Seventeen Guests You Don’t Want

2z85jl2Many of those new to Airbnb hosting and short term rentals (as well as those new to renting out property on a long term basis, as new landlords!!) ,  express confusion about whether to take a certain guest/renter/tenant.   Too often, new Airbnb hosts are under the impression that guests having completed Verified ID will solve all problems and that if a guest has verified ID they will be perfect, will come neatly tied up with a red bow on top.  That isn’t quite how it works.

Secondly, new hosts, failing to realize that to be a host means you are now in the property rental business and that the need to SCREEN RENTERS is an essential part of that business, are failing to screen renters and have no idea how to do that. For help with these problems, see some helpful tips here on the GlobalHosting Forum:

Tips for New Hosts

Red Flags for Hosts

Now, let’s get into the matter of some types of guests whom you would perhaps be better off without. All of the following guest types are based on REAL experiences that hosts have had with guests — and some of these are distressingly common guests that hosts have talked about in the host community. So…be careful out there!


First type: Permanent but Flexible (Bad Math)

This guest, let’s call her Leila, presents herself in her initial communication with you,  with buoyant confidence that she is about to do you a big favor. She is a traveling businessperson, or perhaps a traveling nurse. She describes what she wants as a “permanent part time” or “permanent flexible” arrangement with you.  One variety of Leila, is the businessperson who wants to stay at your home 2 or 3 days a week, for an indefinite period of time. She also asks you if she can have the discounted weekly rate, or perhaps even the evern more discounted monthly rate, pointing out that she will be bringing you regular business.

Another variety of Leila, is the guest who says that she is a permanent resident in your city, but that her job is part-time, for instance only 3 days a week, or maybe only 10 or 14 days a month, so she wants to rent from you, permanently, but only for the days of the month she is actually here — the rest of the time she would like to be free to travel, and not have to pay for a rental.

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Caution: Bad Math ahead!!

One or both of these Leilas may drop you the additional benefit, that they will only leave “half” of their things or “a few things” in your room or apartment, during the days that they are not renting it, indicating that then the space would clearly be available for others.

You do not want these Leilas. Why? The place where beginners usually get tripped up, is in making the  assumption that any kind of regular business, is desirable. Yet, most people become Airbnb hosts because they are clear they do NOT want a permanent roommate. So when you get an inquiry from a “guest” who wants any kind of permanent, indefinite, long-term, permanent-temporary, or permanent-flexible arrangement, it is a good idea to go back to your original motivation to become a host and remember why you chose to rent on a short term basis, to individuals who would NOT be your roommates.

Another thing to realize, when guests offer you these supposedly wonderful deals of taking your space for 2-3 days a week, or 10 days a month each month, is that these are often arrangements that will cause you to lose money. If someone is taking 2-3 days a week each week, that means you either have to find someone to take the remaining 4-5 days each week, and only those, or you will lose money for that week.

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Leila isn’t adding it up — that is for you to do

Not to mention that you won’t be able to take ANY reservations for longer than 4-5 days, if one person is blocking 2-3 days each and every week. So you will be unable to accomodate 6 or 7 day reservations, 10 or 16 day reservations, not to mention 21 or 28 day or longer bookings. End result is that this person who is so self-assured that they are bringing you a great deal, which they should be given a discount for bringing to you, is in fact going to cause you to lose quite a lot of money.  This is similarly true to some extent with someone who wants only 10-14 days each month. This problem is not as bad, but it still means that you would lose the ability to rent your place for more than 3 weeks to anyone, and those 3 weeks would have to fit precisely around the “regular” guest’s 10-14 days.

Lastly, when considering a longer term renter, take into consideration that vexing and annoying problem of the entitlement attitude that can sometimes accompany guests/renters who either have long reservations, or are “regulars” and thus take on the demanding nature of roommates. They all too often don’t ask for, but start demanding certain exceptions, rights, or privileges that you aren’t interested in giving them.

Second type: “Join the Fans of Roger Fan Club”

This guest sends you an inquiry, and you see that the name on the profile is “Roger”, but the name he signs off with, is “Peace Rainbow.” Or “Dharma Yogi” or something in that vein.  As you read his profile, and/or inquiry, you feel like you are reading an advertisement for a New Age product line. wi32w8Roger-Rainbow tells you that he is a loving, peaceful, compassionate, dancing human being filled with mirth and totally conscious of his white privilege and and working for the benefit of the indigenous peoples of the world, who is also totally in the know about gender fluidity, who produces bath salts and unique-boutique herbal arrangements and custom mixes. He also practices Rainbow Reiki (his own custom brand) and teaches Cranio-Sacral Shamanic Journeying. He offers you a free session. The period of time that Roger-Rainbow wants to stay at your place could vary, from a few days to a few months.

Why do you not want this mirthful, aware and awesome Rainbow in your home? Some may be perplexed as to why one would turn down such a guest. Doesn’t he seem to be living a very healthy life style? The point to carefully notice, is that Roger – Rainbow often presents in an egocentric way that suggests his view that he is Gaia’s gift to humankind. He goes into more than adequate detail about all his eminent qualities and how radiant and super-wonderful he is.   It would seem that  Roger has had many doors fly open for him just by testifying to his own awesomeness.   (Sometimes in reading responses to housing ads, I wonder if many young people think that the mere use of the term “awesome” is guaranteed to be their secret pass to get accepted anywhere they like — for then all the other awesome people shall surely know that he/she is also of the awesome tribe!).

