Unsafe and Dirty Apartment in London, Still no Refund

Last month, my boyfriend and I booked an Airbnb in the Shoreditch neighborhood of London for three nights. The experience was unpleasant from the beginning. We picked up the keys from a coffee shop and the baristas were short with us and unfriendly. We then entered the apartment, which was advertised as a studio, but was completely misrepresented. The apartment did not have the amenities of a studio (it was nine square meters in total with only a microwave and small fridge, making it technically count as a studio). It was dirty, and had towels left in it that were already used and falling apart. The worst part was that the apartment was completely unsafe.

When I say unsafe, I mean that when we entered, the front doors to the apartment had been left wide open. It was easy for anyone to walk directly into this apartment building, go upstairs, and break into the rooms. The front doors were left open every single time that we entered and exited the apartment building. Our personal apartment door did not have a lock on it that was very secure, so we were completely vulnerable to any intrusion. It had the lock of a bedroom door, and a dent in the wall seemed to indicate that it had already been easily kicked in in the past.

We decided to call Airbnb customer service. Our customer service representative took down all of the information and ensured us that safety is the number one priority of Airbnb. We had to wait on the phone for 40 minutes (and this was an international call since we were not calling from our home country) and then explained the situation and how we felt extremely unsafe in the apartment for another 30 minutes. She told us to take videos of all of the extreme noise, dirtiness, and the unsafe and opened doors so that we could send them to her later. She also said that she would call us back within five minutes so that we could proceed with the case by sending all of these videos, and that most likely Airbnb would change our apartment for us that night.

The problem is that we never received a call back from Airbnb, and after a horrible night of sleep (the bed was caving in, there was noise directly outside the door, and someone even banged on the door in the middle of the night) we decided to check out in the morning. I am still shocked that there was absolutely no response from Airbnb when we had stated that we were experiencing huge safety issues. We tried to explain the situation to the host, but she was just rude and told us to deal directly with Airbnb, as the person kicking in the door was probably just drunk (this was clearly because this apartment scam has probably been going on for a while).

I had to look for another nearby hotel and spend extra money just so that we could sleep in a safe place, with no guarantee of a refund and no response from Airbnb at this point. When I arrived back home, I again called Airbnb and sent all of our receipts from the new hotel, all of our information (the videos I took, the photos, and the communications we had with the host and Airbnb), and spent approximately ten hours of my time going back and forth explaining this situation and sending all of my documented information. It is clear that we deserved a full refund, and even something extra, considering all of our time spent documenting, talking on the phone, and sending details over emails. It is clear that this shouldn’t even be a question as we were left with no response in an unsafe apartment.

However, first Airbnb offered us no refund (even though over a phone call, which customer service said had been recorded, they agreed that we should have a refund). After I insisted to have a second and third opinion on the case, we were offered only a one-night refund and a $100 Airbnb credit. This is the worst example of customer service I have experienced in my life. Our main contact told me over and over again that she had no decision making power over our case and that I was not able to speak with someone with decision making power. As stated before, she even agreed that we deserved a refund, but she was not the one deciding. How can it be explained that I could not even speak with an official decision maker?

It seemed like I spent hours playing a cat and mouse chase with no real winner and no clear answers. Why were we never given an explanation of how this refund was calculated? Customer service told me that we met all of the requisites for a refund, however in the end this randomized refund was offered to us with no real explanation of how it was calculated. It is clear that it is just in their interest to give no refunds to customers, as I had to even insist to get this partial refund; their first offer was no refund for no valid reason. I asked in various emails how this was calculated with no response.

I was also even told at one point that only my boyfriend could be in contact with Airbnb since the reservation was made on his account. So are only the guests that make the reservation valid guests? Do they discount all other members of the reservation in times of disagreement? This was also clearly a way of just trying to not deal with me, as I am a native English speaker and my boyfriend is Italian, so of course it was easier for me to be the one to explain this situation in my native tongue. I found this response one that just tried to avoid dealing with my level of discontent as no real answers could be provided.

