Everything you need to know about damage policy options

Updated 7 months ago | 5 min read time
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We understand that renting out your property is quite personal, and you may wonder what will happen if guests damage your property or belongings.

Most guests respect the properties they stay at. According to our statistics, damages by guests are very rare – occurring only once every 5,000 bookings – and most of those incidents are accidental rather than intentional.

Below we offer some suggestions on how to prevent damages to your property and how to react in the unlikely event that it happens.


What’s in this article:


Damage prevention

What can I do to prevent damage to my property?

  • Show guests that your property has an owner

    If you’re meeting guests on arrival, welcome them to your home, show them around and tell them a little about your history there. When it’s clear that it’s your private residence, guests are more careful than they would be in a hotel. Even if you can’t greet them in person, you can add a personal host profile to your Booking.com property page, as well as leaving a welcome pack.

  • Make your house rules clear

    If guests know the dos and don’ts of staying at your place from the start, there are fewer chances that issues will arise. In the extranet, you can set up house rules that address common issues around pets, smoking, parties and noise.

    If you have other specific rules that can’t be covered in the extranet, you could type them up and print a copy to leave at your place so guests are reminded of them during their stay.

  • Check your insurance policy

    The chances of guests damaging your property are extremely low, but it’s smart to insure yourself against the unexpected. Regular homeowner insurance doesn’t always cover short-term rentals to guests, so contact your insurance provider to check if you’re already covered or whether you need additional coverage.

    Even if your insurance policy covers short-term rentals, there’s often a deductible charge for damages – meaning you pay up to a certain amount and the insurance company pays the rest.


Handling damage

What are my options for handling damage?

Even if most guests are careful and considerate when staying at your place, accidents occasionally happen. In such cases, here are your options:

  • For everyday damage, you can choose from two damage policy options to repair or otherwise replace items or property damaged by guests during their stay: damage deposit or damage programme. The two options differ in terms of how the damage payment process is facilitated. If you opt for a damage deposit, you’ll manage the process yourself. If you set up a damage programme, we’ll facilitate the damage payment process on your behalf.
  • For larger damagePartner Liability Insurance is a programme designed to protect you against third-party lawsuits or liability claims for bodily injury or guest property damage incurred during a stay booked through our platform. These are extremely rare instances, so read carefully about Partner Liability Insurance before you make a claim.

How do I check which option I currently have?

You can check your current option by following the steps below:

  1. Log in to the extranet.
  2. Select the Property tab.
  3. Click on Policies and scroll down to Other policies. If you have set up a damage policy option, it will be visible here. If you haven’t, you can click on Edit and follow the steps provided there to set one up.

Note: Your home-like property is covered under Partner Liability Insurance as soon as it’s listed on our platform. Coverage will apply for all guest stays booked through our platform that take place on or after 31 March 2022, as long as you remain opted in to the programme during stay dates.

 

What else can I do?

  • Report guest misconduct

    To make sure a guest cannot book your property again and make us aware of their behaviour, you can also report damages using the guest misconduct tool in your extranet Reservations tab.

  • Make an insurance claim

    If you have an insurance policy that covers short-term renting of your property, you may be able to make a claim. Contact your insurance provider for more details.

Note: Any insurance claim you make is subject to your own risk/claim threshold and may have an adverse effect on your insurance premium. Most insurance providers ask for proof of damages in order to evaluate your claim. We recommend that you take photos and retain any evidence that may prove useful to your claim.


Damage deposit

What is a damage deposit?

Setting up a damage deposit allows you to collect deposit money upfront in case a guest causes damage to your property or items during their stay. However, it’s worth remembering that damage deposits tend to result in fewer bookings and more cancellations.

Please keep in mind that you’ll manage the entire damage payment process yourself.

How does a damage deposit work?

A damage deposit follows these steps:

  • Before their stay, your guest gives you a deposit directly. You define how and when you collect this amount and manage the money yourself.
  • You must collect and return the amount per the settings you defined at the time of the booking.
  • You’re within your rights to keep all or part of the deposit in case the damage is proven to be caused by the guest.

How do I set up a damage deposit?

To set up your damage deposit, please follow the steps below:

  1. Log in to the extranet
  2. Select the Property tab
  3. Click on Policies and scroll down to Other policies 
  4. Click on Edit within the Damage policy options box (you’ll be redirected to another page)
  5. Under Do your guests pay a damage deposit? choose Yes and follow the instructions to set the right damage deposit for you

Damage programme

What is the damage programme?

Setting up a damage programme allows us to facilitate the damage payment for you at no additional cost.

With this option, we take care of everything, from contacting the guest if damage occurs to facilitating the payment process on your behalf. 

How does the damage programme work?