Yes, this glowing radiance is nice, but will he clean the bathtub? Will he put his dishes away in the kitchen? Or is he vastly too special and wondrous to be bothered with such mundane and boorish requirements? What I have found about many New-Age poster children, as well as quite a few political activist applicants, is that when their inquiries are full of self-praise, this is a good clue that they are full of themselves. zwnoteThey are more interested in themselves and how wonderful they are, how correct and wonderful their politics and consciousness are, than in following your house rules. They aren’t really too interested in what your needs are. They won’t necessarily be rude to you, but they are likely to just keep “forgetting” about something that to you is quite important — like taking shoes off in the house, or cleaning the tub after use, or not leaving dishes in the sink. I had one such semi- New Age Poster Child, who when she departed on check out day, walked out the house and left the front door not only unlocked but wide open, so that any criminal opportunist strolling by could have walked right in and grabbed anything. Closing front doors? How trivial I guess, when one views oneself as an important figure in the movement for World Peace through Rainbow Reiki.

The other dynamic to be aware of in this type of inquiry, is that of what  might be termed the “values switcheroo.” As a host, you have certain values about what is important to you in your welcoming guests to your home. For most of us hosts, that means our house rules are front and center. We love meeting people from different parts of the world, different cultures, different personality types, love having chats with guests and perhaps dinner with them, and so on, but above and beyond all of that, we want, no, we need, guests who will follow our house rules. That is probably the most important facet of having guests in one’s home — because if that goes wrong, nothing goes right. Hence it is a primary value in hosting.

What happens with the Peace Rainbow type of guest, is that the guest is overtly or covertly trying to pull a values switcheroo. They are interested in downplaying your values of house rules, or any rules for that matter, and playing up the value of being “cool” and “conscious” and a totally awesome human being. In fact, from the way Rainbow is presenting, you can start to see that he is actually waging a propoganda campaign, subtly suggesting that HIS values should be YOUR values, and that being a proponent for indigenous people’s rights, or being a dancing human being, is really much much superior than simply being a property owner with a set of house rules. If you accept Rainbow as a guest in your home, you might find that he radiates arrogance about the importance of his various New Age missions or products, and correspondingly expresses, in small ways, contempt for the comparatively unenlightened values of you asking guests to clean up after themselves in your home, or respect the agreement that they signed onto.


Third type: Oh By the Way

This guest, call him Fred, presents in a polite enough way. He sends a short introduction message, asking about staying 5 weeks at your house. You then ask him to read your house rules if he hasn’t done so already (I suggest asking this of EVERY prospective guest). In this case, let’s say your house rules indicate, as mine do, that your rooms are for one person only, and that guests may not bring visitors/friends to the house at any time, for any amount of time, and that no exceptions will be made. You also indicate that there is no offstreet parking and describe at length the street parking options available. Your rules also make it unmistakable that guests cannot receive any mail whatsoever at your house.

Fred says he has already read the rules, and all is fine, he’s totally okay with them. Then you chat with him a little more about what brings him to the area, how long he wants to stay, and answer the questions he has about how far you are from a certain place he will be visiting/working, and he also asks about bike rental. So far so good, everything seems to be going well, and you are about ready to send him a preapproval. 1qhi7nThen Fred sends you a message, saying “one more thing”, and asks if he can have his friends visit, and can he have his girlfriend Becky stay over for a week when she comes to the area. He also asks you if there is off-street parking available. Then he says he will be out of town for 5 days during the 5 weeks he is indicating he wants to book, and asks if he would have to pay for those days, since he will not be there. He says it should not be a problem to leave his one suitcase, since it is small and for the 5 days when he is gone he could easily put it in a closet or something at your house. He then says he will be receiving one package at your house just before he arrives, and tells you this will not be a problem, because it is a small package.

At this point, you should most definitely NOT send Fred a preapproval, and be grateful that Fred has helped you screen him out. Fred stated that he had read your rules, and unfortunately he falls into that increasingly large group of guests who can simultaneously claim that they have read every last one of your house rules, while at the same time saying things/doing things which most clearly indicate that in reality, they have “blown off” one or more of your house rules and/or have miserably failed to assimilate what they stated they have read.

You will now tell Fred that his latest questions indicate that he has actually not read the house rules that he claimed to have read, and that this misrepresentation leaves you dubious he would make a good guest. You wish him luck finding a place to stay elsewhere.

Fourth Type: “Prove it to Me”

Belinda writes to you, saying she is interested in staying at your house, but has questions about the safety of your neighborhood. She states that she has heard that your city is not safe. She means, actually, your whole city. She asks you to please explain in detail about the safety of your area, and she may even require you to put in a paragraph of self-defense about your city.

