I had made a reservation through Airbnb for an apartment for two months in La Habana, Cuba. The apartment conditions in the Airbnb listing are: “No se admiten mascotas; No se admiten fiestas o eventos; La hora de llegada es a partir de las 15:00” (Pets are not allowed; No parties or events are allowed; Arrival time is from 3:00 PM). When moving in to the apartment, the host took my name and the person’s name who was helping me with the luggage. We agreed on the weekly cleaning fee and they left.
Three weeks later, in another context, I mentioned that another person had been in the apartment. They start making lots of noise that I could not invite any person inside without calling the hosts and informing them of the visitor’s ID number. The next day they started threatening that I should move out immediately. I reminded them that by Airbnb rules I have already paid for one full month which could not be cancelled. The address had also been registered with immigration, so they could not just throw me out.
They insisted that Cuban law allows them to do that and as a foreigner I just didn’t know their laws. I insisted they must do this through Airbnb and could not just throw me out on the street. They said they could and were not even obliged to return any money to me. If I would get any money back (from a 61-day reservation when they threw me out after 21 days) it would be for Airbnb to decide and that the agency was responsible for finding any other place for me to stay; as owners of the apartment, they had the right to throw me out any moment they wanted.
There was no phone number to contact Airbnb, nor a possibility of doing so online. I was in Cuba. At 19:30 in the evening (it was dark outside), they started insisting that I must go. The host (female) was there with her husband, and there is also a third person who took their side. As a lone woman, I had no means to physically oppose them. They said I must go and they had organised a room next door that costs double the price of the one I was staying; apparently I had to go there.
I insisted I could not start packing and moving in the dark; they should allow me at least to stay the night until next day. They didn’t allow it. It was dark outside, and I was alone against three people. They made me quickly pack a suitcase of essentials and carry that and my computer and monitor with me to the room they forced me to take.
The next day I tried to get in contact with Airbnb, but the internet connection in the park for mobile phones was so bad that I could not find a page nor phone number to contact Airbnb from Cuba when I was in trouble. The form page submission was interrupted when trying to access it through a mobile connection. The host called and said that if I wanted to get the rest of my things, I must go to the apartment to pack them. It took me several hoursto pack all my things (I came for a long stay). At least I finally got to pack and take the dinner I had prepared for myself and had not been allowed to eat on the previous day.
It got dark again, so I went back to the room to try to sleep. The following day I found a space with a computer and internet. With a proper browser and Google I found an Airbnb page where I could request help. There was no phone number to call inside Cuba. The host had not even changed the dates of the accommodation; it looked like I was still on the trip, staying in their apartment, and the payment for the second month was due in four days.
I sent a help request through the Airbnb form, describing the situation and requesting that Airbnb find me a place to stay at least until the end of the paid period and compensates the price of the room I have been forcefully put in by the host. Now I am waiting for their answer; it should come in 24 hours according to the information they give. I found this website about Airbnbhell and decided to share my story with you, so that I am not the only one to follow and see how Airbnb reacts, and if they allow the host to remain on their site. Or at least require them to make visible the invisible rule they enforce so strickly that feel entitled to throw people out based on that.