I’m a seasoned host on both Airbnb and HomeAway/VRBO. I have never any real issues with guests until my experience in May. Little did I know a band was staying in my home after some show gigs in the Raleigh NC area. There was everything from cannabis left in potted plants to cigarette butts, empty beer cans in the yard, etc. I was not happy with the findings but thought my $300 dollar security deposit would easily cover the damages and excess cleaning charges. Four weeks later and I am still waiting on compensation for my damage claim. This was my first claim involving an Airbnb guest and I am now aware the Airbnb site provides little protection for a host. My customer service experience with Homeaway/VRBO has never been this poorly executed. I was told my claim/concern has been escalated and that was three weeks ago. I have been calling every week and the Airbnb agent just verifies ‘someone’ is working on it. Long story short, I am no longer hosting on Airbnb. Anyone considering hosting on Airbnb: don’t blindly think you will actually get paid out of the security deposit you post. You have no control over it.
We arrived in Palma to find our apartment had been flooded. Our host took us to another that had been hurriedly evacuated by a Roma family (at least that’s how it looked). Our dealings with our Eastern European host were through a go-between who was simply charming and promised the Earth, but delivered nothing. We were promised we would eventually be settled in our booked apartment but it was never going to happen.
On our third day, water poured out from our shower and flooded the place, so we were moved to a hotel for one night. At first the go-between, who was on a sympathy kick, told us how lucky we were and he was paying for the hotel out of his own pocket. Fawlty Towers would have been an improvement.
Despite being asked to provide three rooms, the owner waited until we arrived before frantically searching for bed linen. We were asked to wait with our cases half way up an unlit staircase while he went looking. After twenty minutes or so there was a frantic knocking on the front door – the police. They had come to arrest a guy in the room opposite the one I was destined for. There weren’t three rooms, only two.
At this we told the go-between to forget it. He finally put us in a hostel. It was clean and modern and had ensuites so we were okay with this. But we had no idea where we were staying the following night as he had confessed our originally booked apartment was nowhere near habitable, the cost of the hostel was twice that of Fawlty Towers, and he wasn’t sure he’d get back what he’d already paid.
We had already started negotiating with Airbnb by email and phone (they hate you using the phone and hide contact numbers). They had only two responses to urgent messages: Airbnb didn’t believe we weren’t in the booked apartment so we had to send photos to prove it. Of course, by then we were in the hostel. Luckily I had taken a couple of pics to send to my wife so we retrieved those and sent them to Airbnb.
They then agreed on a partial refund but debited us the full cost of the first night, despite the fact that our original contract had not been honoured. We had already booked a new apartment so the refund was good news but still cost us. Then as we were (mid-afternoon) on our way to the new place the phone rang and it was the go-between, saying the leak had been repaired and we could go back to our revolting apartment. We told him where he could shove it.
The new apartment was lovely, modern and clean. However it turned out this apartment was next to a drug dealer’s home. Although the block had a entry lock I think they disabled it at night. We had paper-thin walls, and comings and goings all night long. This ended at 5:00 AM on our last night with a couple of guys hammering on the door and kicking it trying to attract attention. I’m not sure anyone was even in. I got out of bed and went to our door to suggest they stop (unpleasant confrontation in the extreme) but parted telling them I was calling the police. They left. The end of a lovely holiday.
I left my Airbnb after one day, fearing the owner of the place. The picture on Airbnb looked like a decent place. When I walked in, it turned out to be a rundown dump in a dangerous neighborhood: rusty bars on the windows, expensive cars in the driveway, Boost Mobile stores on every corner, etc. It looked nothing like the picture inside. The house was a wreck and reeked of cat piss. Stray cats all over the property were wandering in the house through a broken back door. The windows didn’t close, and the A/C was broken. The inside thermometer said it was 94 degrees. I went to Target to buy two box fans and stayed for one night.
Today a strange guy walked in the house drunk. This guy looked like Doc from Back to the Future after two years of meth addiction. I asked how he was, and if he was another guest. He answered: “No! And I’m absolutely terrible. You see, my girlfriend rented this place without my permission. She does not own it. I own this house, but she’s desperate for money.”
He said he was the homeowner, and that the lady who rented it out is his girlfriend who is desperate for money and doesn’t actually own the property. After his furious rant I grabbed my stuff and bounced. She messaged me apologizing, saying he was “off his meds and incoherent.” Why are you hosting someone else’s home, assuming it was owned by a crazy unmedicated lunatic?
I’m not too sure which point I should be focusing on, the bad guest experiences or the Airbnb management system, but I will be explaining both so readers can be the judge. First, I had a guest book one of my apartments and checked in at night around 11:00 PM. He rang me up and asked how to check in. I gladly informed him of the instructions and he checked in successfully. Two days later on his check out day, our cleaners entered the apartment to clean after the check out time (11:00 AM). The guest was still sleeping, so the cleaners had to ask him to leave; he was not really listening so the cleaners had to ask several times.
