As a vacation rental host you may experience many challenges, for example guests checking out late, stealing items from the rental, or breaking or damaging something.
Another headache many hosts face is when customers bring extra Airbnb guests to the rental without first asking or informing you as the host.
Perhaps they want to avoid paying for an extra person, or there is a maximum occupancy of guests in a place, so they either don’t say anything or lie about the guests on Airbnb. Whatever the reason, it’s, of course, totally unacceptable and a huge pain point for hosts.
If this is a problem in your business and you’re getting fed up with dishonest guests, don’t worry. There are ways to manage the situation. In this post, we’ll look at what you can do to prevent customers breaking the rules and bringing extra guests to your Airbnb or vacation rental.
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Why should you set a strict maximum number of guests?
There a many good reasons for having a maximum occupancy limit. Your property may be only built for a certain number of people, you don’t want problems with the neighbors in terms of noise, or you don’t want to pay for additional bills, resources, and cleaning. The list goes on.
In terms of the law, some states require you to register every person staying in your vacation rental. In addition, in the event that there is an accident, flood, or any disaster, and an unauthorized guest is injured, this guests could potentially have a legal case against you.
What’s more, the Airbnb ban on parties has been extended in 2022 and enforcing your rules will protect you as a host, and will also help you avoid any extra fees, especially legal ones, if your guests throw parties.
Prevention – How to avoid more guests
The first step, as soon as a guest has made a reservation, is to make them aware of the maximum occupancy of your Airbnb or rental and your policy with regards to unauthorized guests. In doing so, you can hopefully prevent the problem before it has even occurred.
1. Include the policy in your house rules
House rules are a professional way of laying out the land for all guests that enter your property. They normally include rules on noise, smoking, pets, garbage, parking, check-out time, etc.
The maximum occupancy of your vacation rental should be mentioned in the house rules. Be very clear in your description, e.g. if the reservation is for four people, there can’t be six guests. Also point out that guests are not allowed to bring any additional people – no matter how long – and that parties are strictly forbidden since Airbnb’s new ban on parties in 2022.
House rules can be enforced not only on Airbnb, but also on your vacation rental website, and on any other OTAs you’re listing on.
Your guests have to abide by your house rules as it is signed by them. That means they should. be aware of the consequences and any penalties should any of the rules are broken. Download our vacation house rules rental template, which you will be able to personalize and edit in line with the needs of your rental business. In the free template, you’ll find a suggested section on additional guests.
2. Include names of guests in the vacation rental agreement
Entering into a vacation rental agreement will protect both you and your guests in case of a discrepancy or dispute, as both parties must sign the document. Rental agreements differ per host and business, but normally cover the maximum occupancy limitations, check-in/check-out terms, minimum stay requirements, house rules, rental rates, and additional fee information, etc.
Once your travelers have arrived, ask them to write down all the names of occupants in the rental agreement. This way, you’ll know exactly who is staying in your property, and the guests will not be able to justify bringing unauthorized visitors, as they have clearly stated who exactly is staying at the property, and have signed the document.
Lodgify’s vacation rental agreement template covers the most important aspects to have in an agreement, including maximum occupancy limitations. Download it here in PDF for free.
3. Charge a deposit
Once you’ve stated the rules for additional guests in your house rules, you need to add some consequences in the event they are breached. A security deposit is not only used if any damage is caused to the property or wear and tear of furniture and amenities, but also if there are any violation of house rules.
Therefore you can charge a deposit, and only give it back to your guests if they abided by your rules and didn’t bring additional visitors. By collecting a refundable payment upfront, owners have a pot they can dip into and deduct funds from, should they break the rules.
This is also likely to prevent guests from bringing additional visitors, knowing that they will be charged for it.
4. Screen your guests
In your guests communications, ask your guests friendly and politic questions about their upcoming trip. In this way you build trust meaning the guest would be more likely to respect you and your property. Problem guests don’t normally like too many questions.
Check out guests’ profiles and guest reviews to pick up who may cause a problem.
