Dangerous Area And No Jacuzzi Means No Romance

The rude host started by sending me an SMS at 5:00 AM with a string of texts about whom we should contact to get into the property. He offered an “apology” about the time by saying he was a surgeon on call 24/7… so, of course, that makes it okay to wake me up early on holiday. Then I had to use my UK phone to call this guy and arrange everything. I am originally from South Africa and decided to treat my partner to a romantic night with a jacuzzi overlooking Hout Bay. What we got was a block of flats by the bad part of the harbour with electric fencing, two armed guards and a jacuzzi that could be reached by a narrow fire escape. But wait, there’s more. The guy didn’t switch on the jacuzzi, so we were told to wait five hours, until 10:00 PM. In the meantime, I would have been too terrified to leave the premises at night for fear of being hijacked or robbed. It is miles away from the town of Hout Bay and just look up because if you look down or around you realise you have a cannery and are in a very poor area. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but you become a target for crime. I had a rather rude awakening to Airbnb policies and wondered why the host continued to be so arrogant – if you don’t stay there you can’t leave a review. Because of his cancellation policy, I couldn’t get a refund. So the fact that it was unsafe and misrepresented cannot be published. Good luck to any unsuspecting tourist because sooner or later there will be a crime reported.

The Last Straw: Tired of Being an Airbnb Host

I’ve been a host for three years now and have stayed in Airbnbs around the world several times. After several years, I have finally had it: I am ending my relationship with Airbnb and moving on to long term renters. I have two listings; one is private room in my condo, and the other is an entire home (one-bedroom condo) that I purchased for the sole purpose of renting it out. This post is to discourage others from becoming involved with Airbnb. It’s been a rough ride these fast few years… In the early days, there were sweet guests who brought gifts, followed the rules and genuinely wanted to get to know the person they were living with or living under. Over time though, guests seem to be more driven by finding cheap accommodations and the demands are ever increasing. They expect deep cleans of the condo but argue with me over the cleaning fees, ask to borrow my car, and complain about the pillows being too soft or hard. They will empty out my mini bar and leave no monetary contribution, walk around in their underwear, be mean to my cat, etc.

The listing says the condo is not metro accessible but they didn’t want to pay the high rate to stay on the metro line and don’t have a car to get to the grocery store. If the condo doesn’t have something in stock like some flour, they simply knock on a neighbor’s door (which is terribly rude – they don’t have a rapport with that person and sometimes don’t return the item they borrowed). Airbnb requires guests to list a phone number but many times I’ve found that number is not the actual guest’s number or the guest doesn’t have an international plan and his phone is useless. There were some guests that had me constantly running back and forth: they needed more baking sheets, then a crock pot, vinegar, and sunscreen, and they didn’t even have the courtesy to leave a review.

The maximum occupancy is six guests but I charge an additional $5 after two guests; somehow, magically, no one ever has any party larger than two. I realize I could snoop around or try and check in and maybe I could see how many folks are staying there, but the minute I say “Hey, the listing requires an additional $5/person and you have six here so I will be adding $100 to your stay,” I am basically asking for a terrible review. I have seen the nicest people turn vicious and threaten to say I am prejudiced or discriminating. The accusation is already enough to ruin people nowadays. Airbnb touts this “trust community” but over 90% of my guests are first time renters and many of them rent infrequently.

Airbnb asks that I leave fresh flowers, breakfast foods, wine and beverages, games, and snacks. Less than 5% of guests have ever just left a few dollars. A Sam Adams beer might be $7 from a mini bar in a hotel, but you can’t leave $1 for the two you drank? Really? This is how you would treat a friend who was hosting you? Guests have broken things in front of me; I have taken diligent pictures, submitted my quote to Airbnb’s Resolution Center, where as always the guest refuses to pay, and even though I have a Security Deposit and have been a Super Host for three years I have to go through Airbnb’s insurance policy for a $12 plate. I have made a lot of money with Airbnb but I constantly check myself to make sure I am not being greedy and overcharging.

