What is wrong with Airbnb? As a host, it seems like there is a lot wrong with the company, thus the reason why I have decided to leave their platform. I am throwing in the towel after only three months working with the company. I wish I could point to one issue with the platform, but there are too many. I have outlined them below.
Airbnb does not follow its own guidelines to protect property owners. I had a guest book my home for her wedding and never stayed in the home. Instead, the home was a continual flop house party venue for her friends and family despite a “no party or event rule”. Instead of six guests in the home, most of which were supposed to be “elderly”, my home was a party house for over 25 people and nighttime occupancy was closer to 10-12 instead of 6.
When I confronted the guest about the party on the second night of her reservation and the damages, Airbnb allowed the proxy guest (who never stayed in my home) to give me a bad review even though the company states that it will protect owners from bad reviews from any guests who violate the “no party rule”. According to Airbnb, they are going to “take action” against the “guest” or third party “booker”, but that does nothing to change the revenge review on my profile.
Prior to this Bridezilla, I had a 5-star rating. I am eating my property damages because according to the Airbnb community forum, the company’s damages clause does not cover cases when the property was rented on behalf of other people. Only the guest who booked the property is responsible and since she did not stay in the home there is nothing I can do.
Before renting my home through Airbnb I had a gorgeous newly remodeled home that I purchased furnished from a builder owner in April. At least 20% of my guests have caused some damage to my property. We have had multiple guests smoke, despite a no smoking policy, and the marijuana and cigarette smoke smells seem to keep creeping back into the house no matter what we do. I have had broken bar stools and cabinet doors, a damaged kitchen island, multiple gate repairs, and a cracked panel in a Murphy Bed that I do not know how I am going to fix without replacing the entire front with matching wood. I also seem to have to continually replace ruined towels and sheets.
These joyous issues have happened with just over eight guests. Hosts have no access to the security deposit and the time for reporting damages ends when the next guest checks in. Upon making a claim, Airbnb asks to see receipts for the damaged item, a receipt for the replacement item, and repair estimates and receipts. How can any owner be expected to get a repair estimate from a contractor in four hours’ time to comply to with Airbnb’s short window for submitting claims if you have another guest checking in?
In my case, the furniture and much of the personal property within the home came when I purchased the house. I have no access to the original receipt for the Murphy Bed or some of the furniture. Airbnb allows owners to ask for a security deposit, but the reality is that hosts have no access to the funds in the event of a claim. In fact, the security deposit and host damages guarantee seems to be a ruse to placate unsuspecting hosts to list their home with the platform.
When considering an Airbnb or short-term rental, the numbers seem to be attractive. The reality is that damages, wear and tear, and the incredible amount of time dealing with the property and multiple guests eliminate much of the profit. Instead of renting my home on short term rental sites I have turned it into a monthly or seasonal rental, with more profit and less headaches. Plus, the United States has a significant nationwide rental shortage, and it makes sense to help everyday people with a place to live rather than trying to deal with a revolving door of vacationers. In my case I am focusing on traveling contract professionals in the medical field which offers me a lot more satisfaction too.
Airbnb uses foreign customer service employees that respond to host concerns at odd hours (usually in the middle of the night) to coincide with their workday. Additionally, hosts get passed around to different departments on a continual basis. Airbnb and hosts would benefit from U.S.-based customer service professionals. When you can finally reach a real employee, I have found that the Airbnb customer service department is not equipped to handle most issues and honestly seems to be uneducated with Airbnb’s policies and guidelines. Perhaps they need to stop using “bots” and artificial intelligence and invest in real employees that are knowledgeable?
If you are looking for a passive real estate investment, Airbnb and short-term vacation rentals are not for you. Being a host is a job, and I do not need another job. I have gotten calls at all hours of the night for various issues, including guests not understanding how to use the lockbox to access the property and noise complaints.
Let us all be honest, no one wants to live next door to an Airbnb and having a revolving door of vacationers in residential neighbors is bad for values and the neighborhood culture. Despite Airbnb’s media campaign regarding a global ban on parties, it seems to be nothing but rhetoric. Guests rent homes with the intent of throwing a party and entertaining and Airbnb does little or nothing to help hosts deal with problem guests. Airbnb and their business model might be the reason that the values in many communities and neighborhoods start to decline.
If you have any other reasons to stop working with Airbnb that I have not yet listed, please feel free to chime in. Best of luck to all my fellow real estate investors.