Not Impressed with Airbnb Experiences Overall

I stayed in a few Airbnbs over the world in 2016. I decided to try Airbnb because I wanted the experience of living as a local would. I wanted the experience of getting to know the culture and lifestyle of the places I was visiting on an authentic level.

I wanted to stay in places that had some character and didn’t look like generic corporate beige. I wanted to stay in residential neighborhoods rather than in the middle of a tourist trap. More importantly, I wanted to save money on staying in hotels/motels and also on food by being able to have access to a kitchen and prepare my own meals. These are all things Airbnb advertised at the time and I was very interested in being able to travel that way.

The first thing that I was struck by when deciding to rent an Airbnb was how expensive they were, even in comparison to local motel rates; many were the same and some even more. The second thing that I was struck by was how inaccurate the descriptions were on the majority of the listings. The third thing that I was struck by was that many of these listings were places other people lived most of the time but were just renting out when they were not there, and were not designed with the guest’s comfort and enjoyment in mind.

The first place I stayed at was in the U.S. and it consisted of a bedroom in a house with half a bathroom. Again, the price was about the same as a local motel. The washer and dryer didn’t work, the floor was chipped and cracked and the window screen was broken. The floor was stained and dirty. It wasn’t like I had access to the entire house — just the room. The owner was not available most of the time and didn’t answer or address any of my needs the entire time, even though they got paid.

The second place I stayed was a room in another house. The lady who owned it was actually super nice. I went to an ecstatic dance event with her and we had a great time. She had children and one of her kids was in camp, so I was staying in her son’s room. Again, she was a lovely woman but it was weird sleeping in a kid’s room with kid’s sheets. It was clear she was a struggling single mom who was trying to make some money for her mortgage, so I felt like overall it was something I didn’t have a problem with. However, I wouldn’t ever stay there again.

The third place I stayed in was in Denmark. That was the only Airbnb where I had access to the entire apartment that was clean, orderly, and as described on the listing. The owner was helpful in helping me rent a bike. The price was also reasonable and I was able to actually save money with food because all the kitchen equipment actually worked. That was the only place that I would ever stay again.

The last place was in Germany and that was the last time I ever rented an Airbnb. The description was completely inaccurate; the apartment was located way on the other side of town. I had to walk two miles to with my luggage. The owner met me and he seemed nice. He gave me the key and talked about the town for a few minutes before he left.

The apartment didn’t have much working in the kitchen and not even a working microwave. The bathroom was filthy, with a piece of dirty duct tape on the floor holding it all together. The sheets I’m pretty sure had not been washed and the only appliance that worked was the TV.

The day that I left I got locked into the building and wasn’t able to leave since I had given him back the key. I knocked on some random apartment for someone to let me out. After that experience, I checked the local hotel and motel rates in the city itself and found that they were comparable and in some cases even less than what the Airbnb host was charging.

For the same price, you can get a hotel room with clean sheets, clean towels, a clean bathroom, a safe, and someone to clean your room. A hotel will generally be up to standards and have good customer service, but this is not the case with Airbnb.

You just get the feeling that many of these Airbnb hosts are far more interested in making additional income to pay their bills than they are in providing a valuable, guest and customer service oriented, hospitable experience. They aren’t obligated like hotels are to abide by certain hospitality industry standards. They aren’t even obligated to abide by certain safety codes and are not subject to inspection.

According to some of the reviews I have read on this website, many Airbnb listings are not even required to actually exist. Many of them are fake or are dishonest in their listing description.

I’m posting this because everyone talks about how great Airbnb is, but that has not been my experience overall. You really are not saving any money and you’re really taking a gamble on whether or not the place you are renting from even exists. If it does, will it be up to code, or is it a fire trap? Is it going to be clean? Will your host cancel your reservation right before you arrive? Is the host an ex-con, a rapist or murderer? Of course, this can go for the guests too.

Airbnb has some potential but it needs much more oversight. The listings should be subject to certain local laws to ensure they are complying with safety standards. They should be subject to inspections and paying fees to local governments so that they do not displace local residents.

