unauthorized house party

Lodgify Report: Unauthorized Parties and How To Prevent Them


  • A big concern for the industry: One of the biggest worries for hosts in the short-term rental industry is unauthorized parties, and the reasons are no surprise. They can cause significant damage to the property, resulting in costly repairs and potential loss of income if the property is unavailable for subsequent bookings. Furthermore, if parties get out of hand, the safety of guests and neighbors can be compromised, leading to potential liability for the host. All in all, unauthorized parties in vacation rentals pose a significant risk to the host’s property, reputation, and legal standing.
  • Airbnb pilot program: To help combat this problem, Airbnb launched a pilot program in August 2020 that restricted reservations by guests under 25 years old for accommodations near their place of residence. This program has successfully blocked over 770,000 problematic reservations since its inception through August 2021. However, unauthorized parties continue to be a concern.
  • Lodgify’s survey: We reached out to over 170 hosts and property managers to ask about their experiences with unauthorized parties with the goal of providing the vacation rental community with advice on how to prevent them. They represent a total of 2,242 rentals and have paid out over $270,000 combined in damages. We wanted to offer detailed data on unauthorized parties, with actionable insights and an up-to-date evaluation of the latest prevention measures.

If you’re interested in learning more about unauthorized parties within the short-term rental industry, you can download our survey analysis for free in the form below. Read on for essential facts, advice, and some of the most outrageous stories we gathered from our survey.

How much do unauthorized parties cost the hosts?

If you still need to be convinced of the importance of preventing parties from occurring in your vacation rental, then check this out: on average, hosts who participated in our survey had to face an average of $1,560 in damages caused by guests.

Cost of damages

However, this average cost doesn’t tell the whole story. When digging deeper into the data, we’ve encountered a few cases of hosts having to pay between $5,000 and $25,000 to repair their property, and that’s not including those who lost even more in legal fees and lost revenue!

It’s not even like unauthorized parties are unusual: 53.1% of our survey participants reported having experienced at least one unauthorized party in their accommodation in the last two years. This problem is made worse by the fact that only 42% use any kind of tool to prevent them.

Number of unauthorized parties

Of that 42%, we wanted to know what the most common prevention measures were and what devices hosts were using. Our research reveals that 84% use some form of security camera to monitor their guests and their property, while 14% have also installed noise detectors.

Other prevention measures include enlisting the help of neighbors, being present on site, and having a guarded gate.

What devices do hosts use
These results are based on the total number of respondents.

Surprisingly, 31.6% of all hosts who were surveyed admitted that they did not have short-term rental insurance, leaving them particularly vulnerable when it comes to parties.

Of those that do, 58% were covered by Airbnb’s AirCover, 37% by Vrbo’s Liability Cover, 10% by Know Your Guest by SUPERHOG, and 5.9% by Safely.

What insurance do hosts use

The top 5 most shocking stories of unauthorized parties in short-term rentals

Did you think you’d seen it all? While many guests use short-term rentals for a quiet getaway or a place to rest their heads after a day of exploring, some have other ideas. There are guests who see short-term rentals as the perfect place to host loud and destructive parties, often causing significant damage to the property and disrupting the surrounding neighborhood.

Although we received hundreds of responses, let’s take a look at the top 5 most shocking stories of unauthorized parties in short-term rentals from our survey.

Any given Sunday

Our first story comes from Laura Kerby in Arizona, who thought she was hosting a celebrity birthday party: “The guest said he was going to have some friends over for his cousin’s birthday—an NFL player. However, that was a lie. He had shared a flyer on social media advertising a party with a $25 cover charge. He had a bus picking people up at a nearby park and bringing them to my property. There were armed guards at the entrance and loud music playing, and my neighbors just exploded. This guest knew exactly what he was doing. It was awful.”

Unauthorized party

Laura says she now faces a lawsuit from 12 of her neighbors and is expecting the worst when it comes to the attorney fees and charges.

Spring Break = Spring cleaning

Anthony Wood of Southern Gem Properties in North Carolina highlights the risk of renting out during Spring Break. Of course, it can be a good money maker, but you want to make sure you get the right guests in. Unfortunately, for this host, they were very much the wrong guests:

“Our worst experience was a group of college students that rented a property we owned in New Orleans. They smoked weed 24/7; it was like living above a rave for 7 days. We attempted to “make friends” and bought them daiquiris and asked that they not play music late at night, but that did nothing. When they checked out, our home was a disgusting mess, our neighbors utterly hated us, and we were exhausted. Someone had gone as far as to pee in our refrigerator.”

illegal parties

Since this incident, Anthony no longer rents to anyone under 25 and is very careful about taking bookings around Spring Break.