Do background checks verifying guests are who they say they are as a first step. You could also use software such to efficiently screen for bad guests for your vacation rental.
4. Airbnb extra guest fee – how to add a fee and how much to add
On Airbnb, hosts can add an extra fee for adding additional visitors to a rental listing.
Your place is set up to accommodate a certain number of guests, but maybe you’re OK with adding more if it brings in a little extra cash. You can add a fee for each guest you’re willing to put up beyond your normal limit. So, if the number of guests you’ve set under Listing basics is 4, you can charge extra for the 5th and 6th guests and so on up to your comfort level.
This only works for future reservations. This fee cannot be applied once the guest has arrived and later checked-out. This is just another effective measure for guests to know that they must pay extra for additional people.
During the stay – how to deal with additional guests
Even if you’ve implemented all of the above measures, there is still a chance that some guests may bring extra guests. Sometimes travelers are dishonest and think they can get away with bringing their friends to the rental without paying extra. So during their stay, you still need to be vigilant and check whether they’ve had additional visitors. Here’s how:
1. Install surveillance cameras
Installing a camera surveillance system outside of the property will allow you to feel more in control, knowing you have eyes on the property the whole time. It’s an effective measure, as you can see who enters and leaves the property. Consider placing the camera towards the entrance of the property, or facing the driveway.
Another practical tool is a smart doorbell. This cool invention is a doorbell with a camera installed on your front door that automatically notifies your smartphone and then connects you live to the camera. No matter where you are, you’ll be able to see the whole time who is at your front door, and you can even speak to them if you wish.
You should disclose to your visitors that you have a security camera or smart doorbell installed in your house rules or guest communications. This will deter guests from bringing additional visitors to your Airbnb, as they know they will be watched the whole time when entering and leaving the rental. And in the event they do bring additional people, you have evidence to charge them extra, keep their deposit, or report them to Airbnb.
2. Ask your neighbors to keep an eye
Another way to keep an eye on your visitors without being too intrusive is by asking your neighbors to be on guard. Make sure to give your neighbors a schedule of our rental, when it’s occupied and when it’s empty, so they know which days to be vigilant.
As soon as your neighbors spot unauthorized visitors, get them to give you a call. From there, you can take the necessary steps, by either calling your guests, reporting them to Airbnb charging them straight away
In the event that guests have breached your rules, you should report them to Airbnb. Collect as much evidence as possible. Take screenshots from your surveillance camera footage or smart doorbell, conversations between you and your travelers. You can even collect a report from your neighbor and send it to Airbnb.
Airbnb will then open a case and take the necessary steps, be that charging your travelers an additional fee or holding on to part of the deposit. In the case that your guests write a negative review about your rental, take a look at 9 ways to respond to negative reviews. According to recent policies, Airbnb will now remove any unfair reviews which were written by guests out of anger and retaliation.
What if my rental is not listed on Airbnb?
If you’re not listing on Airbnb and have your own vacation rental website, you can still implement the house rules and a security deposit. You can also still keep an eye on your guests during their stay with the camera surveillance, smart doorbell, and through your neighbors or property manager. Likewise, you can still hold on to part of the deposit with the rental agreement and house rules.
What if my guests bring pets?
The same concept applies if guests bring pets without having asked your prior permission. If your vacation rental is pet-friendly and you allow pets, you can charge your guests a pet fee. Most travelers would be ok with paying this, but some may want to avoid the costs and sneak their furry friends in.
State this clearly across all your listing sites and documentation. If you do not allow pets altogether, make it clear: along with having additional guests, they cannot bring their pets. If they breach this rule, they will be charged.
Remember to state in your house rules, your Airbnb listing, on your website, and on any external listing sites your rules and consequences for unauthorized visitors. By following these essential tips, you can finally prevent guests from disrespecting your maximum occupancy.
Disclaimer: Lodgify is an Airbnb Preferred Software Partner. This post, including any claims or statements within, is solely from Lodgify and is not endorsed by, directly affiliated with, authorized, or sponsored by Airbnb in any way.
Don’t see the form to download our House Rules Template? Click here.
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