Airbnb Hosts Gone Wrong – Lucky To Be Alive

My daughter’s stay at an Airbnb in San Leandro abruptly ended just two days ago. She’s young, working a summer internship in Oakland. The Airbnb was very expensive and run by a couple. One is a professor at a major university the other is an executive with a pharmaceutical company. They were good people, and it was a safe place just minutes from her job. She’s been staying there about six weeks.

On Sunday night she arrived there about 7:30 PM. The house was quiet. She didn’t see the hosts. She went upstairs to her room. About two hours later she heard shrieking, screaming, thumps, breaking glass, and someone saying he wanted to kill another person. It was a big fight. She called me and I told her to stay in the locked room. Within minutes she said it had gotten quiet; in next breath she says she heard sirens, then pounding, then she smelled smoke.

She went into the hallway and smelled natural gas. She headed to the front door and opened it to find the fire department, police, and ambulances. She went outside and they all went in. She was in her sleep shorts and a sweatshirt. Barefoot. The cops couldn’t find the hosts. They looked all over and finally found them in the backyard. One guy was wrapped up like a burrito, strapped to a gurney, and taken away in the ambulance. A paramedic told her he has a lot of stuff going on and he is going to the hospital to talk to someone about it. The cops took pictures and a statement from the other guy. He’s battered and bruised.

From what she learned from the cops, one of the guys turned the gas on the stove to flood the house then went to another location and started a fire. The cops told her she shouldn’t stay there anymore. Now she’s pretty much living in her car. Last night’s hotel bill was $55 for the only safe place available in Oakland.

Airbnb has a Good Marketing Team, But…

Having used Airbnb for quite a few occasions traveling, I would like to warn people, as Airbnb promotes itself in a way that is not exactly truthful:

1. Some hosts are in fact sexual predators (I have three personal stories to tell, one of which includes a host who was married). If you are alone, be aware of this and choose a host of your own sex. Also be aware of that people may be renting out for less than altruistic purposes. Narcissists love Airbnb because they feed on positive reviews

2. Airbnb offers no security check up or quality control whatsoever, and will not remove a host even after serious allegations. They will just give you empty words. I have heard this from many sources and lived it myself after a married host made sexual advances at me in my own cottage.

3. Hosts often lie in their descriptions and forget to mention that the rural house is by the autobahn (Editor’s note: motorway or interstate), that they are heavy smokers, that there are no buses, that it is dirty, etc. The photos may not be truthful. Be aware of this!

4. People tend to give overly positive reviews. I also have the suspicion Airbnb removes the negative ones. I went to one place that had a “Superhost” label and it was the filthiest place I have ever seen; the host had no teeth and didn’t bother to wash himself.

Kansas City: Unsafe Airbnb for Single Young Woman

My niece flew to a large city to surprise me for my birthday weekend. My wife had agreed that she could stay in an Airbnb instead of our hotel. I would not have allowed that if I had known. When we went to take my niece to her Airbnb destination I became quite anxious as we passed two streets which my uncle who lived in the city had informed me never to be on or in that neighborhood. The Airbnb room was up a separate stairway on the third floor. The host had to remove a cat from the room with a vacuum cleaner. I begged my niece to bail. She is a 20-something professional and refused.

I asked the host if this was a safe neighborhood and he said yes. I told him my uncle who lives in the City told me to never travel on Troost Avenue as it is not safe. The host admitted Troost a block away was not safe. We started driving to our hotel as it was close to being dark and noticed the gangs coming out on Troost. This location was in the middle of the ghetto. The hotel clerk told me that it would be unsafe for me to drive on Troost or be in that area at night. My wife texted my niece and told her I was upset and quite concerned about her safety and she agreed to come to our hotel in the morning.

After we left the host told her there was no TV as a previous guest had gotten drunk and broken it. The same with the lock that did not work on her door. My niece later revealed that other guests showed up at 2:00 AM on her floor and were quite loud. She obviously was quite frightened since there was no lock on her door. My niece was lucky she did not get raped or murdered.

Parents: please warn your children – especially your daughters – DO NOT stay with Airbnb. Also I did a quick Google search of that address and learned it had a rating of D- and F for crime. That there was an aggravated assault, armed robbery, another assault, car theft, and burglary all in one night near this house. I also learned there were 75 registered offenders within a mile of the address. All the reviews for this address on Airbnb were extremely positive. This would give credence to the theory that Airbnb deletes negative reviews. I find it hard to believe that not one person commented about the clearly apparent, dangerous area where this house was located. Is one’s life not worth more than the $50 a night?

Airbnb Nightmare: Abusive Host and Poor Response

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My nightmare with Airbnb started with a horrible event but really escalated when I tried to complain about it. I booked an Airbnb to go to my friend’s wedding in Ukiah, California. The reviews seemed good; she was an older lady, so I thought she would have been harmless. The nightmare started shortly after I got there. After I arrived, I introduced myself to her, and she happened to be home with her friend. Then, after getting ready for my friend’s event, I went to go ask her directions to the winery where it was being held. While I was getting directions from her, she said that I looked very nice and told me to have fun. As I walked away, she grabbed my butt with a full hand and I was wearing a thin dress so it was very direct contact. I was in utter shock when it happened and didn’t know how to react.

First, this was an old lady, and second, all my things were still there and it was her home, so I didn’t know if my reaction was going to instigate something. I was in a hurry and tried to run out but it was raining when I got out and I came back to get an umbrella from her, still not knowing how to react when that happened. When I got to the event I was in such a shock, I told my friends there and then I told some friends online and people were telling me to get out of there as soon as possible. That’s when it sunk in what had happened. I tried to call Airbnb’s emergency line which my friends told me about but I was constantly put on hold and once I got through to someone and told them what happened they just said “can I put you on a long hold” and after ten minutes went by I had to hang up. I went back with a friend because I didn’t feel safe going back alone to pack up my belongings at night and checked into a hotel at midnight.

I finally got in touch with someone in the morning and told them about what happened; they said something to the effect that this doesn’t happen very often. They said they’d refer the matter to someone and get back to me. I didn’t hear from anyone and I had already contacted multiple people. I also went to file a police report before I left. The police were pretty horrible in Ukiah. The officer was really combative: he asked me if I did anything to bring this upon myself and actually went to the host’s house and asked her if she did it and then came back and told me she said she didn’t do it. He told me I was combative and referred me to his supervisor when I tried to make a report. I don’t think anything happened and the experience of filing the police report was one of the worst things I have gone through. I realize this is why so many sexual assaults go unreported.

A couple of days later they emailed me to put a review for my host on Airbnb. I was shocked. I wrote a tirade of what happened to me. Finally someone replied to me and I attached a screenshot of the reply to this review. Really repulsive. Thanks for allowing me to cancel when I didn’t stay there and doing nothing else in the air of customer service besides continuing to aggravate me after I was assaulted. The host’s profile is still on Airbnb, and my review is nowhere to be found. This is very disturbing because it looks like profiles on Airbnb are curated, leaving guests in complete danger. It’s EXTREMELY disconcerting that Airbnb does not take these allegations seriously and it is only concerned with making money: no matter the price, even putting people in danger. I hope this company eventually gets shut down (which it will). Here’s the host’s profile.