a “Pet-friendly” place since with allergies, how do I know how well it has been cleaned since animals were in there?

Just say NO to animals!

1 Like
#14

I will echo the “no pets”! I’m willing to pay extra for a low allergy Air room, and I’ve found that my guests book me because I also have a low allergy (no perfumed cleaners, no “air fresheners”) inn.

As others have said, guests do not read, so a 99 page “manual” is just something in the way. I wouldn’t expect guests to deal with a futon/couch frame, much less a cabinet bed. Unless there is some absolutely compelling reason to have one instead of a regular bed, you should replace it with a regular queen bed, perhaps with a lot of extra pillows.

You should do everything you can to simplify and damage-proof the house. Once your electric blinds wear out, you might consider replacing them with simpler ones that cost less to replace.

You’re in a great neighborhood, a relatively short distance from Husky Stadium, and if I had a house in this location, I would be charging a lot more than $250/night, like $1,000 for a Fri-Sat night booking on home game weekends. If you do, you need to keep an eye out for partying, and I have no idea how close you live.

1 Like
#15

I list “no pets” but will listen to, and approve, a request from a potential guest who owns a herding breed such as my sheltie. So I’ve had a border collie/Bernese mountain dog and a small German shepherd stay; both owners were meticulous about supervising their dogs and the dogs themselves were clean and fastidious.

Regretted the one exception to this when I allowed a Weimeraner type in – was in fear that she would get my cats … very dicey situation and a relief when it ended.

1 Like
#16

I did say I wouldn’t allow pets in a gorgeous home like the OPs but now I’m going to make the argument for allowing pets.

For every “NO PETS!” person there is a “YES PETS” person. I look for Airbnb’s with pets. If Airbnb had a filter “pets live in this home” it would be great for both sides.

It’s impossible to know if allowing pets is a net gain or net loss for certain. Given that I’m booked about 85% of my available days and I get more money from pet fees I know I make more money by allowing pets. And as far as cleaning goes I’ve had people with pets stay who left the place cleaner than those without. Final bonus is that by allowing pets I scare off a lot of high maintenence people with allergies. I don’t even have to consider their demands for one thing and another (scent free this and that) because they have already eliminated my listing from contention. (this isn’t a swipe at people with allergies, it’s a serious illness). People who love pets aren’t going to complain about an “eyelash behind the toilet” either.

People who don’t “love pets” but want a clean place can know how clean my room is by looking at my ratings and reviews. (495 in the countdown to 500 by the end of the month)

2 Likes
#17

Sounds to me like they brought a dog(s) and left it in your home for an extended period, where the poor animal panicked.

1 Like
#18

welcome to the forum. I believe in Murphy’s laws: if anything can be broken it will. I don’t trust my guests. The vast majority of them DO NOT READ my message with instructions, which are a few paragraphs and a few bullet points, let alone a guest book!

The vast majority of people just look at the first two pics and read the description of your place and that’s it.

You should make things less complicated for them, have furnishings you don;t mind that much if they get damaged - cuz they will - and not accept dogs. I surely don’t and never will.

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#19

Wow beautiful home. I’m also recommending no dogs allowed. I’m sure you’ll get better behavior of your guests in the future
Keep up the good work and don’t get discouraged

2 Likes
#20

I asked for that several years ago, before I ever considered hosting. Filtering for “no pets allowed” can still pulls up hosts with pets on the premises.

2 Likes
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