I know it’s tricky. As an Airbnb (or other site) STR host then you know that you have to be firm with your guests – but you also need to be sure that you don’t annoy them.

If you’re using Airbnb or another site that encourages guests to leave reviews, then you need to tread a careful line between upholding your house rules and irritating your guests to the extent that they leave you a bad review.

Can you do this without being completely two-faced?

The way to do this is to invent – or make use of – a principal. (Note that I didn’t say principle.) Yes, it’s your property and guests should respect that and abide by the ruling that you set in place. And ninety-nine times out of a hundred, they do.

But sometimes, you get a certain type of guest … you know

With the occasional guest, you have to be a miraculous combination of loving mother and draconian prison guard. You have to be their best friend and their worst enemy rolled into one.

Some people might be able to draw on the reserves of their own personality to do this, but I simply can’t. I have principals; people or entities whose terms I have to abide by. Some are invented, okay, but it works.

It’s very easy and it enables you to say ‘I’d really love to let you… (do whatever – making you seem to be their true pal) ‘but you see …’ (name your principal) ‘doesn’t allow….’ (the forbidden action, the one you’re trying to prevent).

Who or what are your principals and what can they do?


Let’s start with the obvious one, Airbnb or whatever site or service you’re using. Be sure to fully familiarise yourself with their terms and conditions. Know too roughly what the penalties are for not abiding by those terms and conditions.

Taking the above example, I can say:

‘I’d really love to let your friends stay here instead of you, but you see, Airbnb doesn’t allow third-party bookings.’

I can then go on to explain what the guests can do and how I can help. Notice that I am not the bad guy in this – I am merely upholding a rule made by the service we are both using. Airbnb was my principal.


This can be a) your own insurance company b) the Airbnb Host Guarantee (if you happen to believe in it) or c) an insurance company and policy you’ve invented. You can say, for example:

‘I’d really love to let you stay here for a couple of hours after checkout time, but you see, the Airbnb Host Guarantee doesn’t provide cover after check out time.’


‘I’d really love to let your use our hot tub , but you see, our insurance company doesn’t allow it.’

You’re still the good guy – it’s that damned principal getting in everyone’s way.


You can blame just about any rule you can think of on one of the above 🙂

‘I’d really love to let you bring your dog – I adore dogs and would love to host them, but you see, our HOA doesn’t allow it.’

Or this one:

‘I’d really love to let you listen to loud music, I like Rammstein too, but you see, our condo board doesn’t allow anything to be heard outside the apartment after 10 pm. They have mandated our quiet hours.’

Or even this:

‘I’d really love to let you dry your washing by hanging over the railings, but you see, our local regulations don’t allow it.’


In other words, whoever you can think of for the excuse you’re looking for.

  • Your ‘accountant’ might have told you that you’ll have to put your prices up if you don’t ask guests to turn the heating down / off
  • You might well own your rental but there’s nothing to stop you implying that you’re the co-host and the ‘owner’ would be the one to negotiate a discount and she’s in Thailand until February
  • It may be that the ‘maintenance person’ insists for some dark reason that windows should not be opened
  • Your ‘cleaner’ passes out due to an allergy if guests have been using strong perfumes, so you’d be so grateful if the guests could be considerate
  • Your ‘wife’/’husband’ has threatened to call the police and a tow truck if ever a guest leaves their car parked incorrectly

It goes on and on. Whatever your problem with guests, it’s very likely that you can invent another person – a principal – whose comments you are simply letting your guests know about. Combined with ‘thank you so much, I’m really grateful to you for your understanding’ might seem a bit (okay, a lot) cheesy but it really does work!



JJ is originally from the UK and has lived in South Florida since 1994. She is the founder and editor of JAQUO Magazine. You can connect with her using the social media icons below.
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