Airbnb house rules - best practice guide
Airbnb house rules are important. But how do you best approach them? No vacation rental host wants to come off as an oppressive dictator or compulsive clean freak: you want your guests to feel comfortable and at-home, after all! But being too relaxed can also come back to bite you.
Thankfully, finding a balance is possible. When it comes to establishing boundaries and setting rules, it can help to follow these tips.
1. Remember why you need rules.
House rules don't only exist to remind guests that letting ten dogs loose inside your pad is a no-no (though, there is that). They're also important because they help to manage expectations. Guests will know from the outset what is and what isn’t acceptable, which prevents disappointment or misunderstandings later on. They’re also useful if it comes to making a claim or settling a dispute, as evidence that the guests went against your (clearly stated) wishes.
2. Keep them simple.
You know the eight pages of terms and conditions you have to agree to when you install a piece of software or get a new phone contract? You’ve never once read those, admit it. Humans have a low tolerance for reading fine print, so if you want your guests to actually take your house rules in, you’ll have to keep them as short and simple as possible while still saying everything you need to.
3. Find the right tone.
Be friendly, but firm. It’s completely ok to state things like "Strictly no parties” or “Smoking outside only” without offering further explanation. But it can also be persuasive to humanize the text a little, which is why a lot of hosts add wording like “This house is our home, so we ask all guests to be respectful and leave it as they found it.” This not only states the rules but makes guests more aware of their responsibility to others.
4. Repeat the rules in your listing and in print.
Your rules should be clearly stated on your property listing, so that potential guests know from the outset what to expect. If they’re planning to have friends come and stay, for example, only to find out you don’t accept extra guests, this would cause problems for everyone down the track.
Additionally, keep a copy of your house rules (they should be no more than one page) clearly available inside the space so guests can refer to it at any time.
5. Communicate with service providers.
Be sure to also communicate rules and guidelines to service providers you might engage in the running of your property. Property managers should be well aware of your house rules and manage them for you. If you use a professional cleaning service, they should also be aware of the rules and know to report back to you if they weren’t followed — for example if they notice damages, cleaning procedures that were ignored, or evidence of unapproved parties. This way you can immediately be aware of any claims that need to be made or feedback that needs to be given.
6. Consider all areas.
There are a number of areas relating to hosting that rules and boundaries can apply to. Consider each of the following categories and whether they apply to you:
Extra guests: do you allow them and if so is there an added cost or approval process?
Cleaning: any specific instructions for where to put trash or how to sort recycling?
Out-of-bounds areas: are there any places or rooms that guests cannot access?
Pets: do you allow animals?
Noise: are there noise limits for the sake of neighbors? Or particular times noise must be shut off?
Parties and events: do you allow parties or events inside the space? If so, do they need to be specifically approved by you?
Smoking: do you allow smoking? Are there designated areas?
Once you've considered what’s most important to you, creating a clear and simple set of rules is relatively easy. If problems crop up, amend or add to them as necessary, and you’ll soon find managing expectations of guests becomes much easier.
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