Sometimes, peoples’ personal stories do make me empathize. I’ve let pets stay on request, allowed early or late check outs when I can, picked up items from the grocery store, and given rides to the city center. Guests will ignore my calls for a day then expect me to pick up after two rings every time. As a host it just comes down to Airbnb as a company. I don’t believe they will take care of me if something bad happens. I’ve often wondered if convicted sex offenders can rent out rooms in homes (how would we know?). Airbnb puts all the tax strains on me and forces me to pay the occupancy tax (which I’m happy to do, but it would be nice if they took on the administrative burden).

Despite three years of loyalty I never get a thank you card or Airbnb travel credit, and in the hospitality industry usually employees are at least reminded how important they are. Last but not least, I feel really terrible for my neighbors. Over the years some have been kind while others have gone to the Condo Board and local county government. There was one gentleman who lived in the building who wrote his congressman, county officials, and attorneys. While he was a little over the top, I get it: he wanted actual neighbors and not a revolving door. Who would buy the condo next to the full time Airbnb? If I ever thought I was hosting individuals who were going to have a disruptive vacation I would never have accepted that reservation. It is so hard to screen guests because I only see a picture and a paragraph or two, and anyone can say they are in the area visiting family or friends. The review system is pretty hit or miss; sometimes it’s hard to leave a negative review because I have to question if I’m being too judgmental or expecting too much from the guests. Goodbye Airbnb. You just saw a little piece of your paycheck prance over to YourHomeSuite.

Host Tried to Extort Thousands from Me

Here was my email reporting a case to the Airbnb Resolution Center:

Hi, thank you for mediating this case for us. Unfortunately, our host never met us face-to-face to deliver the apartment key and give the proper introduction of what furniture and amenities were included in our stay. In this case, she left the key in a lockbox in front of the door. Because she never showed us which furniture was ours to use at the beginning of our stay, we didn’t know what to expect. Attached are some pictures of the furniture taken on August 10th when we arrived at her apartment. As you can see, the headboard of the bed is already broken, and the bed squeaked every time we moved. Other guests have also mentioned the old bed in their reviews. However, we didn’t complain to our host since I didn’t think it was a major problem. I never checked the bottom part of the bed which she said is now broken, because it was covered with the sheets. As you can see too, the futon was covered with a red blanket when we arrived and when I removed it, I found out the black futon was crumbling on to the floor. However, the pictures we took didn’t show that, as we didn’t take another picture when we discovered the futon crumbling. We didn’t complain to our host about it because we thought she already covered it with red blanket so it didn’t matter to us. It was to our surprise that she asked us to pay such a huge amount for damage to the furniture. The damage, even though we didn’t cause it, should not cost that much.

We are also going to report to you some problems during our stay. First, the building is very noisy even late at night as it is next to a busy street. I have a small kid and he was uncomfortable with the noise. Second, the last week of our stay we were unbelievably uncomfortable because there was some construction to renovate the building. It started almost everyday from morning until after 6:00 PM. The dust was unbearable, the noise was loud enough I couldn’t focus on my studies at all (I am a graduate student), and water and dirt came under the front door when they did the flooring work outside. The bathroom was leaking because of the roof work. However, we didn’t receive any prior notice from our host that these renovations would be done at this time. We didn’t complain to her and managed to clean the apartment everyday after the work was done.

Third, our host said that we booked for three people and four actually showed up. I definitely can’t believe she would accuse us of this: it was only me, my husband, and our one daughter. You can check with some people – neighbors, my Uber driver – whose phone numbers I kept and they will be able confirm there were only three in our party. I am curious: who checked the apartments when we left? Was it just our host or a third party (maid)? I don’t know our host’s intentions by accusing us of so many things we didn’t do. We had to put up with many shortcomings on her side as I mentioned above. I could have demanded a refund due to this inconvenience. Please refer to the documents attached for my conversations with our host, photos, and also testimony. We look forward to hearing your fair mediation on this case. Thank you.

