One of the most frequent issues I ran into when I started managing my Airbnb rental was the problem of guests smoking inside. Not only was this harmful to the guest’s health, smoke is one of the most difficult smells to remove from a space once it has gotten into the walls and furniture.
In order to avoid the dreaded smoke from the start (like I wish I could have the first time!), try out a few of these tips! I have found all 5 of these tips to be very effective in setting a clear and easily understandable smoking policy in my rental. The more effort you put into creating and enforcing your policy from the start, the less afternoons you’ll spend frantically fanning air out a window and Febreezing everything you own!
So let’s get started! Here’s my 5 ways to enforce No Smoking policy in your Airbnb.
Set it in the House Rules
The first step you should take towards enforcing a “No Smoking” policy is to create that policy!
This may be easy enough if your rental is in an apartment or condo building that already has smoking rules in place.
When creating your House Rules, make sure to clearly and visibly state that smoking is not allowed on your property.
It also helps to add in to your rules the repercussions for breaking the No Smoking policy, such as the refundable deposit not being refunded or a hefty charge for the extra cleaning that will be needed.
If you are willing to allow smoking on your property, make sure to clearly state the locations that are specifically chosen by you as designated smoking areas. These could be front/back decks, the driveway, balconies, etc.
If possible, provide an ashtray so as to avoid unnecessary littering of cigarette butts and matches.
No matter what your limitations may be, be sure to state them clearly and visibly to your guests right from the start on your listing.
Call attention to it in the Check-In Instructions
Before a guest arrives at your rental, it is likely that you are sending them check-in information with instructions and directions on how to get to and access your rental.
In addition to the basics of where to find the key and the Wifi password, make sure to take the opportunity to highlight some of your most important House Rules, the smoking rules being at the top of the list.
Even if a guest has read over and agreed to your House Rules, this does not guarantee that they actually read them or intend to follow them.
Repeating the rules you find most important will help the guest understand that you are very serious about what is allowed on your property and what is not.
Restate politely that smoking is not allowed, or that smoking is only allowed on the front porch.
Once again, be sure to clearly state your rules and expectations so as not to confuse the guest. While it may feel repetitive, the guest may have not read your House Rules and might be seeing your smoking policy for the first time.
Monitor Exterior using Camera
A good idea for any property that you manage is to install security cameras outside of entry points when possible.
If your rental is an apartment or condo within a building, see if management will allow you to install cameras outside your front door. Some buildings will allow you to, as long as you are not invading other residents’ privacy.
While not able to catch proof of your guests smoking indoors, exterior cameras will allow you to collect evidence of your guests smoking on your property.
One of my rentals is a cabin in a relatively dry area where forest-fire alerts are common. Due to this, we enforce a No Smoking policy on our entire property for safety reasons, both inside and outside of the cabin.
A camera monitoring your entry points will also allow you to collect evidence if a guest walks in or out of your rental while smoking.
This will prove that they were smoking indoors against your House Rules and smoking policy.
Add No-Smoking Signs in your rental
By writing your “No Smoking” policy into your House Rules, you are providing yourself with protection against guests who break this rule. But what about guests who claim to not have seen the rule?
The easy solution to this issue is to place “No Smoking” signs inside of your rental itself. Small stickers and signs with the globally acknowledged “No Smoking” logo are available for easy purchase online.
Having a visual representation of your smoking policy in your rental is one of the easiest ways to enforce your House Rules, as you are clearly communicating what is allowed.
Think of this like a hotel; it is very common to see “No Smoking” reminders in bathrooms and bedrooms. A small sign is an easy, polite reminder of what you are expecting from your guest.
The best areas to place these signs are in any room that you do not allow smoking and in a clearly visible space, such as above the light switch.
If you do allow smoking on parts of your property, using signs is also a very clear way of designating where guests are allowed to smoke and where they are not.
Leave a Bad Review
One of the last resorts for any Airbnb host is to leave a guest a bad review. We hate to do it, but sometimes it is a necessary evil.
Violating a smoking policy is one of those House Rules that is very difficult to overlook, as the damages to your rental can be severe.
The first time I had a guest smoke inside my rental, the house had to be aired out for days and most of my linen was destroyed with ashes and burn marks.
Luckily, I did not have my next guests arriving for a few days, so I approached the review more leniently; my housekeeping team had enough time to properly and thoroughly clean the space, so I did not suffer any losses other than replacing the linen.
Imagine the disaster this same scenario would have created if I had a same-day turnover?
Leaving a review for guests who break your House Rules is important for warning future hosts, as well as providing proof to Airbnb that the event happened.
If you have been with the platform for any amount of time, you know that smoke damage is one of the most difficult forms of damage to get refunded for. Most of the time, the only option you have for penalizing a guest for smoking is leaving that bad review.
If you do decide to leave the review, be sure to remain honest and factual. Begin by stating what the guest did well (i.e. communication, friendliness, etc.) in order to remain professional and kind, then state how the House Rules were broken and the proof you may have found.
While it may be awkward, remember that you are helping out your fellow hosts by warning them of the guest’s discourteous actions.
A Final Note
At the end of the day, your space is your space. In the making and setting up House Rules and policies, you hope that the guests you host will be respectful of your wishes and be kind to your space, but it sometimes takes a little more than hopeful wishes to enforce those rules.
Be confident in the rules you set for your rental and do not be afraid to enforce them when needed! As the age-old saying goes, it’s always better to be safe than sorry!
So, if you own a rental, how do you enforce a no-smoking policy with your guests?