Airbnb Nightmare Scenario: Destroying Communities

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have an Airbnb but not have to deal with the hassle hosting? Then follow along, dear reader, for I have much to tell you.

This all started in early September. Our landlord informed us and the two other tenants that he was selling the building. Surely this wouldn’t affect us much because our building wasn’t near anything important and had full, long-term occupancy. We were wrong.

December arrived, and my girlfriend and I had just returned from visiting family for Thanksgiving. Suddenly, our upstairs neighbor appeared at our door with a surprise letter from our new landlord. According to this letter, his lease was not going to be renewed. Our neighbor only received this letter because his lease was up in 45 days. We had to ask our new landlord if the same terms would apply to us come August, and sure enough, there would be no lease renewals under this new landlord.

After some basic Google searches we discovered that our new landlord owed 17 buildings in town. All of those buildings were dedicated Airbnbs. We are the last to leave this building, as well as this block. There used to be multiple apartment buildings up and down the street, but all that’s left is a Thai restaurant and an advertising agency. Every residential building is owned by the same man and each unit is rented out as an Airbnb. No one actually lives here any more.

So far we have had to deal with extremely loud guests in the Airbnbs above us, restrictions on our ability to receive mail, and our new landlord demanding we have cameras in the entryway because “the ATF raided the Thai place across the street” (an obvious lie). Two important packages have been returned to sender because the property manager the landlord hired doesn’t care that we still live here.

If you visit a new place, don’t rent from “Superhosts”. Nearly all of them are big time landlords who use Airbnb to destroy communities and drive up rent. Rent your spare room – that’s fine. Don’t buy property just to evict the current residents and convert to short term rentals. If you rent and don’t want this to happen to you, form a tenant union before it’s too late.

Sexual Predators Can Use Airbnb Freely

A local Airbnb was being hosted by sexual predator (now serving multiple years in prison). He lived in the house with guests before his court date, which took two years. He was not allowed to have anyone under 16 at his house. I called Airbnb and let them know that this was occurring and single women might not be comfortable sharing his hot tub and pool if they were aware. They did nothing. Please Google your hosts and guests if you’re sharing a house.

Let me teach you about Airbnb’s fees

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I have reported this issue to Airbnb. It involves booking issues. A courteous young man tried to help. Unfortunately, he works for a company that has no control or, evidently, no interest in the legitimacy of its listed rental properties.

My friends and I are planning a trip to Spain and Morocco. We are trying to pay ahead and have all issues resolved before our departure date. We have, so far, had very little trouble with booking in Spain. The only issue is that when searching for a property you enter the number of guests and the number of nights requested. Then a list of available properties appears, and you choose a property and book it.

At that time most properties either give you the option of either a partial or a full payment. We always chose the full payment option. As to the number of nights, that isn’t exactly the information the computer needs; it needs the day of arrival and day of departure, not the number of nights. It took us a while and several mistakes to figure this out. A clue from Airbnb would have been helpful.

Other than the number of nights issue, Spain, so far, has been relatively smooth sailing. I say relatively because here comes the headache… Morocco.

As with Spain, we entered the dates and number of guests and a list of available properties appeared. We read the comments, compared prices, and chose a place that was listed at $87/night. As with our other bookings , when a partial or full payment was given, we would chose the full payment option. Our total appeared on the screen as $524.22. Okay, fine, we say. Joke was soon to be on us.

The next email from this property was about a new charge of $976, with add-ons of a cleaning fee of $39.84 (reasonable) and a service fee of $111.60. A charge of $137.54/night was being charged per guest. Whatever happened to the $87 originally quoted in the initial property description?

After making an inquiry as to the change, a new total cost was emailed to us. This time the total was in Euros – €725.00 – with a cleaning fee of €35 and a service charge of of €27.13 deducted from the total. So, when you look at a property, after having submitted all the necessary information, and you receive a list of available properties that meet your criteria, and they advertise a price, beware. Once they have your credit card, it’s open season for bait-and-switch scams, and Airbnb can but won’t do anything about it. Buyer beware.

Fraudulent Host Sues Guest for $1800

We thoroughly enjoyed our time at our Airbnb until we received communication from the host wrongfully accusing us of stealing her second-hand sheets. There were far better items to steal if we had been inclined, like the $400 TV to occupy our bored 13-year-old, or the microwave, which would have come in very handy to heat a frozen sausage roll for our screaming and starving 8-year-old, having an emotional meltdown over food at the airport back to Australia from France.