Why is this guest not desirable? Aren’t safety issues fair questions to ask ? While it is certainly fair for any guest to inquire about area safety, it is quite problematic when a guest is putting you on the defensive regarding safety in your area — basically putting you in the position that you are being asked to “prove” that your neighborhood/entire city is “safe”. This reveals that the guest is actually already biased against staying at your home, or is predisposed to view your home/neighborhood/city as unsafe. xeo9wWhat does “safety” mean to this guest? There have been many threads on this issue. For the most part, the “safety” of any particular place, is not an objectively measurable quantity or quality. This is not something about which one can say, for instance, “Well, there have never been any robberies or instances of accosted pedestrians on my street, therefore there WILL never be any.” Neither can one be expected to produce some comprehensive study on area safety and what that means for any particular person, at any particular time —even if that persons’ view of safety is rational, whereas some people’s view of what constitutes “safety” may be irrational or distorted. (Eg, there have been stories hosts told about how a guest decided an area “wasnt’ safe” because they saw people of a certain race there, or encountered homeless persons/streetpeople in the area).

Another problematic guest dynamic to be aware of, is that of the guest whom you feel is trying to “turn the tables” on you through their inquiry, such that instead of you screening them to see if you fit in their home, you feel they are screening you to see if what you are offering is acceptable. Isn’t this expected, though, you ask? Aren’t both sides really supposed to evaluate each other? Yes, that is true, but the main thing to keep in mind, is that through your extensive listing description, house rules list, neighborhood guide, and your own many photos of your house, and your profile description of yourself, you have already provided a huge amount of information to the guest, whereas the guest is unlikely to have produced an equivalent amount for you to consider. Also, it is really not the case that a renter needs to “Screen” prospective hosts — rather they CHOOSE potential hosts. It’s the hosts who are tasked with the screening. So if you find yourself feeling like you are the one being screened when you should be the one to be doing the screening, pay attention. You may be dealing with a guest who has been rejected already by one or more hosts, and whose inquiry to you is little more than an excuse to put you on the defensive and end up rejecting you. When people are hurt by rejection, sometimes they crave opportunities to then reject others, hoping to find by this means, a restoration to their damaged ego.

I once spent a good amount of time and energy trying to answer just such a guest question about area safety, only to end up having the guest tell me that he had “found out” that my area was not safe, and so he would not be booking with me. What did he “find out”, I wonder? Did he suddenly awaken to the fact that I live in an urban area, and so my area has “urban” type situations? I will never know, for after he summarily dismissed my neighborhood as quite unsafe, he ceased all correspondence and would not respond to my questions about just what information he had gotten and from where.

Fifth Type: Nice 2 meet U can I stay Ur house?

George’s inquiry strikes you as cryptic, not because you can’t figure him out, but because of the many spelling and grammatical errors. You know this is not because George is a foreigner — he clearly lives in your country. He says, for instance, “Hi im Gerge, looking to sty 5 days during my art cless teachinf this fall, Im an outdoro artist, create art on beach usign found materialls. I am 67 years old, I hope wil approve me thank u.”

The reason I can advise that you not accept this guest, is because I made the mistake of accepting this guest. I overlooked his many spelling and grammar errors, and liked his spirit and the fact that he did found-materials art  in landscape settings.  How whimsical and creative!!  v77bk8I was charmed!!  I’m an artist too and love to support artists.  But when I accepted George, what I got was a guest who was as attentive to the house rules and terms of the reservation, as he had been to his spelling and grammar. He forgot to remove shoes in the house, didn’t adquately clean up after himself in the kitchen, and 4 hours after checkout time, his things were still in his room, he was nowhere to be found, and did not answer his phone or email messages I’d sent to him. I ended up having to pack up his things and put them in the front hall. He later stated that I should have been patient with him because of his older age.

Lesson learned.

Sixth Type: Gardening skills worth their weight in Gold

Margo inquires about staying for a month at your house. She says she is moving to your area and will be looking for a permanent place to stay once she arrives. There is one problem, though: your regular rate of $1250 a month is too expensive for her, but she can pay $600 a month and do your gardening chores during her time at your house.

When you get an inquiry like this, there are many questions you should be asking yourself. The first is, “Did I ever say I was seeking gardening services?” Answer = NO. The second is, “If I wanted to get gardening service, would I be willing to pay $650 a month for gardening work?” Again, the answer is NO. The third is, “What would happen if I accepted someone at a rate of $600 a month, who said they would do all my gardening that month, and then they didn’t do the work they said they would do?” Answer = you would be SOL. (You would not be able to contact Airbnb customer service to have them force the guest to do your gardening work, or have them collect additional $ from the guest).

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Gardener with attitude

Question four, “If a person who can’t afford the standard rents in my area, moves into my house, and then starts looking around for a place to rent in my area, what is likely to happen?” Answer: It is possible that that person will refuse to move out of your home, saying that she cannot afford to move, as she has not yet found an affordable place. Never set your rates so low that you are essentially inviting people to live at your house, who can’t even afford to live anywhere in your city. It’s a setup for failure for them and potentially for serious problems for you. You may find that once Margo gets firmly settled and wedged into your home, the least expensive place in the entire city, that it now takes some serious tools to pry Margo out: tools like a giant crowbar and a whole can of WD-40, or a court order from a judge.


Seventh Type: Fear of Flies
( and drafts, nature, earth, reality….)

