Trying to Get Around Local Airbnb Laws

I just got back from a trip to Barcelona, where I rented an Airbnb apartment. Check-in was a nightmare, but that was the least of it. My first morning there, I was woken by a touristic inspector who wanted to enter the apartment and take a photo of my reservation. Apparently, some hosts in the building (including my own) were breaking Barcelona city law by renting for less than 30 days without a license to do so.

Two days later, my host started pestering me with mysterious WhatsApp messages asking me to meet him. I was like, “What the heck for?”

After much back and forth, he finally admitted that he would like me to do him a “favor” by signing a fake contract extending my lease to 30 days. I several times indicated my discomfort with this situation, but he kept pushing. Eventually I said, “NO! I just don’t feel comfortable being dishonest.”

The host then showed up at my place while I was getting ready to leave and came in without knocking. I said “Please leave!!! I’m packing!”

When I left the apartment, the host was waiting for me outside – supposedly to help me carry my luggage, but it seemed that really he was still hoping to get me to sign a fake contract. I texted him subsequently telling him I had not been pleased with his behavior, and posted a negative review on Airbnb. The host texted me back calling me a “crushed whore.”

I also complained to Airbnb. They nicely refunded my money for the stay, calling and texting me with many consolations for how badly I’d been treated by this guy, and promising they would look into it. However, I just checked this guy’s listing on Airbnb. Not only is Airbnb still allowing him to advertise on their site, despite the fact that he’d tried to pressure me into to criminal fraud, they erased my negative review.

Nightmare Airbnb Host and Even Worse Help from Airbnb

After using Airbnb faithfully for almost a year now, I can tell you that I am never, ever going to be using them again. Airbnb has consistently shown itself to be incapable of not only conflict resolution but protecting its guests from possible threats to their safety. Airbnb claims that they are committed to “creating a safe and trusted community around the world” and yet in this case they have failed on both terms. From the start of my long term rental, I documented and recorded the miscommunication between the host and Airbnb.

When I arrived at the apartment the house was clearly left unclean. I documented the mess and asked for the apartment to be thoroughly cleaned before I moved in. In response, Airbnb refunded me for the one night which affected my stay. They claim that this part of the case has been closed and “resolved”.

However, the problems which affected me at the start of the rental have grown into a much deeper issue. The host began messaging me at all hours of the day and night telling me that she had not been paid and was pregnant and therefore needed the money ASAP. I contacted Airbnb to ask them what needed to be done and they told me that they would prevent the host from contacting me anymore and that they would let the host know that this was neither my fault or my problem.

Clearly, Airbnb did not do what they promised as the host continued to contact me saying things such as she “expected me” to do something about her lack of payment. I decided to not respond to the host anymore as I started to feel unsafe and thought the best way to de-escalate the situation would be to not answer anymore.

The situation culminated in me receiving a message from the host’s boyfriend saying that he was going to come over the following morning to talk to me. He gave me no information as to why he was coming over. Immediately I contacted Airbnb concerned for my safety as a single woman in a foreign country. Airbnb handed me over to a case manager who told me not to worry and that I would be able to rent another apartment for two days (paid for by Airbnb) and then receive a full refund on my previous reservation. The case manager also said to not respond to the host and to avoid future communication with them.

I was on the phone with Airbnb until 1:30 AM clearly scared for my safety. As a woman alone being told that a man you do not know is coming over to your home is frightening but as a young woman in a country where I do not speak the language and am considered a foreigner is even more so. However, Airbnb promised me that I would be safe. By contacting me after business hours is enough to be a harassment case, but with the knowledge that the host is angry that she has not been paid, it makes it even more so.

Following Airbnb instructions, I did not respond to the host. Airbnb has not told the boyfriend to not come over to the apartment because the following day I received two furious phone calls from the host. This not only violates the promise that Airbnb made to me that I would not be contacted by the host but it is also incredibly threatening. The host is angry that no one is at the door and that no one told her that no one would be. I asked her to please speak to Airbnb directly and to not contact me anymore.

A couple hours later the host messaged Airbnb saying that there was a problem with the elevator and that is the reason the boyfriend is coming over. However, as a young woman who is alone in a foreign country, when you are told with no context that a man is coming over to your apartment you begin to panic. I no longer felt safe in the apartment I rented so I made an executive decision to extend the stay of the second reservation until the end of my time in Budapest as I feared for my safety in the other apartment.

