How to Enforce Airbnb Occupancy Limits

We all read Hippos Go Berserk when we were kids. I still remember that one party animal dancing on the roof underneath the starry sky! No Airbnb host wants to live a real life version of that story.

Always knowing exactly who and precisely how many “whos” are eating, sleeping, and otherwise living it up in your short-term rental property is one of the more vexing operational challenges facing Airbnb hosts. Some renters will be downright determined to skirt your guest occupancy limits by keeping their kids, friends, or long-lost uncles off the official booking itinerary. This results in lost revenue for you and undoubtedly increases the risk of nuisance complaints, property damage, and higher cleaning costs.

Fortunately, there are now some very effective strategies, tools, and technologies that help you enforce your guest occupancy limits with minimal ongoing effort. Some may take some time to set up initially, but the added peace of mind alone makes it well worth the effort.

Be Clear in Your Airbnb Listing

First of all, there should be absolutely no doubt as to what your guest occupancy limit is when potential guests are reading your Airbnb listing details. Airbnb, VRBO, and the other major platforms all make it really easy to set up a maximum occupancy along with additional charges for headcount over a certain base number of guests.

We recommend setting your base number of guests (included in the regular daily rate) at two guests per bedroom plus one more, up to a maximum of six guests regardless of bedroom count. So a one-bedroom vacation rental would include three guests and charge extra for a fourth. A two-bedroom short term rental would include five guests and charge an extra fee for a sixth person. A three bedroom Airbnb would include six guests in the base rate and charge extra for each additional guests.

To make it really clear to potential guests that you’re serious about enforcing your Airbnb occupancy limits and extra guest charges, you may want to include something like the following towards the end of your listing description:

Occupancy limits are strictly monitored and enforced. The presence of [overnight] guests not included in the initial reservation will result in immediate cancelation. You’ll then have to find alternate lodging for the remainder of your stay. Just be up front about it and declare all guests at the time of booking please!

Monitor & Enforce Airbnb Occupancy Limits

When it comes to surveillance, finding a reasonable balance is important. We’re not big fans of indoor cameras, even when they are clearly disclosed in your listing. It’s just too easy to inadvertently break laws or get yourself into trouble when you’re recording paying guests who have every right to an expectation of privacy.

Instead, we recommend placing a high-quality outdoor camera over each exterior entrance. The Arlo 2 is a solid choice at the high end, while DIYers can make do with the (much cheaper) Wyze Cam if you also pick up a water-resistant housing.

Here’s a great tutorial on setting up a Wyze Cam for outdoor use. One major reason we love Wyze is because there’s no additional monthly fee to store or view recorded footage!

Both the Arlo and the Wyze only record when motion is detected, unless you set it up otherwise. That should be sufficient to monitor the number of guests coming and going from your Airbnb. Either way, we strongly advise that you clearly disclose in your listing that you have implemented security cameras outside. It’s good karma and will further deter problem guests from booking in the first place.