Airbnb Smoking Fee: Preventing Smoking in Your Short-Term Rental

See how to collect an Airbnb smoking fee & strategies for preventing & detecting smoking with example messages & tech that could save you $1000s.
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January 19, 2024
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Airbnb Smoking Fee: Preventing Smoking in Your Short-Term Rental

See how to collect an Airbnb smoking fee, plus other strategies for preventing and detecting cigarette smoke in your units

Guests might not think they’re causing any harm when they smoke on your vacation rental properties, but the smell of smoke can cause bad reviews, the extra cleaning costs can run into the hundreds, and your homeowner clients have likely stipulated that they don’t want any smoking on their property.

So, it’s not only bad for the guest experience—smoking can be a major problem for your client relations and short-term rental (STR) business as a whole. An Airbnb smoking fee is one way to combat smoking, but that’s a solution that requires an explanation. 

We provide that explanation here with nine (yes nine!) steps, the preventative measures you should take, and insights into the STR technology that can save your business thousands.

Step-by-step process for collecting your Airbnb smoking fee

Airbnb doesn’t have a specific smoking fee feature, and you can only charge a security deposit via API-connected software. However, guests are expected to comply with your house rules and smoking policy. 

So, as long as your smoking policy is clearly communicated and you can prove that a guest has violated it, you can use Airbnb’s Resolution Center to request the resulting cleaning fee, which you should also provide proof of.

Here’s what we recommend:

  1. List your property without allowing smoking. Now guests who wish to smoke at the property will have to filter for “Smoking allowed” when searching for their stay.
  2. Include no smoking in your house rules, adding these to your Airbnb listing. See below for how to do this.
  3. Provide reminders on your no smoking policy. You can do this with signage and in your general guest messaging.
  4. Install the Minut sensor to detect cigarette smoke. The sensor includes noise and occupancy monitoring, as well as scheduled messaging and various STR home protection features. See below for how to do this.
  5. If cigarette smoke is detected, send a message to your guest to elicit an admission. For example, “Hi there! Hope you’re having a great stay. Just to say that our sensor picked up on your smoking, was that just an oversight or weren’t you aware of our no smoking policy?”
  6. Ask the guest to pay for the extra cleaning costs. If they refuse, ignore, or delay, keep following these steps.
  7. Collect any other evidence of smoking. This includes photographs of cigarette butts and ash.
  8. Make a copy of the cleaning invoice. Include extra cleaning time and service charges, ozone generator rental and associated costs, and any other related charges.
  9. Visit the Airbnb Resolution Center within 14 days of checkout. Request money to begin the AirCover for Hosts reimbursement process, providing all your supporting documentation, like communications, photos, and the Minut historical log.

Note: As per this Airbnb Help Center article, Host damage protection, which is part of Airbnb’s AirCover for Hosts, includes cover for:

  • Damage to your home, furnishings, valuables, or belongings caused by guests (or their invitees)
  • Unexpected or extra cleaning costs needed due to the behavior of a guest (or their invitees) during an Airbnb stay—for example, professional carpet cleaning
  • Income lost if you need to cancel confirmed Airbnb bookings due to damage caused by a guest (or their invitees)
Screenshot of an Airbnb listing that allows smoking
Airbnb search results assume a no smoking policy, so smokers have to filter their searches to find a property that allows smoking. Source

How to add house rules to your listings

As per Airbnb’s Help Center on adding rules, follow the steps below:

For desktop/mobile browser:

  • Go to Listings and select the listing you want
  • Click/tap Arrival guide, and go to House rules
  • Make your changes and click/tap Save

For iOS/Android:

  • Tap Profile and then tap Switch to hosting 
  • Go to Menu, tap Listings and select the listing you want
  • Under Your space of the listing editor, go to House rule
  • Make your changes and tap Save

How to implement cigarette detection by Minut

Follow these steps to know as soon as someone is smoking on one of your STR properties, monitor noise, and track occupancy. Note that the installation process normally takes 5-15 minutes.

