Your Airbnb guest won’t leave and you have another guest checking in. That can be annoying and inconvenient. Turns out several hosts have been in this situation, so there’s a way out that won’t hurt your Airbnb reputation.
In my case, I had a reservation from a couple in the final minute. I was also clear about the check-out and check-in since my other guest would be leaving on the same day of check-in and arriving on the day of check-out. However, the guest messaged that they won’t leave the apartment and were no longer answering my calls or text messages.
I was forced to reimburse them the last night to avoid a fight, but still, the guest won’t leave. Annoying right? Well, I kicked them out faster than lightning.
Although very rare, guests can refuse to leave an apartment. Usually, the best course of action is to call Airbnb directly and let them know that the guest won’t leave. Unfortunately, this is never a foolproof solution for squatters.
Who is an Airbnb squatter?
An Airbnb squatter is a guest who refuses or fails to check out after the end of their reservation. Traditionally, a squatter is a con artist who knows the local rental laws and tries to take advantage to stay longer on your property (usually without paying). They usually target vacant and abandoned homes to try to claim ownership of the property through “adverse possession”.
Squatting is not only associated with long-term rentals but also with short-term rentals like Airbnb, Booking, and Vrbo. An Airbnb squatter’s objective is to knowingly overstay their booking without the host’s permission.
Can I evict an Airbnb guest?
Of course, you can evict an Airbnb guest. However, if the guest’s stay has been long enough to qualify them as a tenant (depending on your state), you’ll have to follow a formal eviction process via a housing court which can take months and money (legal fees) to complete. You’d also need the services of a real estate lawyer to properly take on the case. This is one of the reasons why some hosts discourage the idea of long-term booking.
That said, can police evict Airbnb guest? Yes, the police can evict an Airbnb guest in some circumstances where the guest is found with drugs or causing unrest among neighbors. Usually, if you call the police after the guest’s checkout time is past, they will say “it’s a civil matter” and won’t get involved. In some cases, the guest could be trespassing, here is where cops can trespass them. Hopefully, threatening to call the police is sufficient for the guest to move.
After this event, leave feedback/reviews on the guests that they are tardy checkout people to help other hosts make better decisions. Airbnb is a community.
How do I get someone to leave my Airbnb?
In this section, I explain the proper ways to get a stubborn Airbnb guest out. If they’ve obtained tenancy status, you’d have to follow those delaying legal proceedings, hopefully, they’ve not.
1. Notify the guest
Let the guest know they have broken the contractual agreement. Explain that is a legally binding agreement, and that they will be responsible for their actions.
Send them an email through Airbnb to communicate your concerns with them as well as keep a record of your conversation with Airbnb.
2. Call Airbnb
This is just for formality’s sake—otherwise, it doesn’t really help and I’ll explain why, keep reading.
Note that if the Airbnb guest obtained tenant rights, you can’t force them out of the apartment. You’ll get into trouble if you do things like changing the lock or cutting off power—it’s illegal. A guest who is already a tenant, depending on your state laws, can only be evicted through a formal process in court.
3. Take back your apartment for personal use
Depending on your state, you can take back your apartment for personal use. Just show up with your luggage and file a trespassing charge against the guest.
Note: your state law may be different, so be sure that it allows owners to occupy their own properties.
On one occasion, an attorney advised me to put a “no trespassing” sign on the lawn which gives a legal claim for trespassing if a guest won’t leave.
Again, 30 days typically determine tenants rights, so you have to be careful. Do not also think that what you learn in one jurisdiction applies everywhere.
4. Call the police
The police may say “it’s a civil matter” but just call to see if they can help remove and charge the guest with trespassing.
Now, regarding what I mentioned earlier about calling Airbnb being a mere formality, here’s what I found on Airbnb’s help page:
You set the rules for your place—it’s as simple as that. If you have a guest who has broken a house rule or done something to make you feel unsafe, you don’t have to take their reservation.
“You set the rules for your place,” meaning your house, your rules. Technically, you’re on your own during incidents like this. Airbnb, however, expects you to deal with the situation amicably.
In some cases, when you call Airbnb, they could still recommend that you call the police. The stubborn guest is no longer allowed on your property, following the Airbnb agreement, so they are trespassing.
Call the police and make a citizen’s arrest for trespassing. Remember that the guest could be costing you hundreds or thousands of dollars every second they overstay.
How to avoid Airbnb squatters
Prevention will always be better than cure. You don’t want yourself in a situation like this in the future, so do the following:
1. Switch to smart locks and security cameras
You need smart locks on your properties, so you don’t have to give keys to guests. You’ll only give them a personal code to access the lock, which you can schedule to deactivate on the day of checkout.
