You listed your first property on Airbnb. It’s an exciting time as you wait for bookings to come pouring in. But what if something goes wrong and you have to deal with a disgruntled Airbnb guest that caused damage to your property or is a nuisance to your neighbors?
Airbnb house rules are more than dos and don’ts.
It doesn’t matter whether you are renting a seasonal room or you have a full-blown short-term rental business – you need a well-developed house rules manual to guide your guest on what to expect when on your property.
House rules for your Airbnb should include information on having people over, whether you allow pets or smoking, and a noise curfew if you have neighbors. You might also want to discuss check-in and check-out procedures, general house rules, and trash and recycling options.
Defining house rules for your Airbnb listing is the first step to a successful Airbnb business.
In this article, you will find a complete template of the most helpful Airbnb rules to guide you through the process and some helpful tips to writing them.
Table of Contents
Why Are House Rules For Your Airbnb Important?
While it may seem obvious, a set of house rules is an essential component to managing your Airbnb. Not many hosts know that when guests book your place they have to agree to your rules, and that those rules are actually legally binding.
We have seen hosts successfully use house rules to get retaliatory reviews removed from their listings, as well as charge additional fees for smoking and pets.
House rules are also a great way to set expectations for your guests, as well as educate them on what is expected of them during their stay in your property.
This information could be anything from parking restrictions or what happens if they check-out late and your cleaners aren’t able to get the property ready in time for the next guest.
Other reasons why house rules are important include:
- To help you avoid complaints from neighbors and other residents about noise, parking or trash.
- To establish cause for charging fee’s or evicting guests from your property.
- To limit your liability should your Airbnb guests cause a problem.
- To get Airbnb to honor your disputes.
- And to establish your right to enter into your Airbnb at any time of day for maintenance or inspection with 24 hours’ notice.
How Do You Write House Rules on Airbnb?
If you’re looking through your Airbnb account, you may feel like simply ticking the check boxes will have you covered. And for the most basic restrictions, it will.
However, if you want comprehensive protection for your listing you will want to add your own house rules.
To write your own house rules on Airbnb, you’ll need go into your listing dashboard and navigate to the ‘Policies and Rules’ tab. From there, scroll down to ‘Additional House Rules’ and select edit. You will still want to check the options provided by Airbnb, as they are filter options for the search results.
This is where you enter your important house rules that go beyond the options Airbnb provides, and where you should enter a “fee schedule” should your guests break them.
House Rules Templates for Your Airbnb
Now that we have a better idea of what a good Airbnb listing includes, let’s take a look at some templates for house rules that can be added to an Airbnb.
You can add anything you want, but these are the most important ones we recommend including and why:
1. Parties and Events Not Allowed
This should be your Airbnb rule number one, and for a good reason.
It is okay that some people like to have a good time, but it’s not okay to turn your property into a nightclub. There are enough horror stories out there detailing guests that check-in and immediately turn a property into an event destination.
Obviously, this will be an issue to neighbors and police if you’re not careful. And if you have minors drinking in your property, watch out!
As a host, you should know that there is always a risk of someone ignoring the rules and throwing a party. The good news is that there are several products and devices on the market that hosts can use to monitor their property for such situations.
For example, Ring Doorbell is a very efficient doorbell that sends you an alert every time someone rings the doorbell. This is an efficient tool to help you monitor the comings and goings on your property.
However, as per Airbnb guidelines, security cameras are allowed only outside the house. So what about the inside? In this case, look for a sound monitoring device.
These monitor the noise level inside the house and send an alert if something is out of the ordinary. You can usually set them only to alert you to noises above a certain level to prevent frequent alarms.
For more information, check out our article on party prevention devices.
2. Unregistered Guests Are Not Allowed
Contrary to what you may believe, many guests need to be reminded that no unregistered guests are allowed. It’s not uncommon for a guest to book for two people and end up sneaking in five more.
Unregistered guests are a source of many problems for the host.
For example, should an accident require you to report to the police, there is no way to identify all of your guests, let alone hold them accountable.
Some guests also book Airbnbs to hold photoshoots, film movies, or even shoot advertisements.
You might wonder what the issue could be in this situation, but as per Airbnb’s guidelines, only registered guests are covered by insurance.
Should anything happen during the course of filming – with countless techs, aids, and staff running in and out – you might end up being out of pocket.
