Identification Trouble from Airbnb Hell

I’m not a frequent Airbnb user, but it has always been a good experience for some years now. Recently, Airbnb requested some real identification and asked for a copy of my passport. No problem, I can understand about that kind of request. It may even be some improvement to avoid scams or other abuse.

However, Airbnb then asked for verification with a live image of mine. I tried. I tried ten times with the app. I could take a selfie with the app, but then I just dropped back to the home page of the app. There was no kind of confirmation whether this image was received, and obviously it never was.

In parallel I tried to contact Airbnb support. They always wanted to walk me through the confirmation process. I did three times and it never worked. I asked to escalate this problem to someone who could find another solution. They walked me through the process again.

They asked me to install Airbnb on another phone. I did. Now the app asked for a confirmation code, which I received on my own phone. Again, that’s a reasonable request, but the second app did not give me any option where to enter this four-digit code which I had received.

I’m still in identification hell. I tried to book two different accommodations several times. After 12 hours this reservation will be deleted automatically since I still lack proper identification. You might guess that there should be any kind of bypass for the support team to accept any other kind of identification, but there is nothing else they claim they can do.

Broken app which has never been properly tested? Broken support, who can not help you at all? Unfortunately, there’s not much alternative to Airbnb nowadays (in Germany), other than ordinary hotels and

Airbnb a Totally Unreliable Service for Long-Term Stays

I booked my accommodation for a long-term stay of four months via Airbnb because I am a working professional in Berlin and my permanent flat was not yet ready. I was very clear about my plans and respected German policy (meaning the need to register at a flat if you stay for more than two months).

The host initially agreed to everything but then all of a sudden had a dispute with his landlord about my stay (my guess: he was dishonest to him about it) and decided to abruptly cancel my reservation three weeks before the end of the agreed period.

Airbnb literally did nothing about it except refunding the nights not spent in the apartment. No compensation about the mess or the double moving costs. I am never going to use Airbnb in the future and I advice you to be very careful when booking with them.

Mistranslation Concerning a Shared Room

I offered a so-called “shared room” on the English Airbnb homepage and specified there that it was a “common area”. On the German homepage this was translated by Airbnb to a zimmer, which is actually a “room” in English. A customer misunderstood this; she thought that it was a room. This is understandable because the English homepage and the German homepage differ a lot.

The whole offer is differently (and wrongly) presented on the German homepage than it was originally written. On the English homepage it is possible to specify where the bed is located: in a bedroom or in a common area. This is in actual fact very important information and because it is not possible on the German homepage, Airbnb just changed my offer on the German homepage to a bed in a bedroom.

This was an indication for the customer that she would get a bedroom, which was not intended by me when I wrote my offer (only) on the English homepage, where it could be specified precisely. When the customer complained later, the German staff member of Airbnb decided that I had made a mistake. Airbnb cancelled the reservation early and charged me for the difference, which is against German Law.

Obviously the German staff member was also only looking at the German homepage with the translation error though I pointed out several times that Airbnb made the mistranslation. I am shocked that a company with such extensive experience should make such a fundamental error and blame me (and probably other hosts as well) for it.

Undisclosed Noise, Refused to Adjust Cancellation Policy

I rented an apartment in Dusseldorf, Germany for ten days to visit my seven-year-old daughter. The place seemed to be as advertised. Then it got dark and the thumping bass started. It turns out the apartment is directly across the street from a nightclub. The nightclub played thumping bass that emanated through the entire apartment until 3:30 AM. This was unexpected because it was not disclosed in the listing and in the US you usually don’t see nightclubs in residential areas (zoning).

The next day I canceled the rest of my stay and booked a hotel. I had to pay a premium for the hotel because I was booking last minute. The landlord sent me a message asking me why I canceled. I explained the thumping bass until 3:30 AM situation and suggested they modify the listing to clearly state there is a nightclub across the street and it can be quite loud.

I asked for a refund, agreeing to pay for the night I stayed in the apartment plus cleaning fees. The landlord refused to give any refund. He did, however, modify the listing to note it can get loud due to the “pulsating life in the old town.”

When Airbnb looked into the issue they said the listing states that it can get loud. I explained this was not noted in the original listing and that I had communicated to the landlord that I would be staying there with my seven-year-old daughter. I sent Airbnb the email correspondence with the landlord where I specifically mentioned he should disclose the loud noise in the listing. He thanked me for the feedback. I explained to Airbnb that the listing was modified after I booked my trip.