Susie seemed like she would be a perfect guest…at first. She indicated not only an acceptance but an enthusiasm for your house rules. She expressed that she was pleased about the orderliness of your house. She seemed very pleasant, clearly intelligent as she was a research scientist, and coming to town for a conference. You were all ready to send Susie a preapproval, when she sent you a message with another question. She indicated that she had been in another house where there had been ants and flies, and she wanted to make sure your home was free of insect infestations. In your minds’ eye you see Susie battling off a swarm of flies or a wall thick with ants, and ask her some more details about the insect problem she previously experienced. Susie simply says “there were ants and flies in the house.” You prod her further, how many ants and flies, where?

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Allie the Ant — a most terrifying individual!

Susie says that there were a few ants by the wall, and then, that there were a couple flies in the kitchen. As you ask more, it turns out that there were no swarms or hordes, just a couple flies that flew in a window, and a few ants, which she apparently sponged up and threw away. You are perplexed as to just how this was a problem for Susie, and you press her to explain. Gradually you realize, by Susies’ inability to comprehend why you don’t see a couple flies in a house as a serious problem, that something is… a little off with Susie. She has amplified these normal situations with a couple flies, a couple ants, into something many multiple times larger than it was. She sees dirt and foulness where there is nature and more nature, and evil where there is innocence. In short, you realize, thankfully before sending a preapproval, that Susie has a degree of mental distortion about the issue of insects, perhaps a neurosis — whatever it is, is not actually necessary to define. Point being you know that you are unable to keep two flies out of your house, or two or three ants, and that the presence of such tiny beings could result in a guest suddenly becoming very high maintenance — could even result in a very distorted review, “…the house was full of flies and ants, it was disgusting…” runs through your mind as you consider Susie.

So you say no to Susie, electing to keep your home free of those who fear nature.


Eighth Type: The Campers

When the campers  Joe and Marsha first inquire, you might find them a marvel of self-sufficiency. They are a couple, needing a place to stay for 2 weeks while their house in a neighboring town is being remodeled. Joe and Marsha say that they do all their own vegan and gluten-free cooking. They insist that they won’t need to use many of your kitchen items — as they have their own. They brag that they are low-maintenance and won’t need much from you, that you can just go on about your business and they will be fine. Their photo shows a nice looking, smiling couple in their 30’s, and you are inclined to preapprove them to stay at your house. Then, you get around to asking them a few questions, as you are curious about what kinds of kitchen items they will bring. You find that Joe and Marsha are planning to bring into your house a mini-fridge (to store chilled wine — but it’s okay they say, we will plug it into our bedroom, not in your kitchen), a blender, pots and pans, a coffee press and coffee grinder, a toaster oven, a rice cooker and ” a few other things.” They also ask if they can bring a portable A/C unit as they are sensitive to heat and it would be easy enough to bring theirs. Joe and Marsha also ask if it would be okay if they hung their laundry up to dry in your backyard, because they don’t like using clothes dryer machines. You ask them just how much cooking they plan to do at your house, and find out that they cook each day for several hours.

You realize that these people are “campers”, who dont’ intend to just stay at your house, but to set up camp there.

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Your Guest room  has gotten out of control

Like those people who profess to a wish to get away from it all, and stay for a couple weeks in the woods, but then they bring with them a 30 foot motorhome, a large BBQ grill, a flat screen TV, a stereo, a complete set of outdoor furniture, backyard game sets, an inflatable rubber pool for the kids, and an outdoor bar complete with several bottles of hard liquor, and anything else they can squeeze into the motorhome, all the better to enjoy simple life in the woods.

Decline.


Ninth Type: The “It Won’t be a Problem Guest”

Beware the guest who in her initial inquiries is already telling you what “won’t be a problem” in your house. Keep firmly in mind that as the person who OWNS THE HOUSE, it is not for someone else, particularly a guest to your home, to tell you what will or wont’ be a problem in your house. If you find that a guest is beginning to tell you what you shouldn’t consider a problem, it’s a very good clue  that this guest will be a problem. Here’s how things can easiily go with the “It Won’t Be A Problem” guest, IWBAP for short. Many of us have had a series of events unfold in our home, very similar to this one, so wink if you really get it!

Your house rules say no shoes. IWBAP says, “Oh, it won’t be a problem if I wear my shoes in your house, as they aren’t dirty!”

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Oh, Whatever — it won’t be a problem, really!

Your house rules say no smoking in the house. IWBAP guest sits inside your house smoking, holding the cigarette up to an open window, and says ,when you Remind them there is no smoking in your home, “Oh, it won’t be a problem, because I’m holding the cigarette by the window!”

Your house rules say clean up after yourself when you use the kitchen, put all dishes away when you are done with the kitchen. Your IWBAP guest put several dirty dishes in the sink, walks out of the kitchen. You go and say, “Excuse me, you can’t leave a sink full of dirty dishes, house rules state dishes must be cleaned and put away.” IWBAP guest replies, “Oh, it won’t be a problem, I will get to those in about an hour, as soon as I finish doing my emails!”