This is how it all started. The apartment looked newly renovated and we did note the tired looking sheets at the time. At first we thought it may be a misunderstanding and the cleaner may have taken them to launder, but as it now turns out, our credit card has been charged. There are many problems with this situation.

To be accused of theft, and then “charged” without sufficient evidence supporting the accusation, highlights one’s true core values and morals in a negative light. After abiding by Airbnb’s terms to resolve the issues, Airbnb has taken the role of “judge, jury, and executioner”, unfairly charging the incorrect credit card in favour of the Host.

This is in breach of their own “Terms of Service”. Airbnb did not charge the credit card on file that was used to make the booking. Instead they chose a different one on file. We used Airbnb for both work and personal use. This was a work trip, and as such we used the work card. This is a definitive breach of their Terms of Service. There is no evidence to suggest we stole the sheets. Airbnb needs evidence before accusing us of theft and charging us.

Other unidentified people had access to the property at the time we were there. They gained access as we were entering the building and did not identify themselves.

The host had accused us of stealing sheets, yet in her claim, she wanted compensation for a brand new unrelated item of significant value. This would suggest she was after money, and not a simple replacement.

As we were attending a surgical conference, there was conference paraphernalia, left in the host’s house. This material may have suggested to a money-hungry host, looking to upgrade their facility at someone else’s cost, that this family could foot the bill for her need for new linen.

The original suggestion of two sheet sets stolen has now been extended to include a whole range of items, not even available to us at the time of our stay. The host originally requested compensation for $1800 to replace two sheet sets. Had we known, I would have driven 120 km to the closest Walmart and back and bought two new sets for $40. The sizes of the sheet sets apparently stolen do not even fit our beds at home. No use to us there.

We had no room in our luggage anyway. I generally overpack (my vanity bag usually takes up most of my carry on anyway). With three kids and their electronic gadgets stuffed toys, and ski gear for five, there was no room in our bags for: a complete set bed €170, depreciated for two years = €136; another complete set €120 depreciated for two years = €96; a third complete set €160 * two years = €128; towels €50 * two years = €30; other towels €28 * two years = €16.80; DH 140, €75 * two years = €45: To 56+56= €112 * two years = €67.20. They’ve even depreciated the secondhand assets.

Apparently, the host has provided “valid documentation supporting the damage and repair cost”. I don’t believe screenshots of luxury branded sheets on online shopping sites is evidence that we stole the inventory list above.

Disgusting host behaviour. Disgusting Airbnb behaviour. This behaviour highlights the ease in which an opportunistic host can profit from guests, for the purpose of updating, renovating, or simply cashing in on the unassuming guest. There are many Airbnb guests who cannot afford to be falsely accused of theft, sued, and then have their moral character questioned. It seems the question of morality lies with the host here. And they get away with it.

Never stay here – it will cost you!

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Interracial Discrimination From Airbnb Rampant?

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After I was banned for life from Airbnb for absolutely no reason (booked twice, great reviews from my hosts, paid on time, went to book a third trip but was locked out), I went to try to contact them through Facebook and found a pattern: they are banning interracial couples for no reason.

They have us sign in through Facebook and most of us have photos with our partners. Then through a quick Google search I found out they’re being sued for discrimination at the moment. I ended up booking with HomeAway instead and highly recommend you do the same.

What do you guys think of this?

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Fraud Committed by Airbnb Host in Los Angeles

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After using the Airbnb platform twice without issue, I decided to book two nights in a loft in downtown LA for a recent business trip. After confirming the booking, the host requested I send him a copy of my driver’s license outside the platform, which I was hesitant to do. I could tell this frustrated the host so I sent him another picture ID and said I could provide him with my license upon arrival.

Upon arriving I was greeted by a young lady who was not the man I was messaging with on the platform. I also couldn’t help but notice that she seemed nervous. I provided her with my driver’s license and she showed me to the loft.

My stay was uneventful. The place was marginal at best but I was there for business and only needed the bed, bathroom, TV, and fridge. I couldn’t get the shower to produce warm water and the lamp next to the bed was so flimsy I actually spent 20 minutes trying to get it screwed together in a way that gave it some more structural integrity.

Upon checking out I was prompted to provide a review. I gave four stars and left the typed feedback field blank as I’m not the type of person that complains about little things and wasn’t looking to write a bad review.

This is where the hell started. Upon submitting my feedback, I received the host’s review of me and was shocked. The guy had written multiple paragraphs stating that I left the place a mess and damaged the countertops with a knife. The guy even submitted photos of horrible scratch marks. There was no background so it could have been any countertop. I also found it hard to believe that the guy would go as far as damaging his own countertop.

