Has this happened to you? You have guests staying in your short-term rental property. They call you on the first day with a simple request. Then they call you a second time. Then a third. The requests may or may not be reasonable, but they expect you to meet their demands. Where do you draw the line?

Or, perhaps your guests leave the home in terrible condition, cause damage, don’t clean up after themselves, etc. And you’re left with the cleaning bill. Do you have any recourse? Is it worth a confrontation with the guests?

You’re in a rough spot, because your online reputation as a host is at stake. One bad review can cause a ripple effect that’s hard to recover from. On one hand, you want to make sure your guest has an enjoyable stay and has their needs met. On the other hand, you need to draw the line and let the renter know what’s ok and what isn’t as far as contacting you with any additional requests.

So, what do you do?

If you get into the habit of laying down ground rules before the guests arrive, you can avoid some of the drama and misunderstandings.

Gather intel on your potential guests

Do a little bit of digging on your potential house guests before you accept their bid to stay in your home. Some rental sites such as Airbnb allow property owners to leave reviews of their guests. In the absence of any information on your guests, the Internet is a vast resource. If you sense any red flags, don’t hesitate to decline. You may lose out on income, but hopefully you can book other guests who won’t cause headaches for you during their stay.

Set expectations with your guests

Common sense says to make sure you have everything in writing. If you detail your house rules as early in the process as possible, you may be able to avoid the type of guests who will make such demands or leave your property in less-than-livable condition. For example, terms like “no partying” will deter the spring break crowd from booking with you.

Make sure your guests know what you consider to be reasonable as far as requests. Try to make arrangements before they arrive if they have asked for anything out of the ordinary. Once they arrive, establish your availability (or lack thereof) for requests during their stay.

If their requests are reasonable, make every attempt to honor them. After all, this is your business, and you want your guests to have the most enjoyable experience as possible while under your roof.

A bad review isn’t the end of the world

Even the best host in the world is eventually going to get a bad review from a guest. When it (inevitably) happens to you, what you don’t want to do is retaliate. You do, however, want to respond in a respectful manner. This shows that you have acknowledged the reviewer’s complaints but haven’t done any mud slinging back at them. Potential renters may see this review, and your response, and feel that you have addressed the concerns adequately.

If the review is truly inflammatory or false, you have recourse. You may flag it on Google. Do this as a last resort, though.

More positive than negative

Don’t let the one bad experience with a guest leave you gun-shy about renting. Most guests will be perfectly reasonable – especially if you have set yourself up for success with the above tips.