Your house rules say guests cannot bring visitors into the house, not even for a short period of time. You come home one day, and find two strangers in your home, and discover that your IWBAP guest has brought two friends into your house. You tell this guest that this is not allowed, and the IWBAP guest replies, “Oh, it won’t be a problem! They will only be here for about another 45 minutes while we have tea in the kitchen! THen we’ll be off on our merry little way!”

After this series of IWBAP’s, it is now time to send IWBAP guest on her merry way….out of your house.


Tenth type: “Let’s make a deal”

Carla must have grown up in those large open air bazaars, the ones you find in urban centers or country towns from France to the Balkans, but not so much in the US. 98h5jrThe bazaars where the price that is written down only means the starting point, and haggling over prices is just the way you buy things. So, Carla assumes that everyplace she goes, she will be able to haggle her way down. She doesn’t care that your prices already reflect two layers of discount: she wants more. So, you have set your rates so that there is a weekly discount, of say 15%, as well as a monthly discount, for those staying a month or more, of 25%. So your monthly price is now $1100. So Carla offers you $700 for the month. She figures you will both haggle and maybe meet in the middle, or maybe she really can only afford $700. I have had those requests — the guest says, “I see your monthly price is $1100, but that’s too much for me, I can pay $700.”2urte75

This should be an easy one for you to avoid. Maybe you can say, “Carla, the room is $1100, so if you can’t afford $1100 then no room. But I have some nice Mexican art works from Oaxaca, make me a deal on those and we will see if we can come to an agreement.”


Eleventh type: The Princess

Paula sounds charming when you get her first communication. She is coming to your town for a wedding, and will stay in your house for a week while she attends the wedding and visits family.  She seems cheerful, and quite willingly shares with you all about herself and her interests, tells you what her plans will be during her trip, and how much time she expects to be spending in your home.  Paula comes across as very organized, and you appreciate that.

But then just after you think everything has been covered and the reservation details squared away, and you are ready to accept her to stay at your house, Paula asks if you could put an extra comforter in her room “because I might get cold.”  While you are certain that the standard comforter will serve her well in summer, you tell her that yes, you can add a second one.  Then Paula asks if you can provide her shampoo and hair conditioner, as well as a notepad and paper, “since those are things I am used to having at hotels when I stay”.   Though those are inexpensive items that you could provide, you  don’t normally supply those to guests and are beginning to be a little concerned. 2dvjs7s Finally, Paula also insists that new linens be provided to her every 2 days, and that you do her laundry for her mid-week, and requests that you pick her up from the airport, “because I can’t trust cabbies.”  Now the real picture is starting to emerge, Paula is a Princess, and expects you to be her servant through her stay.  Some hosts are happy to offer extra services, but they charge a rate commensurate with what they are providing.  You offer budget accomodations and so your rates are not high enough to include many extra services.  You could offer Paula these extra services for a higher daily rate, but you are starting to get the picture that no matter what you provide, it won’t be sufficient, since Paula is clearly used to being a Princess who is waited on hand and foot, and you don’t want someone with that attitude at your home.  You direct Paula to the local Hyatt Regency, reminding her that she got free shampoo and writing pads there before.


Twelfth type: The Trojan Horse Guest

Bob seems like a great guest initially. He has Verified ID, some previous good reviews, describes himself well, and says that he will be coming with his wife and his brother to stay at your vacation home by the lake, for an 8 day vacation. You appreciate this small family gathering, since you allow no more than 5 guests at your home, and you dont’ allow parties. You look at the photos of Bob and his wife and brother, they are all smiling and looking pleasant, and you accept Bob’s reservation. A few days later, as you are looking at your messages with him, you see his last name on the message, and you feel an inclination to do a Google Search on Bob, something you don’t normally do since it feels to you like spying, but you search him online and find his Facebook page. You go to that page, and notice that there at the top of the page, is an announcement for a wedding.  m82zcYou are shocked to see that the address given for the wedding, is the address of your vacation home, and a photo of your house is depicted there as well. You count the number of people who have posted messages saying that they are coming, and there are 87 so far.  You realize that Bob has lied to you, he does not intend to have 3 people over to your house for a quiet vacation, he intends to have  100 or more people over to your house for a large wedding. You get on the phone with Airbnb right away, and you take screengrabs of Bob’s Facebook page, and you get Airbnb to cancel his reservation before it starts. Bob was the classic “Trojan Horse Guest” (so named by Andrew, host community member and leader) and be very very glad that you followed your intuition and managed to avoid the fiasco that would have ensued had he shown up at your doorstep with his little Trojan Horse family.

Fun Fact: this type of Trojan Horse guest situation has actually happened to several real life hosts.  The guests lied, stating they would have 2-7 in their party, and then tried to have a huge wedding at the hosts’ home.  In at least a couple cases, the host found out about the planned party, by finding the advertisements for it online, along with directions to and photos of her own home.


Thirteenth type: Be My Friend

There are two types of “Be My Friend” guests, — Melissa and Larry — and you dont’ want either of them.

What is wrong with becoming friends with our guests, isn’t that something we would all aspire to? Yes it is, if it happens naturally. With the “Be My Friend” guests, they come assuming that by paying for a place to stay, they are also paying you to be their friend — or more. Things can get messy pretty quickly when it’s not just accomodations that your guests are wanting to buy, so be wary.