Eventually he left but when the cleaners went inside the apartment, they found it in a hideous state. Everything had been moved, with splatters on the walls, sheets and blankets and pillows thrown everywhere, everything in the kitchen had been used and left unwashed, candles and decors were completely smashed, cups and other decors were missing, and there was a strong smell of cigarettes in the apartment. Obviously he had been smoking in our apartment, so already he did so many things wrong.
Guests are supposed to leave the keys on the table when they leave but when we couldn’t find them, I tried contacting the guest all day by phone, text, Airbnb, and even on Facebook. Eventually the guest answered the phone late that night saying he forgot to leave the keys and took them with him. He came back to return the keys and I asked him to reimburse for the damages done at our apartment. He said he would if I sent him an email with an invoice. I did and surprisingly enough, he replied with a rejection. He said he would not take responsibility and didn’t agree he left the apartment in a bad state.
I had to request money from Airbnb. Because the guest did not respond, it had to be escalated. Airbnb has not been replying. To be fair it has only been ten days, but I still think that is plenty of time for them to get back to me, as they have gotten in contact with me for other reasons, just not this. I have asked them what has happened to my case, and they only ask me to wait (probably forever).
Several days after this happened, the same guest decided to book another one of our apartments, and messaged me asking how to check in. If I’m thinking clearly, I couldn’t imagine why he would do this because we clearly had by far the worst experience with him. Of course I had to cancel by calling up Airbnb (because it was already after check in time). Thankfully they cancelled that booking for us, but they also cancelled the previous booking that he made and paid for, which resulted in the past reservation fee to be refunded to him. This was pretty much the last thing we needed, but when I emailed them and asked for this to be fixed ASAP, they only said it was a glitch and will be looked into very shortly… as in never?
Unfortunately I’m still waiting on this, and not sure if I will ever hear from those case managers again. Airbnb really does a pathetic job with training staff, technical systems, management, and customer service. This isn’t big news for anyone I suppose. I just wanted to put this post out here, to warn hosts about receiving dodgy guests. Please see if they have a bad history, review, or just a weird vibe in general. I just finished hosting his girlfriend today; I didn’t even know it was her at the time. I basically hosted the same guest, who ruined our apartment once, and she did it again.
This one burned all of our candles and covered the fire alarm with a shower head. She was in bed “sick” all day according to our conversation. Again, there were stains all over the floor, sofa, and blankets, the place fuming with a candle smell so bad because there were five full sized candles all used up in just a few days. We found syringes under the bed and sofa and all the furniture was moved in weird places. They locked themselves out by leaving the key inside so I had to go and let them in. I really should have caught on there was something fishy about them then, and at least checked out the apartment. All these signs, and the fact that it was the same guest that ruined our last apartment… I could only think that they had been doing some kind of drugs at the property. Please beware of guests like these, as they seem to go around Airbnb houses to do drugs.
In April 2017, we rented a London flat via Airbnb. Our host was responsive and the flat was as advertised. However, my teenage son discovered a box under the sink (while looking for a sponge to do the dishes) that had illegal drugs (small amount of marijuana) and numerous smoking paraphernalia. The host had several locked cabinets with personal possessions, so we were distressed and upset at how careless he was to leave illegal drugs (marijuana is illegal in UK) in the flat. We weren’t going to make a big deal about it, but thought it was important that the host know. His response was disappointing: he immediately blamed his cleaning crew and then past guests for the drugs in his property. Our take was that this was too big a box for a traveller – likely international – to be flying around with. It was much less likely that a guest would travel with a big box like this, hide it in the flat, and then “forget” it when he checked out. Rather, it seemed obvious to us that the drugs, smoking papers, and other items belonged to the owner of the flat who forgot or didn’t care that they were there for guests to find. The host refuses to take any responsibility and has yet to respond to our complaint with the results of his “investigation”. We called Airbnb immediately upon our return to the US to file a complaint. It’s been nearly two weeks and there has been no response from Airbnb. I guess they don’t take illegal drugs in a host’s property seriously. We’ve attached a photo of what my son found… what do you think?
My last guest was using a name that was not his real name. How he can use a different name from the verified one? He also didn’t have a picture on his profile, but he had mostly good reviews. He booked for two nights. He arrived late the first night and early the next day I had the police at my door with a big FedEx box. The police were part of the Package Interdiction Team; they showed me the closed package with my address on it and the guest’s first name. They asked my permission to enter my house and locate the guest. They brought the guest downstairs, opened the box in front of him, and it was full of drugs. The guest was arrested. The police said this was happening a lot: drug dealers were using Airbnb to do the trafficking, so they could use temporary addresses. I had to deal with returning the guest’s rental car, which was also a nightmare. I reported this incident to Airbnb and never got a call back from them.