This offer of a partial refund took almost a month to resolve. This is extremely slow, and as of today it still is not even listed as refunded in my boyfriend’s account. How can they explain that a company that is supposed to be prided on efficient service takes so long to answer a customer service query? I have never experienced such a terrible example of a company solely asserting their market power without caring at all about their customers’ experience. Clearly I won’t be using their services again and hope that this example makes others think twice before paying them for a service without any guarantee of true care for their customers.

The Worst Host in London Gives me Airbnb Nightmare

My experience with Airbnb was nothing short of a nightmare. I booked accommodation on Airbnb from February 9th through March 2nd, 2017 at premises owned by Tess. She asked me to leave the property on February 21st without contacting me. Airbnb also beglected to hear my side of the story, which is as follows:

The complaint by the host regarding the flat was based on three issues:

1. The locks being left unlocked. There were four separate locks to get into this tiny little studio flat. Two of these locks were in the middle of a dark alley with a step with no light whatsoever. I complained to the local contact about this. I asked him whether it is necessary to lock all four locks or would it be okay to just lock the one to the studio itself and the one to the gate outside, as this way the place is still safe and secure? There was no response from him. When Tess complained about it, I spent an extra ten minutes locking the two intermediate locks.

You may wonder why it took ten minutes? Because it was very difficult to see anything. Because she was complaining, I made this extra effort. I was in London to attend client meetings and buy a property and did not have the energy nor time to secure another flat… so I abided by her unreasonable requests.

2. There was loud music being played in the flat. I spent the evenings in the flat and spent my entire time working. Music was being played on my laptop to drown out the noise coming from upstairs with the constant walking around. I am a 40-something lawyer with my own practice, not a teenage girl playing loud music with no regard for neighbours. Not once did anyone knock on my door to ask me to lower the volume of the music. When the complaint came to me, I made a conscious effort to keep the volume at a low level.

3. There were uninvited guests. There was absolutely no room in the flat to have a person come and stand, let alone have me entertain them. The pictures of the flat do not reflect how very small it really is. The only explanation I have for people ringing the neighbours for me can only possibly be the delivery boys coming to deliver my dinner. There was no doorbell in the studio itself. This is one more thing that I told the local contact when I arrived. I asked him how I could have food deliveries, if I cannot hear when someone is at the door? He suggested I give the delivery people my phone number, which I did. But as you can imagine, they would not be calling a California mobile number for a food delivery in London.

When I came home on the night of February 21, 2017, it was after 10:00 PM. I then noticed the message from Airbnb. I had only one voicemail message on my phone at approximately 5:00 PM from her. By 1:00 AM, the local agent was at my door asking me to leave the property immediately. I insisted that the police be called so there is proof that I left the property, as every attempt that I made to reach Airbnb that evening was unsuccessful. After the police arrived, they sympathised with my situation but said they could not help in this matter. They provided me with a police report.

I was then told by the local agent that in fact the host was expecting relatives and guests and needed the empty flat. I was incredibly furious and shocked. The host does not live in the UK; she lives in Prague. She had assigned this property to yet another guest using an intermediary (as if Airbnb was not enough). She should have had the courtesy to call me and try to resolve the problem first, and come to a mutually acceptable solution. Furthermore, Airbnb should have defended me, as I am their customer; a legal relationship is created as I pay them directly. Since then, I have tried to reach out to Airbnb via emails and phone messages, and have not had even one representative bother to call me back. It is highly unprofessional for Airbnb representatives to make a decision to cancel a reservation on the evening of without verifying the facts with me and expecting me to leave the same night without reimbursement.

Lying, Rude Airbnb Host in East London

Back in February 2017 I booked Dora’s Airbnb in East London close to an area where I would be meeting friends for a farewell meal and drinks, as I now live in South Korea. A friend and I had decided to stay at an Airbnb to avoid a long and draining journey home. However my friend, who has never used Airbnb, was a bit reluctant. I assured her that I had had several good experiences and it would be fine. After finding Dora’s room online and reading numerous good reviews, I booked one night with her.

She was very nice and explained that she would be able to rent the room. However, ‘a friend’ would be staying in her room so she would be on the sofa that evening. I said this should be fine and when the weekend came, I dropped my stuff at her apartment and proceeded with my farewell evening. Once my friend and I returned to the apartment we got ready for bed incredibly quietly and went to get a glass of water from the kitchen for the night. However, after politely knocking on the door before entering, we heard Dora approach the living room/kitchen door and shout ‘WHAT ARE YOU DOING I TOLD YOU I WAS ASLEEP!’