Airbnb replied they acted fairly and are not going to refund any money. This is outright fraud. Airbnb’s business model is flawed and it is time for congress to setup up and defend consumer rights. If this were a hotel I would have been treated completely differently, but because of the decentralized nature of Airbnb they seem to be able to get away with acting unethically and stealing people’s money.

The Mystery of the Host’s Black Curtain…

It was a basic schoolboy/girl error. I have watched enough TV crime detective series so why on earth didn’t alarm bells ring when I saw mention of personal belongings behind a black curtain on the Airbnb listing for what appears to be a charming and well-located ‘apartment’ at the heart of an historic German city?

All seemed fine on making the two-night reservation. The host accepted my solo female traveller booking and a few days before check-in I messaged him, helpfully I thought, with my arrival time in the city. To my surprise I received a very abrupt response, telling me he wouldn’t be providing any details until 24 hours before check-in, not ideal as I was already travelling with limited wifi access but oh well.

Instructions arrived promptly, and I collected keys from a gruff local shopkeeper. On arrival at the property, I dropped a line to my host to let him know I was safely inside. He immediately replied – like in two seconds – insisting that I gave him a five-star review before I’d even put my bags down. He added ominously “do not touch any of the belongings behind the black curtain.”

I glanced across at the curtain in question. It was a very flimsy piece of sheer fabric hung over a kitchen alcove stacked with plastic boxes. I thought no more of it until the following day. I received umpteen abrupt, accusatory texts from the host (which I have saved as screenshots) that put me on edge to say the least. In the first two, he said I had made his front window ‘messy’ but gave no indication as to how that could possibly be.

My heart started beating a little faster when, a few minutes later, I got the next one. He claimed his neighbour had told him that I ‘love’ his black curtain and that I had been going through his belongings… what? I glanced at the windows front and back and realised the lack of blinds or much in the way of curtains would make it possible for someone to see right inside with a strong pair of binoculars. That said, I had not gone near his alcove of mysteries, nor would I. So what was he on about?

Feeling unnerved and by this point seriously considering paying to stay the second night in a hotel, I glanced again at the listing and his reviews. I was struck by how many negative reviews he’d given his guests despite their seemingly positive public reviews. He’d accused several of going through his stuff. I calmed myself down – perhaps he had experienced some very bad tenants that had left him feeling anxious and hyper-vigilant? Still, my mind boggled. Why did he keep his precious things in such a vulnerable place instead of in storage?

I settled myself down on the balcony with my book and salad to distract myself from all negative thoughts – this was meant to be a relaxing mini break from work after all. I’d be gone early the next day. Then I caught movement through the corner of my eye. There was a man standing in the centre of the open plan studio holding a key to the door. I leapt up in shock and fear and, seeing my surprise, he muttered that he lived downstairs and had permission to access the wifi hub in the studio, which apparently served the entire building.

I ushered him out of the door politely in case things turned nasty, and contacted the host. Instead of apologising, the host replied defensively that it was my fault for not answering when he knocked and range the bell. Again… what knock, what bell? How would he even know so soon after the incident? Needless to say I left and I never did find out what was behind the black curtain…

Fake Host Tries to Use Airbnb for Rental Scam

I posted an ad on Gumtree that me and my partner were looking for somewhere to rent privately. I was a little confused when I received an email from a guy in Germany. He thanked me for my interest in his property (I’d never seen it) and sent me some photos to review. He said he was a live-out landlord from Germany and wanted someone to take over his property and make it his own.

I should have questioned where he got my work email from (the ad I had posted on Gumtree was via my personal account). He asked for some personal details about myself. I replied with a fairly lengthy message stating I like to knit, don’t really party, and am a clean, reliable person, etc. He told me the all in rent PCM (per calendar month) was £600. I was already thinking this was too good to be true: a place in the centre of town, less than I currently pay for my room in shared accommodation, all bills included, a parking space included, etc. All the other places like this I had been viewing were double the price.

He told me that as he is in Germany he cannot show me the apartment beforehand. He said I must pay one month’s rent plus a two-month security deposit, and to do it through Airbnb as they allow me to cancel my booking up until the day I check in/move in. I asked him for details on the tenancy agreement, and apparently he could not send me anything without my ID, full address, etc. He said after I moved into the apartment he would send a signed contract and a spare key.