Airbnb dared to follow up and tell me that “in context” this is not a harassment case and that had I not extended the second reservation I should have gone back to the first apartment. This is appalling because no one, especially a young woman in a foreign country, should be told that she should go back to stay in a place where she no longer feels safe. Secondly, it does not matter whether or not there is context; in this case, I was being harassed and felt unsafe.

The story should end there. However, I received calls outside of business hours, late at night, was told a strange man was coming to the apartment, was told I was “expected” to fix a problem that was not mine over a form of communication that goes against Airbnb safety policies. This should have been enough for Airbnb to take my case seriously and yet it was not.

I have been thrown around from case manager to case manager, who each promised different things with little to no results. Because the host (obviously) did not agree to give me a refund I had to cancel the reservation on my own volition, meaning I get almost no refund. This is completely unacceptable as I am not choosing to walk out of the apartment because the bed is uncomfortable or the pillows are dirty; I fear for my safety and needed to leave.

Now, I am being told that I have to return to the apartment where I feel unsafe to return the keys further proving that Airbnb does not care about the safety of its clients. Now, two weeks away from this awful experience I wrote the host a bad review sticking with the facts completely; the house was dirty and not as pictured, the AC did not reach the bedroom and that the neighborhood was unsavory.

The host messaged me on Airbnb again saying that I should not be allowed to write a bad review because I am a difficult guest and “falsely accusing them”. To retaliate, the host wrote a review detailing private information on the case which clearly goes against Airbnb’s Content Policy: “Content that provides specific details or outcomes of an Airbnb investigation” is never allowed on Airbnb, and I am starting to be told that I owe the full amount to the host after I was told I only have to pay the first 28 days of my long term rental.

Airbnb claims that they cannot find the case manager who promised me a refund (so I won’t get it) and the review does not go against content policy because the case is closed. Then what does “outcomes of an Airbnb investigation” mean? Help. This situation is a living hell.

Worst Airbnb Host Ever in Chula Vista

I will never use Airbnb again. I rented an RV and then a room from a host in Chula Vista, California. Everything seemed fine at first. The RV had plumbing issues and the shower water was scalding hot for about two minutes and then went ice cold. Needless to say, I took very quick showers and lost many layers of skin. It seemed like a nice place for my dog, so I dealt with it.

I later moved into the house (he rented out rooms as well) and stayed in a sunroom with no privacy; I had to hide behind a crappy old piano to get ready for work in the morning. He did eventually build makeshift walls so it was okay. Emphasis on “okay”.

Fast forward a month later and a border patrol officer moves into one of the other rooms. He was disgusting and lazy; he would ask for rides to work and even had to nerve to ask the host to use his credit card to rent a car.

The bathroom was disgusting. It was like he was a porcupine with his pubic hair and would go in there and just release all of his “quills”. The hosts would get loud and drunk almost every night and leave food, pots and pans with food in them on the stove and all over the counters. For quite a while they wouldn’t even let me do laundry.

The icing on the cake was that they used my birthday as an excuse to throw a party that I neither wanted nor attended. I left so I wouldn’t have to deal with their drunk friends and neighbors. I returned the next evening and the host’s girlfriend (who lived there as well) accused me of having an affair with her fat, nasty boyfriend.

I told them the next day I was moving out and they continued making it more and more uncomfortable. The host used my Postmates account to order alcohol and never paid me back. When I told them I was moving out they increased my “rent”. There was no heat in my room, which is illegal in California.

I contacted Airbnb to complain and all they would do was refund me $150. The host also showed up at my work two weeks after I moved out to harass me. I had to tell him that if he ever showed up again I would contact the police and file charges. He said “it was the only way I knew how to get a hold of you”… he had my phone number. The most horrible experience of my life.

Creeped Out: Bedroom in the Kitchen, Host Makes a Pass

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This host is no longer active. I rented a room in lower Manhattan, which turned out to be a bed in the kitchen. I would soon be met by a giant water bug (2+ inches long) crawling on the white bedspread. I know in NYC bugs are rampant, but those suckers are huge and I was freaked out nonetheless.