As it is practiced today, it is a bad idea and really should be banned. Many people can’t access affordable housing and it is largely due to Airbnb being turned into short term rentals which can charge a higher rate. Guests coming in and out of the neighborhoods are not required to register their status if they are ex-convicts or sex offenders.

Is it really worth any of the savings if you don’t know if your valuables will be safe or if the host is safe? If the kitchen equipment doesn’t work, and you have to dine out anyway? Are you really “living as a local” if the place you are renting is on the other side of town?

In short, think about it before renting an Airbnb. Is it really worth the risk? Maybe have a back up plan like a hotel booked which has a 24-hour cancellation policy just in case. Or just stay in the hotel and forget Airbnb.

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Cured Photos, Airbnb Says Everything is Within Policy

We had to escape from an Airbnb apartment. It was not as described, with photos only showing the best parts of it.

Most importantly, it was unsafe. The neighboring building was a dump and abandoned apparently; the picture of the entrance did not show this. I have proof of how it looks in reality and can send it. It is unsafe.

We couldn’t get into the apartment because the path to it was completely covered with ice. There were literally no steps; it had not been cleaned for weeks. We have taken pictures of this. I fell and almost ended up on the road with cars. The icy path opened directly to the busy road and there were no pathways.

The bed was yellowed and very old. We could not even think of sleeping on it. The toilet was clean but smelled of urine — filthy and not hygienic. The other small bedroom had the window shut from the outside. This Airbnb was nothing like the sunshine in the pictures.

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Mental Health: Airbnb Doesn’t Put your Safety First

This is a long post with a very disturbing video and story.

My husband and I arrived to an Airbnb host’s free backyard cottage on Thursday, January 23rd Around 9:20 PM. All went as planned as far as going in the backyard and finding the key in the shed behind the main house just as the owner’s form message instructed. The accommodations were exactly as described, very clean and very cute.

At 8:00 AM the next morning, a woman came to our door and began to rattle it very hard in an attempt to get in. We told her several times that we were in there and she responded with, “ha ha ha ha ha ha” and then screamed, “YOU SCARED ME!” We again said we were in there and she began to yell at us: “Don’t stress, don’t stress.”

She then returned to the main house. A few minutes later I heard a very disturbing and very loud scream from the house. Shortly after the young woman came outside wearing a dress and a towel wrapped around her shoulders/head. She had a hammer and a wicker cylinder shaped basket of some sort.

She then began to hammer the basket very loudly and aggressively on the concrete patio located less than ten feet from where we staying. At one point she took a break and she turned around as if she were looking at the neighbor’s house and gave them the finger. It was at this point I told my husband that we were not staying here another night and that we were leaving ASAP.

We quickly packed our things and took them to the car parked in front of the main house. As we put our luggage in the trunk we saw the curtains move in the front window. Suddenly, the woman in the house threw her face against the glass and started shrieking violently and making pain-filled faces. She was yelling inaudible things through the glass.

She then opened the screen-less window and it was clear that we were not dealing with a mentally healthy person. She told me that I smelled bad because I smelled like lanolin. There were several other odd things said and many disturbing screams.

I then got my phone and made a video and asked if she was okay. She defensively and calmly said she was fine and I asked if she was the host. She replied with, “F$%k no, she doesn’t live here but I bet she didn’t tell you that she had a mentally ill daughter.”

She then let out another super disturbing scream, horror movie style. I turned off my camera and she continued to flip us off and scream viciously as we pulled out of the driveway.

We never provoked her. We never spoke with her other than when she was trying to force herself into our locked room and when I took the video. We were just grateful that she didn’t display this behavior in the night and we didn’t have have time to properly respond.

Our biggest concern was our safety and hers. We contacted her mother via private message. The host responded quickly and wrote, “She has been stable for a week but apparently is not any longer.” According to a standard issue form message to her guests, the host is a traveling musician and is always looking for gigs in other people’s homes.

The host gave us our money back and Airbnb, while initially unresponsive to my urgent email, did handle things very smoothly and efficiently once I called them. The company canceled our reservation and refunded our $280 in record time.

