Left Broke and Homeless after Airbnb Experience

I’m glad I found this site. My story is horrifying. I don’t even know where to turn to seek legal counsel, but I am Googling it now.

I had booked a week’s stay in Tijuana in July. I stayed in a very affluent home, with several guests. The couple that owned it (different from the people I was corresponding with on Airbnb) seemed friendly and nice at first. When I first arrived, and told them my plans to stay longer, they showed me this sweeping private room with a bathroom on another floor that was still under construction. They said it would be ready in a week, at $700/month with a $700 deposit down. They said that the deposit was refundable at any time, and that there was no minimum or maximum amount of time to stay.

Within a couple days, I began paying them the $1400 to reserve that room. The process was a bit strange, but they received all their money within four days of my seven-day stay. On the fifth day, I had a horrible fall on a broken sidewalk in the shopping area, and twisted my foot badly. I came back to the home, trying to see if they could assist or direct me in any way. They sat, reading the paper, and sort of ignored me. I found the whole experience very offputting, but kept it to myself.

On the sixth day, I was outside chatting with another guest and smoking a cigarette (in a designated area), when the couple came outside and yelled at me about leaving a door unlocked. I hadn’t been the culprit, but they were aggressive and kept pushing the matter. I had – to be honest – forgotten to lock the door a night before, but only had stepped outside to smoke. This time I was not to blame, as the home has over four guest rooms (to my estimate) and a lot of foot traffic.

This accusation was the straw that broke the camel’s back, and I told them I was no longer comfortable being in their home, and wanted my money back. They immediately pushed back, saying no. I told them that wasn’t acceptable, and went to my rented room to try to contact someone who could help (not easy to do when in another country).

Before I knew it, two fedarali were at my door. They told me to get my things, and get out (my lease officially didn’t end for a couple more hours). When I demanded my money, the woman who owns the house told them I had bought a big screen TV (they had, it was in the front room of their home. I’d seen it that morning.). Being a temporary visitor with no car, I explained to the officers I absolutely didn’t buy a TV, it made no sense I would do that at this stage. They seemed to half believe me, but were very intimidating.

The police made me sign a document in Spanish before they would let me exit the bedroom (they were acting in a way that I for sure felt they were going to arrest me, and don’t speak any Spanish). I also suffer from severe anxiety and PTSD, and this sent me into a fear spiral. I signed the document so they’d let me go, and was put in an Uber.

I had him stop to get what little money I had exchanged (I also realized what was left in my backpack was now missing). It wasn’t much, but while I was in the grocery store, the car left with my bags.

Now down to nothing, I was forced to walk for a couple miles to beg someone for help. I had to sleep on the street that night, and my foot was swollen to three times its size. I suffer from a degenerative bone disorder, and am basically handicapped. I took a picture of what my foot looked like the next morning.

The next day, I was determined to get my money, so I spent a couple hours in town finding a couple of bilingual high school students. I offered them money to get in the taxi with me to translate at the house. When we got there, it was worse than I expected. I was given $400, and before receiving it, was forced to sign another document in Spanish (I was so desperate, I did it).

At that point I was almost at zero dollars, in a town i didn’t know. They accused me of losing their keys (I absolutely did not. I know this because I have a chain wallet and left my keys attached to it for the course of the stay. When the federali escorted me out, I handed the key over then). According to them, they were going to have to get the locks changed and that would cost a few hundred more. In the end, they stole over $1000 from me, plus some of my luggage, and sent me into an anxiety spiral that took weeks to work through in therapy.

I am currently seeking legal representation, and would like any advice the community has. Thank you.

Posted in Airbnb Guest Stories and tagged , , , , , .

5 Comments

  1. So they weren’t sympathetic enough to your foot injury and accused you of not locking the door and that was your “last straw?” Yikes!

    You really should just stay in hotels.

  2. I stopped reading after the part of you coming over and looking at property. This has nothing to do with AirBnB. If you and a host decide to go off grid and make arrangements outside of the AirBnB system, that’s on you. None of this applies to booking procedure on ABB website.

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