I said I had needed a glass of water as none had been provided in the room (which was advertised). I calmly and quietly got my glass and returned to my room. At this point I felt really uncomfortable having been shouted at like a naughty child for asking for water. My friend also felt uncomfortable and decided we should calmly speak to her before deciding whether to leave early. When we spoke to her, we explained this was an irrational way to act and asked for an apology as we no longer felt welcome. She insisted she did not need to apologise and said if we wanted we leave we should (at 1:00 in the morning).

Deciding to not be treated like this, we left and contacted Airbnb immediately who gave me a full apology and refund. They said they would speak to the host and she would not be able to leave a review as we did not stay the night. A few weeks later, having moved countries, I noticed a horrible review had been posted on my wall from the host, completely twisting the story around to make her look like the victim. I immediately got in contact with Airbnb as she had also said they had given her a full refund for the issue and asked for an explanation of how she had been able to leave a review against me and been able to contact me. They offered very little in the way of an explanation and merely took the review down. We subsequently found out that the ‘friend’ staying in her room that weekend was another guest; she had lied and double booked her home (the guest left a review on the website the day after).

I’m disgusted that hosts feel they have the right to bully people, treat them so badly after taking their money, and are allowed to get away with it. If you are looking for a place to stay in London for a night out I strongly recommend a hotel.

Airbnb is Losing their Business to Scammers

My family had an upcoming trip to London. I booked a place from a verified host, who had 25 positive reviews for his property. Less than a week before our arrival, my host sent me a message that the apartment I booked was no longer available. He suggested I stay in another apartment of his. According to the calendar, the apartment would not be available for part of our stay. The host is not answering my messages or phone calls. I’ve been calling Airbnb for three days straight. Each time they assure me that my case has “high priority” and their trip team will be in touch with me shortly. Nobody ever called me back. Today I’ve been told that they are busy helping people, who are right now standing on the street without a place to sleep; that’s why I should wait. I probably should, until my family is on the streets of London without accommodations. The customer service representative suggested I look for a new place and tried to contact my host, but he could issue a refund only after 24 hours. I asked him to help me find a reliable host with a real property, because at least 60% of Airbnb listings in London are fakes used for scams; he assured me that Airbnb is vetting all its listings. I used to love Airbnb, but it seems they are losing the game to scammers. Airbnb definitely needs a stronger security team and they need to handle situations like mine before people are on the street with no place to stay, not postpone until the last 24 hours.

Airbnb Host Cancelled Ten Minutes before Arrival

We were on our way to the Soho apartment we rented after a nightmarish morning of driving two hours (opposite side of the road of course, very stressful), and a broken down commuter train. We were in constant contact with the host to let him know our progress, and always received a “no problem” or “no rush” reply. Finally, in a taxi ten minutes away, I got a host cancellation notice from Airbnb. I arrived at the apartment to find a sheepish host saying he’d just arrived at the apartment to find his flatmate hadn’t cleaned out some moving boxes and apartment was not suitable for guest. He wouldn’t even let us see the place. This was in the afternoon; there was plenty of time to have it cleaned. Airbnb’s response was to email seven or eight alternatives and let us look through them and decide… on a noisy London street on my mobile phone with no idea where these other places were while we were exhausted and furious. We were lucky to find a hotel. Then I found out I couldn’t leave a review for this jerk. They simply put an automatic “host canceled ” notice with no information about how horrible the experience was. They say they deducted payment from his next transaction, which only means he makes a little less money next time, but more importantly it means Airbnb makes money off bad hosts. Who comes up with these stupid rules?

Bitten by Fleas Repeatedly at London Airbnb

I have stayed at an Airbnb three times and I would not stay again based on the last experience. All three times I rented the entire home. The first two times the places were amazing; the hosts were great and everything went super smoothly. The last time, I booked a two-bedroom house near London and it was quite expensive ($400/night) but it was summer, the location was amazing (right in the centre, near a train station) and it was better than any of the hotels nearby. We had to be at this location for me to attend some work meetings.