During our phone call I asked if this woman would still be allowed to host. Airbnb, who is privy to all of this information, including the DMs with the host, told us that they would go over the rules and regulations with the host. Her cottage has been pre-booked for months of January, February and March for many weeks.

As of 7:00 PM CST on January 27, 2020, this property is still booked with previous reservations and and is still accepting new ones; because Airbnb canceled our reservation and refunded our money, company policy has revoked our privilege to post a review. This also explains why 168 people have given this property a 95% positive review.

Watch the video to the end.

Posted by Dana Moxie Minetos on Monday, January 27, 2020

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Up in Flames – Airbnb from Hell over New Year’s

Last year’s New Years was the first and last time I ever used Airbnb. Every time someone says they use it, I pray to the almighty Airbnb gods that they make it out alive and in one piece.

Last year, I researched a place to stay in Chicago for New Years for a good couple hours. My budget was low, and I wanted somewhere close to the venue I was gonna be partying at that night. Airbnb was the cheapest and most convenient option I could find. I found a cute little place in Ukranian Village pretty close to the venue, and the host had pretty good reviews. The only bad reviews complained about how the place was kinda dirty and rundown. If that was the only thing people complained about, it had to be safe, right? Wrong.

I can handle a little dirt so I booked a night for ~$30. When I got there to check in, the host seemed like a decent guy. He made me food and showed me around. The place was beat up and he hadn’t shown some of the more rough areas of the place to me, but it was livable for a night.

What I should have done was run away screaming and never look back when I got to my room and found a broken window by the alleyway and stab marks on the walls. I wish I was exaggerating. I also wish I had had the frame of mind to take pictures. Some of the marks were small enough and at the right height that they could have been from nailing something into the wall and having the nail dragged down from the weight of a frame or something, but not all of them.

My stomach dropped but I wasn’t able to afford a hotel room that was any better than this. Since he seemed like a nice guy, I asked him about the stab marks on the walls. He told me he had had a crazy guest threaten him like that in a fit of rage. We left it at that and talked for a couple more hours before I left to get ready and go to my show. The show was amazing and I had a great time.

When I got back to the house, the host was still awake and let me back in. I offered him a cigarette and we went outside to go smoke in the backyard. We were talking and smoking out there for a while before we heard a sort of muted bang and his fire alarm going off inside. He said that his fire alarm went off randomly sometimes and told me not to worry about it. It kept going off for a while, and a look of concern started to spread over his face. He kept his cool at this point in time, though, and went in to go see what had transpired.

Not more than five seconds later, a look of panic spread over his face and he jumped back, saying, “We need to get out of here.” He grabbed a couple things off the table and frantically ran out of the backyard around to the front of the house. Not knowing what was going on, I ran after him.

He opened the front door and I saw nothing but bright orange flames filling the house. He had been charging his lithium battery motorbike in the living room of the house and it exploded. Let me say that again. He had been charging his lithium battery motorbike in the living room of the Airbnb and it had exploded. Google “Ukranian Village fire Chicago January 1” if you don’t believe me.

Out of sheer panic, he started to abandon me and the apartment completely, running off down the alleyway to leave me there to deal with the entire thing. I was the one who had to call 911. I was the one who had to talk to the fire department and police and landlord and everyone else who contacted me as if I had been the one who had put everyone’s lives at risk, but nope.

This spineless idiot had just destroyed all of my and his belongings and the entire first floor of the complex, causing the people on the top floors to have to be rescued by the fire department, and he took off like a bitch. He told me to lie to the fire department and anyone else I made contact with, AKA put myself at risk to save his pathetic ass from the consequences of his own actions. Happy New Years.

I ran after him because I’m a small female without protection and I was in fishnets, out on the streets of Chicago, at 3:00 in the morning. When I ran after him he told me he’d take me to the train station so I’d at least be somewhere safer than out on the streets. Below the bare minimum of what he should have done, but fine.

It was freezing. We got followed by an intoxicated homeless dude who wanted my number and wouldn’t take no for an answer. The Amtrak station wasn’t open until 5:00 AM (and it was 3:45). The entire thing was a nightmare. We spent those hours walking the streets looking for a place that was open where we would be warm and off the streets.

