Airbnb hosts have struggled to get compensated for property damages since the platform’s inception. Unfortunately, the Airbnb security deposit policy is far from effective. It doesn’t sufficiently protect short-term rental hosts or guarantee that they’ll be compensated when a guest damages their property.

But here’s the good news: there’s a better way to take security deposits through Airbnb. Using the Airbnb Resolution Center, you can ask your guests to pay a refundable security deposit upfront. If any damages occur, you can keep the deposit and use it to fix your rental. 

In this blog post, we’ll show you exactly how to do this, so your guests will act more responsibly and you’ll feel more protected. 

Host Tools provides an automated, unified calendar for short-term rental hosts, allowing you to seamlessly list on all major channels. Start your free trial today! 

What’s Wrong with the Airbnb Security Deposit System?

Airbnb gives hosts the option to require a security deposit from guests. However, Airbnb doesn’t actually charge guests the security deposit unless they wreck your property and you submit a damage claim. They don’t even place an authorization hold on the guest’s credit card. 

Unfortunately, this system leads renters to think that they’re not liable for any damages since Airbnb is not actually holding their money. Most guests are well-intentioned, however, there are those that will treat your property like a hotel room and assume they won’t get into trouble no matter how they treat it. 

Of course, if a guest damages your property, you do have the opportunity to claim your security deposit, and there’s a chance that the guest will pay. 

To achieve this, you need to provide extensive proof of what happened and collect every piece of documentation you can think of. We explained how to submit a damage claim through the Airbnb Resolution Center in our blog post on the Airbnb damage policy

However, if you take this route, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be compensated. There’s nothing stopping the guest from refusing to pay the amount you request from them, or simply ignoring your request. 

In this case, you need to contact Airbnb and escalate the issue. And then, it’s up to Airbnb’s customer service team to decide whether you’ll be compensated or not. You may be eligible for reimbursement through AirCover for Hosts but there are lots of ifs and buts (check out the Host Damage Protection Terms). Basically, it can go either way.

So is there a better way to collect security deposits than Airbnb’s system? Asking your guest to pay a security deposit outside of Airbnb – for example, in cash upon check-in – is strictly against Airbnb’s rules. If you get caught doing this, you’ll be kicked off the platform

But there’s a way that hosts can collect refundable security deposits through the Airbnb platform that doesn’t involve relying on Airbnb’s customer service – and we’ll teach you how to do it right now. 

How to Ask Guests for a Refundable Security Deposit through the Airbnb Resolution Center

The Resolution Center is a page on the Airbnb website that lets you send or request money for incidents related to Airbnb stays. Hosts most commonly use it to submit damage claims or ask guests to pay for extra services that are not included in the nightly rate.

However, it can also be used to collect refundable deposits from guests in a way that circumvents the Airbnb security deposit system but doesn’t take the transaction off the platform (which would be against Airbnb’s rules).

Below, we’ll take you through the whole process step-by-step, so you can start collecting security deposits that you can actually keep in case of damages. 

1. Add a line to your Airbnb house rules saying that you require a refundable security deposit of X amount

Firstly, you should add a couple of sentences to your Airbnb house rules and your Airbnb listing description informing potential guests that you require a refundable security deposit. 

It’s best to mention the exact amount, so guests know what to expect. Guests have to accept your house rules before they can book your place, so this is a good way to inform them and get them to agree. 

2. Create a PDF document explaining the process of paying the security deposit to guests 

Secondly, put together a PDF document that explains:

  • Why you require a security deposit.
  • In what cases you’ll keep it (property damage, smoking, unregistered pets, etc).
  • How guests can pay the security deposit.

The last bit is very straightforward. When you send the payment request for the security deposit, your guests will be notified by Airbnb. All they need to do is respond to your request by providing a payment method and making the payment. 

You’ll be attaching this PDF to the payment request that you send to your guests, which we’ll get to later. 

3. Add instructions to your automated booking confirmation message

Thirdly, add some instructions to your booking confirmation message – which you can automate by setting up a new message rule in Host Tools.

Here’s a template you can use to add to your booking confirmation message:

“As mentioned in our house rules, we require a $200 refundable deposit for this property. After you depart, our housekeepers will clean and inspect the unit.

The deposit can be kept for things like:

  • Extra cleaning.
  • Damages or missing items.
  • Leaving after the 10:00 am checkout time without arranging it with us beforehand.

Soon, you’ll receive a payment request from Airbnb for the deposit, and you’ll have 72 hours to respond. You can pay the deposit on this page:

We will be in touch to arrange the check-in after we’ve received the deposit.

Thank you, have a wonderful trip.”

4. Request money from your guest through the Airbnb Resolution Center

Now, you can make the payment request. Try to do this immediately after you receive a booking.

1. Log in to Airbnb, go to your message thread with the guest and select ‘Send or request money’.

Example of Airbnb security deposit - how to request a payment through the Resolution Center

2. When Airbnb asks you to ‘Select a reason’ for the payment request, select ‘Extra services’. 

How to request a payment through the Resolution Center

3. Add the amount you’d like to request, and double-check it.  

4. Attach the PDF document you created explaining the process of paying the security deposit to guests. 

5. Send the request. Your guests will have 72 hours to respond to it. 

You can keep track of all your requests in the Airbnb Resolution Center.

03 - Airbnb security deposit - how to request a payment through the Resolution Center

You may get questions from guests who can’t figure out where to pay the security deposit in the Airbnb app. This is because the app can be slow to load. Just tell your guests to wait a bit and check the Resolution Center again later. There should be three dots to indicate that the page is still loading. Once it’s loaded, the payment request will appear. 

You can even preemptively answer this commonly asked question by adding the instructions to your automated booking confirmation message, which you can set up in Host Tools. If you’re using the template above, just add a line saying:

“The Airbnb app is sometimes slow to load. In case you don’t see the payment request, just wait a few hours and it should appear.”

5. Refund the security deposit – or keep it

If your guest leaves your rental as they found it, you can refund their security deposit the same way you requested it. Just go to the Resolution Center, select ‘Send money’, refund the entire security deposit amount, and thank your guest for their stay. 

If you notice any problems (beyond minor damages and ordinary wear and tear), you can partially refund the deposit or keep the entire amount, depending on the severity of the damages. Just make sure you send your guest a message explaining why you’re keeping the deposit. 

Next steps

There you have it. You’ve figured out a way to take refundable security deposits from guests on Airbnb that’s much better than Airbnb’s built-in security deposit system. 

If you make it clear to your guests that the security deposit is refundable and they will get it back as long as they take good care of your property, they shouldn’t have a problem with it. And if they do – you probably don’t want them staying at your vacation rental anyway. 

All in all, collecting security deposits this way is much more effective than relying on Airbnb’s system. You can set it up easily and explain the process to your guests by using a messaging automation tool like Host Tools. All you need to do is create a booking confirmation message that gets automatically sent when you receive a booking, with instructions on how to pay the security deposit. 

When you try this method, you’ll have the peace of mind that you’ll be compensated for any damages that may occur.

Host Tools provides an automated, unified calendar for short-term rental hosts, allowing you to seamlessly list on all major channels. Start your free trial today! 

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