house renovations

Protocol For Making House Repairs During Airbnb Guest Stays

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“This is a nightmare,” you think as you look at the water pouring out from underneath your bathroom sink. What used to be a soothing sanctuary is now auditioning for the part of Yellowstone’s Old Faithful. As you grimly wade into the bathroom to shut the water off, you start thinking of everything you’re going to have to do to clean up the mess. To make matters worse, you have Airbnb guests staying during your house repairs. How do you handle the situation with them?

As an Airbnb host, it’s a good idea to have a protocol in place just in case you have to make some house repairs during a guest’s stay. Whether it was an accident caused by a guest or an equipment malfunction, you should always be prepared.

Plan Ahead for House Repairs

It’s just plain smart to plan ahead. As much as we all prefer to plan house renovations and repairs for times when we won’t have visitors in our home, accidents and unplanned breakdowns happen.

  • Have contact information for a reputable repair person on hand. Know who you’ll call. Keep a list on hand of all of your local and reliable repair services, from plumbers to electricians to animal control. Even animals can cause damage that requires immediate attention.
  • Provide your guests with a repair protocol and a list of emergency numbers. Most likely, the problem will be better handled in a manner you prefer.
  • Provide instructions in your House Manual or elsewhere in your rental on how to communicate with you during an emergency or repair need.
  • Stay on top of routine maintenance. You’re less likely to have emergency repairs if you keep everything in good shape. 
  • Keep updated pictures of your home and major appliances from before and after each stay. Photos will make it easier to identify whether the damage is new or preexisting.
  • Consider a home warranty or service contracts with utility providers or other repair services. For an annual fee, you’ll get a service contract that covers repair or replacement and may get you priority service.

Assess the Situation

So, your tenants have called, and something has broken. Assess the situation. There are a few things you need to figure out before you can start repairs.

  • What needs to be fixed? Finding out what needs to be repaired first will help you decide whether or not you can make the repair yourself. 
  • Will waiting to make repairs make things worse? You obviously do not want to inconvenience your guests, but some situations, like a sewage leak, only get worse if repairs are delayed.
  • Who’s responsible? It’s essential to figure this out as soon as possible. Neither party wants to have to worry about who’s going to foot the bill.
  • Does it have to be fixed now? Ask yourself and your guests if the house repair has to be done now, or if it can wait until their stay is over.

Let’s say the heater broke, but the guests love the idea of using the wood stove in the Airbnb. Both sides could agree to wait until their stay is over to bring in a maintenance specialist. A broken air conditioner during a heatwave, however, will need immediate attention.

Communicate and Document

A lack of information always makes a difficult situation worse.

  • Using the Airbnb messaging system keeps everyone – you, your guests, and Airbnb – all on the same page. It can also act as the documentation you may need to avoid fees if you are forced to cancel a reservation. Always use the Airbnb messaging system for important communications with your guests.
  • If you aren’t at home or nearby, ask your guests to give you detailed information about the issue or send a co-host to do so if you have one. Ask that they send you pictures. 
  • Make sure you clarify whether or not you assume responsibility for the damage or use the Resolution Center to collect damages through the guest’s payment method on record.
  • Be extra helpful and accommodating while the repair is being made. If they need to leave the house for a few hours, suggest some local attractions or a good restaurant. You may even consider throwing in a gift certificate.
  • Depending on the problem, consider refunding part of their payment. If they feel they need to stay somewhere else, work with Airbnb to find another host for them.
  • Communicate early and often with Airbnb. Don’t assume that just because you are using their messaging system, the company is aware of the situation.
  • Keep copies of any bills or receipts so you can submit them to Airbnb and your insurance company if needed.

Have Protocol in Place for House Repairs

Having protocol in place brings everyone on the same page almost immediately. It prevents second-guessing and can increase safety should something significant happen, such as a damaged gas line or, to give an extreme example, part of the ceiling collapses.

  • Knowing what to do reduces panic. 
  • A consistent, prepared response is not only comforting but also speeds up the resolution of the problem.
  • Including your protocols in the rental agreement or your house manual can protect you from liability and legal action.

The Bottom Line

Having a protocol in place for making repairs during a guest’s Airbnb stay will save everyone time and aggravation. A good host will have a plan set up in advance and available to their guests. In the words of Maya Angelou, we should be “Hoping for the best, prepared for the worst, and unsurprised by anything in between.”

About the Author Rachel Jones

Rachel Jones is an award-winning writer and editor from Oklahoma City, OK. Her work has been published on influential sites, including Entrepreneur and International Business Times. She spent several years in property management and leasing, handling short-term rentals, student housing, and community rentals. Rachel is also experienced in staging and real estate photography. With a B.A. in English in her back pocket, Rachel combines her passion for property management with her storytelling ability to offer Airbnb hosts helpful advice as they monetize their homes.