AN AIRBNB HOSTS HORROR STORY

I have been a Real Estate investor/landlord/agent for 40 yrs. I was contacted by Airbnb who found me on Craigslist 6 yrs. ago when they were just a few guys in S.F. renting out their couches, asking if they could list my rentals on their new website. I agreed. I was a loyal airbnb host for 6 yrs. I took total strangers from all over the world into my private Los Angeles estate guest houses, our Las Vegas vacation rental, and my famous W. Hlwd. Jim Morrison bldg. I accepted 1st time guests from all over the world who had no host reviews. I took their pets. I did this because Airbnb offered me a false sense of security, by holding guests security deposits and offering a host guarantee insurance policy which is currently $1,000,000.00. Yes, a million dollars! Lets talk about the “Bad” guests. They ranged from irresponsible nuisances to shrewd con artists. There were the ones who broke or stole a few minor items, the ones who violated our common sense/common courtesy rules, or the ones who required “special services” but didn’t want to pay for them after. The worst guests included necessary police intervention or major theft caught on CCTV cameras. There was the group of “squatters.” They were wolves in sheep’s clothing who came to me as short term vacation rental guests. Visualize “The Beverly Hillbillies” in a pickup truck with their dogs. They came off sweet as pie (landlord 101: beware of overly nice prospective tenants. No one is that nice! They are usually desperate people with bad credit, no job, who can’t get anyone else to rent to them!) He even took on the job as handyman around the apt. bldg. They were able to drag out their stay, doling out breadcrumbs by paying a few days at a time. When it came time for them to check out, these predators who apparently support themselves by “working the system” refused to vacate the premises screaming “permanent tenant rights” in the grand scheme of things to con me out of $13,500 in re-location fees and to be able to extend their stay for one more year under the cities rent control laws!!! As if this wasn’t bad enough, I also got sued by the city who extorted me for nearly $16,000 in perceived TOT fees, which ended up costing me nearly $5000 in attys fees (who took my money and resigned from the case after doing nothing) before I ended up having to pay the city nearly $10,000 in fines. THIS IS WHAT BEING AN AIRBNB HOST COST ME. And what support did I get from airbnb? Now lets talk about airbnb. They come off syrupy sweet, calling you an “awesome Superhost.” They act like airbnb is all about “sharing space” and “making friends.” If I were looking for friendship, I’d join a social club. Lets get one thing straight. It’s renting out space. Real estate. Real estate is a business. Bottom line, you are in business to make money. AIrbnb is in business to make money. They take it from both ends- their hosts and their guests. They block out parts of hosts and guests email correspondence if they suspect it includes sharing contact information. Don’t let them kid you. They expect hosts and guests to trust them with total stranger connections, lodging, and finances, but they do not trust their own hosts or guests to be able to communicate with one another in fear they will get cut out of the deal. As airbnb & their # of hosts grew during the past few years (as did their negative reviews which began popping up all over on various websites) due to their mass marketing campaign, they appeared to care less and less about their hosts and guests. The 1st big scandal I read about was the host in California whose home was totally trashed by airbnb guests. That’s when airbnb came up with their “$50,000.00 host guarantee policy” to provide panicked hosts a false sense of security. Most recently was the home in Canada that was totally trashed by airbnb guests. Airbnb upped the ante to $1,000,000.00. To be eligible for that type of host coverage, I suspect the entire family would need to be brutally murdered. I am a professional, honest, trustworthy, “to the book” type host. I never once went behind Airbnb’s back to try to cut them out of their original booking commission because I believe in karma and I believe everyone is entitled to their fair share of what they contributed. Also, never once did one of my guests ever make a theft claim while staying in our rental units. That speaks volumes for my honesty and integrity. Many guests don’t realize that when they book through airbnb, all payment is handled directly by airbnb. They never allow the host to be in possession of the security deposit. So when a guest commits damage, theft, violations of rules or requires special services, I exercised my host rights and filed a claim with airbnb under the guest’s security deposit. To avoid having to process claims, airbnb will attempt to discourage hosts by running you through the hoops. Think boot camp! 1st you have to go through the “Resolution request” (asking your guest to pay you.) This link is nearly impossible to find on their site. Once you have found it, filled out the form, and sent it to your guest, the guest will usually deny the damage/theft, etc., get angry that you “accused them,” refuse to pay, then leave you a false negative retaliatory review. If you don’t hear back from the guest or they deny the claim, you have to mark your calendar to remember to contact airbnb to “get involved.” (if you forget, you are out of luck on the claim as the deadline has expired.) In order to involve airbnb, they will require photos, witnesses, original receipts, and/or comps. As a real estate investor with multiple fully furnished properties in 3 locations in 3 states, I would have hire someone to pull dead files out of storage and spend days going through thousands of receipts through the years to find one for a towel, mug, pillow or whatever for the damaged or missing item(s) in question! Once you have completed the form & provided the “evidence” (they do not trust their hosts word, despite the fact the host trusted them to have these strangers in their home who broke/stole their personal property items!) you wait to hear back from airbnb. None of my claims were what I would consider “substantial” amounts of money. Some claims were processed, but as time went on they were either denied, reduced, or ignored. When a guest flooded my unit, I filed a claim for $2,500.00 for my out of pocket costs. This was my and only claim that came under the $1,000,000.00 Host guarantee policy. After I went through airbnb’s claim “boot camp” process, they said they were only willing to pay $500 firm (20% of my claim,) Final decision, no appeal. Shortly thereafter, with no warning they deleted all of my listings and cancelled all of my bookings for the rest of the year. They told my future guests that it was I who had cancelled their bookings, so I had angry guests contacting me not realizing the truth, that airbnb had lied to them and that I was as much an airbnb victim as they were! I still have approx. 1/2 dozen minimal claims airbnb ignored and never paid over the past year, along with the one and only claim I filed in 6 yrs. under the $1,000,000.00 Host guarantee claim for $2,500.00 that I was never compensated for. If you are an airbnb host who incurred damage, theft, or unpaid claims and you would like to be paid, please contact me. Email: cheriwoods1@yahoo.com Responsible guests are always welcome! See my websites below.

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