I declined the payment request and a case was opened. I clearly explained the situation to the assigned “Trust & Safety Specialist”. After all, this was about as straight-forward of a fraudulent claim as one could imagine. I never used the kitchen, never mind any knives.

Airbnb told me they had requested additional paperwork from the host and after several days I received a message from Airbnb at 2:00 AM introducing me to a whole new Trust & Safety Specialist and saying that if they didn’t hear back, they would move forward processing the host’s claim. When I called Airbnb the lady tried to get me to admit that I incurred the damage saying, “well you were just doing your thing” to which I responded: “Absolutely not, I didn’t even use the kitchen. I can’t believe you would say that!”

Flash forward to today. I received a message from Airbnb saying I owed $1250 for the damages. I’ve come to realize that Airbnb is unable to maintain the integrity of its platform. This host knew it and took advantage of it. Now here I am left with a completely inaccurate review and a bill for over a grand.

I have never experienced anything like this before. Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated as I refuse to pay a fraudulent claim on principle. I blocked Airbnb from charging my card but have no idea what will happen next other than my making everyone I can aware of this horrible experience and never using Airbnb again. This is literally criminal.

Illegal Sublet of my Property on Airbnb

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I own a $3 million dollar home in the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles. I recently moved out of state and signed a three-year lease with a tenant. My lease specifies that subletting is illegal and specially calls out sites like Airbnb for subletting purposes.

In December of 2018, I discovered that my tenant moved out of my property and started subletting the home on Airbnb (my neighborhood watch found the Airbnb ad and informed me). The police have been called multiple times to my property due to large parties and neighborhood disturbances.

I have reported the listing of my property to Airbnb as an illegal sublet and also have flagged the host. I received an email from Airbnb stating that there is nothing that they can do as the host agreed to the terms and conditions of having full authority/ownership to rent out the property.

What? Nothing you can do, Airbnb? They’re certainly making a boat load of money off an illegal sublet. I’m sure that’s why they won’t shut this ad/person down. I now am represented by a very large legal firm in Los Angeles, we are going through the eviction process with this tenant. The ad is still up and my “soon to be ex-tenant” still continues to rent the house.

This is a huge liability to me if someone gets hurt, my insurance will not cover accidents that occur while subletting. I would like to start a class action lawsuit against Airbnb for not vetting out hosts for ownership or authorization that they can rent out properties on the website. This is completely unacceptable and the only thing I can do is hire a very expensive attorney to remedy this situation. Who’s with me?

AirbnBS: Customers Want the Cheapest Option

I had several listings in central Sydney. The idea was to ‘test’ Airbnb at a few different market levels ranging through cheap, mid-market and high end. My experience has been that the only successful listings are the cheap ones. The reason for this is because Airbnb guests are inherent cheapskates.

Listings at the cheapest end of the market (a share room, backpacker style dorm) show a constant demand and high occupancy and as long as the photos and description are accurate and specific, the guests do not have any grounds for high expectations and, equally, any sustainable grounds for complaint. Alternatively, the opposite is true of mid-market and high end listings.

To attract bookings you have to be highly competitive and provide a full range of amenities, all of which are grounds for some kind of complaint by an asshole cheapskate trying for a free nights accommodation. My advice is keep it cheap and keep it simple and decline any guest who asks any question to which the answer is detailed in the listing preview. The enemy of profitability is time – don’t waste it. Stack ’em high, sell ’em cheap and don’t take any shit from guests or management.

Outrageous Bait & Switch: Airbnb No Help

Here is the letter I wrote to Airbnb feedback. I’m still in the process of working with a case manager, but I’m not very optimistic.

I’ve been working with someone in Airbnb Support, who has been spectacular. However, she encouraged me to share my feedback with the company, as I feel the policies of Airbnb are having unintended consequences. I’ll start by sharing my most recent experience, and close with a few suggestions based on my number interactions with my host and Airbnb support.

We have a group that goes to the Final Four (NCAA Basketball) every year. This year is special as it’s my father’s 60th birthday, so we wanted to make sure we had an upscale Airbnb close to US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

After communicating back and forth with the host about our intent to go to the Final Four, inquiring about how close the house was to the stadium, etc, we decided to book a listing on October 29, 2018 for April 6-9, 2019. We booked well in advance because we know it’s a busy weekend, and we have a large group of nine people to celebrate my father’s birthday. We paid a 50% deposit up front ($1,273 of the $2,547 total), and confirmed our reservation.