New Discrimination Policy: Instant Book

I’m happy to see Airbnb beginning to address this. However, as a former host, I hope that the ability of hosts to screen customers does not take a backseat to guest satisfaction. Keep in mind you are profiting from people hosting strangers in their personal space – that involves a great deal of trust from a host.  My husband and I found a number of new Airbnb users were approaching booking our home as a hotel rather than a private residence. This included property damage, leaving our home a pig pen, leaving kids unattended, and rendezvous putting us in awkward situations with unhappy spouses. These incidents caused us to hesitate when booking new Airbnb users who did not have any reviews. The increase in promotions on airlines and the number of first time travelers resulted in requests from people looking for a cheap place to stay rather than a home stay experience. I would find it imposing to restrict the ability to screen just for the sake of a few hurt feelings, especially when our booking history showed we welcomed all races, genders, and sexuality into our home.  The problem with “instant book” is that it removes the initial communication between hosts and guests.  Please do not penalize your hosts who are hesitant to allow just anyone into their homes. We are not prejudiced – we are protecting our family and our belongings from those who do not understand the culture of Airbnb. Thank you for your consideration to those who make your business possible.

Unusually Warm Airbnb Stay with Frenemy

I stayed in Temecula to train my dog as my service dog. My host knew I had a medical condition. She came across as pleasant and friendly. I left her some private feedback as I didn’t want to affect her business. She took it very personally and left me a bad review. This happened after staying three separate times at her home, being invited into her pool, and using her goggles! Service with a smile, right?

After the final review she left me I don’t know if anyone will let me book with them. And I had given her all stellar public reviews. Now I’m going to give the true review to let others beware staying with her. There was no toilet paper in the designated bathroom when I arrived. I had texted her about this and didn’t get a response as she was at work. I had to search through a strangers home while I desperately needed to go poo! Imagine after driving three hours in a heat wave!

There was also no use of the air conditioner except during the party she had on my next stay; she let the air stay on for that! The host does not use an air conditioner and the full house fan system is not enough to stay cool. Temecula is a desert community. It’s regularly in the high 80s or 90s and during my first stay there was a heat wave, with the temperature around 110 to 115. Private feedback was given. The host did not provide obvious hand towels in a restroom shared with others. Again, I gave her private feedback. The screen to the bedroom window was broken at the bottom. She’s in horse country and a lot of horse flies were coming in. She did fix this by my 2nd visit. The privacy curtains block air flow and without curtains there is no privacy.

This room never cools down. I brought a temperature gauge on my second visit to make sure I wasn’t going crazy and it stayed 76 to 84 degrees in the room. There is no breeze at night. Even though the temperature can get down to 60s late at night the room never gets a chance to cool down, even with a room fan. Again, I communicated this information privately on my first review. Wanting to get along and realizing I’m going to be staying in a person’s home which is different than a hotel on the rest of the stays, I didn’t give my host any more private feedback and tried to stay on the positive side of things as there were very positive things.

I mean was I not supposed to tell her that flies were coming in…? That I didn’t know what towels to use because her brother and son were sharing the bathroom..? She also put towels in the room in a nice basket, well I guess these were only for decoration as when I opened them naked and wet in the bathroom they were off white and I saw light yellow and brown stains. Yuck! I had to put my clothes on when I was wet and get towels in the hallway. There were new looking towels hanging in the bathroom for her son and brother, but the Airbnb guest towels were really worn and a bit hard on the skin. I left private feedback that this was noticeable as a guest and the towels she left confused me as I guess they were for decoration only.

I don’t know because she never got back to me about that. I brought my own towels and toilet paper for my second and third stay, as well as a cool water bottle and baby wipes. I’d never put towels in a guest’s room and not expect them to be used. I don’t know… maybe that’s just me? I told her about all these things so she could be a better host. I mean if I had flies coming in and my guests were sweating it out… I mean I didn’t sign up for a sauna experience! As retaliation, this host said I didn’t clean up after my dishes in the kitchen. Well this is true as her brother came home during my first visit and offered to do them. I guess I was supposed to decline….? I can’t believe this was used against me and gave one side to make me look bad.

She claimed I didn’t clean up after my dog. It’s actually a big pet peeve of mine for people not to clean up. I cleaned up every time. I think maybe she wanted me to use a hose too. She could have let me know at any time during my three almost consecutive visits. She did stress energy and water conservation. I’m pretty sure she would have put it negatively in my review in either case. Knowing how she left me an unfair and slanted public review with no communication about these issues I would really not trust this host in my opinion. As a matter of fact, during my second stay she said I could leave the dishes undone, but my boyfriend did them. Talk about a two-faced, lying… well, you fill in the blanks. She also invited us to her pool to swim with the family on my last visit. I thought this was a nice gesture, but say it with me again: “Two-faced blankety blank told me everything was fine and left me a terrible review.”

