Beware of this New York Airbnb Scammer Host

I had a business trip coming up in the Chelsea area of New York City in June 2017 and found a decent looking apartment on Airbnb a couple of blocks from the venue when I was going to be spending most of my week in NY. I contacted the host Paul on his property listing and explained that I knew my arrival date would be Sunday, June 10th, but was unsure whether I would be checking out the following Friday the 16th, or Saturday the 17th. I offered to make the booking there and then as long as he understood that the departure date might be either Friday or Saturday depending on how my schedule shaped up.

He responded by saying that it wasn’t a problem if I wanted to just take my time and figure out my schedule; he would hold the apartment for me until the end of that month. Here is what that conversation looked like:

Me: Cool. Is the ‘hold’ solid and if so when do you need to hear back from me by? Cheers!

Response from Paul: I’ll hold the dates through June 1st and then check back in with you.

Seems pretty straightforward, right?

On May 30th, after I figured out my schedule, I sent this message to the host:

Hi Paul, I just wanted to confirm my upcoming travel plans with you. I am arriving in New York on Sunday, June 11th. My flight gets in at 3:08 PM. I will be leaving Friday, June 16th. What kind of arrangements would you like to make for me to get a key?

This is where it gets funny (not really…). The next response I received from the host on Friday, June 2nd was:

Hey Colin, I have another apartment in Soho that I am renting out which is available during the same days. I could give you the same price I booked this room out because I didn’t hear from you a bit. Thanks, Paul.

And then:

Well, I booked the apartment for another guest as they wanted the whole month.

There was no apology from the host for renting the apartment to someone else. On top of that, he had the gall to try and blame it on me, saying that he hadn’t heard from me, when he promised he would get back to me and hold the apartment until the end of the month. Even with that, I responded before the end of the month to confirm the booking. This host is a scammer. He went on to offer to rent me another apartment a considerable distance from where my work was taking me on this visit, and when I asked him for a discount for the inconvenience of having to travel a considerable distance, he offered me the same price advertised to the public for that listing.

Here are some of his other properties that I know of. Do not rent from this host under any circumstances. If you do, you are likely to get scammed as I did.

Airbnb Slumlord and Customer Service Torture me

I planned a trip to New York from Feb 23rd until May 31st. From the day I arrived the place was filthy. I brought my own linens and a shower curtain out of fear. Then mice and cockroaches started running through the place. We came home to a mouse just sitting on my son’s pillow. The fresh paint was a patch job and already caused mold to form. The heat didn’t work for three days. When it finally was turned on, the radiator was leaking and so loud you couldn’t even hear a person speak. The steam ruined the entire room, and the water caused the flooring to rot. My son must sleep in that room and the water shot all over our stuff.

I have now had to wait three different times for a repairman to come. This has messed up most of my days and the issue is still not fixed. A couple weeks after arriving, the hot water started turning off. I have had the city health department out here numerous times. Still, you never know when you can shower. For a month I tried to contact Airbnb; they always say a supervisor will call back. This of course never happens. I even sent pictures and explained about the mice. Still, there was no answer. I finally decided to do my own research. It was not hard to find who owned the building… the same guy who is our host. I Googled his name and his family is listed on the NYC worst landlord list. His mother was actually sued in court over being a slumlord.

Does Airbnb have no responsibility to at least investigate the product they are selling? They make money off me as well as the landlord, so does only the landlord deserve protection? I am now in fear of these people as Airbnb has notified them of my complaints. I wake up and, no hot water. He can now torture me if he wants. I just want out for my own safety. I feel there needs to be more responsibility or laws for Airbnb as they are making a fortune and do not have to comply with rules we apply to hotel owners. My entire trip has been destroyed.

In regards to Airbnb customer service, I finally have just been continually calling as I have not only been to the hospital because the property made me sick, but now I have an eye infection from the filth. They still refuse to help. I have been through ten case workers in two days. Most of them lack knowledge or even decency. If I sue I will request all taped calls as most have admitted to the terrible conditions and that they themselves would not stay here. I even will have a tape of one of the agents who forgot to put me on hold, and was discussing me with the supervisor, who refused to get on the phone. They had a nice conversation about how their break was more important and were laughing about me. I have sent videos, pictures, hospital notes, health department notices, all the text messages between the host and myself, and even the articles on the host’s reputation, and they are still giving me the runaround. I need to get out but they have all my money. Anyone that can help, please give me some suggestions.

No Response from NYC Host, Keeps Half my Money

This was (and is) my first and only experience with Airbnb. I booked an apartment with Janine for nine nights in July 2016. I made the reservation in February, five months in advance. I then started seeing recent reviews about poor communication from the host, and difficulty with getting the keys to the apartment once in New York City. Since I would be traveling with a family of five, I wanted to work out any miscommunications in advance. I sent two messages to the host in February on the Airbnb website, and received no response. I sent an email to the address Airbnb had listed for the host in March. Still no response. In late March, I read more negative responses from recent guests about being told to say they were a relative of the host if anyone asked and more issues with cleaning and getting the key from a local café with changing hours of operation. This continued to raise my level of concern. I then texted the phone number listed for the host. Again, no response.

