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Holiday Cottage & Airbnb No-Smoking Policy

Reading Time: 5 minutes

No smoking sign

As a short-term holiday letting host, maintaining a clean and healthy environment for guests is essential. Therefore, most holiday home owners understandably choose not to permit smoking indoors. Smoking leaves a lasting smell, it can damage your furniture, furnishings and is one of the main causes of accidental fires around the home.

The smell of smoke in a non-smoking holiday cottage is also one of the most common guest complaints and can lead to poor reviews. So how do you prevent guests from smoking in your Airbnb and what do you do if they smoke despite your no-smoking rules?

Setting your no-smoking policy

The most important step is to set strict and clear smoking rules. You need to decide whether your policy is no smokers or no-smoking as there’s a difference between the two. Some owners are okay with letting smokers stay as long as they only smoke outside and not within the building. Other hosts have a no-smoking policy, which means no-smoking anywhere on the property – so no smokers are allowed.

As sample smoking policy could include:

“Smoking or vaping anywhere inside the premises is strictly prohibited. If smoking is detected in the property, then a charge for cleaning and any damage will be levied from the security deposit”.

Additionally, state your reasons for charging guests for smoking in the property. Explain that the cleaning fee covers the extra expense to remove the unpleasant smoke odour that lingers in the holiday cottage. Also, explain the benefits of your no-smoking policy. How it provides a healthier and safer experience for all guests, especially ones with respiratory issues, and it helps keep your holiday home in good condition.

By explaining the reasons for your no-smoking policy, you have a better chance of guests respecting your rules.

How to communicate the no smoking policy to guests

Being transparent about your smoking rules with guests before and after they book helps avoid any misunderstandings or disputes about smoking.

  • Make your smoking policy clear on your website and online travel agency (OTA) listings so guests are aware of the policy before deciding to book.
  • Just in case guests missed it when making their booking, remind them in the booking confirmation email.
  • Include a reference to your smoking policy in your pre-arrival welcome email and guestbook.
  • Some hosts will put no-smoking signs and a reminder that there’s a fine if they smoke in the holiday home.

Hopefully, this is enough to deter guests from smoking inside your holiday let but if they do, guests can’t claim they didn’t know about your no-smoking policy.

Provide a designated smoking area

Creating a designated outside area to accommodate the needs of guests who smoke has two main benefits. It deters guests from smoking in your property, plus, when you advertise that you have a designated smoking area, guests who smoke will be encouraged to book with you.

Provide an outdoor area where guests can vape, and smoke e-cigarettes or tobacco, with comfortable seating and somewhere to dispose of cigarette ends responsibly. Create clear signage and instructions in your guestbook so guests know where this area is.

Dealing with guests who break the no-smoking policy

No matter how many times you remind guests of your no-smoking policy, some guests may still choose to break your rules and smoke in your holiday home.

In order to deduct a smoking fee from the security deposit, you’ll need to prove that a guest has smoked inside your property. One of the best ways to spot guests who smoke inside is by looking for evidence of smoking. Some of the most common signs include the smell of cigarette smoke, cigarette butts, used ashtrays, empty cigarette packs, and burn marks on furniture.

Another option is to install cigarette smoke detectors in your holiday let such as the Minut sensor. If it detects cigarette smoke, you get a notification on your smart device. The Minut dashboard also provides you with a historical log of all smoking activity, so you have evidence in the case of a smoking fee dispute with a guest who claims they weren’t smoking.

If charging a smoking fee you should keep receipts of any damage, or costs incurred to remove the smell of smoke from your property.

If the booking came via a listing site such as Airbnb, you could warn other hosts by writing a guest review that clearly states the “Guest breached house rules by smoking”.

How to get rid of the smell of smoke in your Airbnb holiday home

If a guest has smoked inside your Airbnb holiday let, it is likely that you have incoming guests arriving the same day, so there is an urgency to eliminate the smell of smoke before they arrive.

Here are a few suggestions to help remove the smell of smoke from your property:

  • Open doors and windows to let fresh air blow through the property. If you have a fan or two handy, position them near windows.
  • Air furniture outside.
  • Put curtains, pillowcases, blankets, and towels through a deep wash, adding vinegar to assist with removing the smell.
  • Use an odour-eliminating spray on furnishings you are unable to wash, such as sofas and dry-clean only curtains.
  • Sprinkle baking soda over carpets and other soft furnishings, letting it absorb the smell for a while, then hoovering it up (you may have to repeat this a few times for them to smell smoke-free).
  • Set out a few bowls of white vinegar in rooms where the smell is strongest to neutralise the smell.
  • Cat litter, charcoal or coffee grounds placed in a few bowls are also helpful in eliminating bad smells.
  • Clean all wipeable surfaces with a citrus-smelling cleaner and hot water.
  • Using eucalyptus oil burners (but never leave them unattended or let the oil burn dry) may also help.

It can take up to three days for the smell to fade, but if it doesn’t you might have to pay for your property to be professionally cleaned with the aid of an air purifier or ozone generator. Any costs should be taken from the guests’ security deposit.

If you’re concerned about the smell of smoking impacting your incoming guests stay, you could message them. Let them know what has happened and the steps you have taken to remove the smell of smoke. If they complain, you could offer them a discount (deducted from the guilty party’s security deposit) for their first night’s stay.

Final thoughts

By prohibiting smoking in your holiday home, you provide a safer, healthier and more pleasant environment for your guests. But to prevent smoking you need to set up a strict no-smoking policy and communicate it to your guests.

If a guest does smoke inside, make sure you gather evidence and charge them a smoking fee to cover the cost of cleaning and any damage. By following the tips above, you’ll be able to keep your Airbnb or holiday cottage smoke-free and your guests happy.

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