Cabins rank among the most popular Airbnb categories year after year and it’s easy to see why. Travelers just can’t get enough of the secluded locations, rustic indoor atmosphere and beautiful outdoor scenery. You could create a sizable income stream by renting out your cabin as an Airbnb.
However, opening your beloved getaway to strangers comes with some risks. This guide will help you navigate those risks and keep your property safe if you decide to make it an Airbnb destination.
Potential Problems with Airbnb Guests
Most Airbnb guests won’t trouble you, but there is a slight chance you’ll encounter a bad apple. Here are some of the most common issues Airbnb hosts face when dealing with problematic guests.
1. Property Damage
The biggest problem you need to worry about is guests causing property damage. Partygoers without regard for other people’s personal property could make a huge mess in your cabin. They might break furniture or appliances, stain the floors, ruin the plumbing or turn the kitchen into a garbage heap.
Airbnb instituted a temporary 16-person limit in 2020 to prevent large gatherings during COVID-19, indirectly reducing instances of property damage. There was an impressive 44% drop in party reports year over year, which led Airbnb to make the limit permanent in 2022. You should set similar restrictions for your cabin rental to keep bad guests away.
2. Criminal Activity
There has been a strange correlation between Airbnbs and criminal activity recently. Studies have shown neighborhoods with more Airbnb rentals have higher crime rates than those with fewer. Even if your cabin isn’t in a busy area, it could still attract the wrong crowd.
Regardless of your location, thorough guest screening is extremely important for preventing this issue. You might even want to consider instituting a family-only policy. This policy would limit your target market and minimize the risk that criminal activity occurs on your property.
3. Not Following House Rules
Every successful Airbnb has a firm list of house rules. You should explain the rules in fine print on your cabin’s listing, put signage around the house and send text reminders to guests before they arrive. However, there’s no way to 100% guarantee guests will follow the rules. You never have complete control over people’s actions.
Airbnb hosts always have to tolerate a certain level of uncertainty. After all, you’re trusting complete strangers to live in your cabin for a few days. If this arrangement gives you too much anxiety, hosting probably isn’t in your best interest.
4. Noise Complaints
Other common issues you might encounter are noise complaints. Guests like to make themselves at home, which might produce a lot of sound. Your neighbors could file a complaint with the local homeowner’s association — or worse, with the police. A simple solution to this problem is to enforce a strict quiet hours policy.
On the other hand, someone could still file a noise complaint even if your guests are respectful. This situation is most likely to happen if your closest neighbors are elderly or have young children. If you’re caught in an awkward neighborhood dynamic, hosting an Airbnb might not be worth the hassle.
5. Price Negotiations
Some guests will give you a hard time and haggle about the rental rate, especially when you’re just starting. They can see how long you’ve been hosting based on previous reviews, so they might try to take advantage of you. Don’t let this happen. Keep your price firm and don’t let any guest convince you to lower it.
6. Last-Minute Schedule Changes
Some guests will also try to make last-minute schedule changes to get an extra day at your cabin. Once again, you must stay firm with your scheduling policy, especially if your cabin is in a secluded location. You can’t have people staying for five-plus days at a time.
7. Negative Reviews
The last big thing you need to worry about with guests is negative reviews. Even if you did everything right, a guest could still leave an angrily written paragraph on your Airbnb profile. These reviews drive down your host rating and make future guests less likely to book your cabin.
The only thing you can do is leave a friendly response and attempt to discredit any false accusations. It’s better to directly address negative reviews rather than ignoring them.
Potential Problems with Cabin Maintenance
You might encounter the occasional troublesome guest, but most people will be courteous and considerate. The main things you need to worry about are potential problems with cabin maintenance. Here are some items you must consider before listing your cabin on Airbnb.
1. Local STR Laws and Regulations
Some municipalities have short-term rental laws and restrictions that would prevent you from becoming an Airbnb host. Zoning laws come into play if you plan to expand your cabin’s square footage or add an accessory dwelling unit. Your local HOA might also shoot down the idea or decide to increase your weekly dues.
Before you do anything, research your local STR laws and talk with your neighbors. You’ll feel much better once everyone is on the same page and you’re not unknowingly breaking any rules.
2. Renovation Scams
Many Airbnb hosts plan renovation projects to improve their properties and attract more guests. However, that means you might become a target for renovation scams. Make sure you thoroughly research contractors and get recommendations from trusted sources.
If you happen to fall victim to a scam, you must document the poor work and file a formal complaint. Take care of these steps before filing a lawsuit or requesting a hearing.
3. Defective Amenities
Defective amenities will make your cabin much less attractive to guests. The same principle applies to the cabin’s design features. You need to keep your devices in good condition and create a welcoming environment with unique decoration ideas. These tasks are challenging for Airbnb hosts because you never know what each guest’s preferences might be.
4. Weather Damage
You also can’t forget about exterior maintenance. Cabins might be more durable than the average home, but their wooden exteriors are still susceptible to weather-related damage. Staining your cabin at least every three years is crucial so it can withstand sunlight and moisture. No guest wants to stay in a poorly maintained and weather-stained cabin.
Make Your Airbnb a Success
Being an Airbnb host is hard work. Dealing with guests and staying on top of cabin maintenance will keep you busy. However, you could make good extra cash if you practice due diligence. Remember to account for these risks and you can make your cabin a highly successful Airbnb experience.