A week later, I called the number and left a voicemail. Still no response. At this point I began to wonder if I would land in New York to find that I had no place to stay. I could not locate any way of contacting Airbnb, so I cancelled my reservation more than three months prior to the arrival date. After cancelling, I discovered that the host keeps 50% of the money on all cancellations. Allowing the host to keep over $1000 for a place at which I never stayed and cancelled over three months in advance because she would not communicate with me at all does not sit well with me. After cancelling the reservation and requesting all of my money back, I got one simple response from the host, stating that I never contact her. She also declined to refund any of my money. The listing can be viewed here. The reviews can be viewed here.

NYC Apartments Illegally Converted to Rent on Airbnb

I am a tenant in a rent-controlled residential apartment building in New York City. Our landlady has evicted several tenants under the guise she needs the apartment unit for family members. Once they had been vacated, the landlady brought in IKEA furniture and set up the units for Airbnb guests. The new state laws allow for short-term Airbnb rentals of 30 days or more if the host is the lease holder. Because this particular building is rent controlled, the owner gets tax breaks in exchange for abiding by rent regulations. She must lease out units to renters who will carry a minimum of a one-year lease. The NY Department of Buildings inspectors have investigated this situation, have interviewed Airbnb guests within the building and have slapped three sets of fines. The landlady is now facing court proceedings for her illegal conversion of residential apartments into hotel accommodations. Here’s an example of how much money she is making. One particular apartment was vacated in January 2017 with an outgoing rent of $1743. This same apartment is now being listed on Airbnb for $5483 per month. I continue to see this landlady’s listings on Airbnb. I’ve contacted Airbnb to no avail. In a building of 16 apartment units, only five apartments are occupied by leaseholders. When will this end? Airbnb has allowed building owners to turn apartments into hotel units without paying any hotel tax.

Identity and Credit Card Information Stolen Through Airbnb

After renting an Airbnb in December, I received an email stating that my email address had been changed and to notify customer service if we did not make that change. We emailed them and didn’t receive a return call or message. We contacted them again after attempting to log on to our account (we could not access our own account to shut it down and still cannot to this day). There was no return call or email. About four days later, I received a random call telling me that if I needed additional towels, to please let them know. I then waited for over thirty minutes for a customer service representative over the phone. She confirmed that my account had been changed and that a rental in Brooklyn was active. $867 had been charged to the credit card linked to my account.

I felt great after speaking to her; she assured me that I would receive a call within four hours from the Trust and Safety Department to gather the details for the investigation. She also told me that she “placed a hold” on my account so that no additional charges could be made. Three weeks later after many phone calls, emails, wasted time on hold and additional charges on my credit card, and I have never received one single call or email from the Trust and Security Department. I continued to receive calls about my “stay” and even received a direct email from the Brooklyn host telling me that she gave me a five-star rating. Airbnb did not even notify the host that she had a renter that had stolen all of my information and was using my name and credit card. I received requests in the middle of the night for codes to be entered to change additional information on my account, which I’m assuming was the same person that originally stole my information. Airbnb was notified of all of these events and has never done anything to investigate or help us in this situation. It’s absolutely unbelievable that a company can function in this manner and stay afloat.

Reflections from a Guest: Airbnb is Going Downhill Fast

As long term Airbnb users, we can say it that is starting to go south and management doesn’t care. Firstly the currency conversion fees: when I book in a location with a different currency I am forced to use Airbnb’s woeful rates (more profit to Airbnb). I’d rather use my bank’s rates, but can’t do that anymore. Next we have awful hosts (looking at you NYC). What happens here is you enquire about a booking for given dates at the advertised price. The host comes back with a ‘special offer’ which is much higher than the advertised rate and may or may not include a ‘please pay me XXX on arrival in cash as well’. Nope, the calendar price is what we will pay. Suddenly, ‘I’m sorry the house is no longer available’. A bit of a grey area, but customer support doesn’t really care as there has not yet been a confirmed booking. Although a confirmed booking does not seem to matter either, as my next and last gripe will explain.

This has happened twice now. We make a booking, it is accepted, paid and confirmed, and we are all happy. Then sometime before the arrival date, the host decides to increase the price. We refuse, and ask Airbnb for advice. In the meantime, the host contacts Airbnb and they cancel on the host’s behalf. There are no penalties to the host, who is also a Superhost. We are left to find alternative accommodation and Airbnb doesn’t even follow their own terms and conditions.

Forcing Airbnb Hosts to Turn On Instant Booking

In early January 2016, I received an email from Airbnb that explained that since most guests preferred Instant Booking over talking to a prospective host, Airbnb would not list my home under guest searches. This is despite me usually getting great ratings from my Airbnb guests. Can you see how this could be seen as an aggressive attempt to make people offer Instant Booking when that feature does not work for their situation? Now, if Airbnb had sent me an email suggesting that I take more photos, I would do that. However, if I turn on Instant Booking, and/or offer a price considered below average for my area, I’ll lose money. My rate is already below average for my area. What will help me immensely is when Airbnb stops omitting my home from suggested places to stay. I had one guest in December 2016 and no guests in January 2017.