I kind of kept this going to see how far this person would go. I had no intention of renting this property and sending a stranger £1800 without first viewing an apartment. I have forwarded this to a number of scamming sites and reported it to Gumtree but the ad is still left up as live. I’m not sure what else to do. Maybe posting on here will help. Email thread below.

[Editor’s Note: grammatical errors left intentionally so you can have a better idea of the writing style of scammers]

“Host”: Thank you for taking the time to look at my property. I am a civil engineer, originally from Germany. I bought the apartment with bank credit 5 years ago for our child who went at college there, but this year he finish the college and moved back to Germany because he has found a better job here in Germany and now we have to rent it to pay the remaining credit to the bank. I am looking for a responsible person that can take a very good care of my apartment. I am not after the money for the rent but want it to be clean all the time and the possible tenant will see the apartment as his or her own and I hope that you can send me some personal information about yourself.

Me: Many thanks for getting in touch, glad to hear from you. Your apartment looks lovely – thanks for sending over some photos. I see we both work in the electronics field. To tell you a little about myself; I moved to Brighton just over three years ago for my current job as a Recruitment Consultant based in Central Brighton. For the past three years I have lived in rented shared accommodation (always through private landlords as I prefer to have direct contact) and am now looking for a flat with my partner to move in together. I have been working in recruitment for around seven years now, hold a senior position within my company, and can provide proof of earnings if needed.

In my current flat, my roommates and I have total management of the property – our landlord lives abroad in France so we are in charge if anything needs fixing, etc. My partner and I are extremely clean people and have never once had a complaint from living in shared housing for the past three years. I have only lived at my current flat for just over a year and have already paid to have a professional cleaner and carpet cleaners come in during my time there at my own cost, just to freshen the place up.

As a person, I enjoy doing crafts (knitting, painting, sewing) and my partner is a musician and plays in a local Brighton band. I am a working professional so we don’t “party” during the week or anything like that. One of the reasons we are looking to move out of shared accommodation is because we would prefer a quieter space for ourselves. I am able to provide references from previous and current landlords if required, or feel free to let me know if you have any other questions. I have a few questions:

• Where exactly is the flat located?
• How much is rent/bills per month?
• What is the minimum/maximum tenancy you are looking for?
• When are you looking for someone to move in?

“Host”: The apartment (1 living room / 1 kitchen / 1 Baths / 1 bedroom with king bed, 1 parking spot) is located on ______, Brighton. The apartment is fully furnished with all necessary amenities (it’s exactly like in the pics). I’m sure that you will love it. It has dishwasher, washing machine, air conditioning and clothes dryer. The rent of the flat for 1 month is £600 including all utilities (water, electricity, Internet, cable, parking, garbage, tv) and two months security deposit £1,200. I am looking for someone to rent anywhere from three months to three years or more.

Obviously we need a way to complete this deal in a safe and fast way for both since I am in Germany and i can’t show you the apartment. The solution is provided by a company called “Airbnb” ( which will handle the payment of the first month and the security deposit. I guess you heard about Airbnb. They are the largest and most secure site for rents. I chose Airbnb because you send the money to them and you can cancel your booking any time until check in date ( and Airbnb will send your money back. Let me know if you are interested because I really need to take care of this matter as soon as possible.

Me: Thank you for getting back to me, the place really does look ideal. I have searched for the address on Google Maps but it brings me to Lloyd’s Bank on North Street. Do you have any outside photos of the property or a link to an online advertisement? When are you looking for someone to move in by? I will need to give notice on my current apartment. I am familiar with Airbnb but only for making short term/holiday bookings. Will there be a chance to view the apartment beforehand?

“Host”: If you are ready to proceed with this transaction I must tell you how this service works and what we need to do. You have to pay the first month of rent £600 and 2 months security deposit of £1.200 (total £ 1,800) to Airbnb (after first month you will pay directly to me in my bank account), after you book the apartment from Airbnb I will send you the keys via UPS (2 days urgent delivery) and then you can go to see the apartment. If you decide not to rent the apartment, Airbnb will refund your money back in the same day but I’m sure that you will love it because it is like in the photos. If you like the apartment Airbnb will send me the money only after you check in (move), in the apartment. So you can put the checkin date the end of this month so you have time to decide if you keep the apartment or not. After you move in the apartment I will send to you the contract signed by me and a backup key. Let me know if you are interested because I really need to take care of this matter by the end of this week.

