Hosts Be Warned About Airbnb When Guests Cause Damage

A warning for all owners who may rent out vacation homes through Airbnb. We own a couple of villas on the island of Aruba. For almost ten years we have rented out to vacationers and 99% of the rentals have been great: satisfied and happy vacationers.

In August this year, our luck changed. We rented to a Dutch family who totally disrespected our house. The reservation was made through Airbnb, who stated that they had verified the renter. All seemed well. The first day they moved in the complaints started, from stupid comments like “we don’t like the taste of the water in the swimming pool” to “we don’t think cooking with gas is safe.” Then they broke a toilet. This was followed by drapes being pulled down. “The fridge makes a noise and we can’t sleep.”

Each and every time we were advised of any issue we had our property manager involved and he visited the house within an hour. On several occasions, he had to tell the renter to stop having their kids jumping on the furniture and dropping food on the expensive furniture. In addition, they did not know how to light the BBQ and demanded the property manager go and light it.

The renter was moving to the island to take a position with a bank. They had already rented a long-term house and it seems the house became available sooner than they planned. We were sympathetic and refunded some money to them as a goodwill gesture. We found out that they did not pay the rent… it was their employer, yet they pocketed the money.

They walked out early and left the house in a disgusting condition: unflushed feces in toilets, open food on counters, wet towels on beds and furnishings, broken artifacts and glass ornaments, caked on filth and food on the outside patio. I could go on, but I think this describes it somewhat.

After they left, neither our administration manager nor the property manager could believe the mess the house was left in. For example, in July we had the furniture professionally recovered at a cost of thousands. The kids jumped all over it and ground in food, spilled greasy food on it, and pushed dirty muddy footprints into it. We photographed and video recorded all this along with reports from both the property manager and admin lady and forwarded everything to Airbnb. They recorded everything.

Then the bizarre happened. The wife made a complaint to Airbnb who issued her a refund. Subsequently, Airbnb agreed with us and decided to partially cover the costs for cleaning and repairs. The amount they agreed on they did not send us as they had refunded money to the renter. They did not contact us before refunding money to the renter.

Airbnb admitted that someone in the organization made a mistake. We have been calling 2-3 times a week and so far have been unable to get any resolution. We will probably be forced to go through a legal route at this point. In reviewing other owners’ entries in an Airbnb blog, it seems we are not alone in having this experience.

Owners are warned: don’t expect Airbnb to be on your side if things go wrong. We also found out after the renter left that illegal drugs were used in their house during their stay. We have a witness. Airbnb admits that this alone contravenes their policy. That should be enough to bring this to a conclusion, but it hasn’t.