I wanted to share my extremely bad experience related to Airbnb. I just recently started hosting and had my first bad guest. The guest stayed for two nights, she violated multiple housing rules (that they were supposed to agree to and comply) and damaged my property. After the guest left, I noticed the damage they caused to the bedding and found out from neighbors that the guests didn’t comply with my house rules. I didn’t know how exactly I was supposed to ask for so-called host protection and it was not properly explained on the website, so I asked Airbnb support how I was supposed to file a claim for damage to items in my apartment.
I had to wait for almost three days before getting a reply, even though they promised to reply within 24 hours. When I finally got a reply explaining the procedure, I opened the claim. Here I must mention that guest checked out on March 18th and the claim was opened on March 21st. I couldn’t open it earlier, because I didn’t know how. My claim for a refund of the damaged items was immediately rejected by the guest (didn’t expect anything out of that, but this is procedure), so I escalated it to the host protection request.
Little did I know my request got denied on March 23rd (the same month, I must mention) because I didn’t submit it within 14 days. Ridiculous, you would say? No, not for Airbnb. Apparently, I had 14 days to submit a complaint and I didn’t follow this timeline, when there were just five days that passed between the guest leaving and the answer to my request for host protection being received. I have contacted Airbnb to inquire why they gave me such a ridiculous answer that didn’t make any sense.
After two days of silence, I received a message saying they declined my host protection request because my next guest had already checked in and I had to submit requests only between the check-out of one guest and the check-in of another. Here comes the interesting part: the guest who caused the damage checked out at 11:00 AM on March 18th, but next guest checked in at 11:30 on March 18th. As per Airbnb policy, I had precisely thirty whole minutes to:
• Discover the damage
• Document all the damage
• Find similar items online or buy new items that needed to be repaired or replaced
• Submit a claim via Airbnb
• …apparently also have time for cleaning and greeting the new guest
Who they think I am, Barry Allen? Airbnb rejected my host protection claim on bogus reasons like these. They left me to pick up the bill, they made up ridiculous excuses not to assist me in any way and this is how their host protection works.
As an employee of quite a powerful Belgian law firm, we already had to deal with multiple complaints against Airbnb showing total disrespect for personal belongings or damages caused by guests towards the hosts. It doesn’t matter how severe the damage is and what kind of proof you have, Airbnb will always find the way to dismiss your claim and to not give you deserved and promised protection.
What is interesting is that once hosts start to file complaints, lawsuits and go to the press, Airbnb immediately settles cases, pays the demanded compensation and then begs them not to leak the story to the press any further. Anyway, if you have problems with Airbnb, my advice is complain, complain, complain. The best way is to complain to the California Better Business Bureau, then your complaint will be published in multiple places and will be forwarded directly to Airbnb headquarters. They will have to read and act on it. To lodge a complaint, you don’t have to be in the US; it’s enough that business office is there. We have to force them to respect hosts’ and guests’ rights and stop treating us like cows to be milked.