I stayed in an Airbnb flat for a couple of weeks for work. All seemed to go well at first. In hindsight, I noticed a few red flags which suggested the host was a bit short of cash and would be ready to go to places one shouldn’t to make a quick buck. There and then I should have turned around, but I didn’t.
On leaving, the host posted an extremely negative review claiming the house had been damaged and left in a “poor state” but with close to no detail or specific content to support the allegations — just a request for funding from some alleged ‘damage’ caused to furniture in the place.
Three days of backs and forth ensued in which the host’s claims were narrowed down to “used too many towels” and a fake report of purported damage to one of the paper lampshades from an old lamp, which hadn’t even been touched. The host claimed this was a “vintage and rare” item which could not be easily replaced and demanded extortionate payment for not only the item itself, but other pieces of “matching furniture.”
At this point and facing the absurdity of the fake claims, I was exonerated of all responsibility. While at the time this was a big relief, the resolution was bittersweet. I was very disappointed with the way Airbnb conducted the customer service engagement and with a dispute resolution procedure that was less than ideal.
At every step I was faced with requests for evidence that I had not been responsible for any alleged damage caused, even when the host’s claims were completely unclear. In every instance I had to provide responses within an extremely narrow timeframe — three calendar days — irrespective of when I actually saw the requests. Their emails came with vested threats noting a silent response would be taken into consideration to the detriment of the accused.
All in all, the case was solved with no financial cost but the experience served as a solid reminder that any host can make any unfounded claim they want — no matter how unfounded, absurd or in-congruent. If a host asks you for money, you are in principle liable to pay unless ‘proven innocent,’ not the other way around. Airbnb prioritizes expediency in resolution at the expense of fairness — not checking your notification for three working days is tantamount to a guilty plea.
Most people are really nice but a few are insanely crazy and can cause a lot of drama. I hope not many people have to face similar experiences. If not helpful for others, sharing my experience and reading about others’ nightmares at Airbnb has at the very least proven extremely cathartic. My sincerest thanks to the creator of this site.