The property was very clean and welcoming on arrival and everything went great… until I woke up the next morning with about 12-15 bites all over my legs and arms. I went to the pharmacy and they said probably mosquitos. I have been bitten by mosquitoes and these bites were so much worse. I bought several creams but nothing seemed to help. I noticed some of them were in a line so started to think it was bed bugs. I called the host but she was several hours’ drive away and we both freaked out thinking it was bed bugs. I looked in the sheets and mattress and never saw a single bug (alive or dead). I did not sleep with the windows open, but the bites were awful. The host did not want to pay for a hotel (I had one more night at her place) so I bought some bug spray, doused myself, and slept on the couch downstairs.

The next morning I woke up with even more bites. I had about 40-50 bites all over my feet, legs, back, chest, hands, and arms. They were on fire; I have never felt such intense itching and no cream worked. In the end I begged the pharmacist for an antihistamine and cortisone cream, which sort of helped. It took about a week for the bites to die down and I could wear normal shoes again; even the shoes rubbing on the bites unleashed incredible itchiness. The host had a pest inspector in after I left and reported there were no bed bugs or anything else, so I have to assume it was fleas. The south of England had a bad outbreak so that makes sense, and apparently even only one or two fleas can do this.

I get that things happen, but the host (while she was upset and I felt terrible about it as I’m sure the pest inspector was expensive) did not offer to move me anywhere else and probably thinks it’s my fault somehow. I never got a refund or any compensation even though I could not sleep in the bed the last night and being bitten so many times ruined my trip. It was so awful to have these bites. I no longer want to use Airbnb because at least at a hotel I can change rooms or there is some fallback if things go wrong.

Swindled by Airbnb for London Holiday Stay

On October 14th, 2016 I made a reservation through Airbnb for a two-bedroom apartment for myself, my wife, and our three kids – two boys and one girl. The address featured on the Airbnb website was in Earl’s Court in London. This reservation was between December 24th, 2016 to January 3rd, 2017. I made a payment of 19,596 NOK (Norwegian Kroners). Airbnb then allocated me this booking with a reservation code and the name and contact details of my host. My host was Ulya, and the Airbnb system provided her contact number.

Both myself and my wife started to have a hunch there was something amiss about this host since around November we started to receive both SMS and email correspondence related to this booking. What confounded us was that each time we responded it would transpire that these messages were not from Ulya but from different intermediaries. Since we had already paid, we continued to confirm our date of arrival and departure, grudgingly so.

On December 24th, 2016 we arrived from Norway at Gatwick Airport, London, and proceeded by train to Victoria Station. From the station we took a meter taxi to the address Ulya had given us which was in Earl’s Court. As we were in the taxi we realised that the address Ulya (the Airbnb host) had tendered on the Airbnb website was not valid. Whilst at the the taxi we made numerous calls to Ulya and her numerous intermediaries. Their phones were persistently engaged, so the taxi driver dropped us in the street. We related our plight to a stranger we found at the bus stop; she intervened and called the numbers for Ulya and her various intermediaries to enquire about the correct address for this apartment. This time one of Ulya’s intermediary gave us the correct address for the apartment we had booked, and she further advised that the apartment door was black. However upon our arrival at this address the door was purple and not black as we had been advised. It was at this point that it dawned on me, my wife and kids that we had indeed been swindled.

Realising that it was getting both late, dark and colder we then decided to proceed the Kensington Police Station at Pembroke Mews to report our plight. We received a hostile reception at the police station… perhaps the Kensington police thought we were either refugees or looking for accommodation. In either case, they gave us quite a hostile reception. They didn’t allow us anywhere near the precinct of their office. They ordered us to go and wait across the street. Our five-year-old daughter asked to use the toilet facility, an appeal that was not granted. After some time one police official came to us and harshly engaged us. We appealed to the police to at least assist us by calling the Airbnb host again. During this engagement it transpired that they learned I was a South African diplomat and that together with my family we were travelling on diplomatic passports. After having verified the authenticity of our diplomatic passports the police made numerous calls to both Ulya and her different intermediaries.