Fast forward to December 23rd, when I received an “alteration request” from our host. Our host stated: “We just sent you an alteration for your reservation; it being the final four week we had not updated our price, please let us know if this price works for your group”. The new price was $8,594, an additional $6,046.

As you can imagine, outrage struck me, as this is a classic bait and switch tactic by the host. More disappointing was how unethical and deceitful the host was being, as I clearly stated in my first note to the host before the reservation was confirmed “We are interested in staying for our annual Final Four Trip”.

I spoke with Airbnb support, and they suggested I decline the alteration request, and per Airbnb policies, the host would be required to honor the original reservation. I declined the request, on December 23rd, and the host replied to me on December 28th stating “Unfortunately we will not be able to host those dates, just wanna give you enough time so that you can find a different place, and you are still in the period for no fees on the cancellation!”

The audacity of this host to cancel my reservation because I didn’t want to pay 400% more, and to suggest I should cancel… Despite the host sending me that message, they still have not canceled my reservation as of January 2nd, 2019. As you can imagine, we are very worried that we will show up on April 6th and the house will be occupied or we won’t be able to get in, which would leave us scrambling.

I therefore spoke again with Airbnb support, and they said “don’t worry, you will get a full refund if the host cancels”. Let’s pause here. This is where my frustration with Airbnb policies is at an all time high, and I’d like to explain why:

1) We booked this reservation 2.5 months ago, and of course listing availability has gone down and prices have gone up since then.

2) A refund therefore will not cover any suitable replacement property.

3) Airbnb’s host policy is if they cancel there is a $100 fee and they cannot rent the property that weekend. That is a rather weak deterrent for a host cancelling in the scenario they realize they can rent the property out on a competitive platform (VRBO, Craigslist, etc), pay a small $100 fee, and then be back on the Airbnb platform with no penalty after those dates.

4) As a guest, I am now stuck with my money back, but no reservation, a lack of listings available, and more expensive options. I cannot imagine a scenario where a confirmed, paid hotel booking would be canceled with no replacement room at the same cost.

This is the second time this has happened to us on Airbnb: we book a reservation, the host finds out it’s a more popular weekend than anticipated, they cancel, pay a fee, rent it for higher, and we as guests are stuck high and dry.

Short term solution: We fully expect Airbnb to cover the cost of a comparable listing if it costs more than our initial reservation, which it will. We need to be less than two miles from the stadium, which our existing reservation was, and it needs to be at least six bedrooms and four baths.

Long term solution: Airbnb needs to fix the incentives/punishments in the policy and guidelines, as it is driving bad behavior. In this scenario, the host can rent out for three times that on VRBO, pay a $100 fee to Airbnb, and then have access to Airbnb as soon as the dates we originally reserved have passed. There is a near-zero deterrent for the host to act disingenuously.

On top of that, guests are left with a refund, but no place to stay. It’s very stressful and time consuming to have to search for a new place and correspond with Airbnb support. I’ve spent two hours on the phone with Airbnb support throughout this process and another three hours researching and messaging Airbnb through the platform.

I’m having second thoughts on Airbnb because of this experience, and I can only imagine how many other guests are experiencing this. Please fix your policies so guests aren’t left high and dry in the future. I’d be happy to chat further if anyone is interested in speaking to me.

Poorly Managed Safety from Airbnb Corporate

My story is how poorly Airbnb as an organization is run and how dangerous it is for hosts and guests. I have been an Airbnb host for the past two plus years. I have about 15 listings of homes in Los Angeles.

I was very excited to join Airbnb up until last night. Yesterday I had a booking from a guest who threw a huge party with over 80 guests. The house is ransacked but the most troubling part was I almost got hurt by these individuals. The police were called several times last night.

There was a young girl carried out unconscious from my home in a hurry by these partygoers. I called Airbnb several times but only got a call back from a safety person who barely spoke English and made it a more frustrating experience.

I sent several emails. I called and asked for a supervisor but no one called back. I messaged an individual who said he was a supervisor from Airbnb at least 20 times if not more to get the person to call me. Another customer service person advised me that per Airbnb policy a senior management person never gets on a call or deals with an issue. This truly surprised me: that a company of this magnitude is not involved in such a serious incident.

From my experience I find that reply to be negligent and unacceptable. I just emailed their top management to see if they would care, waiting for a reply. While this happened at my property I had other guests, an older family that was staying in the same building who happened to be hosts in Vegas. They shared similar stories.

I feel our story, including possibly the footage my camera captured, might be an opportunity for other people looking to get into this business or thinking about renting an Airbnb. Or possibly getting more serious rules and responsibilities placed on these booking sites to make sure this does not happen to others.