There was dust, dirt, bugs, pet hair, cat poop, and an odor throughout the house. I told the host before I booked that I was allergic to pets and she said it would not be an issue. This was not true as the pet hair, dander, and poop smells had me wishing I had only booked one night and not five. I wanted so badly to be staying back in the two-star hotel from my first night. I did Linsey (the host) the favor of feeding her neglected and emaciated old cat with what little food she had available for him. When there was no cat food remaining, I used cans of fish at my expense to feed the poor creature. I also shoveled the driveway and sidewalk to help out more. The listing stated there was one room available. I was surprised by a strange man she concealed from me who came out of the basement. Apparently, Linsey had been renting the basement out to some random person. She told me she did not tell me because he was supposed to leave on the second day of my five-night stay. This was another lie from Linsey. The man returned on my last night. He is a permanent resident of her basement. Any travelers should be made aware that there will be another man here during there stay.
One of the host’s male friends who was over one night also drank one of my beers, so a guest can expect his or her food and beverages not to be secure as well if staying there. If you are good with pet allergies, uncleanliness, an unfriendly, nitpicking, irresponsible, and demanding host, a surprise strange man in the basement, and the police being called on you, then by all means stay here. Linsey was very quick to answer requests. I thought her quickness would translate into a good stay. This was not the case. I had expected Leslie to be friendly from her posting. She was not friendly nor willing to interact with me. Linsey kept sending me unwanted texts about the lights in the house, and accused me of not “respecting her house energy policy” by leaving a 15-watt fluorescent bulb on in the upper hallway at night. I thought that with the money a guest spends, one would not have to stay in a house of darkness.
I was a little late checking out. Linsey did not bother to contact me by text or phone as she had done so many times before about trifling things that should have been no issue, but she did manage to call the police to assist me in my check out. What I had expected from the posting and her promptness to be a friendly, peaceful, and relaxing stay, turned out to be a truly trying ordeal with an irresponsible and meddling host. I do not recommended anyone stay at her place. The host was dishonest, nitpicking, and unfriendly. She put my personal safety in jeopardy while at the same time I kept her place clean, shoveled her driveway, and fed her neglected cat. The location in Longmont was good, but I would highly recommend against staying here. For some place that was advertised as “420 friendly,” Linsey calling the cops on her guest was very unfriendly and very much not cool. She put me in jeopardy to satisfy her own crazy mental disorder. Based on this experience with Linsey’s house, I will no longer be using Airbnb.
So a few weeks ago I made a reservation in Oistins, Barbados for an employee of mine. I was staying nearby (at a resort). We checked in with the host and even though it was smaller than expected, had no air conditioning, and shared a bathroom between three guests, we decided it could work. Upon unloading the car we realized we had forgotten to ask the host about the wifi password. I stepped out onto the back deck to find the host rolling up a joint in front of the other two female guests. Being that this was a business trip and that I was putting my own employee in this situation made me very uncomfortable. I discussed what I had just seen with my employee, and she assured me that as long as the other guests were civil it wouldn’t be an issue. As long as no males were on the property she felt relatively safe and secure locked in her room. She had a working phone, a way to call me if she felt the need. So the next morning I went to pick up my employee and you could just tell it had been a long night. The other guests stayed up until 5:00 AM partying, yelling at each other, banging on the windows, having guys over, drinking, eventually vomiting, and dry heaving until sunrise. It was not the sort of environment you would want to be in professionally. When you have to be up early and on camera all day, this room obviously wasn’t going to work out.
I called the host, explained the situation, and told him I was going to have to move my employee to ensure she was rested and ready to go to work. He understood but was apparently more concerned with the other guests? If I’m renting out rooms from my house I want to take care of the people that take care of my place. That was not the case here. So we agreed that he would refund half of the reservation and since that moment I haven’t been able to get in touch with the host. I told him if he executed the refund process quickly I wouldn’t make a big deal, wouldn’t contact Airbnb, and wouldn’t leave a nasty review even though he was owed one for sure. A week went by and still nothing, so I escalated the refund to Airbnb management. They said they would be in touch. A few days later (on Christmas morning at 10:00 AM) I finally received an email from Airbnb saying the case was resolved, and my request for a refund had been denied. They couldn’t reach the host to verify my cancellation so they dismissed my claim. Long story short? Airbnb doesn’t care. They only care about making money, so guests should document everything. I told the customer service representative it would have been dangerous and ignorant of me to take a picture of my host smoking a joint on the deck. This was unbelievably bad customer service; to call it so would be a joke. Do yourself a favor: buck up and pay for a hotel to take the stress out of your next stay.