After these one of Ulya’s intermediaries gave the Kensington police an address on Ifield Road as the correct one for the apartment we had booked on Airbnb. We then took a taxi to this address. We stood at the street parking near the door of the apartment on Ifield Road for Ulya’s intermediary to give us the keys so that we could enter the apartment. Much to our surprise, the apartment door was not locked since the lady who came to give us keys just pushed it open and gave us a sets of two keys. Upon entering the apartment the first thing that we noted was that the bedrooms downstairs were cold and dirty. We immediately alerted the host intermediary about this. She indicated that she was in a hurry as it was Christmas the following day and that she didn’t know much about the apartment. She further indicated that Ulya had sent her to give us keys for the apartment. We nevertheless further appealed to her to at least turn on the heating mechanism for the two bedrooms, and she declared that these were on and would be warmer with time. She then left the apartment.

On our arrival we were greeted by garbage at the door. On seeing us entering at the apartment the neighbors complained that this pile of garbage had been there for a while. The very entrance to the apartment was visibly dirty. Later on, Airbnb’s partisan Resolution Centre dismissed this garbage as being of no significance. In the kitchen – which is combined with the lounge – the seats were falling apart such that it was not safe to sit on them. The only seat that seemed safe was the sofa couch which could also be converted to a bed. Again, Airbnb’s partisan Resolution Centre dismissed this as being of no significance. When we tried to connect our gadgets to the wifi which we found at the kitchen we discovered that whilst the modem was plugged in, there was no electric current. We tried it on the power outlet where the microwave was plugged in and it worked. To our surprise none of the power outlets in the bedrooms were functioning.

Upon proceeding to the ensuite bathroom we discovered that the light was not working and that the warm water was not functioning. We then tried the other bathroom and discovered that it was visibly dirty, just like the ensuite bathrooms. We alerted Ulya through a WhatsApp message about these problems and she promised to send an electrician to fix them. At around 19:30 Ulya informed us via WhatsApp message that she would be sending an electrician promptly. As we were exhausted both physically and emotionally after the aforementioned debacle of looking for an invalid address, we retired to bed early with our clothes on since the heating mechanism in the bedrooms was not functional. We also couldn’t wash ourselves since the warm water tank was not functional and therefore the water was cold. I took sleeping pills and slept much earlier than my wife and kids.

At around 22:50 I was woken up my wife saying there was someone banging on the main door. Fearful as I was, I climbed the apartment stairs and proceeded to the door to find out what was happening. I enquired who was knocking. The gentleman at the door indicated that he had been sent by the owner to check whether the warm water tank, power plugs, light in the ensuite and the heating mechanism were indeed not working. I opened the door for him to enter the apartment. He consistently purported to be engaged in a telephone conversation. Upon engaging this gentleman he indicated that he was not an electrician and didn’t have a toolbox but would call an electrician once he had confirmed that indeed the electrical problems which we had raised with Ulya were valid.

Clearly according to the Airbnb host our views were are not worth of respect. In the first place she didn’t do a basic quality assurance test to ensure that everything was in order in her apartment prior to us occupying the apartment. Even after registering our concerns inter alia about electrical problems in her apartment she elected to send her contact person who is not an electrician to ascertain the validity of the problems we had raised with her. What further astounded us was that even this gentleman kept on telling us us that he had been sent by a “he” not a “she”. When we enquired from him as to how come he is not an electrician since Ulya had made a promise that she would send the electrician straight away. This gentleman’s assertion confounded us even more since Ulya had told us that she was the owner of the apartment. Ulya later claimed that we refused her electrician entry into the apartment. Fortunately I had a gut feeling that something was amiss with this gentlemen and I took a picture of him inside the apartment.

