Stay away from a host called Vinod advertising on Airbnb in Miami, Florida. Having used Airbnb for a bunch of stays during 2016, the last one was terrible. There was a leaky roof that stained the sofa, and cockroaches, slugs, and ants infested the condo. Collection bills were piled so high in the mail box the mailman delivered armfuls to the condo. I bought pest spray and tried to control the issue. When I contacted the Airbnb Helpline, they were anything but helpful and charged me $500 so Vinod could fix his “leaky” roof claiming I made the condo sofa dirty and stained. He claimed no knowledge of the bugs crawling around. Was it coincidence the sofa was positioned under the leaking roof and he claimed I did it? Well, Airbnb sided with him and charged my credit card for damages. Consumer protection – I don’t think so!
I have used many sites to book weeks, weekends and one-night stays all over the country for years, but never had a more overpriced, over represented or more frustratingly terrible, amateur experience than booking through Airbnb. First of all, Airbnb charges fees, no matter what. Once you fall victim to them, they will never be refunded for any reason whatsoever. Also, they do not vet their so-called “hosts” (any Joe-blow anywhere who wants to rent out his nasty rooms to people who haven’t heard about this scam), their hosts’ practices, the actual properties, amenities, and any claims that hosts are allowed to post their listings, whether real or not.
What I booked, at the price of a 5-star hotel, for a weekend, was described as a beautiful downtown apartment, entirely for my use. It actuality, it was actually a third story walk up in an old, nasty building. There were no amenities or comforts provided; not even a spoon or fork in the kitchen, no chairs of any kind to sit on in any part of the so-called apartment, one shelf of refrigerator space, an unusable, old Keurig that leaked all over the counter and couldn’t make a cup of coffee, a metal sign outside the window that creaked, banged and made racket all night in the wind, and a full size bed with what appeared to be twin sheets stretched over the rubber sheeted mattress that came off all night and made sleep impossible. This bed was in the middle of the one “furnished” room – that’s all, just the bed; it had no bedspread, blanket or cover of any other kind. The host graciously left one newly purchased, never washed, Walmart towel for the entire weekend for 2 people.
We had to wait two hours to get into the place when we arrived because the host’s representative said she locked her keys in her car and couldn’t bring us the key to the apartment. They did not answer my calls or texts about where to leave the keys until the day after I sent them and were both upset that I left because I got tired of waiting for instructions and needed to get home. All in all, an extremely horrible experience. From now on, I will stick with the professional sites that stand behind their customers, vet their renters and properties, don’t charge hidden, exorbitant fees, and give you real value for your money.
All seemed fine until we arrived at our destination in Ocean City, NJ . The pictures showed this wonderful view of the ocean. They showed a pristine sitting area and kitchenette. Well, our first clues that this image might be different were the filthy walkways to the unit. The second clue: a dirty door. Then we opened the door and were stunned to find a carpet with so much filth it could not have been vacuumed. I went to the bedroom to turn on the light and the light fixture fell apart; the cord had been cut. Next, the cups in the cupboard had a brown goo on them. The stove had food crusted over and nothing short of filth. I contacted the host who responded “Well, I will get back to you.”
The next day I left for my morning walk, and grabbed the keys provided by the host from a lockbox. The key did not work, and she accused me of switching keys. When the host showed up at the door, I showed her the dead insects in the fridge and the filth on the carpets and table. She told me this is normal. Then told us to vacate the premises. We did, since she looked very unstable. We called Airbnb and they recommended for our safety we leave. This was at 1:00 in the afternoon. By 8:00 PM that night she posted a review that claims I damaged the wall and screamed at her. Then she said Airbnb recommended she ask us to leave. I did get a two-night refund but still had to pay a cleaning fee. Then Airbnb told me to contact the host about getting an additional refund for the cleaning.
Beware of using Airbnb; they obviously do not screen the hosts. I am attaching a few photos of what was in the fridge and on the stove. Yes, there were dead insects in the fridge.
I’m mainly writing this because I hate to see a lousy host continue to rent out his lousy apartment without making any changes to it. If the host was open to feedback and improvements, then cool. Not the case with this guy it seems. I booked this apartment for myself and two friends for San Diego Comic-Con. I could tell that the owner had raised the price for that week, something I expected anyway. Most of the reviews were fairly positive, but after staying there, I have no idea why they are. I can understand an old place just being old, but this place just felt dirty and lacked basic amenities that it claimed to have in its description. There was no extra toilet paper, not enough towels for the number of guests for which I informed him of, no hand soap, trash beneath the sink, gum in the bathroom sink drain, rug stains, and peeling floor paint.
