It can be scary letting strangers into your house, especially if that house is also your home. Whether you’re living a thousand miles away from your short-term rental or just a few feet from your rented-out room, establishing rules that are clear, concise, firm, and easily visible can make a big difference in the control you can have over your space.
I am going to lay out the rules that I feel are necessary for all Airbnb hosts, as well as the ones that hosts may or may not feel they need to implement. Take note that these are all rules for during a guest’s stay. There are many “rules” that I would consider checkout instructions. That will be the subject of a future post. That said, let’s get into it!
There are a few rules I wouldn’t dare forgo when establishing a new listing:
- No Parties. (If you need to relive my trauma, read this post.)
- No Smoking. (At least inside. I extend this to vaping as well. With short turnarounds between guests, you can’t afford to risk lingering smells.)
- Check-In and Checkout Times. (You have a business to run. Don’t risk interfering with your cleaner’s schedule.)
- Quiet Hours. (It’s important to stay on your neighbors’ good side…same with that of the city government.)
- No Hygiene Products in Toilet. (Don’t let careless guests cause major problems with your septic system.)
- Fee For Lost Keys. (If you have a door that doesn’t use a smart lock, make sure guests are very afraid of losing your key!)
- Food Waste Protocols. (If you have no garbage disposal, make it known right away that guests should be putting food waste in the trash!)
- Clear Checkout Instructions. (Guests can be expected to perform certain steps to make turnaround easier for you. I’ll explain mine in another post.)
Up to You
- No Extra Guests. (Whether it means “no sleepovers” or “no friends over at all”, be clear with your expectation.)
- Shoes Off. (I always tell guests that shoes must be taken off at the door.)
- No Pets. (This is a must for me. The smells, the hair, the damage. Read my thoughts on pets here.)
Make Them Known
Now that you have your rules, how do you make sure a guest sees them? There are a few places I like to spread the message to my guests. Err on the side of redundancy here. I’d rather over-share the rules than risk a guest not seeing them.
In The Listing
Sites like Airbnb help you make your rules known to guests before they even book. That way, if they don’t agree with the rules, they can look for another listing. Plus, them confirming a booking is (in theory) their confirmation that they read (and agree to comply with) your rules.
In Airbnb you can edit the “Policies and rules” section of your listing to select answers to standard rules decisions. You can also enter freeform details in the “Additional rules” area. All of this will be visible to potential guests in your listing.
In Your Pre-Check-In Message
I am all about automating my guest communication. About a day before a scheduled check-in, I send a message to the guest which includes all sorts of house details; the address, how to get inside, WiFi information, fun things to do in town, and, of course, the rules of the house.
Inside The Home
Many hosts pass up the opportunity to remind guests of rules inside of the unit. The fear of being pushy or providing an “un-homelike” experience keeps many hosts from thinking about placing subtle reminders of the protocols. Remember that you’re running a business and it’s okay to place tasteful nudges for your short-term guests to read during their stay.
I have a couple of handwritten reminders; one by the front door (something along the lines of please take your shoes off!), one by the kitchen sink (food waste goes in the trash), and one by the toilet (do not flush hygiene products!).
I also have created helpful QR code signs and placed them in my units. These signs are simple to scan and promise the guests important house details, including WiFi. That’s a good way to grab their attention! All a guest has to do is point their smartphone camera at the sign and they’ll be taken to a customized PDF.
I design the PDF to include the house rules, checkout instructions, and WiFi network and password details. This has been an easy way to communicate with my guests in a respectful and artistic way! If you’d like to get one of these framed QR code signs and customized PDFs, check out the options here. Below are a few examples.
Short-term rental hosts tend to love the feeling of serving their guests and providing them a great experience. It’s important to also remember that you have to protect your home and your business so you can keep it going for years to come. House rules are vital to maintaining your investment and your peace of mind.