I felt extremely unsafe and had no idea how I would get any of my valuable belongings back, such as my student ID and keys to get back into the dorms. At my school, if you lose your keys you have to pay $300 to get all the locks replaced for whatever reason. At this point, though, all I cared about was making it back in one piece. I missed my first train and had to pay for another ticket.

When I got back I had to report the incident to my school and Airbnb. I talked to the landlord, the fire department again, and the police. I spared no details. When I filed the claim, Airbnb basically laughed in my face and said they could assume no responsibility whatsoever for what happened.

Hundreds of dollars’ worth of belongings? Not their responsibility.

Multiple threats to my and many others’ safety? Not their problem.

They said it was up to the host to give me a refund or reimbursement. He did that for me, thank god, or I would have made sure every cop in the city knew about this host’s reckless endangerment. I eventually was able to get my belongings back, by some miracle. They were burnt and covered in ash and soot, but some of them were still usable (including my keys).

I had given the host my number so he could get my stuff mailed to the proper place and he started hitting on me, saying we should hang out, I’m kinda hot, etc. Unbelievable. Get a hostel or hotel where they actually care about peoples’ safety and well being. You 100% get what you pay for. Don’t trust reviews and don’t trust Airbnb; trust your instincts.

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One Airbnb Guest Brought a Gun, Killing Four People

A home in a wealthy suburb of San Francisco was rented on Airbnb. The renters lied to the host, saying they were escaping from the fires and wanted fresh air. The host was out of town. The guests posted on Facebook that they were hosting a mansion party for Halloween. Forty minutes into the party, 50-100 people were at the house. The homeowner called the police. The police were on the way, but gunshots were fired before they arrived. One of the guests shot at the guests, killing four and sending four to intensive care. Airbnb hell for the host and the neighborhood, and the dead. Here is the story.

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Airbnb Owner is a Known Sexual Predator in the U.S.

The owner of this rental property, Jason McLean, purchased the Airbnb property Villa Viva with money owed to women he raped as children in Minneapolis. A simple Google search will show you numerous articles detailing his crimes, legal proceedings, and his ultimate flight to Cabo San Lucas Mexico to avoid the consequences of his sexual assaults of children… and he wants you to be a guest in his home.

Do not support this criminal with your business. Keep away, especially if you are a young woman or have children. This is not hyperbole. It is well documented in the U.S. news, lawsuits and courts, that McLean preyed upon and sexually assaulted at least six minor child actors and students at the Minneapolis Children’s Theater where he was a company actor and teacher. Two of his victims have obtained civil judgements against him in the US, yet he profits off of this property in Mexico.

He does not deserve your business. McLean has returned to the US and is opening a restaurant called Small Wonder in Oakland, California. Beware. The man is a child rapist.

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Host Rented the Apartment During our Stay

We are three girls and one boy from San Francisco, traveling to NYC this past weekend. The Airbnb nightmare in NYC resulted in two intrusions in the middle of the night that ended up with the police escorting the host out. Airbnb support “apologized for the inconvenience” and this guy is still renting on the platform.

The first red flag was that the host never gave us the address to the apartment after asking numerous times until right before our plane was going to take off. We had to call Airbnb support and we were not sure if we would have a place to stay that night. He called us after Airbnb support was involved and the first thing he said was “I am EXTREMELY BUSY”. Finally we got the address. He acknowledged his tone in the text.

The second red flag was after we saw how dirty, and not true to the description the apartment was (expectation vs reality here), the host cancelled the posting. We had to find the original images using a website cache. We called Airbnb support and they gave us a refund and a 60-dollar coupon to rebook a room. Since it was 5:00 PM on the last night we were staying in NYC, we confirmed with them if we could stay another night. They said yes, and that they would take care of the payout to the host.

On our last night, shit started going down. At around 11:30 PM a girl walked in with suitcases and keys. We were all shocked. She said she got the keys from a mutual friend and thought she could stay here. We were dumbfounded and said we are here for another night. She left after that. After that we were scared of another guest intrusion, so we propped a chair against the door.