Later on after cancelling the booking, a faceless member of Airbnb’s partisan Resolution Centre dismissed this picture of Ulya’s electrician inside the apartment as being of no significance and deemed not to give an idea of what transpired in the conversation between me and this gentleman in spite of me having indicated quite clearly that I had relayed this picture to refute Ulya’s false claim that we did not allow the electrician whom she had paid £100 to enter the apartment to fix the electrical problems we had raised with her. There was also insufficient linens on the bed; my two young kids coughed and cried bitterly the whole night complaining about the cold. With the bedroom’s heating mechanism not working, the bed linen provided by the Airbnb host was not sufficient. I again alerted the host about this fact and she maintained that there were was enough linen in the apartment. We live in Oslo, Norway, which is much colder than London, however we have never felt as cold as we did in Ulya’s apartment. Again, the Airbnb Resolution Centre deemed this fact did not warrant the cancellation of the reservation and a full refund.

Earlier on, immediately after assuming occupancy of the apartment and after realising that the electrical outlets in the bedrooms and some in the kitchen were not functioning my wife and kids went to a nearby shop and purchased an extension cord to charge our gadgets and continue to keep the wifi connected. I remained inside the apartment as I was exhausted, physically and emotionally. Upon their return we discovered that the main door keys were not compatible the door lock and therefore not opening. Fortunately I had remained inside the apartment and I opened it for them. Otherwise we were going to be literally stuck on the streets in a foreign country on Christmas eve.

Again the partisan Airbnb Resolution Centre deemed this fact did not warrant the cancellation of the reservation and a full refund. On the morning of December 25th, 2016 I awoke with my family hopeful that perhaps the the Airbnb host will send the electrician to fix the problems cited above which we had duly reported to her. As the day progressed without the electrician showing up, we washed ourselves by pouring water in the black bucket we found behind the apartment’s kitchen door. This bucket contained detergents and a mop for cleaning the floor. At around 12:15 PM on Christmas Day, and after it became clear that was going to be no substantive intervention by the Airbnb host to our plight, my wife and I agreed that we should cancel the reservation. Immediately after cancelling the reservation, the Airbnb host promptly sent me a message informing me that since I had cancelled the reservation our continued presence inside her apartment amounted to trespassing. She further threatened that she was sending her team to deal with us. We left the apartment.

On December 26th, 2016, the Airbnb host sent me a WhatsApp message claiming that we had damaged her apartment and therefore she had taken our fingerprints and would send us claim forms. At first after the cancellation I got a message from Airbnb confirming the cancellation of my reservation and informing me that my reservation was not eligible for a refund. This message further indicated that if there was an extenuating circumstance I should click on the link for the resolution center. Upon clicking this link I discovered that I qualified for a refund 17,650 NOK from the 19,596 NOK that I had originally paid. I accordingly filled in the message box included in the link. I got a prompt response from the host stating I would not get a refund because I had refused her electrician entry into the apartment and called her people names.

Since I had cancelled my reservation with the Airbnb host I had to endure further costs for an alternative accommodation and for changing the date of return for our flight. Given the Airbnb host’s refusal to refund me I escalated the matter to Airbnb’s resolution centre and I was given a reference number for my case. On December 29th, 2016 I got correspondence from someone at Airbnb’s Resolution Centre asking me to send him any pictures related to this matter. I immediately sent him pictures I had managed to take. Initially my correspondence with pictures did not go through. I kept on trying and then ultimately they went through. He responded that they were not convincing. I asked – among other things – if he thought I would leave the comfort of my place and subject myself and my family to cancelling a long arranged festive holiday accommodation for no valid reason. I further asked him how is he going to prove from the pictures that the electrical outlets and the warm water tank are not working.

In the first place, both Airbnb and their hosts have a responsibility. Ultimately the faceless member of the Airbnb partisan Resolution Centre gave me a meager refund of 5,000 Norwegian Kroner which did not cover the additional 10,000 Norwegian Kroner for changing the departure date for the family flight ticket due to the problems we had experienced with the apartment I had booked on Airbnb. Ulya’s Facebook profile picture was the same as her WhatsApp profile picture. The only difference was that on Facebook she used the name Elly. Her Facebook profile also indicated that she lives in London. Upon looking at her pictures on her Facebook timeline I recognised the area around the apartment we had booked. A dew days thereafter, with the intention to alert Airbnb and my bank about this, I searched for her on Facebook and couldn’t find her.

