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How to protect your listings from Airbnb guest damages and reduce your reliance on OTA’s

Posted by Kiera Davidson on January 17, 2023 · Hosts,Property Managers

What happens if an Airbnb guest damages your property? How do you protect your short-term rental? We understand that most Airbnb hosts rely on the booking platform to have your back, help resolve problems and keep you protected so that you can continue to host your next guests…without any hiccups.

Of course, Aircover can be a great resource for hosts facing problematic guests. Your guide to Airbnb’s Aircover highlights the latest improvements; however, there are other ways you can protect your Airbnb listings that will also enable you to:

  • Reduce your reliance on the big OTA’s
  • Become more independent as a short-term rental host
  • Resolve guest damages quickly and efficiently

Airbnb guest damages can happen to any Airbnb host:

“It was one thing after another…The trash was insane,” John Hildebrand, CEO of Hilde Homes, breaks down exactly how he’s suffered bad Airbnb guests, how he protects his short-term rentals and offers tips and tricks on what to do if an Airbnb guest damages your property.

Airbnb guest damages: A real-life bad Airbnb hosting experience

by Hilde Homes

Handling a bad Airbnb guest post-stay and collecting on damages is tough. Guest friction can build, relationships can become sour, and OTA processes can be tedious and tend to favour guests more than the hosts.

So how do you handle and resolve Airbnb guest damages?

  • Report your damage quickly and efficiently: the more evidence you provide at one time will help speed up the process without the hassle of back-and-forth emails or calls.
  • Collect a security deposit: by having a deposit on file, you can either refund a partial deposit or no deposit dependent on the damage caused – a damage waiver is also a valuable solution. 
  • Partner with a short-term rental resolutions company, like Know Your Guest, that helps protect your property and resolve guest-related damages efficiently and fairly.

It is important to remember with API-integrated platforms, you can collect a damage deposit via a third party as long as you make this requirement clear in your listing wording prior to guests booking!

“I know Know Your Guest by Superhog has my back, and we have all their stuff on file. We automatically got our $500 deposit which is insane.”

The types of Airbnb guest damages that can occur when hosting

Your property is a valuable asset to you. This is your home, your investment, your business.

To build your preventative risk management strategy, you need to fully understand the types of Airbnb guest damages that can occur within your short-term rental property.

So, what are the Airbnb risks for hosts?

  • Damage to your property: from wear and tear, and broken crockery to more prominent guest-related damages, including stained furniture and ripped carpets to smashed tv’s and holes in walls.
  • Pet damages: yes, even though you accept pets (and most likely charge a supplement pet cleaning fee), some guests bring unsolicited pets and, as such, can result in pet-related damage, spoiled gardens and interior furniture.
  • Theft of property: renting out to unknown guests does leave you vulnerable to the possibility of things going missing – John Hildebrand reports: ‘we were missing a few items like blow dryers and furniture was moved everywhere’.
  • Smoking: although listings can be set as ‘smoke-free’, dishonest guests have been known to act against this, which can result in heavier cleaning fees/external cleaning agents, or even replacing furniture, due to damage from cigarette burns, ash and even smell.

Knowing how to protect your Airbnb listing will not only save you a headache down the line, but will also save you time and money.

How to deal with common Airbnb risks before they become a problem

Airbnb Risks, Location

Protecting your Airbnb listing from guest damages should not just occur as an afterthought once the damage has been done. 

Managing your listing before a booking has started will allow you, as a host, to deal with problematic guests even before they enter your property. This can start with background checks and intelligent guest screening

Yes, even when you use Airbnb, you can still implement your own verification checks. In fact, it is highly recommended by professional Airbnb hosts and property managers:

“We have screening processes in place, and we ask questions: do they have bad reviews or no reviews? We try to fill out where they’re coming from and why they are renting the place.” – John Hildebrand, Airbnb Ambassador.

Pre-determining the risk factor of each stay before welcoming guests into your home is a great way to combat common Airbnb risks, such as dishonest guests and the use of fraudulent cards and fake IDs. 


To understand the risk factor or whether the guest is suitable for your property, you need to:

  • Set out clear house rules that have to be agreed to ahead of the guest’s stay
  • Verify the identity of at least the lead guest – this process can also be automated by third-party integrations.
  • Have a look at how many guests are staying in relation to your property capacity
  • Where are your guests travelling from? Are they local to the listing? 
  • Are your guests old enough to book an Airbnb? I someone booking on behalf of another guest?
  • Is your property child friendly? Are there children within the booking?
  • What’s the intention of your guest’s stay? Knowing the true reason behind each stay will also help you provide personalised recommendations, create a better guest experience and increase those positive guest reviews.
  • Important legal requirements – some US state laws have requirements for short-term rental hosts to perform sex offender checks on guests before check-in.
know your guest

Airbnb background checks do have some limitations, so it’s best to layer up your guest screening and types of protection to increase your security, reduce your reliance on OTA’s and build your independence as a short-term rental owner.

By performing pre-check-in risk management checks on each booking, you have the time and means to re-evaluate whether this is the right booking for you, for example: 

  • If guests don’t agree to your house rules, you can say no to the booking.
  • If a guest books an 8-bedroom property, but there is only 1 guest staying, that’s your red flag for a high-risk booking! Say no to the booking, and you can prevent becoming the next Airbnb party house.

Stay one step ahead: know your risk, know your solution, know your guest.

Building independence as a short-term rental owner

There are many ways to distribute your Airbnb listing in the short-term rental industry, and you don’t have to just stick to one. Alongside booking platform giants (Airbnb, Booking.com, Vrbo) you can gain visibility for your property by:

  • Building your own direct booking website

But, if your not looking to add more distribution sites into your operations and your go-to booking platform remains as Airbnb, you can still build your independence as a host and reduce your reliance on OTA’s who don’t always favour the hosts.

With third-party integrations, you can smooth your processes, protect your property and even create more revenue that won’t be pocketed by Airbnb. 

We spoke to Airbnb Ambassador John Hildebrand, who has built his short-term rental empire Hilde Homes using the Airbnb platform. Here are his top tools to help protect your listings and build a successful, streamlined business:

  • Short-term rental guest screening and protection software, such as Know Your Guest

“We have all the evidence, now we just have to go through the steps, and Superhog is going to help us through them. This is why I always say you want to protect your investment on so many different levels and not just rely on the OTA’s.”

A great source of independence will come from having a third-party damage protection solution in place that will help mediate and provide resolutions when it comes to Airbnb guest damages. 

Remember, Aircover is not your only answer.

know your guest