Me: Thank you for getting back to me. Everything really does sound lovely but unfortunately I am too wary to send over that amount of money without first being able to view the apartment / without anything tangible to show that this apartment is for rent. Do you have a copy of your tenancy agreement? I also still need to give notice on my current flat, so wont be in a position to move immediately.

“Host”: In order to make the contract I will need a copy of your id and your full address. You don’t have any reason to worry because you can cancel your booking any time until the check in date and Airbnb will refund your money back. You will send the money to Airbnb, not to me and I will receive the money from them after the check in date.

Nazis Kicked us out of Airbnb and onto the Street

I want to tell you a humiliating story about me and my six friends. From June 7-11 we went to celebrate a bachelor party in Berlin. We are seven men from Israel, so we wanted privacy. We decided to take an apartment through Airbnb, sadly only after we discovered that it was illegal in Germany. Anyway, we decided to go for an apartment because we wanted privacy and to celebrate a little. In the photos we saw a two-story villa; in retrospect, it was only the upstairs area. In addition, the owner insisted that some of the payment be made in cash. I assume that because of tax matters, she prefers black money.

When we arrived we saw that the neighborhood was very exclusive. Then we discovered from the cab driver that the neighborhood was not sympathetic to strangers; he was surprised that we were staying there because it is on the east side. Anyway, we got there and the host’s daughter welcomed us. She was nice, told us we could have our party; to repeat, she told us we could celebrate. I asked her – because the Middle Eastern mentality is different – if it was okay to make some noise. She was all smiles and explained that her parents were away for two weeks. Then she walked away.

The day the nightmare began, the host’s son came into the picture and decided to be our surprise visitor. He arrived at 7:00 AM when everyone was asleep. When I woke up, I saw messages saying that he wanted to kick us out because we drank a little that evening and celebrated, as the host told us we could. I told the host that from now on, I would make sure everything was to her satisfaction… and indeed it was.

On the third day we went for a walk. Since it was a very hot morning and there was no air conditioner in the apartment, I opened the windows in the rooms to get some air. Because of an open window, they tried to kick us out. What kind of a joke is it to kick seven guys out on the street in a foreign country?

When we got to the apartment, we tried to talk to him but after half an hour of persuasion I saw that he really enjoyed lording his authority over us. He stood with a smile on his face. I decided to tell him that I think that if we were from Sweden or Denmark, this situation wouldn’t have happened. At the height of his stupidity, he agreed and told us he was a Nazi and did not care about us at all.

We asked him to call the police. Instead he called his criminal friends to come and threaten us. One of them even wanted to escort us to our car. When we did, the entire neighborhood came to see us humiliated and even enjoyed it. We asked him why he was doing this, and he said because men like us cannot be in such an area. I filmed the host’s son and my friends and decided that we would not be silent about this humiliation.

Video file of the incident

Airbnb Host Slammed Door in my Face, No Help Offered

My host “cancelled” by saying something about not speaking English in German and then slamming the door in my face. When I arrived late after walking for over an hour, I could see the lit-up house. I knocked and shouted hello, but the host refused to open the door. I set up my tent in their front yard in subzero temperatures. In the morning they came out to tell me I couldn’t camp on their yard. I tried to say that I paid for the entire house already, but they basically said something in German about not speaking English, then they just slammed the door in my face. For hours upon hours I tried to reach Airbnb to get my service fee refunded. I am also completely screwed by having my vacation ruined since the dates and locations were planned according to my reservation. I still had to attend a conference in the area, but with no place to stay.

Now I am homeless, in a half-broken tent in sub-zero temperatures because Airbnb took five days to refund my money. The service fee and currency conversion fee will probably never be paid back and I have tried many many times to file claims with all kinds of subjects in the header, including “EMERGENCY”. Five days after filing a claim (which took hours – it is close to impossible to email, chat or get in contact with a human being) I was contacted by an agent. He offered no help at all, apart from booking a new place for my two remaining days (unclear if this would be free of charge). However, I had already made arrangements at that point, and couldn’t risk having to pay for those two days either way. All in all, there was no help, no compensation offered, and the host is still up for business. Airbnb cares more about making cents on the dollar than people running the risk of losing fingers in the cold. Airbnb may be cheap and lucrative, but do you want to risk freezing to death? If there is any problem, what will you do? It is impossible to get in contact with a human being. The only support available (as far as I could tell) is totally worthless enough it makes me wonder if people created it as a bad joke to those stranded.