Melissa in her first message to you, is asking for a place to stay for two weeks while she “processes some changes.” You talk with her about house rules, use of the kitchen and laundry facilities, and so far so good. But then Melissa sends you a message telling you that she is going through a divorce, and how long she has been married, and how the divorce will be stressful on the kids, and how stressed out about it all she is, and so, how glad she will be to have your quiet house to go to , to get away from it all. You try to overlook the TMI and excessive sharing, but then the next day you get another message from Melissa, telling you how late she stayed up at night, crying the whole time about her divorce. ajv7mfShe tells you about how her kids are acting out, no doubt upset about this. She asks if you might understand and expresses that she is looking forward to coming to your house to talk to you about this. Problem is, you are not looking forward to talking about all this with Melissa, and you dont’ recall offering any counseling services in your listing description. And you are starting to feel that Melissa’s presence at your home would begin to make it a depressing place for you.

Larry presents something of the opposite problem — he is in a good mood.  He’s very happy.  Actually, he’s too happy — that he will be visiting you, staying with you, at your house, and alone with you there — a single female.  He’s very, very happy about that prospect.  Already in his first communications with you, Larry commented on your appearance, as you are depicted in your profile photo.  He said that you were  “sweet” looking, which he later corrected, worried I guess that he hadn’t been inappropriate enough, and emphasized that you were “very attractive.”

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I want what you got. Gimme!!!

What is Larry’s ostensible reason for traveling to your area to stay at your house?  It doesn’t matter, once it has become clear to you why Larry wants to stay with you.  Decline.

Fourteenth type: I’ll Stay for A Week or Maybe a Year

This type of guest is on my mind at present because I just had one of these contact me recently. Call him Mark. Mark sent a message, telling me that he had just sold his home in a nearby city, and wanted a place to stay while he looked for permanent housing. How long did he want to stay at my home, while he sought a more permanent place? He said it could be a week, or a few months, or even longer. What is wrong with this picture? There are several problems with Mark as a guest.  The first is, that Mark doesn’t have clear plans.  There is a big difference between staying a week as a guest at someone’s home, and planning to stay there “longer” than a few months, ostensibly while seeking permanent housing.   On the one hand, a week is a short stay, on the other hand, “more than a few months” sounds like an invasion.

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Beware the invasion of Move-In Mark

What kind of permanent housing was Mark seeking, I had asked him — did he plan to buy another home, or was he planning to rent a place? Instead of answering that question, he simply stated that he definitely liked my house, that all the house rules were fine with him, and that he wanted to book.  Not so fast, Mark.  When prospective guests dont’ answer your questions, but brush those aside and keep telling you what THEY want, this is a good indication that if they stay at your house, they will also be more oriented to their own needs, than to yours.

Additionally, most of us who are doing short term rentals and Airbnb hosting, are doing this because we do not want long term “roommates” (see the other blogs entitled “Goodbye to Roommates!”).  We have been there, suffered through that, and we have had it up to here with roommates.  So we are seeking people who will be staying for a fixed, short or middle term time period, could be a few days, or perhaps a month or two, but never with plans to stay on indefinitely.  So Airbnb hosts rarely want a “Move-In Mark” who offers to stay for a week, or a few months, or quite a bit longer than a few months. (What this usually means, is that it definitely will NOT be just a week, and could be up to a year.) Finally, those who are seeking permanent housing, should just look for permanent housing, not try to make a short term rental offering into permanent housing!!  That smacks of a presumptuous attempt to appropriate someone’s home and their  generosity, particularly in the case where a hosts’ listing clearly states, as mine does, that I do not take reservations for more than X amount of time.

xlavrm
Mark moves —into your house!

It should be noted too, that it is far easier, and quicker, for someone to book a short term stay in a room or a whole apartment on Airbnb or the like,  than it is for someone to go through the standard and much more complex process of obtaining a long term rental — which involves filling out an application, credit reports, interviews, and perhaps more . So, it is quite possible for people who are really seeking long term housing, to try to “sneak under the radar” by booking short term housing in hopes of making it long term. Note too that in many regions, in fact most regions in the USA, those staying more than 30 days, can thus obtain tenant’s rights, meaning that if they overstay their reservation, the host might have to go to court and engage in a costly process (even, possibly, a jury trial!) to get that “guest” out of their home.  Hosts should be aware of this and approach all requests for longer term stays with abundant caution.

Finally, I just thought it was odd that someone had their own home, then sold that home, with plans to move into a room in someone’s house.  That seems like going backwards rather than forwards.

Fifteenth type: Sally the Scammer

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Liar Liar pants on Fire

Sally is a very smart gal.  She has found ways of getting a lot of things she wants, all without paying for them.  Sally is very clever.  Because she is clever, she is likely to know how to present herself to appear like the kind of guest you think you want.  Which is why it can be difficult to recognize a Sally when she contacts you.   She may seem pleasant, she is likely to be forthcoming and tell you about her purpose for visiting your area.    She will ask standard questions , and appear cooperative.  The one thing that Sally is not likely to have in her presentation, however — is a big, open-hearted, sincere and friendly smile in her photo.  She may be smiling, but if you are intuitive and look closely, you won’t see an open heart behind the smile — more likely you will see Sally smiling about her own cleverness. For she is proud of herself. Yes, there is someone and something Sally loves in this world, and it is herself, and her own capacity to pull a fast one on others.  Sally, (or Scott as the case may be) is likely to look arrogant in her photo — or perhaps distracted. And if lies could make a nose grow, Sally would have a very long nose.

