Airbnb Guests Cause over $10k in Damage, Still Refunded

The only reason I’m reaching out is that I would like to make sure I explore all avenues at Airbnb available to me before I obtain counsel and have to go that route. This guest contacted us and requested our home for one month for himself and his two colleagues for a work trip. We let the guest know that we actually would not have the house ready in time for his original request which was November 8th because we would not be finished remodeling the kitchen. We were remodeling the entire house and putting in new furniture (of which we have all receipts). He wrote back and said he really wanted to stay at our house, requesting from November 15th on. We agreed to this and the booking went through.

What ensued was much worse and different. A woman came to the house with the guest to whom he referred as his ‘daughter’ but he had told me two work colleagues. We came to learn that this was someone he was having sexual relations with (she stayed at another host’s house and told her he paid for their Airbnb’s all the time and that she had ‘snagged her a good one’). Besides this third party booking that occurre, the number of people that moved in were not three but eleven. Seven Children from teenagers (2) down to toddlers (5). Several were babies not much older than two.

We continued to call Airbnb and let them know that there were all these people living in our house. Our case manager told me we didn’t have any ‘proof’ but my gardener had seen all the children, I had seen them, I recorded audio of them playing, and my friend who came to watch the property (there are two houses on the lot as there are two subdivided lots on the property) had seen them. He told me they would be refunded if we decided to cancel on them because we didn’t have the proof to say they were violating the agreement even though an entirely different set of people were living in the house then who booked and more than we agreed to.

From November 19th-26th we went out of town for Thanksgiving and my friend kept an eye on the property. She said they had kids there staying overnight the entire time. When I got back on the evening of the 26th I heard the children. The next day I heard them in the morning. I also saw different men coming and going and none of them were the official guests.

On the 28th I saw a review posted on their account which wasn’t there before from a Superhost. She stated all of the things I was telling Airbnb – there were people who were not the guest staying at the listing, it was a 3rd party booking, and they brought several children. She also said they moved her stuff all over the place and trashed her guesthouse.

I called Airbnb immediately. The representative looked at the review. He realized something was wrong and said I could cancel the reservation (penalty free and not refund the guest, as it was apparent the guest had violated the agreement in every way). He canceled the reservation. The guest would not leave for eight hours. I called Airbnb several times. They told me to call the police but we could have had a scene on our street.

I went to the house twice to ask the guest to leave and she did not. She also refused my cleaning service woman. I was on the phone with her and could hear her refusing her access to parts of the house. We learned later she was keeping five children in one of the bedrooms we could access. Finally at 8:30 PM I went into the house and told her I wasn’t leaving and she had to go. The house was completely trashed. Our description is on their review page but there was not a surface on the house that didn’t have food, poop, urine, weed, juice, or some unknown sticky substance on it.

Short list of broken items:

– Faucet broken and it was brand new and newly installed
– Mattress, covered in urine and poop
– The floors were scratched up badly because she dragged wooden pallets from outside into the house and across the floor and moved all of our furniture around.
– All the linens were covered in severe urine stains and poop
– Poop on our leather sofa
– Floors covered in poop and trash
– Weed butts
– Dirty diapers on the floor
– New stone counters covered in dirt and muck. juice stains, food stains
– Robes missing, linens missing, pillows smelled of urine and had to be replaced.
– Rugs were rolled up and thrown out by the trash

We submitted damage claims totally over $7000 and then it was $2400 for the extra persons fee for 12 days (eight people over the reservation). Since that submission, no one from Airbnb has spoken to me or returned my calls. I get nothing but the run around from every person I talk to when I call. I submitted all receipts and repair bids; I could not get any real response except today when Airbnb refunded the guest the entire amount. They paid $2997 out of my future payout and will not respond to me, my calls, or anything I say.

At this point the guest does not have rights to that and forewent rights when they broke our agreement. For Airbnb to reimburse them for even the nights they did stay is unfathomable for me. We cannot get any response other than being shoved off so have to resort to legal action and speaking to members of the press (of which I thankfully know several). I am writing because I hope you read your email or your assistant scans them and sees this is a serious issue.

There are several hosts like me that have experienced vandalism at the hands of these guests and nothing is being done. We are hoping for a real response and that Airbnb delivers on the promise given to us as I cried uncontrollably over the phone to Airbnb about how bad this was. Their promise was that Airbnb would take care of us and would not leave us high and dry and here we are – high and dry.

Posted in Airbnb Host Stories and tagged , , , , , , .


  1. This is a typical problem with Airbnb bookings in South Africa. The guests will say they are 4 people and when you look again there are 15 people in your house. They trash your house and good luck getting ANY help from Airbnb with dmages claims.

  2. So sad to hear your story but Airbnb is equally unfair to guests, giving money from our damage deposit to an abusive host. It seems to only matter which of their arbitrary rules they decide to apply.

  3. These guests certainly took advantage of the fact that you’re a new….. but hey, why DIDN’T you check their ID upon arrival? Accepting a month-long booking for a first tenancy is also a little risky. You should have tested the water first with a couple of short-term lets. Perhaps it was greed that made you accept this booking?

  4. I know your pain, except in my case the crew of squatters flatly refused to leave and because they’d been there over 30 days, acquired the rights of a tenant. I had to go to court to get them out. So with attorney and court fees, on top of the 15K in damage and list rent for four months, I’m out about 30-35K. AirBnB cut me off, as well. Got the run-around for a while, then nothing. I will gladly take my story to the media. I have pictures and emails and court documents for proof.

  5. Unfortunately, as this was a 3rd Party Booking, you are not ‘protected’ by the Airbnb $1,000,000 Host Guarantee. Not are you ‘covered’ by Airbnb’s Host Insurance. You will have to use your own Home and Contents Insurance Policy.
    It appears that you are a USA member of Airbnb. If so, you can not take legal action against Airbnb. As you agreed not to do so when you joined Airbnb. You agreed to submit to binding arbitration. For which you have to pay.

  6. In your situation, I would approach their local media and highlight

    1. Airbnb wouldn’t cancel the booking even though you had proof the people staying weren’t those who had booked

    2. The thousands and thousands of damages (presume you have photos and video proof).

    However confused as to why you didn’t realise when you checked guests in that they weren’t who booked and why your CCTV system didn’t provide you with video evidence that extra guests were staying

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