Left Wandering the Berlin Streets at Night

Our host was very friendly before our arrival. But when we (my girlfriend and I) arrived at the apartment, we didn’t find the key where he told us it would be. I told him our arrival time two times: it would be in the middle of the night, around 11:30 PM. We were lucky to find a pub, because it was so late. The guy from that pub opened for us, even though he was closing, and helped us. We called the host and told him that the key was not there. He told us that the cleaning service forgot to put the key there and told us to find a cheap hotel and that he would pay for our room. I agreed and the guy from the pub found us a hotel in the area. Around midnight we left the pub and reached the hotel, but it was fully booked. We went to a second one, and so on. We checked five hotels and every hotel was fully booked. Around 1:00 AM I called once again and told him that, but he told us that the only solution is to keep looking for a hotel room. Around 2:00 AM, after visiting another three hotels, I got really angry. We were walking around in the middle of the night, it was raining, and we were in a city where we don’t know anyone. We were literally  out on the streets. I called him again and told him that if he did not bring the key, I would go to the police. After ten minutes, he told that he found the key and asked us to take a taxi and return to his apartment. We were very exhausted and disappointed in this situation and of course it had an influence on our staying in Berlin. It was a very “nice welcome” to Berlin from our host. I paid for three days: Friday, Saturday and Sunday. In the end, after that situation, we checked in Saturday morning (around 3:00 AM) and the host refunded me $51 for Friday night. He also told me that he would refund the money for the taxi, but five days have already passed and nothing has happened. I think I will file a claim with Airbnb. I think in this situation, we should receive a refund on moral grounds.

Want to Illegally Occupy an Apartment? Look no Further!

I was full of joy and hopes for the future when I booked Nadia’s apartment that she offers as “Schöne und helle Wohnung – Ideal gelegen“. I was moving to Germany for a new amazing job and made a one-month booking to have a place at the start of my contract. We had chats over the telephone and WhatsApp weeks before my trip. We talked about my new job, about holidays destinations, and about the carnivals. I was even thinking I might have found my first friend in town. How lucky!

On the first night at her place she told me I had to keep secret that I came using Airbnb. I found it fishy. During the following ten days I realised, and Nadia confirmed, that she doesn’t own the apartment and that she isn’t allowed to list it on Airbnb. Subletting and having hosts is forbidden in her tenancy agreement with the landlord. I guess Nadia loves risk, and also loves to put others at risk. To make things even more exciting, her landlord is a real estate agency that owns the whole block and whose office is in the same building. Their front door, a full see-through glass door, is located at the ground level and you have to literally walk just centimeters away from it when you go to take out the trash.

I wonder if Nadia really thinks there is a chance they won’t discover there is someone unknown living for a month there. Even though it was inevitable that I be caught by the landlord, the need to make my situation legal in Germany speeded up that process. The lovely German bureaucracy requires paperwork from hosts that have guests. Failure to complete the registration costs up to 1000€ for the party that doesn’t cooperate with the administration, whether you’re a host or guest. The landlord finally discovered the truth.

I contacted Airbnb multiple times during my registration nightmare, which lasted for twelve long days. I got answers ranging from “we only put hosts and guests in touch, and that’s it” to “here is the invoice, try to register with it.” I asked to be relocated to another place where it was legal. They said if Nadia wanted to cancel, then I could take the money and get something else. But it didn’t seem to be a problem for them that she had a listing she wasn’t allowed to have. And of course Nadia didn’t want to cancel just like that! The only moment when she wanted to cancel it and refund me, was the morning when she realised I could register providing the invoice.

The chance of a confrontation with Nadia increased exponentially. By contrast, the relationship with her landlord and neighbor was smooth and cordial. She accused me of not following the rules of the house because she says I told her landlord. In fact, it was the German bureaucracy who did, but I am happy I could have the chance to meet the real estate employee, a really nice woman. The landlord didn’t ask me to leave the apartment, but the trust had been broken with Nadia.

The impossibility to get my correspondence and the discovery that multiple keys were spread among her friends was the last thing I needed to realise Airbnb should have done something about it. A case was open and I requested to be relocated once more. All that Airbnb offered was to refund half the cost of the rest of the days not consumed. I actually only needed relocation for six nights. I had already figured a solution for later. They said with that money I could get something in Airbnb for six nights for sure. Well, this wasn’t true. The cheapest price for a night was 50% higher than my booking price. With my booking cancelled at 8:00 PM, just a morning to pack and go, and no reasonable price options at Airbnb I ended up in a hotel. It was cheaper, easier and provided warranty.