I have been very loyal to Airbnb and have advocated for their business in writing. I wrote a letter to the NYC Public Advocate in response to her scathing opinion of Airbnb. How do you think NYC Public Advocate Letitia James, NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio, and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams would react to NYC homeowners being forced to offer Instant Booking? Please share your thoughts.

Airbnb Nightmare for Australians in NYC

I sent the email below to the Airbnb consultant who handled our initial complaint, but have now received a computer generated response saying that “this case is closed.” I cannot access the Airbnb site without agreeing to the new Terms and Conditions, which I am loathe to do until this matter is resolved. I need to know if Airbnb is going to act on our complaint or not, so that I can consider my options with NYC Governor’s Office, or my credit card company.

I have now arrived back home in Australia and intend to pursue this matter further. I am seeking a full refund for the misinformation and the misrepresentation of the Airbnb unit we booked for four nights in New York City. I assume that Airbnb was unaware of the host’s inaccurate listing and address, but once it was brought to your attention, Airbnb should have reviewed the information that I submitted (photos and emails) and acted on that information. It is nonsense to suggest that it is ok for a host to lie about the address of his rental property and the number of bedrooms or living spaces, and for the premises to be filthy. The unit was advertised as providing two bedrooms and one bathroom plus a living room and dining and kitchen area. You can’t advertise both a second bedroom and a lounge room when they are the same space. Also, the lounge was not a pull out bed. The host suggested that our 18-year-old son take the cushions off the lounge and sleep on the frame. It was a lounge, not a bed.

The unit was in fact a one bedroom with a small lounge area that had a sliding partition – and this was meant to be the second bedroom – without a bed. The bathroom was filthy. I have checked all correspondence from Airbnb regarding the confirmation of our booking and your reminders and the address given to us in all emails from your company is 140 W 4th Street. We also confirmed this address in an email to the host, had a friend who lives in NYC check out the address, and we checked the location ourselves when we arrived in New York City on December 22nd, 2016. We were not due to move into the apartment until January 2nd, 2017, so we checked the location and checked the standards of the building. We also chatted with an Australian girl, Loretta, who lives on the top floor of 140 W 4th Street, and confirmed the size and layout of the units. If we had been advised of the different address and looked at 143 W 4th Street, we would have cancelled our booking. Please advise your process for us obtaining a full refund. We contacted Airbnb immediately once we discovered it was a different unit and once we saw the unit. We never stayed in the apartment, and there are reviews from others now that were equally as shocked.

Long-Term Airbnb, Keeping their Standards Low

I moved out on January 5th from a three-month lease with Airbnb’s permission by letting them know that I wanted to move out. They said if the host decided to refund me for the days I didn’t stay I could get my money back. After I spoke to the host, she agreed and I moved out. Once I moved out, the host conveyed to Airbnb that it was a miscommunication and refused to pay me back for the days I didn’t stay there. During the course of this battle I never mentioned how bad my stay was so they even removed my review from the host’s page after threatening me for not having documentation. The house where I lived had a rat infestation and there were more people in the house than what was mentioned – all men who smoked. I was exposed a large amount of secondhand smoke as a result. I mentioned this in my review and stated why I hated the stay instead of mentioning about the lack of a refund. To this, the case manager who constantly harassed me finally took down my review even when I asked her to confirm the unsanitary rat infestation with the host. All this was when I only made a rough draft of review that wasn’t even posted. This makes me wonder to which how many people Airbnb is doing this. How many reviews are they censoring, tweaking, falsifying, and into how many unsanitary conditions are they letting the naive customers walk? There needs to be some sort of New York state regulation against this kind of behavior and unacceptable business model.

Misleading, Dodgy Host Protected by Airbnb

In order to allow our son to stay with us in New York, we foolishly responded to an Airbnb posting describing a quiet, modern, spacious and well-appointed apartment. We were due to move in early in the evening after returning from New Year’s in Boston. Perhaps the first clue was a request not to tell other apartment owners that we were paying guests. When we arrived we found a dark, old, ground floor apartment, on the street. We could hear people talking outside and traffic noise. There was a stupefying smell of bleach, mould in the bathroom, and a living area dominated by a fridge with no extra room. The flooring was old and dirty, the blinds were broken, and there was a general sense of disrepair. We stayed long enough to survey the disaster and then checked back into a hotel in which we had previously stayed. We immediately reported our concerns to the host who simply denied everything. We reported the issues along with photographs to Airbnb. Despite numerous phone calls we had little response until today when our case manager informed us that our request for a refund had been denied. So we are $4,500 out of pocket with nowhere to go. This appalling organisation needs to be stopped immediately.