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What guest behavior would cause you to give lower than 5* review?

Hosts differ in their approach to reviewing guests. The consensus here is that you should write a factual review for every guest, and I agree with that. After writing a factual review, I’d like to understand in what scenarios other hosts have given less than five-star reviews.

If I am willing to host the guest again, I give them five stars. If I am not willing to host them, I give them less than five stars in scenarios such as these:

  • leaving the place excessively dirty or permanent damage to furniture/appliances. I don’t expect them to do dishes or neatly put everything back in place.
  • not providing approximate check-in time when I ask about it a couple of days before arrival.
  • asking for a free night in the form of an early check in or late check out e.g. 10 am check in or 5 PM check out.
  • repeat demands for refund/compensation
  • asking to provide hotel-like services such as daily housekeeping, and concierge services like reserving an activity or rental car for them.
  • requests to break house rules after booking rather than inquiring before booking e.g. asking to bring a pet after booking rather than inquiring before.
  • communicating with excessive typos and writing in a manner that is difficult to read and understand
  • repeated requests/demands for things that are not offered in the listing e.g. portable stovetop, bicycles, beach gear, desk

This wouldn’t change my review because I advertise self check in from 3 pm until 2 am the next day. I do ask them to give me that information when they book but if they don’t, it’s not a reviewable offense at my listing.

As for this and other requests, I just say no if I can’t help them or won’t permit it. It’s not the asking that would get a reduction. But if they asked and did it anyway, yes, I’d reduce their rating.

You have got to be kidding. This is ridiculous.


Thanks for the feedback. I find people who communicate in a manner like that to be disrespectful and rude towards the host. Your tolerance is probably higher than mine.

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I have been very fortunate in that I have almost never had a guest who I legitimately felt was less than a 5 star guest. I think I Ieft 4 stars for cleanliness for one girl who left her room and bathroom a disaster, and it wasn’t lower because she did always clean up after herself in the kitchen.

I wouldn’t mark a guest down at all simply for asking if I could accommodate something like an early check-in, a discount, if they could bring their pet, etc. as long as they easily accepted a “no”.

I would mark down on communication if a guest ignored my messages or questions, or didn’t respond in a timely fashion. (but I would find out why first- there are valid reasons why someone might not respond). I would not mark down for a curt, non-informative initial message as long as my messages back ellicited a better response.

I would mark down for someone who was demanding.

I would mark down for a big mess left behind, like that one guest I had.

I would mark down for someone who was rude in written or verbal communication.

I don’t really have house rules, aside from no extra guests or visitors without prior permission, so nothing much to mark them down on there.

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Or English is not their first language or didn’t have the education you had. I’d let that go.


I agree with this. Half of the guests ask one thing or another that I can’t provide/accommodate. But most take no for an answer. Others argue about it and to me that is problematic. When they ask for too many things, it creates unnecessary anxiety about a review. Yes, someday I will stop worrying about reviews, but probably not for another year.


The last guest who did this had a degree from MIT, and she is a native English speaker. It’s usually the rich people who often communicate like this.

It’s also common that many high-paying guests can be more demanding and treat hosts like their personal assistants.

Yes. I do stay firm and say no… at that point I have no choice but to do that. But it creates unnecessary anxiety when guests make repeated requests for things I don’t provide. I start feeling like they are are unhappy and expect a lot more, and that could lead to less than five star review.

Not all guests are like that so I try not to add too much fine print and scare away the good guests.

[quote=“house_plants, post:3, topic:52733”] I find people who communicate in that manner like that to be disrespectful and rude towards the host. Your tolerance is probably higher than mine.

That may be your personal anecdotal experience, but there are perfectly fine guests who are poorly educated, have learning disabilities, do not have a facility for writing, or may have language barriers. For someone whose native language is not yours, they may state things in a way that seems curt, rude or even insulting, but it isn’t intended as such, it’s a matter of not having facility with the language.

A friend who lived in Thailand for 2 years, and learned some Thai, told me it’s a difficult language to learn, as it is heavily reliant on the inflection. He said there are some words which sound basically exactly like another word, but depending on whether your voice goes up or down, or on which syllable you put the stress, you could be telling them their mother is ugly, when you intended to compliment them on the meal they served you.

And the opposite can also be true- there are people who are stellar at writing well and presenting themselves as if they are wonderful people you would love to host, who turn out to be jerks.

I have only left one bad review for a very bad scammer guest who tried to blackmail us and get double her money back. Airbnb took our side financially, and my review of her stood.

The other 99.75 % of the guests have been great, so we haven’t had that opportunity again. If something were broken, I would ask them to pay for it and not mention it in the review if they paid.

If there was filth,
if there was some sort of personal major disrespect to us,
if there was damage unpaid for,
if there was excessive whining I would likely ask them to leave with a partial refund and leave a lower star review also.


In my four years of hosting I have only given a one star review. It was college kids that rented the house for a weekend. The booking guest lied and said it was a family reunion (cousins) when he requested to book.

-stained a new dining table with yellow nail polish.
-stained a new set of queen sheets with blue sex gels that wouldn’t wash out.
-moved dressers with mirrors to the end of the beds and didn’t bother moving them back.
-wet towels all over the backyard.
-spilled sticky drinks all over the living room and kitchen floors.
-condoms on the floors.

