The Last Straw: Tired of Being an Airbnb Host

I’ve been a host for three years now and have stayed in Airbnbs around the world several times. After several years, I have finally had it: I am ending my relationship with Airbnb and moving on to long term renters. I have two listings; one is private room in my condo, and the other is an entire home (one-bedroom condo) that I purchased for the sole purpose of renting it out. This post is to discourage others from becoming involved with Airbnb. It’s been a rough ride these fast few years… In the early days, there were sweet guests who brought gifts, followed the rules and genuinely wanted to get to know the person they were living with or living under. Over time though, guests seem to be more driven by finding cheap accommodations and the demands are ever increasing. They expect deep cleans of the condo but argue with me over the cleaning fees, ask to borrow my car, and complain about the pillows being too soft or hard. They will empty out my mini bar and leave no monetary contribution, walk around in their underwear, be mean to my cat, etc.

The listing says the condo is not metro accessible but they didn’t want to pay the high rate to stay on the metro line and don’t have a car to get to the grocery store. If the condo doesn’t have something in stock like some flour, they simply knock on a neighbor’s door (which is terribly rude – they don’t have a rapport with that person and sometimes don’t return the item they borrowed). Airbnb requires guests to list a phone number but many times I’ve found that number is not the actual guest’s number or the guest doesn’t have an international plan and his phone is useless. There were some guests that had me constantly running back and forth: they needed more baking sheets, then a crock pot, vinegar, and sunscreen, and they didn’t even have the courtesy to leave a review.

The maximum occupancy is six guests but I charge an additional $5 after two guests; somehow, magically, no one ever has any party larger than two. I realize I could snoop around or try and check in and maybe I could see how many folks are staying there, but the minute I say “Hey, the listing requires an additional $5/person and you have six here so I will be adding $100 to your stay,” I am basically asking for a terrible review. I have seen the nicest people turn vicious and threaten to say I am prejudiced or discriminating. The accusation is already enough to ruin people nowadays. Airbnb touts this “trust community” but over 90% of my guests are first time renters and many of them rent infrequently.

Airbnb asks that I leave fresh flowers, breakfast foods, wine and beverages, games, and snacks. Less than 5% of guests have ever just left a few dollars. A Sam Adams beer might be $7 from a mini bar in a hotel, but you can’t leave $1 for the two you drank? Really? This is how you would treat a friend who was hosting you? Guests have broken things in front of me; I have taken diligent pictures, submitted my quote to Airbnb’s Resolution Center, where as always the guest refuses to pay, and even though I have a Security Deposit and have been a Super Host for three years I have to go through Airbnb’s insurance policy for a $12 plate. I have made a lot of money with Airbnb but I constantly check myself to make sure I am not being greedy and overcharging.

Sometimes, peoples’ personal stories do make me empathize. I’ve let pets stay on request, allowed early or late check outs when I can, picked up items from the grocery store, and given rides to the city center. Guests will ignore my calls for a day then expect me to pick up after two rings every time. As a host it just comes down to Airbnb as a company. I don’t believe they will take care of me if something bad happens. I’ve often wondered if convicted sex offenders can rent out rooms in homes (how would we know?). Airbnb puts all the tax strains on me and forces me to pay the occupancy tax (which I’m happy to do, but it would be nice if they took on the administrative burden).

Despite three years of loyalty I never get a thank you card or Airbnb travel credit, and in the hospitality industry usually employees are at least reminded how important they are. Last but not least, I feel really terrible for my neighbors. Over the years some have been kind while others have gone to the Condo Board and local county government. There was one gentleman who lived in the building who wrote his congressman, county officials, and attorneys. While he was a little over the top, I get it: he wanted actual neighbors and not a revolving door. Who would buy the condo next to the full time Airbnb? If I ever thought I was hosting individuals who were going to have a disruptive vacation I would never have accepted that reservation. It is so hard to screen guests because I only see a picture and a paragraph or two, and anyone can say they are in the area visiting family or friends. The review system is pretty hit or miss; sometimes it’s hard to leave a negative review because I have to question if I’m being too judgmental or expecting too much from the guests. Goodbye Airbnb. You just saw a little piece of your paycheck prance over to YourHomeSuite.

Disgusting Conditions. How Can Airbnb Stay in Business?

To date, I’ve had only four Airbnb experiences. One of them was excellent, the other was okay, one was bad enough with the smell of mold and everything filthy that I was forced to check into a Holiday Inn Express, and now the one at which I’m currently staying seems to be okay for four nights. I will not be using Airbnb again any time soon. You don’t get anything of value for paying up to $62/night. If you are going to spend more than that, go to a hotel. Do not believe the photos. Photos do not capture mold and smells. Photos do not capture what you will walk into when you arrive. Photos do not capture the area where you will reside. Never book anything longer than four nights. Also, be careful of reviews. Most of them may not be up to your standards. Again, what is great for someone may not be good for you. Airbnb’s business is dicey at best.

Airbnb needs to hire an independent company that can travel on their behalf and inspect these places in advance. There is not any other solution. Photos lie. Taking things at face value is a farce. It simply doesn’t work. Why not? Because everyone has her or his own idea of cleanliness and standards. What may be filthy to one person is okay to another, especially people who have poor personal hygiene. Airbnb is not a hotel. This is where people like me make huge blunders. Airbnb is an alternative to a hotel.

People, please remember this: Airbnb is not a hotel. You can’t complain, change rooms, get a refund, or get an upgrade. Think long and hard before you use Airbnb. The company has no standards. They tell you flat out, “That’s not what we do.” Therefore, whatever you get, you must take. Booking with Airbnb is like the lottery: if you are on a budget, you could lose your entire trip, and anything could be ruined, e.g. dirty shower, smelly toilet area, dirty sheets and pillow cases, dirty mattress, dingy curtains, old used towels, some with stains… terrible.

This happened to me. Airbnb doesn’t care. All they cares about is getting paid, sticking it to the traveler with outrageous fees and taxes. Some people charging as much as $165 for a cleaning fee. You walk into a new place and there is a dog on the bed, tracking dirt and dog hair on the pillows.