Many hotels are constantly staffed and generally have CCTV in place to minimise the chances of guests misbehaving, which may not be the same for Airbnb properties. For that reason, many hosts set ‘Airbnb house rules’ to try and keep things under control. Read on to find out what they are and how to implement them as a host to ensure a safe and comfortable experience for everyone.
Why were Airbnb house rules introduced?
While Airbnb does offer Aircover to help hosts recoup losses in the event of such occasions, there have been cases of bad Airbnb guest behaviour in the media. In fact, poor guest behaviour has led to many cities implementing anti-Airbnb rules. One of the main issues has been around partying, which led to Airbnb officially banning them as of August 2020.
This ban covers all ‘disruptive parties and events’ as well as gatherings of more than 16 people. Guests violating these rules will be suspended or removed from Airbnb’s platform – but that may be little comfort to the host whose property is damaged or whose neighbours are left furious.
It took Airbnb years to take formal action against partying, leaving it to hosts to set ‘house rules’ instead. While the platform’s official guidance is now enforced, there are still plenty of other issues left to be governed by house rules.
If you do find that a guest has broken house rules and damaged your property, having additional protection through specialist insurers such as Pikl can make sure your property is protected if the worst happens (and check out our section below on what to do if your guest breaks the rules).
What do they cover?
House rules are host rules that act on a different level to Airbnb’s own official rules. They are set by you as a host and will appear on your Airbnb listing. This means you can choose exactly what kind of guest behaviour you’re willing to allow, whether that’s bringing a pet along or banning smoking entirely. But, crucially, guests must agree to your rules to book the listing.
The house rule options are generally yes/no and include criteria such as:
- Suitable for children between 2-12 years
- Suitable for infants under 2 years
- Pets allowed
- Smoking allowed
- Events allowed
There’s also an optional field for inputting your own house rules – which many hosts add to their listing description. Going further, you can add house rules to a visible part of your property that guests will see when they arrive. While these do not act as any form of the contractual agreement and the guest doesn’t have to technically ‘consent’, it’s a good idea and they may help to reduce problems.
If you’re planning to set house rules, here are some great dos and don’ts to ensure guests remain compliant and enjoy their stay.
- Do place house rules within the property. When you do, write a friendly introduction that explains your house rules and makes guests feel at ease. You don’t want them to feel like they’re in a negative environment.
- Don’t make your rules read like legal text. Even Airbnb warns against this.
- Do set rules around restricted access areas in your property if necessary. For example, limiting guest access to a shed or attic.
- Don’t assume that guests will follow your access areas automatically. Keep restricted areas locked if possible, to dissuade any attempts to flout your rules and enter.
- Do include any cultural reasoning for a particular rule; it will help educate guests and make them more empathetic. For example, ‘no shoes in the home, this is traditional in Thailand’.
- Don’t ever contradict Airbnb’s own party policy by making your listing appealing to partygoers or groups of 16+ people (No descriptions like: “Try out our hot tub with your friends and see how wild you can get!”)
- Do keep your house rules simple and legible. Making them too complex means guests won’t bother.
- Don’t expect guests to just ‘know’ your rules – place a copy of them somewhere visible in the property so they have a constant reminder.
- Do set rules that are fair and reasonable.
- Don’t be too restrictive. You want guests to have a good time during their stay, so try not to be too harsh in your rules or in your wording.
What rules should I have for my Airbnb?
You want clear, coherent house rules that aren’t too restrictive but help protect your property. Here are some great rule considerations you can make:
- Dishes – if you want your guests to do the dishes, make this clear in the house rules. You could also opt for a ‘lighter’ request and ask them to dispose of all food waste and leave the dishes in a washing up area.
- Rubbish/litter – guests pay a cleaning fee so they generally expect to avoid bin duties, but you can still politely request them to dispose of all litter in bin bags to make it easier for you to clean.
- Check-in/out times – while they’re not explicitly ‘rules’ it’s always useful to reiterate your check-in and check-out times in your house rules so guests are absolutely certain about when they should arrive or leave.
- Electricity – asking guests to turn off lights or technology when away from the property is standard and makes environmental and economic sense. You could even consider a remote system to make this process easier.
- Security – make any rules around security clear from the beginning. Closing windows, locking doors, dealing with key boxes and other issues should all be outlined and understood as early as possible.
- Laundry – some properties ask guests to strip bedding and leave all linen in the washing machine to speed up cleaning.
- Emergencies – give your guests guidance around what to do in emergencies, including who to contact.
An important thing to remember is that the higher you set your cleaning fees, the less a guest may expect to have to do when staying at your property. If you’ve charged them a high fee, adding a rule about stripping linen or washing dishes may lead to a poor review once a guest leaves.
If you suspect a guest has violated one of your house rules, Airbnb has put recommendations in place in case this happens:
- Contact the guest directly. This is usually the best path, especially when the guest has only violated a minor rule.
- Document the issue through Airbnb. Keep your communications on the platform and include evidence (e.g. photographs) so that it’s for Airbnb to side in your favour if things escalate.
- Report issues directly to Airbnb themselves. If your property is damaged, you’ll need to submit a claim through its Resolution Centre.
- Leave honest feedback by posting a review for the guest. This may help other hosts should the guest make and subsequent bookings in the future.
Try to keep things friendly and professional when communicating with your guest but also use your own judgement. If a guest does break a major rule and causes damage to your property, Airbnb can request a guest to pay for damages, or they can issue you a payment under Aircover. Unfortunately, the cover they provide is limited compared to a dedicated insurance policy and we cover this in more detail on our Airbnb insurance page. We also discuss why most standard insurance doesn’t provide adequate cover either. Here at Pikl, we provide extensive insurance for hosts looking to get better protection for their property. To get a quote, click on the link below.
House rules are supposed to be clear and simple, so we’ve put together a handy list you can download, print and then display in your home. We’ve tried to give these a gentle, Pikl touch, so feel free to alter any of the rules or wording as you see fit. To get your free template, submit your email address below and we’ll send you the link to download it.