At 12:09 AM we were awoken with loud banging and kicking on the door. An angry man’s voice shouted: “Get out of my fucking apartment! Open the fucking door!” on repeat. We cracked open the door. It waas our host and his girlfriend. He threatened us that he would get into the apartment “either nicely or not nicely.”

One of my friends (a licensed lawyer in NY), asked if we could have a civil discussion. He said yes, and we let him inside. He ordered us to sit down. He had a large duffel bag with him that made a huge thud when he let it down. I called 911 at the start of the break-in but I didn’t have pants on so I stayed in the room, only coming out after the 911 call ended and I found a pair of pants from one of my friend’s on the floor.

During the confrontation, he was very agitated and smoking the entire time. Apparently the large hole in the kitchen only happened Saturday morning (we arrived Saturday afternoon at 3:00 PM) and he just didn’t have time to take care of it. That’s some fast acting mold. He was very upset that he was “not getting a dime from us staying here,” plus he got fined on top of our stay.

He demanded to be paid either from Airbnb or us, right there right now. He called Airbnb support there, and demanded to talk to “the highest level staffed personnel there.” I don’t think they listened to him. He later hung up. He calmed down a bit after seeing the messages we showed him saying we are staying according to instructions and Airbnb will pay.

He threatened to call the cops. I told them not to worry; I already did. His girlfriend was trying to de-escalate the situation after this. It seemed like it was not the first time she had seen this happened. He works from 9:00 to 5:00 so that’s why he missed all the calls. However, he did not miss the phone call at midnight from the new tenant telling him we were in there.

We interrupted his $200 dinner with his girlfriend (I thought he worked from 9:00 to 5:00? Who is eating a fancy dinner at midnight?) He avoided questions on why the apartment was so dirty. The cleaning fee was $100 – what was that spent on?

The police then rang the doorbell. Thank you NYPD; you guys are the best. They arrived so fast. The host and his girlfriend left and never came back. The policeman came up and told us he would make sure he didn’t come back and the policeman would walk them out. He told us to barricade the door again in case they came back.

Two of my girlfriends suggested we book and move to another room and I said I would not let him win. We all slept there that night although not very well. This whole time, the host never bothered to respond to Airbnb support, or our messages, or reached out to us to let us know about the new tenant, or the fact that he was coming to kick down the door with a heavy duffel bag. He left it at our apartment and we did not look inside.

What was really surprising was Airbnb’s response. They just apologized for “the inconvenience” and told us to leave feedback on their website. This guy is still out there renting to people. What baffled me was this apartment had 100+ great reviews and the host said he has been renting for six years.

Airbnb asked us what else we wanted after the refund. We don’t care about the money. We don’t want any more people falling for his fake pictures and this crazy guy breaking into your apartment at night. Our full booking was only around $360 a night, so we care more about taking this guy off the platform than the actual refund.

High-Risk Area Absent from Airbnb Reviews

I recently traveled to New Orleans with three other couples. I did not properly investigate the neighborhood and when we got there we discovered we were in a high-risk crime neighborhood. While we were there we had to run to the local Dollar General store and witnessed an assault of a homeless man right before our eyes.

There were no negative reviews mentioning anything about the neighborhood. I asked the host and her words were “it is a perfect neighborhood”. We went into the local chamber of commerce and Tripadvisor offices for things to do on our first day and both places stated we were in a very scary neighborhood.

I reached out to the host to ask her in the future to tell the truth about the neighborhood. I even tried to post a negative comment but they did not post it. Trulia is a great resource to see crime stats for neighborhoods instead of believing the reviews. Airbnb obviously does not post bad reviews. Has anyone else had this problem?

Held Against my will by an Airbnb Host

During my checkout, the owner of the apartment held me against my will inside the bedroom of his apartment because I told him I wasn’t going to pay for the already faulty shower screen door.

During my stay, the shower screen door broke off from the hinges and fell on me. I then removed the door completely as it was dangerously hanging off its hinges, which I then placed aside. I sent a message to the host (the daughter of the owner of the apartment) and explained this to her.