Negative Review: Host from Venice

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!

Threatened by Host in Asheville

On a recent stay at what appeared to be a great space with overwhelmingly positive reviews, we had the bad luck of encountering a plumbing issue (the handle for the toilet straight up fell off), leaving us without a functioning toilet for almost a whole day (this was the only bathroom in the unit). The host never replied to our message regarding the maintenance issue, so we decided to cut our losses and leave (Hotel Indigo is very nice, by the way). While we were packing up, the host came over totally unannounced, pounded on the door, and threatened us for leaving early. We finished packing up, completely terrified, and got out as quickly as possible, trying not to escalate the situation. Once we made it to safety, I called Airbnb to report the incident.

The customer service rep, “Josh,” said that because there was no evidence of what happened, we were basically out of luck (side note: I did have my unanswered messages to the host about the problem and a witness to the harassment – the other guest – which judge Josh apparently didn’t think counted as evidence). I was eventually refunded for one night, but was told that because the host has a strict cancellation policy, and the incident occurred more than 24 hours after check-in, no additional money would be refunded. This seems like a less-than-sound refund policy to say the least. I mean, what if the place burned to the ground more than 24 hours after check-in? Does the host still get to keep the money if he wants? The most troubling part of this whole incident is Airbnb’s nonchalant attitude when it comes to women being threatened by their male hosts.

Moral of the story: an unstable, violent host can intimidate you into leaving (read: escaping) early and then keep your money because you “canceled” the reservation early.

Airbnb Kyoto: Not Everything in Japan is Pristine

Our first booking was cancelled by the owner, and it took some persistence to get the money refunded on our return. Our second booking in Kyoto, Japan turned out to be ghastly. The “owner” had a profile picture 0f his baby in his arms with a spiel about how friendly he was, how much he loved the neighbourhood, and how he would let people know all the good places to eat! We never saw him! The apartment was not clean, and the bedding was appalling. No spare linen, and it looked like the linen had not been washed – there were only two pillows with cases, and one of them was dirty. For the price, it was sub-standard accommodation, even for Kyoto, and the only people who may not have complained would have been five backpackers sharing the price. Never again. The shower, which was always damp, was a haven for footrot, and there was barely enough light. The only thing which worked was the wifi, which was good enough to check out some good hotel accommodations in the area and get the hell out of there. I selected this because it was close to the railway station – it would have been preferable to have slept at the station.

Finding yourself Stuck in an Airbnb Drug Den

We are a young couple who has been using Airbnb for more than a year traveling in many countries. Unfortunately, our last stay in Casablanca wasn’t as pleasant as previous ones. There were 6 or 7 people living in the apartment. The first night everything was fine, but the second night they held some kind of party and were smoking weed and probably some other cheap drugs, and drinking a lot of alcohol. Did I mention the listing stated that apartment was “quiet” and suitable for “families traveling with children”? Maybe a family of meth heads.

We wanted to complain, but our host was never in the house; those people were all her “friends”, or permanent tenants we should say. It was really late so we decided to contact our host in the morning. When we woke up, we found this message from our host, informing us that we should pay “additional” fees to the other tenants, because they “took care of us”. We didn’t even understand what the hell was going on – what additional fees? – and thought the booking transaction had already been completed on the website. She was probably high too.

Anyway, we refused to pay the amount she was asking for. That’s when things got really weird. She asked us to hand in our passports along with a fee to make a “copy” for the police. We were just standing there thinking: “Well, time to GET THE HELL out of here.” It was clear that she just wanted to confiscate our documents so we wouldn’t leave… or for some other purpose. It didn’t really feel like she was asking; it felt like she was threatening us. Apparently, all guests “were asked to do the same for legal purposes.”  So you’re trying to tell me that you actually follow the law yet allow drug parties in your house? Anyway, we just went back to our room, immediately packed our things, and left. The only good thing was that Airbnb responded quickly to our complaint and gave us our money back, in a matter or hours. Anyway, be careful guys!