Since their meteoric rise in the 2010s, Airbnb has come to dominate the holiday rental market. From cabins and campsites to penthouses and houseboats, there are an abundance of Airbnbs of all shapes and sizes around the world as people try to monetise on their extra space. In fact, there are now so many people who own properties exclusively for Airbnb that cities like Barcelona and New York have been cracking down on them.
Airbnb has their own internal processes for raising complaints or resolving disputes between hosts and guests. But while there is some oversight, they generally take a rather hands-off approach: preferring to let hosts and guests come to their own agreements or, as the case may be, stand-offs.
We’ve already looked at how Airbnb guests can avoid accommodation issues. But if you’re trying to make some extra cash through Airbnb it’s just as vital to learn how to avoid the common conflicts that can arise when using the site. In this guide, we’ll cover some classic issues and key rules around the procedures for managing a complaint from your guests.
Airbnb has a Help Centre to guide guests and hosts through the terms and conditions of using the site and the legal protections that exist. As you can imagine there are so many Terms and Conditions it’s unlikely that anyone reads them as thoroughly as they should.
For hosts, the main thing to note is that Airbnb offers a Host Damage Protection program. This was brought in due to an incident in 2011 where a host’s home was trashed by their Airbnb guests. The host guarantee was doubled in 2012 to cover up to one million dollars in damages.
However, this guarantee does not cover everything. When it comes to the fine print of what isn’t included there are some interesting clauses, such as ‘excessive use of electricity and gas’ or ‘any unexplained loss of inventory.’
In other words, the damage protection they offer is not the same as an insurance policy. So if you’re thinking of becoming a host it is vital you obtain a proper insurance policy for your home and its contents. You can use Resolver Compare to get the best deal for your insurance.
There is also a strict procedure to follow for reporting any problems with guests. As a host you must ‘use your best efforts to communicate with the Responsible Guest’ as soon as possible after you discover any physical loss or damage to your property. If you have not managed to resolve the issue with the guest directly you must notify Airbnb about your complaint within fourteen days of the check-out date via the Airbnb Resolution Center.
The most important thing to remember is that any issue with a booking or your guests should be reported no later than 72 hours after it has been discovered. If you don’t report something right away, you may not get the assistance you need.
The boom in the Airbnb market means that many countries and cities have responded with legislation regulating or curtailing short-term holiday rentals. This is due to concerns that Airbnb will exacerbate problems with the rental market, undercut tenant rights, bring in an influx of travelers and drive out local people and businesses, and allow for tax or zoning loopholes.
In cities like New York, Paris, Barcelona, Miami, Amsterdam or Santa Monica there are restrictions on how long you can rent a property and procedures for registering your property for short-term lets. So if you are looking to become an Airbnb host make sure you do more research on the registration requirements, additional costs and other regulations that may impact you.
After cancellations or damage to property, the biggest cause of conflict on Airbnb is confusion or lack of clarity on what is being offered. To avoid conflict, it is important for both hosts and guests to have clear expectations going in of what service is being provided.
If you’re a host, it is critical that you make your listing as transparent as possible. If the property has any quirks or you have specific requirements to ask of your guests you should say so as explicitly and clearly as possible. That way your guests will know exactly what they are getting and won’t have grounds to feel short changed and leave you a negative review.
It can be tempting to say that you’ll go above and beyond for your guests to attract more stays. But this could work against you if you end up letting them down. So don’t go promising a private tour of your city or home cooked meals if you may not be able to follow through. Likewise, any expectation of your guests must be communicated clearly and directly: don’t expect your guests to spend time with you unless you have explicitly stipulated that that is what you’re looking for.
While Airbnb leaves it to guests and hosts to figure out problems between themselves, language barriers, cultural differences and unfamiliarity with the guest or host’s expectations can all contribute to more difficult experiences of getting requests or complaints heard and acted on.
If you have a problem with your guests during your stay, ensure that you are communicating with them as effectively as possible. It’s a good idea to stick to written communication and, if possible, to do so within the Airbnb app. This way all correspondence is recorded, and if you need someone from Airbnb to step in and help, they will be able to review any previous exchanges easily.
It may not be your main source of income, but if you’re an Airbnb host you are essentially running a small business. For some tips on how you can best handle complaints or negative feedback from your guests, check out our guides on how to be an active listener and building your business’ resilience. They will help you keep your cool, prevent things from escalating unnecessarily and take even negative feedback in your stride.
For both guests and hosts, leaving feedback is an important part of using the site well and maximising your own expertise. Our tips on leaving constructive feedback will not just save you time but ensure that you are helping other Airbnb users have the best experience.
If you have any thoughts on this topic, or any other consumer issues you would like us to cover, feel free to get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.