They are also using your property for commercial purposes, and did they pay you any additional usage fees? If you did not give them a signed property release, you will be able to sue for damages once they release their content.
Therefore, adding this simple rule will help avoid a lot of unwarranted issues.
3. No Eating or Drinking in the Bedroom
Although this is a recent addition, it is an excellent rule to include nonetheless. It will save you many headaches, money, and time trying to remove stubborn stains on your sheets.
When at home, a glass of red wine or even enjoying a meal in bed is your prerogative.
But as the host, the last thing you need is to be stuck cleaning grease and food stains off the sheets. There’s also the possibility of the bed frame, rug, headboard, or even the side tables getting stained if your guests aren’t careful, which happens all the time.
Adding the ‘no eating or drinking in the bedroom’ rule will save you a lot of trouble.
In most cases, you can get compensation from the guest if they break this rule.
4. Leave the Dishes Clean
Believe it or not, most guests need to be reminded that they should clean after themselves.
If you do not clearly set the expectations, many guests will assume that the cleaning is part of the service they get after they pay for the Airbnb. They will assume that it is your responsibility to pick after them – just like in a hotel. After all, they often pay a cleaning fee when making the booking.
Setting the expectations beforehand can save you hours in cleaning. Alternatively, kindly suggest that they leave their dishes in the sink or dishwasher. Not many people like cleaning when they’re on vacation, and since they have paid a cleaning fee, it’s not unreasonable for them to expect you to take care of it.
Chances are, you’ll want to make sure everything is cleaned properly anyway before your next guest arrives.
5. No Smoking
If nothing has been said about this rule, your guests will smoke. It’s as simple as that.
For non-smokers, there’s nothing worse than that lingering stench of smoke, and unless you leave the room free for a few days, the next guest is likely not to enjoy their stay.
Remember to also include that the guest should dispose of their cigarette butts in the designated bins. Some unruly smokers can leave them in all kinds of places and damage your property. It can also cause burn marks on tables and other furniture.
For this reason we recommend you invest in an o-zone machine (Amazon) that will eliminate odors in a pinch.
It’s best to not assume that everyone has common sense and will smoke outside. Make it clear on paper, and remember to point out an outdoor smoking area if you have one.
6. Pets Not Allowed
There has been a lot of debate online concerning this point. Pet lovers argue that it does not make sense to ban pets on Airbnb when children are almost always allowed, while other groups point out the damage pets can leave on your property.
The truth is, much like kids, pets can be loud and messy.
They may leave undesirable smells and hair everywhere, bite marks on your furniture, and dirt on your rugs. This is why many hosts include not allowing pets in their rules.
However, allowing pets on your listings can be a huge selling point too.
Pet lovers consider their pets as their children, and they are always on the lookout for properties that allow them to bring their pets on their travels. So, if your property is one of the few, you are at a significant market advantage.
Plus, you will have a chance to market your property on other niche websites such as BringFido, allowing you to have a targeted market for the guest who travels with their pets. Besides these websites, pet lovers are also likely to market your property widely through word of mouth.
It is up to you to weigh your options and take the route that best serves your business.
If you choose to include pets, be sure to offer plenty of cleaning supplies, and it’s advised to opt for easy-to-clean tile flooring rather than rugs and carpets.
For more info on the best flooring to get for your Airbnb, check out our article!
7. Clarify the Check-In and Check-Out Times
Imagine a guest showing up at 8:00 am when they are supposed to check in at 2:00 pm or checking out at 3:00 pm when another guest was supposed to check in at noon.
If you don’t set clear guidelines, this could happen easily and is one of the most common problems Airbnb hosts have to deal with.
To avoid any confusion, reiterate your check-in and check-out time frequently.
It should be written in bold if possible on the listing, on the receipt, on the messages you send before they arrive, and in the house manual.
In addition, we recommend sending an automated reminder message to the guest before their check-in and check-out time.
8. Set the Noise Curfew
This is a tricky one. No one likes to be controlled, and therefore, setting a curfew might be annoying for guests. However, unless your property is in a remote area with no immediate neighbors, any noise after 10:00 pm can be a problem – especially in an apartment building.
In some countries, this can even lead to local authorities getting involved.
In fact, many cities have a curfew for noise, and Airbnb hosts can be on the hook should their guests break it.
