Hosts may experience many challenges in the vacation rental industry, whether its guests checking-out late, stealing a few things from the rental, or breaking something.
A major recurring problem is when guests bring additional people to the rental property without informing the host. It may be that they want to avoid paying for an extra person, or there is a maximum occupancy of guests in place that they can’t exceed – whatever the reason, it’s unacceptable and a huge pain point for hosts.
If you’ve experienced guests bringing more people and are getting fed up with their dishonesty, there are some measures you put into practice.
Why Is It Important to Be Strict?
You have a maximum occupancy limit for a reason. 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 authorized guest is injured, they could sue you.
What’s more, Airbnb has prohibited any parties following a shooting in a Californian Airbnb in October 2019. Enforcing your rules will protect you as a host, and will also help you avoid any extra fees, especially legal ones.
Before the Guests Arrive
As soon as a guest has made a reservation, you need to make them aware of your policy when it comes to bringing unauthorized guests. In doing so, you can hopefully prevent the problem before it has even occurred. Let’s take a look at what you can do before they arrive:
1. State Your 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.
Stating the maximum occupancy limit should be written in the house rules. You need to implement how many people can stay in the rental, e.g. if the reservation is for 4 people, there cannot be 6 guests. You should also make it clear that guests cannot bring any additional people – no matter how long – and that parties are strictly forbidden.
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. They are aware of the penalties if any of the rules are broken. Lodgify’s house rules template allows you to personalize and edit it according to your rental business. Don’t worry, we’ve already included the section on additional guests.
2. Include All the Guest Names in the Rental Agreement
A 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 it themselves.
Lodgify’s 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. Take 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 fear of furniture and amenities, but also if there are any violation of house rules.
Therefore you can take a deposit from your travelers, and only give it back to them if they did not 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 will more likely prevent guests from bringing additional visitors, knowing that they will be charged for it.
4. Add an Additional Guest Fee
On Airbnb, hosts can add a fee for additional travelers on their listing. Once logged in, on the host’s pricing page, there is a tab for extra charges. From there you can add a fee for extra visitors. The amount is totally up to you.
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 Their stay
Even if you’ve implemented the above, there is still a chance that guests can bring extra people.
Sometimes travelers can be dishonest and think they can get away with bringing their friends to the rental and avoid paying extra. So during their stay, you still need to detect if they had additional visitors. Here’s how:
1. Install Camera Surveillance
Installing a camera surveillance system outside will allow you to feel 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 latest 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 even speak to them if you wish.
You should disclose to your visitors that you have a security camera or smart doorbell installed. This will put off guests to bring extra people, 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 the evidence to charge them extra and report them to Airbnb.
2. Ask Your Neighbors
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
If you manage the property long-distance, having a friendly relationship with your neighbors is always handy. Similarly, you can ask your property manager to keep an eye out too.
3. Report Them to Airbnb
In the event that guests have breached your rules, you should report them to Airbnb. Make sure to gather up as much evidence as possible. How exactly did you find out they brought additional people? 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 hand it to Airbnb.
From there, Airbnb will open a case and take the necessary steps, be that charging your travelers an additional fee or taking away part of the deposit. In the case that your guests write a negative review against you, take a look at 9 ways to respond. According to recent policies, Airbnb will now remove any unfair reviews which were written by guests out of anger and retaliation.
What If I’m Not Listing 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 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 take away the deposit with the rental agreement and house rules.
What If My Guests Bring Pets?
The same concept applies if they bring pets. If your vacation rental is pet-friendly and you allow pets, you can charge a pet fee to your guests. 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.