During my check out – and just before this all kicked off – the owners of the property came to the front door and I invited them inside. I was running a little late during due to my packing, and they were kind enough to give me a later checkout. As I was in the bedroom zipping up my bags, they inspected the shower screen door. They came back to the bedroom and insisted I pay for it there and then.

When I declined this absurd request and told them to take it up with Airbnb, things got nasty. We went back and forth a few times on the matter until he lost his temper with me and he began raising his voice. I told him I was leaving the apartment which is when he locked the bedroom door with me inside. He told me that he was going to lock me in until the police came because I owed him money for the apartment.

When I tried to leave, he became physical with me and pushed me back into the bedroom. I ended up ripping the door from its hinges so I could escape. I made a run for the front door, where he tried to do the same thing. I forced my way out the front door and managed to get free. It wasn’t without injuries and damage to my property. I sustained a torn ligament to one shoulder and a dislocation to the other.

During the ordeal, irreparable damage was also done to some personal belongings inside my luggage. I am now trying to figure out what to do in terms seeking damages as a result of this experience. Any help in terms of being pointed in the right direction would really be appreciated.

Airbnb left me with a dead body, $50,000 in damages

There was a story that was aired on the local news the morning of July 28th, 2019. This story included vague details of a pool party that went wrong and the death of a Clay High School student by gunshot. Including only one side note was that it was an Airbnb listing.

There were many details that the story failed to capture. I am the homeowner of that Airbnb listing. I had listed the home on Airbnb just over a year ago as an entire house rental, private property with horses and country escape at around a $500/night booking fee.

Of the seven or eight bookings I had, it was a great experience, until it wasn’t. I had a one guest for a one-night booking the week prior to July 27th. This person had a verified Airbnb account that included one five-star review. They didn’t offer a lot of details about their stay but like every time before, the house was prepped, the key was left, and I was gone before they arrived.

I was notified by a neighbor around 1:30 AM that something seemed wrong with the amount of cars at my property and traffic in and out. I immediately called the police to assist in removing anyone from the property, as they were all trespassing and likely causing unspeakable damage to the home.

The shooting happened shortly after that, before the police even made it there, leaving one 18-year-old man dead in my driveway. This one guest rental was a 200-300 person party of underage people and dangerous criminals. There were Hennessy bottles thrown at my horses who were on the property during this time, luckily not causing any significant harm to them.

Upon further discovery, the actual verified guest has an extensive criminal background. There was blood throughout the entire home, over $20,000 in building damages and another $30,000 in personal property that was either stolen or ruined. Although the local police recommended bleach and water, I hired a hazmat crew to come and disinfect the home and clean the immense amount of bio waste that was covering my walls, floors and furniture.

People continued to return to the home in the days following so for the safety of my family I hired private security to protect the home and property. These people are and have been at war with each other. My home just happened to be the location that the battle was fought at.

I live with the reality every day that every single person who had access to my home can clearly tell it’s only a young woman and a five-year-old boy who live here. Of all the things damaged and all the pain this has caused, there is no greater fear than the idea that these monsters could come back and harm myself and my son.

My story isn’t about publicly shaming those who did this. My goal, however, is to shed light to the darker side of hosting for Airbnb and the complete lack of restitution that they have offered per their Host Guarantee and the lack of actual vetting they do to verify a guest. Almost three months, over 50 emails and communications, and they have decided to wash their hands of this due to the fact my personal homeowners insurance stepped up and covered just under $20,000 of the damages.

The process of their Host Guarantee is basically a death march to the point hosts rely on personal finances and their own homeowner’s insurance to begin the process of putting their lives back together. Although my insurance was amazing in the process, there is still $30,000 of personal property that was accounted for in detail as a loss.

The Host Guarantee specifically states (per their contractual agreement) that they will pay the difference of insurance claims. The most recent communication is that they took a if/then method stating that if my personal insurance has stepped up, then Airbnb is free and clear of any liability.

I hope to share my experience so those who are simply doing this to share the experience of their home, improve their homes for their families, or even just make some side cash on their primary residence know that if something does go wrong, Airbnb will not stand behind you.