Also, you need security cameras on the exterior of your listing to know when a guest is behaving dishonestly.
Make sure to disclose the smart lock and use of exterior cameras in your listing description. The cameras will also help you to know whether a guest is lying about bringing people to the apartment or breaking your house rules.
2. Screen potential guests thoroughly
Try exercising due diligence in the booking process to make the best decision. Never feel too eager to accept that last-minute booking just because you don’t want your rental standing empty.
While screening guests, pay attention to their star ratings. Do keep in mind that some newly registered guests do not have the star rating to speak for their Airbnb history, so you’d be looking at other factors such as the completion of their profile. You can go as far as a background check on them on social media to determine their personality. Also, there’s a possibility that a potential guest erased their negative Airbnb history by starting a different account with different information and credit card.
Look out for the verification badge on your potential guest’s profile. Besides, Airbnb supports hosts that require Airbnb verification. To filter the bookings and time-wasters, include the “profile verification” requirement in your standard policy.
Airbnb guests are allowed to link their social media accounts to their profiles. If the linked social media account looks fake, that’s a red flag. Con artists like Airbnb squatters can fake their social media accounts to hide their Airbnb history.
3. Charge a security deposit
If you request a security deposit, that can potentially reduce the possibility of dealing with bad Airbnb guests. Airbnb squatters will not find it OK to pay so much money for their stay since they won’t get the money back if they break the rules.
4. Communicate via the Airbnb platform only
Be suspicious of any potential guest who tries to get you to communicate outside the Airbnb platform. Airbnb provides protections for both hosts and guests who communicate using their platform. For instance, Airbnb has a reliable copy of the conversations, so an unscrupulous guest can’t doctor their claims.
There’s really no reason a guest should engage you outside the Airbnb platform—that’s already a sign that they are up to no good.
Even if your guest communicates with you outside Airbnb during emergencies, make sure your follow-up message to them goes through the Airbnb platform to confirm your conversation with the guest.
5. Don’t welcome all long stays
Different states consider tenancy laws differently for short-term and long-term or standard rentals. Standard rentals are 30 days and above while short-term rentals are usually below 30 days in most states. An Airbnb guest who exceeds a 30-day stay on your property may automatically obtain a tenancy status, depending on your state. Thus, to evict such a guest, you would have to follow the conventional eviction proceedings which take time and legal fees.
A dishonest guest who understands the law can request 30 days or more upfront by making a two-week booking on different occasions to extend their stay to 30 days so that they can obtain tenancy without your permission.
That said, be very careful when allowing a guest to exceed 30 days or more to avoid dealing with an Airbnb squatter.
Also, make sure to know your local tenancy law—that will help you block any loophole a dishonest guest may try to leverage to overstay their booking.
6. Have a clear contract for guests to sign
You can prevent overstays or squatting by communicating your clear terms and conditions with potential guests. Ask your guests to sign a rental agreement specifying the house rules. Clearly mention the check-in and checkout times, payment terms, house rules, and damage liability in your rental. This information should be included in your listing, welcome books, and initial check-in messages.
Your expectations for guest procedures in the contract give you legal recourse against overstaying guests who falsely claim ignorance of your agreement.
Before your potential guest enters the property, they must confirm their acceptance of the terms and conditions (either by email or in person). Both you and your guest should have a signed copy of the contract.
7. Automate check-out reminders
Be savvy—set up an automated process whereby guests are reminded of the checkout procedures 24 hours before their reservation ends. It’s advisable to include these reminders on the Airbnb portal as a host against potential disputes.
Don’t fight the stubborn guest
The inconvenience and discomfort caused by your guest are quite understandable. However, you must not take extreme measures to remove the guest, such as issuing threats or throwing their belongings outside. Do not also falsely claim damages as a host.
Follow the due process. Your first step is to contact Airbnb immediately as long as the guest has not overstayed long enough to obtain tenant right. Airbnb will try to casually settle the problem.
If the guest still refuses to leave, call the police (don’t call the emergency numbers). In some cases, the police may say it’s a civil matter but explain that you have a signed contract with the guest who agreed to check out on a specific date.
A short-term renter does not have the same rights as tenants who have stayed more than 30 days. Thus, involve Airbnb and the police to remove the bad guest.
Remember to keep all conversations on the Airbnb system for a clear record of what happened because Airbnb staff will read the conversations. Be cool about the whole situation and stay safe as you may not know what goes on inside the apartment. Advisably, go to your apartment with a friend. Once the guest is out, write a review explaining that they are a tardy guest.
In the future, get out of the ‘friends host’ mentality and become the “business type” host—it helps a lot. This does not mean you should decimate friendliness and helpfulness but rather it helps you draw the line when guests are extreme.