6p9v94The first sign that you have a Sally Scammer guest, is the call or text message that you get, which complains of some serious problem with your place — a problem you have a very hard time believing could exist.  You scrubbed the place top to bottom and had it professionally cleaned, and Sally is calling to say it is “very dirty, …really uninhabitable.”  Or Sally sends you a text message to say, “There are fleas all over the place…I’m getting bitten all over…” and you have never had animals in your home, and none of your guests have had animals.  Yet Sally claims there is a horde of vermin in your home.  If not insects, it might be mice…or rats, cockroaches.  167wihjEven hamsters inside the wall, anything is possible for Sally.

If it is not insects or vermin, Sally will complain about heat.  There is not enough heat.  Or there is too much heat.  Or the bed is not as promised, or the oven is broken, or the tub is not draining.  Or perhaps the tap water is cloudy, or has sediment in it.   There may be mold or a moisture problem in the unit — (perhaps Sally even helped it develop by dumping water on the carpet and letting it sit) Perhaps the problem is noise — your  neighbors are having a loud party, Sally claims, she says people have been coming and going — something you know is very unlikely, as your neighbor is an elderly 87 year old woman.

Regardless the type of problem that Sally complains about — one thing will be true — she doesn’t actually want the problem fixed. So if she complains the place is very dirty (“unliveable” , really) , and you offer to send a cleaning company over that very day, she will make various excuses about why she can’t let them in.  If the heat is problematic, she wont’ let you send a heating repairman over .  No, you can always be sure that Sally is up to her scams, when it becomes clear that Sally doesn’t really want any problem she complains about to be solved.  And if you offer to put her up elsewhere, you’ll find that neither is she interested in leaving for a better situation.  No, she’d rather stay and complain, while allowing nothing to be fixed.  Sally’s planning to submit a claim for a big $$$ refund from you after her stay, and she is also likely  to threaten you with “legal action” if you dont’ pay up, because bullying people with legal threats is one of her favorite pastimes, as it is for all malicious sleazebags.

In short, there is no shortage of complaints that Sally might make about your place.  Sally is a scholar on scams, and knows that in many cases of renter’s complaints, fiction and baldfaced lies can go a long, long way.  The US legal system in fact seems to roll out the red carpet to malicious liars, as it has never heard of a lawsuit worth throwing out.    Sally thrives in this atmosphere where lies get you so much mileage, and figures Airbnb renting should be no different.  Sally may even have come prepared with evidence to plant at your home, secreting away some bugs in a ziploc bag in her luggage, which she will pull out later as “proof” that your home is infested.

The one type of Sally you really need to watch out for, is the one whose scam is to squat. e17n0g One of the worst possible things to happen to an Airbnb host or any property owner, is to have a renter who wont’ leave and won’t pay.  Laws heavily favor tenants in some areas. , and in such places, tenant scams abound.  There are several stories of Airbnb squatters —    The ones in Watsonville, and another one in San Diego , another in San Francisco and then one in Palm Springs and then there was a squatting nanny in California as well.  (Note that all of these squatters were in California!, and that several of them had previous evictions on their records — hosts can if they want do a superior court case search in guest’s county of last residence, under that guest’s name, to find any lawsuits filed by or against that individual)

So, the various scams that Sally the Scammer may pull, could vary from trying to get a partial refund, to demanding a full refund for her entire stay, to attempting to squat and refuse to leave.  Those renting a unit for over 30 days need to beware of laws which make it easier for such renters to squat, since stays of 30 days or more give them “tenants’ rights” , whereby if they refuse to pay or leave,  you will then have to go to court to get them out.  Since court processes move slowly, this can take quite a long time in some cases, particularly if the renter fights the eviction lawsuit.  In this case it took the property owner 274 days to remove a renter who actually never paid rent from day one — much like the horror story about tenants 220px-pacific_heights_dvd_coverPacific Heights,  the film with the tagline,

“It seemed like the perfect house. He seemed like the perfect tenant. Until they asked him to leave.”

Moral of the story: beware of scammers.  It may be hard to recognize Sally when she first contacts you to stay at your place, but look for someone who in some way doesn’t appear entirely genuine or open hearted. Maybe her self-description just seems to have some holes in it.  In any case, once you accept her and she arrives, it won’t take long to find out what kind of person you have in your house.  Please don’t fall for her fiction, and dont’ cave in to her demands for refunds, and if possible, give Sally a swift kick in the heinie as soon as possible, and boot her out of your home and far from you.

kick in buttjust say noangry-no-smiley-emoticonto Sally the Scammer


Sixteenth Type:  “Destructo-Dave”

Our last type of guest to beware of, is the guest who can be most costly.   For you may not have a problem with them during their stay — they may be quiet, they may be polite– but  they will break, damage or stain one or more things during their time at your house.  And the damages may be small, (as with Destructo-Dave’s habit of dropping dishes) , or they may be quite expensive.  For instance, when Destructo-Darlene enters the house, she forgets to remove her shoes — and whereas with some this may only result in a bit of dirt being tracked in, Darlene has stiletto heels and with each firm step on your shiny, newly refinished hardwood floor, she drills a hole into the floor.  So that the traces of Darlene’s route through the house can be mapped by the serial gouges.  Darlene has only been in your home one day, but she’s already tracked in several thousand dollars of damages to the floors.  stilleto on floor

What about that TV in the corner, why is it turned the other direction, not how you left it? That’s because Dave dropped it and cracked the screen, and turned it, hoping to hide the damage so you wouldn’t see it.

