Airbnb Platform Allows Hosts to Threaten and Extort Guests

We rented an Airbnb apartment to stay in downtown Toronto from April 19 to May 18. When we arrived, the place was extremely dirty. All kitchen items were in poor conditions. We couldn’t even cook or make coffee. There was a lot of hair and food stains all over the living room rug and carpets, a couch full of some animal hair, among many other issues.

I have a one-year old child and such a place would be less than appropriate for a toddler to be crawling all around. Not to mention Toronto was in the midst of a lockdown, and with all COVID safety protocols in place, those were the hygiene conditions of that Airbnb Plus property. After a lot of stressful back and forth communication with Airbnb and the host, they sent someone to clean and replaced a few kitchen items so we could at least cook. It was better, but far from ideal. We had to stay there for the rest of the contract because we wouldn’t get a refund and it would be hard to find something else at that point, so we made it work.

We left the Airbnb apartment two nights before the contract was up. The apartment was incomparably cleaner and in a more organized conditions that what we found when we arrived (I cleaned everything up myself because I couldn’t have my baby staying in such a dirty place). We took some pictures just to be safe and left. We thought everything was okay.

After Airbnb sent me multiple emails requesting that I write a review about my stay, I decided to do so. I believe that was around 11:00 PM on May 31. I woke up in the morning and there was an email in my mailbox titled “action required: your host is requesting $2,635 CAD for damages.” All the damages listed there were untrue. It’s scary how just a few hours after I had written my review that host was able to come up with a whole document with pictures of the alleged damage and invoices from stores for all the furniture he supposedly had to replace.

I won’t go into details of each of his absurd claims, but I called Airbnb and explained that I was being retaliated because of a review. A week later, Airbnb sent me an email saying the host’s claims were not covered by Airbnb, that he hadn’t provided enough evidence and they would not be pursuing payment from us. The request was removed from my account. We thought we were done with this.

The host sent me a message through the Airbnb app trying to extort money from our family. He threatened to start legal action against me if didn’t pay him $2,635 through Airbnb in three days. The payment request wasn’t even there anymore because Airbnb had declined it. Again, I called Airbnb and said I was not feeling safe, that I wanted to block this host from communicating with me (which I still am not able to do because the Airbnb app is not allowing me). They sent me an email a few days later saying I did not need to worry anymore, that they had given the host a final warning.

I received a letter from the host’s lawyer in my new home demanding payment by Aug. 20 (we just had moved to this address a couple months ago and that guy found out where we live). Airbnb was again notified about that.

We are not feeling safe. This host is clearly a troubled unstable person going to great lenghts to retaliate because he didn’t like a review. This is all happening because Airbnb created a platform that allows people to easily harass each other like that. We made a contract with Airbnb, not with this criminal and now we are being persecuted for that. He won’t leave us alone. Why are we having to waste our resources and time to deal with this?

Other things to consider:

– This criminal host is an Airbnb “Superhost”.
– The Airbnb Plus property is located in a building that does not allow short-term rentals. We had to constantly lie to the concierge and every time we parked our car in the garage.
– I communicated with Airbnb every step of the way and we are still having to deal with that criminal host almost three months later.
– Once I wrote my review, I could read the review the host had written before. He called me “nice and polite” with no mention of any damages. Would you call someone that caused you an almost $3,000 worth of damage “nice and polite”?
– He replied to my review with more false accusations, saying I was going after monetary compensation and Airbnb did nothing about that. But I am not the one trying to extort $2,635 from a family, am I?

That is the hospitality Airbnb offers you. We are not feeling safe and I am posting this here because we don’t know what else to do.

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