The worst part of the stay was the handful of large, flying cockroaches that appeared on two of the nights. One of which actually flew into my friend, and another scurried over her foot. The host had left me a short but positive review; however, he countered my negative review for his unit, fabricating or embellishing most of the story. I don’t know if he doesn’t understand that there’s a thing called a paper trail. I’ve uploaded an image of my correspondence with the host regarding the issues that would negate his rebuttal to my negative review of his unit, as well as photographic evidence. To elaborate further on other certain issues he claimed in his counter-review:
- He claimed that we had a late check in. Our check-in was actually early as my one friend showed up an hour before check-in, and I had cleared this with the host. He did not provide clear directions on how to get the keys (I guess I should’ve repeated my question in my emails), and my friend had tried texting and writing to him with no response. She then had to decipher how to get the keys from previous guest reviews. My own check-in was two days later at night, but that did not require the host’s attention, obviously, since my friends were already there.
- He mentioned that we did not make any requests for toilet paper or towels. Regarding the toilet paper, this is because my friends had quickly gone out and bought their own (we did not know that the staff in the deli below was affiliated with the apartment in that way). Regarding towels, because the place already felt pretty filthy, we did not trust even using the towels.
- He mentions that we did not allow them onto the premises to inspect for the cockroaches. In my correspondence with him, I explained that we did not want anyone to enter the premises while we were not present, and at the time we were about to head out for the day. What the host failed to mention is that one of his associates did actually show up to take a look just before we headed out. We let him in of course, and he asked us where the cockroaches were coming from, but how could we know specifically where they came from? They just started flying and scurrying around the place at night. The guy claimed they’d never seen them upstairs before as though it couldn’t be true that they had cockroaches. However, this makes me question the sanitation level of the deli below.
After the inspection, no solution was offered and the guy left. With two nights left of our stay, we were considering finding accommodation elsewhere. However, being Comic-Con week, everything was booked up or overly expensive. I communicated this with the host and suggested a 2-day refund as the unit was not as advertised and we would’ve vacated the unit if we could’ve. He seemed to be open to this discussion. However, his responses were more and more delayed going forward. After our stay ended, he eventually just stopped responding to me. I was also in communication with Airbnb regarding this unit. They offered me a refund on the cleaning fees (I have no idea what the host is spending this money on at all), and after further requests, a credit towards a future stay to offset our costs. Unfortunately I cannot counter the host’s stories on his profile at all. I hope that by posting this story I can deter future guests from staying at this unit, and that Airbnb will better monitor the quality and honesty of host listings. I’ve been using Airbnb for a number of years now with no major issues, and with this listing being the first problematic stay, it already shows me the lack of responsibility that both hosts and Airbnb can potentially have for their clients.
We checked in the late morning on April 4th. On April 8th, we checked out early as we all had morning flights. We called the housekeeper to collect the keys from us as the owners were not available. We left everything as we found it but did not take out the rubbish as we weren’t provided with refuse bags or instructions on where it should be left. We personally didn’t think that this was an issue as the property was quite dirty on arrival with sanitary rubbish in the bathroom dustbins, dirt under the beds, old food in the fridge, etc. We left some leftover food and drinks in the fridge and left all the dishes and kitchen clean.
On my return to the office on the 8th I sent a message through Airbnb to the owner, as follows:
Hi Lasse! Thank you very much for having us stay in the penthouse. One of the girls tripped over the sliding door rail when coming in from outside and fell onto the couch with a glass of red wine. Please let us know what the charges are for the cleaning of the couch. I apologize for any inconvenience caused.
The accident happened on the evening of April 7th when we were locking up after dinner, before retiring to bed. Our manager entered from the balcony with a glass of wine in her hand, tripped over the rail of the glass sliding door and fell onto the floor and partially over the couch, spilling her wine on the floor and couch. There is a difference in the height from the floor outside to the inside creating a step, which in the dark is difficult to see. The couch is against the glass door so was in the immediate path to the kitchen from the balcony. We immediately offered to pay for cleaning the couch. If it was immediately handed in for cleaning there may have been a chance of removing the stain but the owner decided to wait almost a month before attending to the stain. I followed up via text messages on a couple of occasions and Lasse claimed that he didn’t have time to look into the cleaning of the couch and that he would do it between the times the penthouse was occupied.
It had been two months since we reported the spill on the couch when we were made aware of the fact that the dry cleaning had been unsuccessful and therefore recovering the couch was required at our expense (close to $1000). Whilst I understand that Lasse feels that the replacement of the fabric is required, I don’t understand that he feels that we should be held responsible for the charges. It was an accident and accidents happen. I would have thought that anybody with expensive furniture or appliances carry enough insurance to be covered for any incidents that could potentially damage or destroy their property. I was surprised at the request for the payment in total of the damages. I feel that Lasse only acknowledged the damages five days after I reported it. If something had been done about the spill immediately, the outcome may have been very different. A dispute was supposedly logged with Airbnb who found in favour of the host, leaving us with a massive bill (deducted off my credit card without my permission).
Be careful staying with Airbnb. Their terms clearly state that no matter what you do you are liable. Even if a property causes your death it is still in some way your own fault!
