I was part of an adult and professional family who rented an expensive house through Airbnb for four weeks so I speak from bitter firsthand experience. We rented both sides of the house through Airbnb but there was major construction being carried out. Let me be clear: these were not renovations, nor extensions, nor repairs, but brand new buildings. They did not come about after our booking but were known to the host at the time of booking. They were major building sites in what was described as a quiet residential area. At no time whatsoever did the host point this issue out to us.
The overriding comment I am making is this. Problems within a rented Airbnb can crop up after the 24 hour period. They do not always happen within the first 24 hours. We encountered some noise and disruption when we arrived. We were surprised but didn’t fully take in the far reaching consequences it would have. Having travelled 10,000 miles to be there we were exhausted and also extremely tied up with other family business which had drawn us to the host’s property in the first place.
The noise levels exacerbated to such a degree during our stay that it was categorically impossible to remain. There was massively loud machinery operating all day and we were meant to be enjoying the warm weather outside on the deck area. Loud radios, workmen shouting, hammering, drilling, angle grinders, and so on. It was absolutely impossible to live with. We were even asked by the next door neighbour if we would be going out at any point as he wanted to use some exceptionally loud equipment to bring down part of a wall. No one in their right mind would choose knowingly to spend almost £6,000 on a holiday rental plus all the other attendant travel costs with this imposition on either side of them.
In addition, there were parts of the property (equipment, lighting) which did not work. This only came to light as time went on and not within the first 24 hours. Requests to the host for information as to how to work various things were not answered. Such was the dirt within some of the kitchen drawers – again, coming to light after the first 24 hours – I had to strip them out, wash and disinfect them before I was prepared to use them and the utensils and equipment inside them. Live cockroaches I can deal with – the dead ones should have been cleared out before our arrival.
The outdoor deck area was simply filthy. The garden described as lush was a bare lawn, some surrounding green shrubs and a shed/garage which was filled with a load of rubble and junk in it. I can’t dress the deck up any other way; it was simply dirty, not maintained or prepared.
This was meant to be our ‘special’ place. Coming from a relatively cold country, we wanted to be outdoors in the heat. I should add that not all of the house was like this. Some parts were fine and as described, some parts were okay, but come on – where are people supposed to hang their clothes for four weeks when they are not allowed to use the wardrobes? We have dated photographic and video evidence supporting our findings which seemingly are of no consequence whatsoever to Airbnb. It would seem to be just tough luck.
Moving onto subsequent dialogue with the host following our complaint to Airbnb we found her responses to be beyond shocking. They were defamatory, uncouth and dishonest. I take strong exception to being described as a ‘lying whinging pom’ which if I remember correctly was the term the host used. The host leveled accusations at us which frankly rocked us to the floor and she absolutely and utterly lied. I don’t use the term lightly – she didn’t ‘embellish’ some facts – she downright lied. We are a professional, upstanding and decent family and would never abuse someone else’s home. Indeed we left it in a better state than we found it.
We asked Airbnb for a face-to-face meeting, which was refused. We offered to show a member of her family who visited the day we were leaving around the property to check it and he refused. We asked for a reasonable financial recompense from Airbnb for ruining our holiday, which was refused. We were given a refund for the eight days we cancelled due to the unforgiving circumstances we found ourselves in but not for any of the other issues we encountered, some after the 24-hour period. We have been continually fobbed off by Airbnb with the 24-hour response comment, which is simply ridiculous. I am surprised it is legal.
I would also add that getting through to Airbnb on the telephone is farcical and more than time consuming. I can honestly say we lost at least three days of our trip through phone calls, packing, and moving to another place as it was impossible to complete our stay in the rental we had chosen. We also lost money by having to take on a hotel booking due to the issues we encountered at our initial rental. Airbnb has no interest in this whatsoever and seemingly no policies which actually work to protect the consumer.
I would never use Airbnb again. Any assurances they offer are flimsy at best and non existent at worst. If this property we rented was a house swap or a house sitting situation, we might have put up with it and thought, “Well, it’s bad luck on our part, but so be it,” but this was an expensive rental with a description on Airbnb’s own website which bore scant resemblance to the reality of living there. From what we can see so far, there are no safeguarding procedures for the renter.
There are always extenuating circumstances why things don’t work in a property which we understand fully or why external issues might appear unexpectedly. However, there is no excuse for purposely misleading people and there is certainly no excuse for dirt. This was a property which was described as beautiful, and Airbnb has left us high, dry and out of pocket even though we have explained in detail what the problems were.
We shall continue to deal with this problem through further legitimate routes and with different support and social information mechanisms as Airbnb has simply washed their hands of us and our situation and have no care for our problem whatsoever. All they say is that their decision is final. Well, it may be final for them but we shall exhaust our options to achieve what we believe to be a more fair conclusion to this debacle. We note (as far as we can determine) that this property has been removed from Airbnb’s site although whilst we were there it was up for rental.