Airbnb Nightmare: Quick Recovery When Guests Wreak Havoc on Your Property!

if an airbnb guest damages your property

As an Airbnb host, navigating the intricacies of property management includes preparing for the unexpected, particularly when it involves dealing with damage caused by guests. Understanding the Airbnb guest damage policy is crucial in these scenarios. While significant damage is infrequent, it’s not unheard of, and even the most well-intentioned guests can accidentally cause minor damage. So, if an Airbnb guest damages your property, what steps should you take? This is a question that many hosts grapple with, and it’s important to have a clear plan of action.

If you’re an Airbnb host, you know that there’s always a chance of guests causing damage to your rental property. While significant damage is rare, it happens occasionally, and minor damage is relatively common. (Even the most conscientious guests have accidents from time to time.) So what do you do if this happens?

Document, Document, Document

First and foremost, when addressing incidents under the Airbnb guest damage policy, it’s critical to document everything. Take photographs of the damage and promptly contact Airbnb. The policy is designed to facilitate resolution between hosts and guests, often leading to compensation for damages. Additionally, if you have insurance and the damage is substantial, consider filing a claim. Keep in mind, however, that deductibles for typical vacation rental insurance policies usually make this practical only in severe cases. Finally, for significant damages, engaging a local contractor for repairs may be necessary.

But don’t worry. If you take the necessary steps, you’ll have your rental property back in tip-top shape in no time. You may even be able to do it before your next guest arrives!

if an airbnb guest damages your property a broken window

Assessing Damage: What to Do if an Airbnb Guest Damages Your Property

What should you do as a host if one of your guests damages your property? The key is to remain composed and follow the procedures outlined in the Airbnb guest damage policy. Encountering property damage is a common challenge for Airbnb hosts.

The initial step, as per the Airbnb guest damage policy, is to evaluate the extent of the damage. For minor issues, you might be able to handle repairs yourself. In contrast, significant damage will likely require professional intervention.

After assessing the damage, the next step is to communicate with your guest. Inform them about the damage and seek their cooperation in resolving the issue. It’s not uncommon for guests to be uncooperative, deny responsibility, or simply not respond.

Regardless of the guest’s reaction, it’s crucial to document all interactions and the extent of the damage meticulously. This documentation is vital if you need to pursue a claim through the Airbnb resolution center. (In the exceptionally rare and severe case where you need to take legal action, it’s essential.)

if an airbnb guest damages your property a huge mess

Documenting Evidence if an Airbnb Guest Damages Your Property

Hosting on Airbnb comes with its share of responsibilities and challenges, particularly when it comes to managing your property. A key aspect of this management is understanding how to handle situations where a guest causes damage. The Airbnb guest damage policy provides a structured approach to dealing with such incidents.

Understanding the Airbnb Guest Damage Policy

When you list your property on Airbnb, understanding the Airbnb guest damage policy is crucial. After all, you’re entrusting your home to strangers. This is a fundamental aspect of using the Airbnb platform. While most guests are responsible, there is always the possibility of someone damaging your vacation rental. In such cases, the Airbnb guest damage policy emphasizes the importance of thoroughly documenting the damage. Ensure you take detailed photos and keep meticulous records of the damage’s extent and nature. Identifying the cause of the damage, if possible, is also beneficial under the Airbnb guest damage policy.

Navigating Damage Claims

Should you pinpoint the guest responsible for the damage, your initial recourse should be the resolution center. This is consistent with the Airbnb guest damage policy. Solid documentation here is crucial, as it supports your claim that a specific guest caused the damage. This is particularly vital for Airbnb security deposits, where you need to justify deductions. (Note that Airbnb’s process differs from other platforms that might allow more discretion in handling security deposits.)

In any incident of damage during your Airbnb hosting, thorough documentation is key. Adhering to the guidelines of the Airbnb guest damage policy in such situations ensures clarity for all parties involved. It also helps ensure your claim is paid fast, facilitating prompt repairs.