Having used Airbnb for quite a few occasions traveling, I would like to warn people, as Airbnb promotes itself in a way that is not exactly truthful:
1. Some hosts are in fact sexual predators (I have three personal stories to tell, one of which includes a host who was married). If you are alone, be aware of this and choose a host of your own sex. Also be aware of that people may be renting out for less than altruistic purposes. Narcissists love Airbnb because they feed on positive reviews
2. Airbnb offers no security check up or quality control whatsoever, and will not remove a host even after serious allegations. They will just give you empty words. I have heard this from many sources and lived it myself after a married host made sexual advances at me in my own cottage.
3. Hosts often lie in their descriptions and forget to mention that the rural house is by the autobahn (Editor’s note: motorway or interstate), that they are heavy smokers, that there are no buses, that it is dirty, etc. The photos may not be truthful. Be aware of this!
4. People tend to give overly positive reviews. I also have the suspicion Airbnb removes the negative ones. I went to one place that had a “Superhost” label and it was the filthiest place I have ever seen; the host had no teeth and didn’t bother to wash himself.
In early June 2016 we chose a apartment in Helsinki for three months and I decided to rent in the Hagaa Area (pictured). Normally, this would come to €130 but because it was a long term arrangement the host offered a discount of €100 and told me she couldn’t make this deal through Airbnb; I should pay cash at arrival. Usually apartments in this area rent at about €1,000 a month: they’re very old and under renovation. Some people even block the entrance; my kids had to leave by the emergency exit, which was surrounded by dangerous equipment and tools.
Anyway, I had to pay €3000 a month plus a €70 cleaning fee. When we arrived, the host told us the renovation had been finished and they would clean up the stairs soon. However, the next day we realized the real situation and complained. The host told us she didn’t know anything about it but cut off the electricity and water for many days following our arrival. When we checked out, she sent us a list of damages and quoted us €1,200 for a small kitchen table and €240 for a cleaning service… I had thoroughly cleaned the apartment before we left. Now she’s threatening to report us to the police and slandering us by saying that I committed a crime by damaging the kitchen table. Be careful from whom you choose to rent. You never know what will happen to you.
Our host greeted us at the door with an old dog with matted fur; there was no mention of him in the profile. She provided us with one key and said we could make our own copies. Some rooms didn’t have any light bulbs and the host said we could buy some. The bathroom and floors were brown with dirt and dog hair. The smell from the dog was so bad we could not stay in the apartment the first night. We weren’t able to use the intercom because it’s connected to the house phone that the host took with her. We had to go downstairs every time to let my husband in. The host didn’t have a wifi password for us upon arrival. There was no gym. The furniture was broken. The “free parking on premises” was street parking. I contacted the host twice about getting a partial refund and she had no reply to my request. I asked to have one night’s stay and the cleaning fee back. She wouldn’t reply. Airbnb closed my resolution request with no explanation after two months. I’m unable to include a link to her listing because the stink spot is “no longer available.”
Upon checking into an Airbnb in LA for almost a two-week period, I had to do massive cleaning as there were dried chicken bones left in the refrigerator along with old food and mold! The bedding and towels along with dishes all had to be cleaned and washed, and the trash was full to the top and had to be taken out. This stay was horrendous and all this cleaning took place after I was forced to wait four extra hours from the scheduled check-in time. The host (Phyllis) agreed to reimburse me for a half day’s rental cost. I was told the delay at check-in was due to maid service: apparently she was busy “cleaning” the Airbnb property. This of course was not the case. All dishes were either dirty and sitting in sink or littered with dust and dirty water marks, left to sit on wire shelving. I was forced to go to the store to purchase cleaning supplies, candles, air fresheners, incense, etc. This host never reimbursed me for the half day delay at check-in – which was agreed upon – and then had the audacity to write a slanted negative review, claiming he smelled “smoke” in his freshly de-sterilized “bungalow.” I’m off to get a tetanus shot after this horrible stay.
We were unlucky during our trip from Zagreb to Venice. We missed our bus due to some administrative fault with the bus company in Venice. We had no choice but to take the next bus which was at 10:00pm that night, so our timing was way off to check in to our Airbnb. We messaged our host about it in advance, telling her that we had no choice but to check in late. She asked us to pay an extra 40 euros for the late check in. Eventually, we paid. So during our stay in Venice, we paid the city tax (3 euros per night), cleaning fees (20 euros in cash), and 40 euros for a late check in. In regards to the cleaning fees, there’s a problem with her listing: she is NOT SUPPOSED to collect cleaning fees in cash, but she did. When I tried to resolve this issue with her, she just brushed me off by saying that the cleaning fees are to be paid to the lady who cleans the apartment.
I’ve submitted a report to Airbnb about this and they are still not getting back to me. Initially, I didn’t want to post this story over here but I’m left with no choice as she left me a negative review (which I couldn’t view until I wrote a review for her). I ended up writing a good review for her but was shocked to find a very negative review! Please, those who are going to Venice: DO NOT RESERVE THIS HOST!