What to do when guests damage your Airbnb

By Paula Fiuza
March 4, 2022

If you’re reading this, you’re probably either preparing yourself in case a guest should happen to damage your property, or (unfortunately) it has already happened and you are learning what next steps you should take. Hopefully, you find yourself in the first scenario, but in the unfortunate event that a guest has damaged your property, we’re here to help. 

We know that as a host, you’re probably very proud to own a vacation rental and have spent your hard-earned money designing a beautiful space full of thoughtful furnishings. But what happens when you discover your property has been damaged by a guest, even accidentally? 

Continue reading and we’ll walk you through it. 

First things first: accidents happen

It’s crucial to differentiate “wear and tear” from actual, severe damage. No matter how careful you are, not all people are the same. And yes, that includes, unfortunately, your Airbnb guests. 

Some people are just more distracted while cooking, for example, and might break a plate in the process. Families traveling with children can offer another type of damage that you should be aware of, and overall, inhabiting a place involves some minor accidents. 

Some you should consider okay:

  • Small marks on walls
  • Older appliances breaking 
  • Make-up residue on pillowcases and towels
  • Food and grease stains on dishcloths 
  • Build up in the shower
  • Stains on shower curtain
  • Rips and tears on older sheets and towels
  • Minor stains from spillage 

These are all very common and frequent consequences of living and domestic life. Of course that if you find them all combined and all over the place after a 2-night stay, you should do something about it. But in general, guests expect hosts to be understanding regarding these.

Actual damage and how to handle it

Here is where you need to be vigilant to ensure that your property’s integrity is maintained: we’re talking about theft, major stains on sofas, rugs, and textiles, breaking mirrors or furniture, destroying floorboards, etc.

Basically any consequence of a major accident or poor behavior on the guests’ part. 

Hopefully, when that happens, the guests will immediately contact you to explain what happened and offer to cover the damages. This is, of course, the best-case scenario. But what if it doesn’t go like this?

Understand your rights with Airbnb and the claims process

First and foremost, a reminder to always communicate with guests via the Airbnb platform. This ensures that everything is on record and contributes to a positive resolution of the situation. Then, you can take advantage of Airbnb’s "$1 million Host Guarantee", but you need to know it inside and out to fully understand what it covers. 

And, unfortunately, just like any other policy out there, it might not cover what you want it to. That’s why you should always insure your property. In a case where a regular cleaning job cannot handle the damage, you might need to start an insurance claim. 

Document all damages with photos, video, and complete descriptions. Having “before photos” is also a great asset here. We recommend talking to the guest directly to try and solve the situation before contacting Airbnb. 

If that fails, resort to the platform.

Contacting Airbnb to handle damages

Once you have evidence that you attempted to resolve the issue with the guest but it went nowhere, and you have proof of the damages caused, contact Airbnb. Submit an AirCover request through the Resolution Center within 14 days of the responsible guest's checkout. 

Within 72 hours of submitting your AirCover request, your guest must make payment. Airbnb will then review the charges and claims and will make a suitable judgment either way. 

What if you have a guest checking in the next hours? Do everything in your power to ensure the spot is liveable and up to Airbnb’s standards before your next guest arrives. This could mean hiring additional cleaners, removing the damage or safely securing it and restricting access, or even having your guest stay in a hotel for the first night of their stay (covered by you).

Offering a discount for any inconvenience caused is another great way to keep your guests happy and maintain high hospitality standards. 

If you do have to move your guest or offer a discount on their stay, remember to include this information and receipt in your AirCover claim. 

Some accidents and wear and tear are inevitable. Life happens. But there are ways to try and prevent suffering major damage to your properties. We’ll cover more on this soon - keep reading!

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