If a guest booking through an alternative platform, like Booking.com or VRBO, caused damage to your vacation rental, then your procedure may be different. (Obviously, the Airbnb guest damage policy does not apply to bookings made outside of Airbnb.) It’s always a good idea to discover what guarantees a vacation rental channel provides before listing with them.

When Injury Occurs: If an Airbnb Guest Damages Your Property and Someone Gets Hurt

If any bodily injury is associated with the claim, you should involve you vacation rental insurance involved at that point. Whenever someone gets hurt on your property, there’s always a risk of legal action. This is why it is important to ensure you have good insurance. At that point, it is much more than a simple Airbnb damage claim. Fortunately, however, such incidents are fairly rare.

if an airbnb guest damages your property, someone gets hurt

Utilize the Airbnb Host Guarantee When A Guest Damages Your Property

When you’re a host on Airbnb, things can go really well…or they can go really wrong. If a guest damages your property, it’s important to contact Airbnb as soon as possible. Airbnb has teams dedicated to mediating these types of disputes, and they can help resolve your situation. Airbnb’s host guarantee—often called Air Cover—can help you resolve many issues.

Airbnb offers this insurance-type product that may cover any damage that a guest causes. This is a great resource if you’re worried about unexpected costs associated with repairs. Airbnb makes money by increasing the number of Airbnb rentals. So, they have an incentive to assuage host concerns with products like this.

So if something goes wrong, don’t hesitate to reach out to Airbnb for help. Our experience with them hasn’t been perfect, but it’s been fairly good.

Repairing: Steps to Take if an Airbnb Guest Damages Your Property

When a guest damages your Airbnb, it’s important to complete the repairs as quickly as possible. The first step is to let Airbnb know about the situation. Then you have two options: hire a contractor or handyman or do the work yourself.

if an airbnb guest damages your property, needed repairs

Hiring a Contractor: Dealing with Repairs if an Airbnb Guest Damages Your Property

If you decide to hire a contractor, it’s important to do your research. Find someone who is qualified and experienced in repairing Airbnb properties. You can find contractors through word-of-mouth, online directories, or by searching on Google. It’s also a good idea to get quotes from multiple contractors before making a decision.

Here is where it really helps to have a relationship already built with a local contractor or handyman. You’ll want to have your property ready as soon as possible. You want to minimize the time you’re property is out of commission. The longer it’s unavailable, the more money you lose.

It’s also helpful to have some money in reserves. Even if Airbnb does eventually reimburse you, you don’t want to have to wait on Airbnb’s resolution center to finish its investigation before starting work.

If you don’t have a decent cushion of cash reserves, then consider requiring guests to provide a refundable damage deposit so you have something on which to draw if something happens. A damage deposit can provide more security than a claim process—though take care with an Airbnb-required security deposit, as they can be more difficult to recover than other types.

if an airbnb guest damages your property, repairs

DIY Repairs: Addressing Damage if an Airbnb Guest Damages Your Home

If you decide to do the work yourself, it’s important to make sure you have the necessary skills and knowledge to do a quality job. You can often find helpful tutorials online. They will be able to provide you with more information about what needs to be done and how best to go about doing it.

If you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t try. Shabby repairs will not only hurt the aesthetics of your Airbnb property and its associated reviews, but it could also open you up to legal liability if your repair fails and results in someone getting hurt.

No matter which option you choose, it’s important to complete the repairs as soon as possible to avoid further damage to your property and minimize disruptions for your scheduled guests. By taking the necessary steps, you can ensure that your property returns to its original condition in no time.

if an airbnb guest damages your property do it yourself

Filing Insurance Claims: Necessary Steps if an Airbnb Guest Damages Your Property

If you’ve been hosting Airbnbs for very long at all, there’s a good chance you’ve had a guest damage your property. And if the damage is substantial or Airbnb won’t pay, you may need to file a claim with your insurance carrier. 