Therefore, insist that the guest should respect this noise curfew to maintain your relationship with your neighbors.
If the guests break this rule, you can immediately evict them from your property. This rule relates to the no parties rule above but will include any loud music, loud chatter outside, or loud TVs.
9. Careful With the Keys
It might look like a no-brainer, but it is essential to include this rule.
We promise it is to your advantage. Human beings are programmed to care less for things that do not belong to them or they hold no responsibility for.
With that in mind, you need to remind the guest to look after their keys. Otherwise, you are likely to receive a lot of frantic calls in the middle of the night to come rescue guests who have misplaced them. Yes, accidents happen, but sometimes it is solely due to the guest’s carelessness.
To encourage the guests to be careful, some hosts indicate a specific amount to be charged for a lost key.
To avoid this issue altogether, we recommend you check out our article on smart lock systems for your Airbnb.
10. Turn Off Lights/Heating When Not in the House
Energy conservation is not at everyone’s fingertips. Sometimes you will need to remind people to turn off the lights and heating when away, otherwise they will ignore it.
This simple rule will save you a few bucks and the environment.
An efficient way to enforce this without the need to include it in the rules is to use a room card in the electricity slot. This will automatically do all the work for you, and it is more efficient for the guest.
However, if you live in an area with extreme temperatures, you need to ensure that this does not affect the AC or the heat.
The last thing you need is for your guest to come home to a freezing cold or swelteringly hot house.
In some countries, recycling is strictly practiced, and you can get penalties for not doing it correctly.
If you live in such an area – or if you’re an eco-warrior looking to do your part – this also needs to be included in the rules.
Some guests just don’t care, and they leave trash anywhere. No matter how many times you explain and demonstrate, they still do it wrong.
If you live in an area where they charge you for improper recycling, inform your guests that this fee will be passed onto them if they do not follow the rules.
12. Fake Tan Policy
This is one of those house rules that get created from a very traumatic, past incident.
This might not seem like something you need to worry about, but so many hosts have horror stories of an orange body-shaped stubborn stain on their sheets, which the Airbnb community calls the “liquid gold.”
Although there is no guarantee that you will never get a taste of this, it is better to state the rule nonetheless, because it will be easier to claim damages through the Airbnb claim process.
13. No Shoes Inside the House
You might think this is common sense, but sorry to disappoint you.
You will be hosting people from all walks of life and it’s amazing how many people will walk around the house with their shoes on, dragging dirt and debris over the rugs and floors.
In fact, wearing shoes inside the house can spread diseases and infections, because it’s easy for bacteria to build up in the shoes and then be tracked into the house.
To avoid going through the headache of cleaning, clearly state it on the rules and have an area somewhere near the door where they can leave their shoes. It’s also a nice touch to provide disposable slippers for their convenience.
14. Please Don’t Rearrange the Furniture
We can’t tell you how many times guests have rearranged the furniture in our Airbnb.
If you do not want wannabe interior designers redesigning your house, state so clearly. You’d be surprised at how many people think they can move things around to better suit themselves – especially guests staying for more extended periods.
This can be merely an annoyance, but it could also cause breakages to your furniture or leave permanent scratches on the floors. And for really big offenders, this can cause your cleaning to run way over schedule and affect the next check-in.
To avoid any misunderstanding with the guest, let them know to leave your furniture where they found it.
15. Suitable for Toddlers and Children Under 12
This is a preset rule by the Airbnb guidelines. You are required to mark your listing for either child (2-12 years) or toddlers (under two years). If you choose to welcome younger kids, ensure that your property is baby-friendly and well-equipped to host small children.
For example, ensure there is a baby crib and maybe a high chair. You’ll also want to make sure all of your outlets have covers.
It depends on your own preferences. However, admitting children of all ages allows you access to a more extensive client pool.
16. No Illegal Substances/Activities Allowed on the Premises
While it sounds like a no brainer, we’ve had guests use our Airbnb to meet sex workers and buy drugs, which can have some serious consequences for you as an owner.
It is also good to state that you do not want your guests bringing in illegal substances to your property. This will help you reduce any possible run-ins with the authorities, giving you peace of mind.
This also includes illegal activities like downloading pirated software or accessing torrents, as this can get you into trouble with your internet service provider and maybe even sued.