The damage programme follows these steps:

  • Your guest doesn’t pay a deposit upfront – they only pay if they cause damage during their stay and you report it to us.
  • You can only ask your guest to pay for the value of the damage caused, up to the maximum amount you selected when you set up the damage programme.
  • In the event that damage does occur, you submit a damage payment request that your guest will be asked to pay if they cause damage to your property.
  • You have 14 days after the guest checks out to submit a request via Booking.com.
  • We contact the guest for you, informing them that damage has occurred during their stay and that you are requesting payment from them.
  • If your damage payment request is accepted, we’ll pay it out to you via bank transfer. This process can take up to 30 days.

How do I set up the damage programme?

To set up your damage programme:

  1. Log in to the extranet and select the Property tab.
  2. Click on Policies, scroll down to Other policies and click on Edit within the Damage policy options box. You’ll be redirected to another page. 
  3. Under Do your guests pay a damage deposit?, choose Yes.
  4. Under Enter the maximum amount a guest could be charged for damage (per stay), enter the amount of your choosing. Maximum cap amounts differ for properties in different countries as currency values differ from country to country.
  5. Click Save.

Note: To adjust the maximum amount guests could be charged for damage, you can follow the steps above.

 

When will a new maximum amount be applied?

Please note that a new maximum amount is not applicable for guests who have booked before you adjust the amount. 

For example, if you set up $300 as the maximum amount on Monday and your guest books on Tuesday and causes damage on Tuesday, you can charge your guest a maximum of $300. This is because the programme applies at the time the guest books the stay. 


Damage payment requests

How do I make a damage payment request?

If a guest damages your property or items within your property during their stay, here is how you can make a damage payment request:

  1. Log in to the extranet.
  2. Go to the Reservations tab and select the reservation where the damage occurred.
  3. Click on the Make a damage payment request button.
  4. Fill out the form and provide a clear description of the damage, state how much you are requesting and provide a clear photo(s) of the damage.
  5. Once completed, click Review request.

It takes up to 14 days to process a damage payment request. You can monitor the progress of your request on the reservation details page.

What can I ask the guest to pay for?

You can ask the guest to pay for things like:

  • Damage to furniture, electronic equipment, decor, dishware, etc.
  • Water damage, broken fixtures, scratched flooring, holes in walls or ceiling, etc.
  • Third-party cleaning due to more than general mess (evidence of an invoice required).
  • Lost keys or stolen belongings (evidence of an invoice of original purchase or receipt of a replacement required).

You cannot ask guests to pay for things like:

  • Routine cleaning jobs like garbage bags being left out, dust or vacuum cleaning, food remains left on surfaces, any unclean dishes, etc.
  • Non-physical damages like smoking in your property, general mess or things left untidy, etc.
  • Breaking any kind of house rules like bringing pets if not allowed, late check-in, bringing extra guests, etc.
  • Extra fees that were unpaid like pet fees or tourist taxes, etc.

What kind of evidence can I use?

To make it easy for the guest to understand and be more likely to pay, while also helping us process your request quickly, make sure you: 

  • Describe the damage in detail
  • Provide clear and relevant photographs of the damage
  • Attach invoices or receipts where necessary

What kind of evidence am I not allowed to use?

For your own and your guests’ security, there are a few things you shouldn’t upload as evidence. These are:

  • Invoices where private addresses or phone numbers are included – or anything else containing Personal Identifiable Information (PII) like names, phone numbers, email or postal addresses.
  • Security camera footage of guests.
  • Screenshots of conversations between you, staff or the guest.

How do I check the status of my damage payment request?

Once you’ve submitted a damage payment request, here’s how you can check its status:

  1. Log in to the extranet.
  2. Click on Reservations.
  3. Select the reservation you submitted the damage payment request for.
  4. Under Damage payment request status, you’ll find the current status of your request.

What do the damage payment statuses mean?

Here’s what the extranet’s damage payment request statuses mean:

  • Under review – we’re currently in the process of assessing your request and contacting your guest on your behalf to let them know about it. This can take up to 14 days.
  • More evidence needed – we’ve assessed your request and determined that there isn’t enough evidence of the damage. We’ve sent you an email explaining how you can submit more evidence.
  • Approved – we’ve approved your request and you should receive the amount you requested with your next payout.
  • Payment in progress – we’re currently processing your payment and you should receive it with your next payout, within the next 30 days.
  • Damage payment sent – we’ve successfully sent your payment to you.
  • Declined – unfortunately, we’re unable to approve your request and we’ve sent you an email with more details.
  • Request cancelled – you’ve cancelled the request you submitted.

How long does the damage payment request process take?

We’ll assess your damage payment request as soon as you submit it and contact the guest on your behalf to inform them of the damage. This can take up to 14 days. 

When will I receive the damage request payment?

Once your request is approved, it can take up to 30 days for you to receive payment. You can follow the status of your request on the reservation details page.


Maximum amount of damage payment

Booking.com facilitates damage payment requests via Payments by Booking.com up to a maximum amount. These maximum amounts differ for properties in different countries. 

Please refer to the product policy page on the extranet under Damage policy options to find out the applicable maximum amount that a guest could be charged for damage. Please note that damage payment requests facilitated via Payments by Booking.com are up to €/$/£500, but this amount is subject to change. 

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