As discussed above, however, filing an insurance claim is often the last resort because deductibles are frequently in the $1,000 – $2,000 range, making them an impractical solution in all but the most extreme circumstances. (You are unlikely to have damage in this amount, so the insurance policy is most valuable for catastrophic damage and liability coverage.)

if an airbnb guest damages your property file an insurance claim

Securing Proper Insurance: Precautions if an Airbnb Guest Damages Your Rental

Because many insurance policies won’t cover short-term rentals, it is essential that you ensure your policy covers such activities. If you’re unsure, call your insurance company and ask. This is extremely important but something that many new hosts don’t understand. Your home owner’s insurance is not going to cover your Airbnb business. Period. 

This is not something that you want to find out when it comes time to file a claim. At that point, you’re out of luck. Even hosts with real estate investing experience fall into this trap because they mistakenly think that standard landlord insurance will cover an Airbnb business. Most of the time, it won’t. Landlord insurance covers traditional long-term renting activities. It does not cover short-term rentals. You will need a special rider for that, so make sure you get it. Not all insurance companies offer this type of coverage. We’ve used Proper Insurance and have been more than happy with the results. There are other companies out there, though, so be sure to look around. Whatever you do, however, make absolutely certain that you have the coverage you need.

if an airbnb guest damages your property find an insurance agent

How to File a Claim

While every company has its own quirks, filing an insurance claim is going to be different than trying to take advantage of a host guarantee through Airbnb or another channel.

If you do need to file an insurance claim, be sure to have all the necessary documentation handy, including:

– Documentation of loss (e.g., police report, photos of damage)

– Proof of payment (e.g., receipts for repairs)

– Proof of occupancy (e.g., rental agreement, Airbnb listing)

– Evidence of ownership (e.g., title or deed)

Filing a claim can be a long and frustrating process, but it’s important to do so if you want to be compensated for your losses. Following the steps above will increase your chances of a successful claim

Thank Your Airbnb Guests for Their Stay

This one may seem counterintuitive, but hear me out.

It’s always important to be professional and appreciative, even if a guest has caused damage to your property. Accidents happen, and it’s important to remember that the guests are still people, no matter what. Thank them for staying with you and express hope that they had a good time overall.

Maintaining a good reputation is essential in the Airbnb community, so promote good word of mouth by being thankful and gracious, even in difficult situations. We’ve found that most guests are truly apologetic about any accidental damage they caused and are more than willing to cover the cost. By showing some grace and professionalism, you can leave your guest feeling like their stay was a positive experience. (Besides, in theory, that’s why Airbnb’s host guarantee is there anyway.)

If you’re an Airbnb host and you have a guest who intentionally damages your property, however, you may want to handle things a little differently. You obviously will not want to rent to those guests again, and you should warn other hosts by leaving a poor—but an accurate—review. You’ll also want to report all the details to Airbnb, as they may want to bar the guest from the platform. You may even want to file a police report. 

How to Prevent Damage in the First Place

When hosting guests in your Airbnb, it is important to take steps to prevent damage from occurring in the first place. Unfortunately, accidents happen, but if you take some precautions, you can help minimize the chances of damage.

Set Expectations

One of the most important things to do is to provide a clear list of house rules and expectations for your guests. This should include information on what you allow and do not allow in your home and what will happen if they break any rules. 

It’s also important to be clear about what you expect of them when they check out. Will they need to wash all the dishes? Vacuum the floors? Make sure everyone understands what is required so that there are no surprises.

Be cautious on this point, however. It’s ok to ask the guests to do a few simple things—run the dishwasher or put the trash in the trashcan, for example. But, they are paying customers; they are not employees. Giving them a list of chores is going to leave a bad taste in their mouth, particularly if they paid a reasonable rate for their stay. (And they probably won’t do them anyway.)

Do a Walk Through

You should consider doing a walk-through with your guests when they arrive, pointing out any areas that may be fragile or off-limits. If there are any valuable or sentimental items in your home, make sure to keep these well-protected and out of reach. The best approach is simply to have a locked room or closet where you keep stuff that is off limits. Trying to make particular items in common rooms verboten not only seems petty and foolish but is unenforceable anyway.

While a physical walkthrough may be helpful, it is not necessary. Including this information in instructions that are sent in a message to a guest can accomplish the same thing, particularly if you lock the off-limits areas. Though, be warned. People will often send you messages asking questions that you already answered in your earlier notifications because they don’t read what you send them. So, keep this in mind.

