Setting up your House Rules is one of the most important steps in creating your Airbnb listing because you are designing the rules of engagement between you and your guests. Most hosts refine their rules along the way as a result of experiencing the many vagaries of guest habits. You can set whatever rules you like, as long as they comply with Airbnb terms of service, and the law. But be aware that rules that you may find reasonable may not be viewed the same way by the guest, so think carefully before setting curfews and restrictions.
Here is my take on this tricky topic.
You should set up your House Rules in your listing details (under the "Booking" heading in the left hand menu of your dashboard). That way they will be seen by guests when reading your property details in search results, and will also print off on the guest's itinerary when they make a booking. Airbnb have already automated part of this process by creating check-boxes for the big ticket items (smoking, kids, pets etc) so that guests can filter search results to suit their needs (ie: looking for a pet-friendly place to stay). The other more detailed House Rules should be set up in the Additional Rules section. This is where you can get more specific about your boundaries.
Your House Rules are automatically sent to Guests as part of their itinerary when they book, and must be agreed to when guests Instant Book. Don't let them tell you they didn't know or haven't seen them.
HOUSE RULES ARE YOUR BEST PROTECTION
House Rules protect you in 2 ways:
They outline your expectations for your guests' information, setting boundaries and limits
They are an essential reference point in the event of a claim with Airbnb. If your guests smoke in the house and you want to lodge a claim for extra cleaning as a result, you will have trouble getting it across the line if you did not make it clear (or even mention it) in your House Rules.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
This is hard, but you need to keep it brief! Guests are notorious for not reading... make sure your House Rules don't make their eyes glaze over - use bullet points, keep the language simple, friendly but firm.
Make sure your House Rules don't exceed one A4 printed page at the very most.
Does that rule belong in your official House Rules, or would it be better off in the House Manual? If it's a detailed instruction about a household appliance or routine, then the House Manual is the best place for it.
Your House Rules must be displayed as part of your listing details so that guests know what they are signing up for before they book. If you have a "no parties" rule and they are coming for New Year's Eve, that could be a deal-breaker if they only find out once they get there and see it in the House Manual. Make sure they are aware of all your rules before signing up, to avoid problems on arrival.
Put the House Rules right at the front of the House Manual where they can't miss them. Don't confuse House Rules with the House Manual.
You may wish to laminate and attach the House Rules to the back of the entrance door (although I personally would not do that - seems a bit like a school dorm!).
Hosts who meet & greet their guests often run through the Rules with the guests on arrival to ensure awareness. This is fine, but try not to sound like you are reading them the Riot Act. Most people really do try hard to be good guests. Don't always assume the worst.
if there are consequences to breaking house rules, you need to spell them out. For instance, the cost of replacing lost house keys, extraordinary cleaning fees for breach of no smoking rules. Understanding the cost of a breach is a powerful disincentive to carelessness or bad behaviour.
MAKE THEM FIT FOR PURPOSE
House Rules will vary from Host to Host and should be designed to suit the hosting scenario. Those who are home-sharing will doubtlessly have more rules around shared kitchen & bathroom facilities. Whole Property listings will need rules to manage the prospect of parties, unauthorised guests and consideration for neighbours. Specific rules related to shared kitchen shelves or fridge space might be best shown as a small sign located in the area in question, to keep your House Rules from running into long-winded, over-detailed volumes.
EXAMPLE OF HOUSE RULES FOR WHOLE APARTMENT
Breaking of House Rules will result in the termination of your booking and you will be asked to leave.
We have an excellent relationship with our neighbours and we ask that you please help us to keep it that way by being quiet and considerate.
Names of all guests must be disclosed when booking
No visitors - only registered guests are allowed onto the property
Please enter and exit the apartment quietly!
Noise complaints will reslt in a fine from the building security company.
Lost keys or security swipes will incur a $100 replacement fee
Strictly no parties or events
Strictly no smoking
Strictly no pets
Please ensure that the apartment is left clean and tidy
Dishes are to be cleaned
Rubbish disposed of as described in the House Manual
Additional cleaning charges will apply if the apartment is left in an unacceptable condition
SHOW THEM THAT YOU ARE A PROFESSIONAL
Joining a professional association can send a powerful message to Guests and others in the community about your standards. Let Guests know about your affiliations by displaying your memberships in your listing and your house rules. The HRIA has a Code of Conduct which provides very good basic standards.
I have the following statement at the bottom of all my House Rules:
"Your host is a member of the Holiday Rental Industry Association and embraces their Code of Conduct. A copy of this can be found in the House Manual and guests are expected to comply with its provisions."
Next: House Manuals - Tolstoy already wrote War & Peace - you don't have to
Enjoy reading my articles? I'd love you to subscribe to my website!
(find the subscribe box on the right of the home page)
Don't forget to follow my FaceBook page Host Hacks for the latest news and links.