17. Review Forfeiture
One of the most important parts of setting up your house rules is to make sure the guests who break them won’t leave you a retaliatory review.
Imagine if you had all 5 stars and hosted someone who threw a party in your home, then wrote a review about mean and nasty you were because you called the police on them over the “smallest things,” and suddenly you lose your Superhost status.
This can and does happen, and Airbnb’s policy is that since the guest did go into the property, they can leave a review.
The way around this is to state in your house rules that guests agree that it is reasonable to forfeit their ability to leave a public review should they break your house rules.
Many hosts have had success in getting reviews removed by pointing this out to Airbnb’s customer service reps, who have historically sided with guests in these disputes.
Tips and Tricks to Writing Airbnb House Rules
Rules and regulations are a necessary evil.
People don’t want to feel constrained when they’re on vacation, but unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to see people behaving poorly when it’s not their home at stake.
With that in mind, it is essential to lay out ground rules to avoid any unwanted situations, complaints, and misunderstandings.
Still, you don’t want to come across as too militant. Neither should you be too lax. Here are a few things to keep in mind when drafting your Airbnb house rules:
Keep It Short and Simple
It is important to keep each rule short and straightforward (preferably not more than ten words). We’ve actually seen house rules written in full-blown legalese that require a lawyer to interpret.
Don’t do that.
For example, simply write ‘No eating and drinking in the bedroom.’ The guest will be able to fully understand your meaning, so there’s no reason to elaborate beyond that.
If some points need further clarification, write them in the house book and leave it next to the list of rules so the guest will have something to refer to if they need further explanation.
Your guest doesn’t have all the time in the world to go through rows of text.
Therefore, if you want them to read through all the rules, ensure that they are short, clear, and manageable. Don’t forget to also remind the guest to check the rules while you are giving them a tour, or when you send them an email before they arrive.
Use Simple Language
Remember that you might be catering to international guests, so it’s best to use simple and direct language.
Do not leave the guest guessing what you mean. It should say, “No food or drink on the bed,” rather than “Please try not to eat on the bed.”
With the latter, they may not think it is a hard rule, and it also doesn’t mention drinks.
Simple language will ensure that the message is clear and leaves no room for confusion and misinterpretation.
Employ a Commanding Tone
This is YOUR property, YOUR investment and YOUR liability, so ensure that your tone is commanding.
After all, they are house rules that everyone must follow and not a welcome note (you can write a nice and warm welcome note separately).
Anyone reading the list of rules should feel your authority and strictness. Include a section with the consequences of any violation, too, as that can be used should you file a resolution.
Some hosts feel like writing down the rules in a commanding manner would scare off the guests. However, rules are important, and most guests will understand because they are staying at another person’s property.
Keep It Friendly
It might be a delicate balance but ensure that the message is delivered in a commanding but friendly voice.
You are not trying to fight with or scare off the guest but to inform them of your expectations on their stay, so try to be polite.
Write in a commanding tone but avoid being arrogant. No one likes to be treated like a suspect. You can do this by adding a note at the top, such as, “Welcome and thank you for choosing my Airbnb! Below you will find a list of house rules. Thank you for following them, and I hope you enjoy your stay.”
This sets up a friendly tone and should make the rules seem less military-like.
Make It All About Your Guests
Put yourself in your guest’s shoes when designing your rules manual. The rules should not make your guest’s stay on your property a burden. After all, they’re there because they want to relax and have a good time.
The rules have to be straightforward and ensure enough support to enable the guest to follow the rules.
For example, if there is a rule requiring the guest to clean the dishes, ensure that there is equipment for it.
Ensure That It’s Applicable
Do not include rules just for the sake of putting them there.
All of the rules you add should be applicable to your property. For example, if you have a rule that states to close and lock all the windows before leaving for the day, ensure that each window does have a lock.
Make the Rules Easily Accessible
Ensure that the rules are in an easily accessible place where guests can clearly see them.
Always have a copy of the rules online and on printed material.
Displaying them on the door of your property works very well since the guest can see them every time they walk in. You can also opt to have another copy inside.
Well-drafted rules can keep your property safe, enjoyable for your guests, and give you peace of mind while running your business.
It can also get you great reviews online, which will work to your advantage, as more people will look forward to staying on your property.
Follow the guidelines above and draft house rules that will help propel your business forward. Good luck!