  1. Charge your sensor. Remove the magnetic mounting plate from the back of the Generation 3 sensor. Remove the cover from the charging port. Use the attached USB-C cable to charge Minut.
  2. Download the Minut app on your smartphone. Open the app and create your account.
  3. Install Minut. Peel off the sticker from the back of the mounting plate, and mount it to the ceiling or the wall. Attach Minut to the magnetic mounting plate.
The Minut sensor picking up cigarette smoke
Minut’s standalone device, suitable for indoor and outdoor privacy-safe monitoring, can also be connected to a power outlet. Source

Tactics for preventing smoking in your Airbnb

Unauthorized smoking on your Airbnb properties can cause you a multitude of problems, so use these strategies to keep your vacation rental portfolio smoke-free.

Set a clear no smoking policy

A clear and unequivocal no smoking policy is essential to filtering out smokers from your Airbnb guests. If you list outside of Airbnb, for example on OTAs like or Vrbo, or on your own direct booking site, be sure to include your no smoking policy there, too.

Explain how your smoke detection system works

Knowing that you have an easy way to detect cigarette smoke is a strong deterrent to guests, so explain what the Minut sensor is and how it works. You can say this in your listing, in a digital welcome book, and in your messages.

For example, you could say:

“To ensure home protection and the safety of our guests, we use a Minut sensor to detect smoke, monitor noise levels, and track occupancy. But don’t worry! The device is completely privacy-safe. It simply lets us know that our house rules aren’t being broken, that the temperature and humidity is comfortable, and that there are no security concerns.”

Minut mobile app showing cigarette detection, noise monitoring, and crowd detection
Make sure guests know how easy it is for you to pick up on any smoking.

Include the extra cleaning fee in your house rules and messaging

As a further deterrent, provide guests with an example of the extra charges that result from smoking. You can include this in your house rules and scheduled messages, which you can easily set up using Minut.*

For example, you could say: 

“Please note that if you smoke inside the property, you may have to pay an extra cleaning fee, which includes service charges and ozone generator hire, and is typically around $300.”

Minut’s scheduled messaging feature
Minut’s scheduled messages use shortcodes to auto-fill stay-specific information.

*Minut’s scheduled messaging is an automated feature that saves you from manually sending messages for each stay, but it’s not compatible with the Airbnb integration due to phone number restrictions set in place by Airbnb.

Clear signage throughout the property

Physical reminders within your units can help dissuade guests from breaking your rules, but avoid placing too many no smoking signs around the home as they could appear intrusive or unwelcoming. A simple note on the fridge door and in the shared living space should be enough.

No smoking fridge magnet for short-term rentals
This handy fridge magnet for vacation rentals is available at Room SignsSource

Create a designated smoking area

Despite your clearly communicated smoking rules, extra fees, and smoke detection technology, you may still have some guest smokers at your STR properties, especially if your vacation rentals accommodate large groups.

To help make sure your guests never smoke indoors, create a welcoming outdoor space for smoking where people can sit down and socialize without creating a problem for your cleaning processes or upcoming guests.

Here’s all you need to do:

  • Provide a table and at least two chairs or stools
  • Place an ashtray on the table
  • Add a small, attractive pot plant
  • Make sure the smoking area is as far away from the property as it can reasonably be
  • State where the designated smoking area is in your communications
A small, attractive designated smoking area
While you don’t wish to encourage smoking, a designated smoking area that’s away from the property’s ventilation points can help protect your home and benefit future guests. Source

Protecting your homes, guests, and STR business

Cigarette smoking upsets homeowners and guests, creates extra work for you and your housekeepers, and, without a solid plan in place, you’ll probably end up footing the bill, too. 

Fortunately, you can prevent smoking damage by following a few simple steps, and, with Minut’s vacation rental technology, easily detect it as soon as the problem occurs.

Here’s a helpful summary of our recommendations:

  • Clearly communicate your no smoking policy in listings, digital welcome books, and house rules.
  • Use Minut to act as both a deterrent and solution to smoking at your vacation rentals.
  • Where possible, elicit an admission of guilt from your guest and provide a complete case to Airbnb via the platform’s Resolution Center.

With simple, scalable solutions like Minut, you can gain visibility across your entire STR portfolio, keep your homes free from smoke and excessive noise, and keep costly cleaning operations at bay.