The weirdness was the host who was present. After chatting with me, he decided to try and make a pass at me. By this time it was late in the evening, I was tired from my overseas trip, and was not expecting my 27-year-old host, (I’m a good 20 years older mind you) to tell me my legs were sexy and carrying on about what we might do. I was like WTF? Seriously?

I handled things, and he refunded me, knowing Airbnb could get involved. And after the freaky bug that followed, I was creeped out. I ended up sleeping in the host’s bedroom (with the door locked) while he slept in the living room.

Four Things You Can Do if Your Airbnb Host is a CREEP

1. Get the Airbnb hell out of there!
It doesn’t matter if you’re in a foreign country where you can’t speak the language. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a car and the host picked you up. If you feel your well being is in danger, no amount of money you’re saving by using Airbnb is worth it.

2. Use physical force 

In some cases, females Airbnb guests who booked with female hosts are dismayed and often threatened to find this was an outright lie, and their hosts are men with whom they haven’t spoken. Though some of these may seem perfectly innocent from the host’s side (e.g. “He’s my brother! What’s the problem?”), there have been cases in which both female and male hosts have become physically abusive.

When this is the case, it can make someone of either gender panic about the repercussions of pushing someone aside to escape, even when they feel their freedom and safety is in jeopardy. If you’re unfamiliar with local laws and don’t speak the language, it might be best to just disappear rather than reporting what happened to the police – this suggestion isn’t made lightly, but with the knowledge there are corrupt officers in many countries, even developed ones, and Airbnb users’ word may not be accepted if they can’t explain themselves in the local language or understand local laws may favor men over women.

3. Call for backup
If you’re in a position where you can’t easily leave, or feel like leaving would be dangerous because your host is physically intimidating or otherwise, try to stall… even if this means locking yourself in your room or a bathroom to put some distance between yourself and the host. If you have access to the wifi network, or a local cell phone number, call a friend or someone reliable to come over and escort you out; they’ll act as a witness if it comes to that. Call the police if necessary.

This isn’t always an option if you’re truly on your own in a foreign country and can’t speak the language with the police, but if there’s anyone you trust in the area, now is the time to call in a marker.

4. Report everything to Airbnb afterwards
This certainly doesn’t help you in the heat of the moment, but – let’s be honest – neither will Airbnb customer service. Assuming you can actually get through to a live person within minutes, cancel your reservation, and arrange for another, you’re still going to have to deal with a possibly belligerent host who is wondering why you cancelled. As we’ve seen here on Airbnb Hell, sometimes there are no happy endings when it comes to creepy hosts. Because the stay wasn’t completed, reviews may not be allowed. Because
you were rightfully more concerned with getting out of a bad situation, you didn’t record evidence Airbnb could use for a refund or to ban the host. If you decide to just leave and not involve Airbnb, you’ll still be charged for a stay and have to look for a hotel… but it’s better than the alternative.

Avoid this Airbnb Rental like the Plague in Port Coquitlam

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The room was a shoebox with six people in the house who all shared the laundry right outside the door to the room. Three people lived upstairs, which was another separate property, something not mentioned in the posting. The other door in the room was to the shared washroom with the toilet which was inches from the door. I didn’t expect these noise factors. I didn’t complain about these things, but other guests should be aware of the noise.

Expect to be questioned about your whereabouts regularly, whether you’ve eaten, when you’re working, on your days off, if you have health problems, and whether you are at home. I gave this woman my cell number when I arrived and she’s been happy to text me asking these types of questions, or knock on my door and ask me questions as though that’s perfectly acceptable.

The booking was through Airbnb. When I arrived, the host wanted a cash payment for the damage deposit and rent going forward, something she never mentioned when she texted or messaged me on Airbnb or talked with me by phone before I arrived. I wasn’t prepared for this after travelling all day being up at 4:30 AM. I offered a cheque but she didn’t want one, saying she was afraid of it bouncing. That’s essentially saying: sorry, I don’t trust you. What a warm welcome that was.

Not having cash on me, I gave her a cheque for the damage deposit, which she didn’t seem thrilled about. This was my first mistake as a first time renter through Airbnb: to capitulate, listen to anything she said, and not follow Airbnb’s policy about payment through the platform after the first month. I was tired after traveling all day so just handed over the cheque, but thereafter she demanded cash for rent. If I offered a cheque, she refused and simply demanded cash only, like she thought she was perfectly entitled to demand that.

