What happens if there is no security deposit and guest refuses to pay for damage?

I had my first airbnb hosting experience and my guest committed about 2k in damages. I requested it via the portal but they only agreed to $200 and saying I am lying about all of it despite the evidence. They call the marks left on walls and broken futons normal “wear n tear” and say they should be the ones requesting a refund because of my inaccurate website description and that they will tell their credit card it is a fraudulent charge if it goes through. My question is, if they refuse to pay and airbnb resolution says they only owe about $500 and the guest already cancelled their credit card, what happens? Do they go to collections? I did not have a security deposit.

I’m not sure exactly what the process is, but I’m sure someone more knowledgeable will be able to help shortly.

That said, I suspect your chances of reclaiming the full amount is pretty slim as the Airbnb “Host Guarantee” is commonly accepted as being pretty worthless in the majority of cases.

Do you have a proper STR insurance policy? If not then this scenario reinforces the fact that anyone involved in STR should have a policy that covers them from tenant/guest damage and provides a decent level of public liability cover.

Before we had one guest across the door we made sure we were well covered in case of damage, or a claim against us personally. No idea where you are, and I know in some areas it’s expensive, but the alternative…


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If you don’t have a deposit, Airbnb can only collect from the guest the amount they agree to. In this case Airbnb would only collect $200. If their card is cancelled, Airbnb will eventually send them to collections. You won’t be paid until they collect. Sometimes a CS agent will pay you from Airbnb’s pocket just to keep you happy.

You might still be able to collect against Airbnb’s Host Guarantee, but it will be harder. They are VERY generous in what they consider regular wear and tear.
Be sure you follow the terms of Host Guarantee exactly, or they’ll deny your claim. You’ll need photos, repair/replacement estimates, receipts, etc.

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Thanks Allison,
Can you elaborate on what you mean by very generous for wear N tear? I showed receipts from a futon and couch that aren’t even a year old with pictures of the damage. Guest claims they were uncomfortable and broken from wear n tear before they even used them.

Thanks Allison,
Can you elaborate on what you mean by very generous for wear N tear? I showed receipts from a futon and couch that aren’t even a year old with pictures of the damage. Guest claims they were uncomfortable and broken from wear n tear before they even used them.

Echoing @JohnF, you’ll be best claiming from your own STR policy. Hopefully you’ve read up enough about Airbnb prior to your first hosting so you know that it’s essential. It’s also essential to make sure that you have your guests and your property under your control so that in future, the likelihood of $2000 in damages are remote.

Wear and tear is a tricky one and something that you need to take into account when you’re doing your sums. You’ve also discovered by now that you should have a security deposit in place.

It seems that your guests are going to dispute anything that you try from Airbnb so (sorry) it’s going to be difficult for you to claim. Some hosts have done successfully, of course, but anecdotally they are hosts who have plenty of good reviews and good ratings - I’m afraid it just makes business sense for them to please the hosts who are making them the most money :frowning:
Similarly, they seem to favour (anecdotally too) hosts who haven’t claimed before.


Hi @yaoming

You’ve received some great advice from hosts here. It is unfortunate that you have had such bad guests as your first guests. Quite honestly it is unusual, but probably more common in whole listings particularly if you don’t have CCTV or similar to monitor issues such as extra guests and potential parties.

If you are using Instant Book, I would advise turning it off until you become more familiar with how Airbnb works and so you can vet your guests before accepting a booking.

As @jaquo mentions Airbnb Help Centre is an invaluable source of information for new hosts definitely worth you reading through.

You may need to claim in your home insurance for STRs should you be unsuccessful in claiming through Airbnb.

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Thanks! I guess my next questions becomes, if airbnb sides with me but the customer refuses to pay and cancels his card, they go to collections and I ultimately win if they pay the collections off?

I mean Airbnb draws the line for Wear & Tear much further than most hosts do.

My definition of wear & tear is the stuff you know you’ll need to replace…like sheets and towels will eventually get dingy. Someone will use a washcloth to remove black eye makeup and I’ll need to retire that sooner than expected. Someone might break a $5 glass or mug. I expect to fill and repaint wall dings from guests bumping a suitcase into the wall.

This is anecdotal, but on this or other boards Air has called these things wear & tear. Most hosts would consider it damage which should be paid for by the guest who caused it:

  • Guest puts hot pan put directly on countertop, leaving a scorch mark on the formica. Air calls it W&T.
  • Guest drags furniture, leaving deep gouges in hardwood floor. Air calls it W&T.
  • Guest parks car on lawn, leaving deep ruts that require re-filling and re-seeding. Air calls it W&T.
  • Guest dumps wine on entire set of bedding. Stains don’t come out. Air calls it W&T.
  • Guest leaves wet bathing suit laid across wooden chair, damaging finish. Air calls it W&T.
  • Guest dumps nail polish remover onto wall-to-wall carpeting, leaving massive bleached spot in middle of floor. Air calls it W&T.

It’s worthwhile to set a damage deposit. It can deter bad guests from booking with you. I set mine at the value of the single most expensive item ($500 mattress).


This is a question for Airbnb. I would give them a call @yaoming and see what they suggest. I believe sometimes they do payout even when a guest doesn’t if they agree the value of the claim.

Airbnb won’t charge the guest against their will. They only do that if you had a deposit on your listing.

If the guest says they accept responsibility for $200, Airbnb will charge that amount.

If the guest says “nope, I didn’t do any of that” you won’t get anything from the guest. Airbnb might still cover you under the host guarantee, but don’t hold your breath. You’ll want to look at claiming through your STR insurance.

You can go to your local Small Claims court and claim the damages + court fees. No lawyer necessary. Be aware that –

You must first ascertain if the guest has seizable assets (salary, home, cars), etc.

You must be patient because winning is not that hard but collecting is, and it is time consuming.

And re:

You may also want to consider a defamation lawsuit and seek an injunction to remove the review.


Definitely try the Airbnb host guarantee. Do it soon and document everything very well with receipts and repair estimates. What I’ve read is that Airbnb will typically pay only a fraction of what you ask for, but something is better than nothing.

Also, if the guest hasn’t already left you a review, then the worst part may be yet to come. It is very likely that your very first review is going to be really bad.

Playing the devils advocate here, but it could be said that most of the above is just the cost of doing business…


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Assuming both the host and guest live in countries/states where this is even possible.


I am very sorry to hear that this happened to you, particularly on a first time booking.

In this business, as in others, there is a throwback subspecies of Horrid People who take advantage of newbies. None of us are immune.

What you may wish to confirm with your STL insurer is whether they cover replacement cost or depreciated cost, and, how much this claim would affect your future rates.

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What U.S. states would not have very very similar defamation laws? From what I see, you either get into a lot of civil liability for defamation everywhere, and it gets worse in those states that allow criminal liability.


Where the guest lives isn’t going to help the guest particularly if it is in a U.S. state, unless they are overseas in which case I have no idea how you would about collecting a judgment even if they committed a defamation in the U.S. and were found liable.

Do you understand something different about the situation?

If the guest lives out of country, game over. If the guest lives out of state, you have to sue them in their state.

And even then, they may deny you anyways because they feel they can get away with it…and most of the time they can.

If your first review is bad and you don’t have any other bookings yet delete the account and start over…?