How nice of Darlene to offer to strip the bed and load the laundry into the washer before she left, you thought.  And you refunded her security deposit pronto as she was so polite, before you realized that the reason she loaded the sheets, comforter and all into the washer before she left, was to hide the damage she did to them…the coffee stains, from when she ignored the rules not to eat or drink on the bed and spilled her Starbucks there…

Destructo Dave is a strong man, and doesn’t know his own strength, so when he pulled on the cord for the curtain, he not only yanked the curtain off  the curtain rod but also yanked the curtain rod out of the wall, leaving a bent rod and sheetrock powder spilling out onto the floor.

The kitchen looks okay on first glance…no broken dishes there…but then you notice that there is only one wine glass on the shelf instead of your set of eight…and it dawns upon you that Dave and Darlene broke the other 7 glasses and just threw them away.   And what’s this? You pull out the drawer of utensils and find that you’re down to one spoon and two forks, whereas when Dave and Darlene arrived there was a full set of 10 of everything.  How can a guest break utensils? You go sifting through the garbage can and find the remaining forks and spoons are all in the trash.  Together with one cracked plate.   They are smeared with peanut butter or grease, jam or butter…but they are not broken, why were they thrown out?  Because Dave and Darlene dont’ like to wash up after themselves.

Why is the bedspread turned inside out? It’s because Darlene left her hair curler on it, burning two parallel black lines into the irreplaceable antique white quilted bedspread.

Why was the extra quilt from the bedroom left folded neatly over the couch arm? smoking on couchBecause hidden underneath it are burn holes in the couch — you have a strict “no smoking” policy on your property but Destructos dont’ mind such peevish things and Dave and Darlene both smoked cigarettes on the couch, and their embers dropped around and burned the furniture.  Oh, and as you look down, you note– also the carpet.

Destructo Dave and Darlene are not only serial destroyers, but they apparently have long practice with how to try to hide the damage they do.  So it’s not until 2 months after they have left that you find the broken CD player, the cracked window and a few other things you correlate to their rampage.

You wonder, as you scour your property for other signs of damage disguised…how Dave and Darlene do at their own home…are they lords of a domain of broken furniture, cracked windows, burned quilts and singed carpets? Or has their place long ago been reduced to a pile of rubble?
cigarette burn carpet
Moral of the story:  Beware the Destructo-Duo!

Seventeenth type: “Doan Speak Much English”

Our 17th type of guest you would do well to avoid, is the guest from another nation who has mastered the game of being smart and skillful in the local language when it benefits them, and feigning ignorance of local customs, laws, house rules, or the local language when that benefits them.

Doan-Speak-Much-Daria arrives at your house smiling pleasantly, ready to stay for a couple weeks while she completes a short course for her Master’s Level program in  Business Management.  She is traveling with her Mother and Brother.  Everyone is polite and smiling — it appears all is going well.

You return a couple days later to drop off an extra blanket as Daria requested, and when you look inside the house you are disturbed to see that there are 3 extra people in the apartment, and cigarette butts in your crockery on the end table.  You tell Daria that she cannot have extra guests.  “What mean?” she asks.   You’re startled by her naifish prattle, since she communicated in excellent English in her initial inquiry.

You lift up your ceramic bowl, now containing cigarette butts, and frown, “Smoking is not allowed in the house.”  Daria gives you a blank look and says, “Sorry, not understand.”    You are wondering how on earth Daria manages to get through her workshop in Business Management when she seems capable of only these simple responses in broken English.  Did she feign familiarity with the regional language when inquiring, and get help in her initial email communications from a friend? Ask me No questions because I doan know what you mean

Just then, you hear one of Daria’s unregistered guests in the other room, talking to someone else in perfect English.  You then hear one of them call out to Daria in English, and wait for her to respond saying, “What mean?” but she does not.

You discover that Daria speaks English flawlessly, when she wants to, and that she pretends to not understand a thing in English, when that is convenient for her.

And you then require Daria’s extra guests to pack up and leave, and submit a bill to Daria for $250 in extra cleaning fees due to her smoking in a non-smoking unit.

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2 thoughts on “Seventeen Guests You Don’t Want”

  1. Great article! I have been hosting for over two years now and although I have not experienced cases of such dimensions I felt immediately reminded of lighter ones in the past. Above all, the article helps you stay on alert and serves as a reminder that it is never worth taking suspicious guests only because of the money you wil receive.

    Liked by 1 person

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