She was in her own world and didn’t communicate well. She’s Iranian and likes to talk about her country and herself generally. She has a lot of political opinions and comes off as if her point of view is right and she’s going to educate you. I have to take full responsibility for this rental going off the tracks because I wasn’t prepared to deal with someone who right off the bat wasn’t going to follow Airbnb’s policy, who was demanding and thinking just about what suited her. Right at the start she complained about Airbnb delaying paying her the rent I paid them for the booking, texting me complaining why her rent wasn’t paid through Airbnb. I told her to contact Airbnb. She first thing she complained about payment issues, whether it was through Airbnb or trying to accommodate her by offering a cheque.

After arriving we discussed the rental and I agreed to stay two more months. I wouldn’t have anticipated a problem but she consistently violated my privacy. I walked into the kitchen and she would ask me if I’ve eaten, if it’s my day off, or if I’m working. There’s a note on the fridge telling people to keep the toilet seat down. Essentially, you can be prepared to be treated like a child. This was not a rental situation appropriate for adults in any way. She didn’t follow basic BC Tenancy Laws and no written agreement was made to dissolve the Airbnb policy guidelines for renting. She assumes that policy is dissolved when I set foot in her house and it’s now her way or the highway, although nothing was discussed about different terms of rental.

On Canada Day I worked all day. It’s about a three-hour trip to and back from work. I was sick and texted the host to say I would leave a cheque for the rent on the dining room table later that day. She texted me back demanding cash, instead of saying thank you and wishing me a happy Canada Day. She also said I could pay her by Interac, which I wound up doing. I texted her and told her the payment was made and after 25 minutes she texted back that she hadn’t received the payment and that she hoped I had sent it: no thank you for sending the payment, or well wishes on the holiday.

Expect complete rudeness, suspicion, and zero appreciation for any effort you make to communicate respectfully. Implying that I hadn’t sent the payment was the last straw, because she was basically implying I was dishonest and hadn’t sent it. Keep in mind I’d worked all day. It was Canada Day and I was recovering from a nasty cold. I confronted her about her dishonesty and rudeness in implying that I was essentially lying about paying her through Interac. She didn’t apologise, nor apologised on any occasion. She was generally argumentative, and didn’t seem to even understand why I would be upset at this point. No consideration – just demands.

On July 5th, she left me a note on my door, which I have attached here. I hadn’t seen her since July 1st. She felt confronting her about her dishonesty was harassment. Expect pretty extreme craziness and no understanding on her part as to why I would be upset. I frankly think she just doesn’t give a hoot, so be prepared for full harassment.

If the issues continue this month I will have no choice but to take her to arbitration through the BC Tenancy Board and ask for the full three months’ rent back. I may consider doing that anyway, based on this letter she left.

This is my last month renting here and I’m working full time while trying to find a place to rent. The situation is just completely bonkers. She’ll just harass you no matter what. No peace, no privacy, and expecting cash payment instead of paying through Airbnb. Like I said, it’s my own fault for not paying for the damage deposit and other months’ rent through Airbnb, but I capitulated to her demands because I’m a considerate person and she was complaining. I thought it might be difficult for her to wait for the rent payment delay through Airbnb. Apparently sometimes the delay can be over a week. At least that’s what she told me; she could be lying. That’s really the only reason I decided to pay her directly because she was complaining about Airbnb’s payment system and I’m a softy. Big mistake.

Renting here has been very stressful, so avoid this nightmare of a rental. Check out the harassing letter she posted on my door which I found this morning. I guess she’s translates being confronted about her dishonesty and rudeness to me and complete lack of consideration as harassment. I’ve taken pictures of everything in the house as evidence that I’ve kept everything clean and no damage was done to her property. At least the note is evidence in my favor if I have to decide to go to arbitration.

The one other woman renter on the property with whom I share a bathroom had no issues with with me; she’s actually very nice. We hugged before she went on holidays and I wished her well. Yet somehow I’m a harassing, abusive threat. The host just makes things up and comes off as really paranoid and erratic. She won’t admit any wrongdoing and generally doesn’t communicate when it matters the most. Avoid it like the plague.