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I have not found a correlation between how courteous a person is and how well they communicate.


It drives me nuts how the texting generations communicate, in a barrage of one line messages, one after another, instead of putting all they have to say into one message.

They literally use the send button as if it were a period.

I had a guest who was doing this, but she was a perfectly delightful gal.

So while it might be a communication style that personally irritates me, and my inclination is to see it as disorganized or taking up too much of my time (starting to answer a message and having 3 more ping through in succession), I know that isn’t how the folks who message like that intend it and that it isn’t any indication of whether someone will be a good guest or not.

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I’ve just had two that received less than 5, but here’s my list based largely on my experience of what guests have done or read what some do. [Thank you for asking! I’ll be thinking about whether I need to do a better job in my communicating.]

If a guest did just one of these things, I’d probably let it go unless very material. So, for me it depends on overall behavior (pattern) and egregiousness of any one ‘violation’

  1. On communications:
  • Asking for an early check-in or late check-out AND repeatedly not saying specifically what time they are asking for
  • Taking an action or not taking an action that is contrary to language in the listing
  • Being rude
  • Unmistakable and repeated lying
  • Repeatedly (has to be A LOT) asking questions answered by Host communications
  • Ending sentences with preposition, split infinitives, run-on sentences (Ok, just kidding – don’t mark down for ending sentences with preposition as that is ‘arrant pedantry up with which I will not put’). This is for you @house_plants
  1. Cleanliness
  • Not separating trash from recycling
  • Not leaving place ‘tidy’ as I ask (it has to be pretty messy before I downgrade them for this)
  • Causing stain/damage that’s non-trivial, not reported AND that is so obvious that guest must have known AND that I cannot easily correct (If this were the only thing I would probably look the other way (unless material damage) but if part of a pattern of conduct I would knock the rating down)
  • Leaving trash outside
  • Too much cologne/perfume (I jest yet again)
  1. Observance of House Rules
  • Bringing in an overnight unregistered guest
  • Bringing in unregistered day guests – here I’d focus on the number and duration
  • Moving furniture from where it was (against the rules) and not returning it to its original placement (which a message requests)
  • Causing damage that was not reported; also evaluation of whether damage was likely an ‘accident’ as accidents happen (say a bed stain) vs an accident that was foreseeable and a result of gross carelessness or ignoring a house rule or communication
  • Any violation that seems ‘egregious’ to me – e.g., leaving food outside overnight, wearing shoes in house (though we call them on this immediately but if it kept happening during stay would knock their rating down)
  • Blocking my driveway
  • LOTS of noise, especially if of a nature that would disturb neighbors – subjective test
  • Smoking
  • Our house rules prohibit smokers, whether they smoke inside or out, as stated (in listing) rationale that smoke clings to clothes, gets on upholstery [I bet this will invite comments!]
  • Having a party [though this could cause ejection]
  • Illegal activity including selling dog hair, letting donkey sleep in bathtub, jaywalking, unlicensed fortune telling, excessive bingo playing (>10 hours), driving with dirty tires, causing static between 7 am and 11 pm, playing a remix of the Star Spangled Banner. BTW all these activities are illegal in at least one U.S. state per Can You Match the State to Its Crazy Law? | HowStuffWorks
  1. Overall experience
  • Theft of toiletries or other
  • Repeated and never-ending whining
  • Using toilet paper that exceeds the number of sheets expressed by 2 x [(8.1x M x N x 5) + (6.4 x F x N x 5]), where M= number of male guests, F = number of female guests, N = number of days in reservation. Per Cotonelle site that says these are the averages for men and women, which we double (hence the ‘2’ multiplier at the beginning). And, yes, we count the sheets! [Based on circumference of remaining roll using a micrometer] Don’t you? [Another Host here had another formula, but we find this formula not only more straightforward and simpler but also deeply satisfying. And, yes, this is clearly communicated in the listing as a rule.]. How Much Toilet Paper Should You Use? | Cottonelle® Canada
    On this our position is adamantine.
  • Walter C. Amundsen : You would describe Mr. Jensen’s position on Beale as inflexible?

Frank Hackett : Intractable and adamantine.

  • Pattern of behavior from above

Renting my homes to do illegal activities, eg prostitution - has happened twice.
Late checkout without prior arrangement.
Early check in without prior arrangement.
Subletting my bedrooms, also happened twice.
Bringing animals to a no pet listing.
Smoking inside.
Having people visit without prior arrangement.
Extra unregistered guests.


Mine are pretty basic- breaking house rules (ex: smoking inside, bringing a pet, inviting extra people over house limit- pretty standard), being disrespectful with loud noise outside during quiet hours or checking in/checking out outside of normal hours and throwing off our schedule.

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I feel exactly the same way. You are much better at expressing it than I am.

My 64 year old husband does this, drives me nuts!
Turns into a stream of consciousness conversation……

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Filthy, significant lying, unregistered guests, smoking, obnoxiously drunk, significantly disrespecting my private space or that of my neighbors, and discriminatory behavior (such as comments about other guests of different races, ethnicities or sexual identity). I don’t get too excited about requests assuming that they believe that it never hurts to ask.

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