Airbnb Host Ruins Family Winter Vacation

We booked our stay through Airbnb to stay in a “well kept house overlooking Park City main street” in Utah. The host was listed as Felicia. I was traveling with my mother, husband, twelve-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter. The host acted completely crazy from the beginning. We should have cancelled our trip. We booked from December 28, 2016 to January 4, 2017. We thought we might have to leave a couple days early due to work but because of the cancellation policy we figured we would just have to absorb the extra days or my mother would stay on with my 3-year-old goddaughter. Regardless, the house was supposed to be ours until January 4th. The host said, “well I will get the next owners to come a day early and if you watch my dog I will knock off another day.” We said sure. Then she said there is no phone number for Airbnb and that she couldn’t get them to give us our refund via email. It sounded weird. She said she didn’t get paid from Airbnb until after our stay but she would leave us cash for the refund in the house. After talking to Airbnb they said they pay their hosts the day the renters arrive. The first lie she told; they just started stacking up.

We were driving from Los Angeles. Not a short drive. On our way into Park City, Felicia texted that her dog has major anxiety and can’t be left alone. Because of this, she would keep the dog for a couple days and then wanted to meet with us at her house to hand over her dog for the other four days and the refund, as she had promised. She had told us previously that she was going to Santa Monica the same day that we were arriving and so to be sure to get to the house in a timely fashion to take Jude, her dog, out. Why hadn’t she left to go to California? Why was she still there? She said maybe she should just keep her dog and not give us our refund for either day. We said this would be fine; at this point we were already thinking that this situation was getting weird and we really just wanted to stay clear of her. I do not like dishonest people and we had already caught her in several lies. When we rent we don’t want to meet hosts. We just want to have a family vacation.

We finally arrived at the house and it all began. I had to use the bathroom as soon as we walked in. I sat on the toilet and the whole thing started wobbling; it was not attached to the floor. I am not a big person, so for me to be able to wobble the whole toilet meant it was extremely unstable. I looked at the back of the bathroom door and there was a big hole in it. I immediately took a photo with my phone and texted it to Felicia. She said that she knew about it and that her maid had been there. She also said that the people before us were big partiers and had left the house a mess, so much so that the neighbors had to call the police. Nothing was adding up. She had told me on the phone that she had been at the house since June and needed to get away from the snow. It just went on and on as I went through the house. The house smelled like cigarettes. She said there was no smoking allowed yet there were no fewer than three ashtrays in the kitchen. There were exposed electrical outlets that actually pulled up and out of the floor when someone unplugged something, and both the balcony doors would not lock. We found those two things out because our three-year-old let herself out onto the 3rd floor balcony after we thought the doors were dead bolted. The host said she knew about that too but thought the maid had fixed the door. There was a cracked window pane.

Everything in the house from the floors to every single dish in the kitchen was filthy. Every dish, glass, and utensil was old. It looked like things that had been used in the 1970s. We started cleaning. We stripped the beds and the master bed still had clothes on it: a black shirt, pants, and undershirts. We got into the house at about 4:00 PM on the 28th and were cleaning until midnight. Nothing ever felt clean. Even the things we washed came out with hair all over them. The gas valve in the fireplace was all eroded. The master bath shower didn’t drain so you couldn’t take a shower very long or it would overflow. We documented everything and contacted both Airbnb and the host. The host offered to send over a handyman and she wanted to come with him. Why was the host trying to get in the rental so badly? This was the second time she tried to come in while we were there; it was extremely intrusive. We had just arrived. We really wanted to just have a family vacation. She had been there for months. Why were we supposed to wait around for the repairman and then the repairs on our dime?

We took pictures and sent them to both the host and to Airbnb. We said why don’t you just refund us our money $4700.00 (not cheap) and we will leave. Our vacation had already been ruined. We were uncomfortable and did not feel that it was a safe environment for our three-year-old or our twelve-year-old. They said we did not have enough documentation and would do nothing. The host called us liars even though she admitted to knowing about most of the things we documented. She harassed us by texting me constantly not only through Airbnb email but through her personal email. The final straw was on New Year’s Eve when my husband went to get wood out of the garage. He found mouse droppings and saw a mouse scurry towards the door into the house.

We left New Year’s Day and drove twelve hours back to Los Angeles. We had paid for the house until January 4th. I knew the host wanted to come back to the house because she had lied about leaving town. She knew that we might be leaving on January 2nd. She would not give us a dime back so I told her that she couldn’t return to the house until the 4th. She called me January 2nd like clockwork knowing that we may be leaving early. She called saying that it was obvious we had already left because there were no tire tracks out the garage and it had been snowing. How did she know that? Had she been watching us? When I said it was none of her business whether we were there or not because we had paid until January 4th. She called again lying about a window being open and that she wanted to go into the house and close it. There were no windows open. You couldn’t even open the windows. We were afraid to open the master window because of the cracked window pane. Which was the window she claimed was open?

She said she was going in with a police escort. She didn’t bring the police. She just went in and stayed at her house while we paid for it. That is theft; we paid for the house until January 4th. Why would she go inside and not at least give us back the money for the three days she is staying in the house? Airbnb said they would not respond to any of our questions or concerns anymore and that as far as they were concerned, the case was closed; they would not be refunding any money to us. We talked to three customer service representatives, all to no avail. Airbnb and Felicia are thieves. I was traveling with my mother, husband, twelve-year-old son and three-year-old daughter. This host is actually trying to blame all these things on us now. We started documenting problems within five minutes of entering the property. How could any of these problems be caused by us? She called us liars and said that she is putting us on some sort of renters blacklist. We have been manipulated, scammed, lied to and treated worse than I have ever been treated. We have been coming to Park City for winter break for ten years and used to love it there. I do not think we will ever be back. Felicia and Airbnb have not only ruined our vacation but our tradition.

Does anyone know of any recourse? We are so upset.

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