The music video set

When Mary Sibambo in South Africa received a booking for three adults, she had no reason to suspect anything out of the ordinary. That was until she found out her rental was being used for a music video: “We had a booking for three adults, which turned into more than 15 people in the house. They were smoking inside the house, they burned the bed linen and the wooden floors. They also broke several glasses and played loud music the whole night. Apparently, they were doing a music video inside the house. We had to buy new sets of linens and new glasses, and we haven’t been able to replace the floors yet as it’s too expensive.”

making a music video

Mary says she now makes all her guests sign a rental agreement and pay a damage deposit upfront.

A party that raised the roof

April Nelson in Evanston, Illinois, knew she was hosting a new year’s party, but she could never have expected what unfolded that night: “We unknowingly hosted a new year’s eve party of a reported 75+ underage teens. There were so many of them in the upstairs unit that the guests in the downstairs unit sent me a video of the ceiling buckling and plaster falling on their heads. They feared a ceiling collapse, and the neighbors were coming out of their homes because the noise was so loud! We had to call the police twice.”

illegal party

Since the new year bash, April has reworded her listing to include phrases such as “no parties allowed”, “quiet and safe neighborhood”, and “mature renters only”. She says changing the minimum stay required from 2 days to 3 has attracted fewer guests looking to party.

The houseboat strip club

Jennifer Hoffman from Pennsylvania tells us how her rentals were transformed into some kind of nautical strip club after noticing a new amenity appearing on her property: “I rent small houseboats. One day, I received a noise complaint. After using my binoculars, I noticed a stripper pole on the dock. I switched on our very bright floodlights because the docks are narrow, and I didn’t want anyone to be injured as they were being told to leave. I ended up saying goodnight to 20 costumed Mardi Gras-style persons. I never did get the glitter out of the carpets….”

boat party

Jennifer has since installed video cameras on the exterior of her rentals to monitor guests entering and leaving.

How to prevent unauthorized parties in your vacation rental?

As we’ve seen, our surveyed hosts have implemented various measures to minimize the risk of unauthorized parties in their rental properties, including extending the minimum stay, requiring rental agreements, and installing video cameras. Nevertheless, there are other effective tactics that can be employed.

To gather further insights, we consulted with our trusted partners at SUPERHOG, a reputable vacation rental insurance company. They provided us with valuable advice on how to prevent any unpleasant surprises while renting out short-term rental properties.

What are the main factors to consider when implementing procedures to prevent unauthorized parties?

Know your property and know your target audience. Who are you marketing too? What are your key amenities and local area tourist hot spots? This will influence the types of guests you’re attracting. Remember to revise your house rules, implement a signed guest agreement and then implement guest screening to prevent unauthorized parties.

What devices can be used to prevent parties, and how do they work?

Building an effective risk management strategy is the best way to prevent parties in your short-term rental properties. You will need to:

  • Screen your guests and conduct comprehensive background checks to ensure your guest is who they say they are. This includes ID verification, phone, email, database and sex offender checks. You will have the full report on whether a guest has been previously flagged for party behavior, is using a fraudulent ID, lives within a local radius of the property or even using a burner phone so you can measure the risk of a party guest prior to them throwing an illegal party.
  • Collect damage deposits or implement a damage waiver solution as part of your guest agreements. This creates guest liability in the instance of guest-related damages. Guests without the intent to throw a party or conduct malicious behavior will happily oblige and accept their responsibility within your property.
  • Noise and occupancy solutions will allow you to legally monitor your properties’ noise levels and how many guests enter your property during reservations without impacting guest privacy. This allows you to notify guests when noise and occupancy levels are above what was agreed in their guest agreement and provide warnings for their behavior.

illegal house party

When it comes to short-term rental insurance, what should a host look for to protect themselves from property and item damage?

Firstly, ensure the provider is aware of the true operation of your rental property.

Secondly, and most importantly, as a host, you need to truly understand the value of your asset (the short-term rental you’re looking to insure) and then measure the level of risk associated with said property. Think of it like an equation.

Thirdly, look out for coverage on:

  • Comprehensive host insurance covering short-term guest stays, owner vacation stays and unoccupied periods
  • Global accessibility (if you have a global portfolio, you want to ensure each property is protected)
  • Contents insurance
  • Accidental and malicious damage
  • Damage to shared areas

The best way to ensure you bridge the coverage gap is to implement a Damage Protection Plan alongside your short-term rental insurance.

Survey insights: Key lessons

While short-term rentals have provided a convenient and affordable option for travelers, the rise of unauthorized parties has led to safety concerns, property damage, and noise complaints. Hosts can take proactive steps to prevent unauthorized parties by setting clear house rules, verifying the identity of guests, and monitoring their property. By taking preventative measures, unauthorized parties in short-term rentals can be reduced, making it a more enjoyable and safe experience for all involved.

Methodology: How did we prepare this study?

This report was created based on the responses of over 170 short-term rental hosts who participated in the Lodgify survey on unauthorized parties. Combined, they represent a total of 2,242 rentals and have shelled out over $270,000 in damages between them. Out of the participants, 41% said they own just one rental.

Did you find our study interesting? Let us know in the comments, and remember to download our free PDF for the best homeowner tips to prevent unauthorized parties!

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