We are realtors and property managers of prestigious properties in Palm Beach County, Florida. On February 24th, 2019, a guest booked one of our luxury homes. Our team tried to contact the guest 17 times in order to find out how many people/ages/etc. were booked. There was no reply from the guest until one hour before check in.
You may ask why we didn’t cancel the booking? Of course any cancellation by a host is penalized by Airbnb. We were suspicious and contacted Airbnb to explain our concerns, i.e. we smelt a rat. The naive Airbnb person, who could hardly speak English, said the standard phrase “I fully understand your situation and I will reach out to the renter.”
As we had no confidence in the Airbnb telephone assistant, we met the guest at a neutral location (Panera Bread). He is a 22 year old, with eight friends under the age of 21, a couple of whom were 17 years old. He admitted he did not return our attempts to contact him because he knew we did not accept groups of under 25s.
This is the wording of the contract he signed to obtain the booking:
Rental properties are for family vacations only: [the host] gladly rents to families or responsible adults over the age of 25 years old. [The host] has a “No-Group” Policy, which includes but is not limited to the following: SCHOOL, SPRING BREAK, PROM, GRADUATION, SORORITIES, FRATERNITIES, OR WEDDING RECEPTIONS.[The host] may approve at the time of reservation and at our discretion to rent to groups, but you must disclose at the time of reservation 1) that you are a non-family group and, 2) the majority of the group members must be at least 25 years of age. [The host] will not enter into a Rental Agreement with anyone under the age of 25. Be honest!
The best way to avoid problems during your stay is to be up front when making the reservation. Any such misrepresentation, overcrowding, exceeding parking capacity, or sub-letting of Rental Property will result in both the forfeiture of all monies paid (including all fees) and immediate, expedited eviction.
In addition, if [the host] discovers any undeclared parties, prom groups, graduation groups, or underage groups, before during or after stay then [the host] will bill the guest credit card a minimum fee of 1 night`s rent and any damages or additional housekeeping charges. In addition, [the host] reserves the right to bill $150 per incident for neighborhood complaint calls made to the police or complaint calls to [the host] after hours emergency number, or any other neighborhood complaint regarding Guest noise, nuisance, and parties.[THE HOST] HAS A ZERO TOLERANCE POLICY FOR ROWDY GROUPS-PLEASE BE A GOOD NEIGHBOR!”
Obviously, we were unable to allow him to stay in this multi-million dollar home with his eight friends. Airbnb then made a ruling, after having all of the above information, to fully refund the renter. Our client has now lost almost $5000 and the property cannot be rented at this late stage.
Here is Airbnb’s reasoning: “It is Airbnb’s policy not to discriminate on age against anyone renting a property over the age of 18”. This means the contracts you upload onto Airbnb are, apparently, trumped by the Airbnb policy of no discrimination against anyone over 18 years old, even if they are spring breakers looking to party in quiet neighborhoods. It is exactly this policy that gives Airbnb and local property managers a bad name, in quiet respected neighborhoods.
Would you really like this guest and his buddies next to your mother and father for a week? Airbnb: you are a disgrace and no wonder Palm Beach County is taking legal action against you. There is a real need and a responsibility to protect neighborhoods from Airbnb’s naive policies.