I’m just wondering if there is anything that can be done to assist me in this matter. It pains me quite profoundly because I lost a lot of money from this debacle and subjected my family to an infelicitous drama. I also believe that other people need to know about the shady side of Airbnb. I’m also wondering if anyone can kindly assist me to get a physical address of Airbnb’s offices either in South Africa or Europe.

Airbnb London Hell: Host Refuses to Cancel

I had booked an apartment with Isable and Hyder in London. I had made my booking at the end of October and paid three months in advance (all emails and payments are well recorded and can be provided if needed). Prior to making our journey to the apartment, we had contacted the host in the morning to reconfirm the booking and ensure everything went smoothly. The host had confirmed on several occasions that the apartment was ready for us. This was confirmed on the evening of December 28th, the next morning, and while we were on our way to the apartment.

When we arrived the consigner informed us that there was someone in the apartment we had booked. We tried to contact the host on several occasions and did not get any response from her; she avoided taking our calls. We finally managed to get ahold of the host, who then tried to relocate us to another apartment, which was much smaller in size, dirty and quite disgusting, and without a working shower, heathers, cooker or oven (recorded in photographs above). We informed the host that we would not be able to stay in such an apartment and she asked us to cancel our booking without any refund or compensation for the trouble they had caused us. However, we informed them we would be willing to take another apartment, similar to the one we had booked, but this was unavailable. The host then informed us they would compensate us £100, which was very insignificant, and an insult to the damage caused. We refused to cancel the booking and went through the process of a booking a hotel in the same area, which cost much more. At 7:02 PM the host decided to cancel the booking and a refund of £1041 was made to our PayPal account. However we had spent a lot of time and money in planning our five-day trip: £100 in household shopping including fruits and vegetables, £28.67 for our Uber from Harrow to Saint Edmund’s Terrace, £8.98 to Forset Court, and £25.24 back to Harrow. Our hotel booking is now £510 per night for three people and we are staying a total of five nights, totaling £2,550.

Guests Refuse to Use our Plates, Cup and Cutlery

We have been hosting with Airbnb for two years now and have had over 400 guests (we live near an airport in the UK) from 30 different countries. There have been mostly very good experiences but obviously with over 400 guests you do meet a few weirdos. This one booking was for six weeks for a guy living in Australia coming to the UK for a training course. He was an aircraft engineer and very nice guy in general. However, I noticed from the first day that he seemed to have an issue with using the cutlery, cup, and spoon provided in his room and was downstairs in the kitchen, i.e. washing the items then cleaning them quite thoroughly. I thought this was very strange as we make sure everything is spotlessly clean. A couple of days in and he was asking for more toilet rolls to be put in the bathroom as he was going through at least one a day. It seemed like he had a cleaning fetish of some kind or a compulsive cleaning disorder.

Anyway, we had to go to our property abroad for a month and left him alone in the house (our part of the house we can keep locked so he only had access to the kitchen, bathroom, and garden). On our return he was due to leave in a few days but on the last day asked me if I wanted to keep the cutlery, plate, bowl, and mug that he had purchased new because he did not need to take them back to Australia. He obviously did not want to use our items and we found this to be incredibly rude, to say the least.

Another time we had a young girl arrive for three weeks with a large suitcase and a big box full of cooking pots and herbs, spices, and food. This girl was cooking Indian food twice and sometimes three times a day because she didn’t want to eat food from the supermarket. The house stunk of Indian food for the whole three weeks and I was having to apologise to our other guests (as we rent two rooms in our home) every day due to the smell. Lastly, we had a girl stay for a couple of weeks and she had to be told to stop using the kitchen at midnight. She was always cooking (like a frying pan full of eight chicken legs) late at night and the smell would move throughout the house, even into the bedrooms. Since the last guest, we added “no cooking after 8:00 PM” to the house rules.

My First Airbnb Experience: A Mentally Unstable Host

I’m an incurable optimist, so I’ll start this write-up with the prelude that I’ve been treated incredibly well by so many people here in London. I’ve been treated to a free meal, drinks, bus rides and a gym visit; people have consistently lavished me with admiration and kindness here. Everybody except for my Airbnb host, that is. I had to submit a more concise version of this review through the website, but I had so much more to say about the nightmare than 500 words. This is the unedited version.

