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Guest Red Flags – Tips for New Rental Hosts

Whether it’s a family vacation, a short business trip, or a prolonged stay, Airbnb bookings can provide real value for money. Unfortunately, some people try to take advantage of rental hosts by finding loopholes in the system.


By Karolyn Hutson

Published on September 8, 2022

Guests with No Reviews

When verifying a guest, you can expect a few reviews from previous rental hosts regarding their character and how they treated their property. You may come across a guest with no reviews from time to time. Though we can’t ignore the possibility that the person might be a new user, an Airbnb guest with no reviews might also be a pseudo account.

To avoid potential headaches when dealing with such guests, try to ask for more information about their intentions casually. For example, you can ask about their visit or the number of people accompanying them. Simple questions can give you some insight into their personality, and based on these answers, you can decide whether or not to accept their request.

Trouble with Following the Rules

Previous hosts can point out this trait in the guest reviews. If many such reviews appear, you can establish a potential pattern of disrespect by the guest. It would be advisable to deny their request to stay in your property in such a case.

The guest might make some last-minute changes to the plan in other instances. Though a one-time change might not be a red flag, constantly changing the details of their stay would be a cause for concern.

Guests with Too Many Negative Reviews

You need to go through the person’s reviews before discussing the terms. These reviews will give you a sense of what the person’s character is really like.

It is expected that you might come across some negative reviews here and there. However, if the negative reviews outweigh the positive, you should probably reconsider offering the property to that person.

Even if the bad reviews are few, you shouldn’t ignore them. Some reviews like “doesn’t follow the house rules” or “better suited to a hotel” are guest red flags that could indicate disrespectful behavior or a high maintenance attitude.

Strange and Unconventional Names or E-mail Addresses

A person’s account name or e-mail address can tell you a lot about them. Granted, getting a decent username or e-mail address can be quite difficult in this day and age. However, some choices in names just don’t make sense.

Try to look out for account names with offensive words or remarks. It is also advisable to avoid dealing with guests that have seemingly fake names such as “Tony Cruise” or “Georgio Armani.”

Guests with fake names are likely to be hiding their real intentions for occupying your property. Verifying these individuals on social media platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn can also provide more information on their true identities.

A Presumptuous Attitude

Some guests have the misguided attitude that a host would be accepting of anything as long as they pay the required fee. In other instances, guests might be overly aggressive in occupying the space simply because they “paid for it.”

Such an attitude in a guest is a definite red flag and an indicator of the potential disrespect that may follow. In such cases, hosts must put their foot down and say no to the guests in order to avoid possible damage to their property.

Inappropriate Photos on their Airbnb Account

As with the Airbnb guests with no reviews, a guest with an inappropriate photo on their profile or with no photo at all might be a red flag. There is a possibility that the account might be new, but the guest may also be trying to conceal their identity.

To attain more information on the person, you can request that they update their account profile. If the person is hesitant to do so or uploads an altered or distorted image, then their intentions would be in doubt. Always keep an eye out for suspicious behavior in guests before agreeing to any terms.

Guests Trying to Book Their Stay Outside of Airbnb

Whenever a guest tries to find an alternative to book your listed rental other than Airbnb, steer clear of them! Airbnb provides insurance for guests that rent from their site, a booking outside the platform isn’t covered.   In addition to that, the platform significantly reduces the occurrence of fraud in such transactions, and it provides proper recourse measures in the event of a dispute. Negotiating outside the platform only makes you vulnerable to scams with little or no proof to make your case.

If the Guest Asks a Friend to Check In for Them

It is not acceptable for a stranger to check in on behalf of your guest. Under the Airbnb policy, a rental host is not obligated to allow someone else to check-in for their guest.

The simple reason for this is the inability to verify who the person really is. To stay on the safe side, it is best always to insist that your guest should check-in themselves.

Broken Language in the Conversations

Broken language might mean several things – maybe the guest is responding to messages in a hurry, or it is possible that you’re chatting with a bot. Fraudsters use programmed bots in their elaborate scams to contact multiple rental hosts simultaneously.

These bots initiate the conversation, and they can send personalized messages. However, you can easily recognize the difference between a bot and a person in the quality of their messages. Some of these messages are grammatically incorrect, or they simply don’t make any sense.

What Should You Do When You Notice the Guest Red Flags?

  1. Ask the Right Questions – Asking questions can provide you with some clarity on the real intentions of your guest. Simple questions relating to the reason for their stay or the number of people in their company could help to reveal the kind of person you’re dealing with.
  2. Document everything – Keep a log of what happened and when in case you need to dispute any charges or have any future conversations with the guest. This can also come in handy if there are any problems with the property later on.
  3. Cancel the Guest Booking – Airbnb allows you to cancel a number of bookings each year if you don’t feel safe having a particular guest in your property. This can go a long way in helping you avoid property damage and disputes with your neighbors.Sometimes it is better to cancel a booking even if it means risking your reputation as a host. Protecting your property should outweigh the need to bolster your reputation because problematic guests can sometimes cause significant damage, which is simply not worth it.
  4. Trust Your Gut – More often than not, people tend to get a gut feeling when something is off with the person they’re dealing with. This is also true in hosting an Airbnb rental. When something doesn’t feel right with the guest you’re dealing with, it is best to avoid offering them the property. This can help you avoid a lot of potential damage down the road.

Final Thoughts

Renting out your property as an Airbnb can be a lucrative endeavor if you approach it the right way. Staying vigilant and seeking relevant information can go a long way in avoiding a bad guest.

The tips mentioned in the article can help new hosts navigate through this venture without having to experience the trouble that some of the most seasoned rental hosts have faced. Always be sure to ask the right questions, conduct the proper checks, and, most importantly, prioritize the safety of your property.

Written by

With over six years of short-term rental hosting experience, Karolyn has helped hundreds of guests have an enjoyable experience. I love writing and am passionate about real estate, hospitality, and photography. Karolyn holds a bachelor's degree in Journalism and enjoys sharing her experiences to help others.