Document Everything

Finally, if something does happen, make sure to document it thoroughly. Take pictures of the damage, gather any evidence that you can, and report the incident to Airbnb as soon as possible. This will help to ensure that you are compensated for any damages that occur.

By taking these precautions, you can help to prevent damage from happening in your Airbnb. While accidents may still happen, if you are prepared, you can minimize the chances of any serious damage.

Consider Charging a Security Deposit

When hosting guests in your Airbnb, one way to help protect yourself from damages is to charge a security deposit. A security deposit can help to cover the costs of any damage that may occur during a guest’s stay.

Pros:

There are a number of benefits to charging a security deposit. First, security deposits can help ensure that guests respect your property and don’t damage anything. Security deposits can also serve as a deterrent for those who may be inclined to cause damage, as they know they will have to pay for any repair or cleaning costs themselves.

Charging a security deposit can also help to protect you in the event of an accident. If damage does occur, you can use the security deposit to cover the costs of repairs or cleaning. This can help to avoid any financial losses on your part.

Cons:

If you’re considering charging a security deposit, however, consider the downsides as well. Many guests find a security deposits to be turnoffs. With many hosts choosing not to require security deposits, you may find charging them hurts your bookings. How many bookings can you lose before you’re actually out money from lost bookings?

You need to ask yourself whether charging a security deposit for the purpose of covering a rare event—damage to your property—is worth all the revenue you may lose. If you suffer $1,000 worth of damage per year, is it worth charging a security deposit on every stay if doing so costs you $10,000 in booking revenue?

The feasibility of charging a security deposit will depend on your market and your individual home—luxury homes can often get away with charging security deposits easier than more modest dwellings—but it is nonetheless something that you should consider. If the market won’t support requiring a damage deposit, then don’t.

Why Consider Host Protection Insurance?

Another way to help protect yourself from damages caused by guests is to get host protection insurance. This type of insurance is separate from your normal short-term landlord insurance in that it exists specifically to cover damages that guests may cause.

Such is not required by Airbnb—or any other platform of which we are aware—but it is something that you may want to consider. It can help to provide peace of mind knowing that you are covered in the event of any damage. It also provides the peace of mind of a security deposit without the same potential marketing issues.

The Pros and Cons of Going Beyond Airbnb

You may also find it easier to get your claims approved through such companies than through Airbnb, whether through their Air Cover program or an Airbnb security deposit. These companies have an incentive to keep their customers happy—as this is their entire line of business—so they generally are more willing to pay out than some other programs.

Case Study: Safely vs. Superhog

They can, however, be expensive. We previously used Safely, which was an extraordinary company. We never had any issues with them, and it was always extremely easy to file claims and receive payment. But it cost about $50 per stay, and more for longer stays. We passed that amount onto our guests through a nonrefundable “damage deposit” or “damage waiver.” But, it made short stays significantly more expensive, which we believe cost us bookings.

We have since moved to Superhog. While I hate the name, it is significantly cheaper—usually between $5 and $10 per stay—so it is much easier to pass on to the guest. It also conducts guest checks to see if there are any red flags in the guest’s history that should discourage us from renting to them. In the nearly seven months since we’ve been using them, however, we haven’t had to file any claims. (This is a testament to how rare damage claims are, particularly if you refuse to rent to guests with bad reviews.) Consequently, we can’t speak to the ease of the claim process.

Potential Hurdles with Superhog

Superhog does request guests to complete a questionnaire, however, which some guests are uncomfortable doing. So, that is something to consider as well.

Conclusion

Damage to property can happen in any number of ways, and it’s important to have a plan in place if something goes wrong. If you’re an Airbnb host, it’s especially important to be prepared for the unexpected. In this article, we outlined what you should do if your guests cause damage to your property. We also provided some tips on how to prevent damage from happening in the first place. By following these guidelines, you can help ensure that both you and your guests have a safe and enjoyable stay.

If you’re interested in learning more about how Weekender Management can help you get started in real estate, schedule a call with us today!