There should be a 0 stars option. When I stayed with the host, he must have gone off his meds. From the start, he overstepped his bounds and was obnoxious. By the end of my stay, it was obvious that he’s mentally unstable. I witnessed him being a decent person to the gay couple who left the day after I arrived, so I know he can sometimes be personable. I booked because he had good reviews. He’s chatty, and so appears friendly on first meeting, but I think maybe he’s bipolar and I got the unhinged version. Even his chattiness is telling and catty though: often it’s negative put downs of his previous and pending renters (mostly women), which tells me more about him than it does about them. Maybe if you’re a gay couple, he’d treat you well. However, my experience was atrocious and the host went out of his way to inconvenience me.

First, after my booking, he asked me to bring a “small” parcel to him from my country to avoid duty fees. I agreed to his request but the package turned out not to be small and was the size of half my carry-on suitcase. It was fragile as well, and I was liable for its protection. He was not empathetic to what an imposition that was, having the nerve to tell me how much luggage he brings on a trip as a justification that I should have the space to spare. As lip service to putting me out like that, he promised to make me a meal during my stay but of course that didn’t happen. In the flat on the morning after my first night there, the host asked me if I needed the shower as he wanted to do household washing in the tub. I said I didn’t need it then, but that I would after I came back from the gym later in the afternoon. A few hours later (after the other renters had checked out and I was left alone with him), the host had continued to commandeer the bathtub and wouldn’t allow me to have a shower after I’d returned from the gym. He wanted me to wait for an hour and 45 minutes. It was really inconvenient, as I had a scheduled event I wanted to go to.

He then argued that I was miffed I couldn’t access the shower when I needed it because I wasn’t familiar enough with the principals of Airbnb. We ended up bickering about it. “This is not a hotel, this is my house,” he said, as if expecting to get to the shower when I’m paying him for the rental is some diva-like demand, even after giving him several hours notice that I’d be showering in the afternoon. I ended up having to leave without one as I was running very late and he still hadn’t made the shower available. If showers are only allowed in the morning, then the ad should state as much. Coincidentally, at that event I went to, I met a lady who also did Airbnb hosting, so naturally I talked to her about what I’d been experiencing with the host where I was staying. She assured me that his behavior is very atypical and she suggested that I cancel. I actually didn’t have to, though, because the situation got even worse.

I got back late that night. Shortly thereafter I got to hear him having loud sex in the room next door. The next morning, I was rudely awakened by him, yelling and accusing me of putting a pink dye (as some kind of sabotage to a duvet) into his dryer, which I never touched. Truth be told, I wasn’t even aware of where the dryer was (nor do I travel with pink dye). He raged that he’d contacted Airbnb about this fabricated act and that I would have to leave the rental immediately, even though I had another night left on my stay and two nights booked on future reservations later in my trip. It seemed a ruse to get the rental cancelled so that I wouldn’t have a chance to poorly review him for the previous grievances. “Wow” is all have have to say; it was completely crazy and unethical. So of course I had no problem leaving his vortex of insanity.

The stress of packing up to leave unexpectedly and finding a new place to stay on the fly was not something I bargained for; it was actually the opposite of why I booked an Airbnb in the first place. To top it all off, he spent the next couple of hours yelling at me through the door (whilst I packed and tried to sort things out with Airbnb customer service over the phone), threatening to call the police on me if I didn’t get out faster. He has the lack of empathy and calculation of a sociopath. I’m not sure he has the ability to cognitively understand the ways he inconvenienced me; he’s unstable. It was a horrible nightmare of a first experience with Airbnb. As he’s shown no qualms about making things up about me, I expect him to continue his lies on his review of me, potentially jeopardizing my stay with other hosts in the future. But it may not matter as he’s soured me on room rental through the site, so much so that I write this from a hotel; I’d prefer not to be suddenly thrust into living with a obnoxious and crazy stranger who I would not have otherwise chosen. But for their part, I will say Airbnb customer service was gracious and empathetic about his treatment of me, and they took my side, giving me a partial refund on the nights I already spent there, and a full refund (despite the host’s strict cancellation policy) for the remaining bookings with him. The long and short of it is: save yourself the hassle and steer clear of this nutjob.