In the letter, she felt I was abusive and aggressive for confronting her even though she felt it was okay to imply I’m dishonest, that my cheques will bounce, and that I was lying about paying her through Interac. She felt it was okay to completely blindside me and not follow Airbnb policy. I was upset when I confronted her, but never used profanity or otherwise. I have the right to be upset. She never tried to work it out with me or apologize. She just left this note. She thinks I’m endangering someone or some imaginary property, but I’m not sure who that is or what property she’s talking about. She’s really, really paranoid. She can’t handle it if someone has the courage to tell her the truth or if someone is direct, or if you get upset for being treated so terribly. In response to the letter I have communicated only through the Airbnb platform. If I was angry for no reason that would be different but she’s pushed me too far.

After showing consideration about paying rent through Interac, she implied I was dishonest and hadn’t actually paid. That’s enough. Yes, I’m angry but I expressed that to her on July 1st in the span of about one minute and haven’t seen her since. I also messaged her through the Airbnb platform afterward to be clearer about why I was so upset. I wouldn’t be around for most of July except to sleep and I was putting it behind me because I have more positive things to focus on. Yet I’m a threat somehow.

I also asked her via the Airbnb message platform to stop texting me but she kept texting anyway. The Airbnb platform is a secure platform to communicate but she can’t even follow a simple request so that communication is recorded on the Airbnb platform. I’ve also blocked her number so she doesn’t harrass me by texting anymore. She’s classic passive aggressive to the extreme.

Onwards and upwards. I’m going to look for a place to rent today and actually after writing this post, have decided to file a dispute with the BC Residential Tenancy Board. Her disrespect and the lack of privacy and implying that I’m dishonest, and then leaving this letter is all too much, it all constitutes harassment. Thanks for providing this website to share my story.

Horrible Host in Dallas Doesn’t Even Know his Place is Clean

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Stay away from this host and his place. I wrote a review after leaving an Airbnb that said that the place was not clean. There were bugs in the bathroom, the towels weren’t clean, and the silverware and sink were also not clean. However, I also added that everything else was accurate. That was all that was said in the review I wrote. Days after I wrote the review the host decided to contact me at night saying that my review was crap and I was not welcome in his place anymore. I was shocked that this person even reached out to me since I hadn’t even stayed at his place for almost a week. Of course I replied to defend myself and make him understand why I wrote the review the way I did which was I had the intention of being honest. After I replied he went on to say that I was too high maintenance and fancy for his place and that’s why I wrote what I wrote; I just needed to go to a hotel.

I was so offended. I replied and told him not to contact me again going forward. Nevertheless, he decided to tell me in a calmer tone that he would give me a refund for my troubles. I went on to be calm since he decided to be more respectful towards me and replied to him. However, when he said that he wanted me to edit the review to make it not be seen I was like… why?

Of course I wanted to test to see if he was trying to give me a refund because it was the right thing to do since I had to deal with the whole experience. When I told him that I couldn’t change the review he said that he couldn’t give me the refund. The funny thing is he tried to twist things on me, saying that I was trying to make him pay me to get the review changed. When it was obvious that he wouldn’t give me the refund unless I went to call Airbnb to go get the review changed, who is really trying to get the review taken off for money? After he said he couldn’t refund 50% of the money at least twice in the conversation prior to me telling him I couldn’t edit it. Airbnb has a 48-hour timeframe to edit a review, so then he said he wouldn’t give me a refund.

After that I told him that I will be publicly letting everyone know the type of host he is and I would reach out to Airbnb. He then wanted to use what I had said before and say: “You are unwelcome to contact me. Do not contact me.”

I didn’t reply after I sent my last message. This dude was so rude and so immature to be reaching out to over a freaking honest review about his place. Let me tell you: he made me take pictures of his place when I got there so that he could see if it was clean from the prior guest… what kind of host does that? He doesn’t even clean his own place and doesn’t even make sure it looks good for the next guest? He makes people do the work in making sure everything is clean… which is fine since he did state it in his handbook, but taking pictures of the place to make sure everything looks good? It should already look good when guest arrive if you’re a good host.

This was such a horrible experience for me and it made me so upset and annoyed to be dealing with something so unnecessary. For future reference, avoid places that make you clean everything for them. It probably means that they don’t care about the quality of your stay. Lesson learned.