Sudden Construction at Airbnb House in Miami

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This report is about a host who spontaneously thought he could cancel our reservation four days before our arrival because there were (suddenly) renovations that were not “foreseeable”. My husband and I wanted to rent a condo from this host for about one month (mid-December 2019 until mid-January 2020). The pictures were breathtaking and promising. Also the testimonials of other guests had convinced us to spend a little bit more money than usual and to get in exchange an accommodation where we could live well for about one month.

We paid about 1950 Euro for the accommodation and quickly got the confirmation with the instructions. On November 27, 2019 I received a message via Airbnb from the host that he still needed copies of our passports, as he wanted to send them to the administration so that we could check in without any problems. November 27th was a good two weeks before the arrival date – that’s going to play an important role in a moment.

I sent the host copies of our passports via email the same day. After that, there was no further communication. On December 7th, I received a message via Airbnb from the host. He wrote that there was a problem with the apartment and that we could not stay. However, he would cancel the reservation and he was sorry. I answered him promptly that this was very unpleasant and if he cancelled, we would charge him the difference to the new accommodation.

His answer was that this was not what Airbnb policy says and that he can only refund me the apartment fees. He further explained that there was supposedly a large construction site or extensive construction work going on in the building, but it will not be finished in time – at least not at the time of our stay.

With effort and distress and under great temporal stress we were able to cancel the reservation (on the part of Airbnb) and found a new accommodation, which nevertheless gave us a nice holiday experience. The new accommodation was about fifteen minutes away from the original one (North Bay Village) and so we decided to drive past the building complex in question and see what the status of the construction work might be.

Well, who did not suspect it yet: There was no construction site, no construction noise, no construction vehicles, nothing. We drove past several times on several dates to rule out that it might have been due to the holidays, but even after several visits there was nothing to see of a construction site. Well I ask myself, if there really was a construction site or work, it should have been known at least on November 27th.

For me (and not only for me) this means that our host either didn’t have an apartment there anymore, it was rented twice or maybe he was warned by the administration. Whoever finds an offer from a host in North Bay Village anywhere should be careful. By the way, all communication between him and me was very slow.

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No Truth in Advertising: Beachfront vs. Waterfront

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We planned a special family vacation to Turks and Caicos. Turks and Caicos is all about the water – being on or beside it. So, at a huge premium, we booked a rental. Under amenities, the owner selected waterfront (not beachfront). Clearly, the owner knows that the premium for properties on Providenciales is for direct water access.

We never questioned the term “waterfront”. Why would we? It was the headline and was chosen as an amenity.

The property was not waterfront. Yes, you can see the water but the property does not offer direct water access. It does not abut the water. You can get to the water either by walking down a hill covered in low brush (with no path) and crossing a two-lane road or by walking down the driveway, along two roads and across the two-lane road but not without leaving the property.

We contacted Airbnb customer service after reaching out to the owner and receiving no reply. We felt asking for a return of the premium we paid was fair.

Airbnb Customer Service denied our claim. They wrote: “Having reviewed the documentation and the information provided by all parties involved, we are not able to determine a valid claim because they do consider their property waterfront but it’s not right on the water which is why they didn’t select beachfront as an amenity.”

According to the Merrimack-Webster Dictionary, the definition of waterfront is: “land, land with buildings, or a section of a town fronting or abutting on a body of water.” Please note that nowhere in this definition is there any mention of waterfront being beachfront. Clearly, whoever created the amenities for Airbnb knows this definition.

Airbnb offers waterfront and beachfront as separate amenity choices. Unfortunately, they did not share this understanding with their customer service resolution team. I will add that while the Superhost claims that truth in their listing is one of their values, there are other “errors”. For example, the property is not in a gated community.

As a guest who has used Airbnb properties since 2012, I will never book with them again and I will tell as many people as I can about my experience. Airbnb asks hosts to sign documents certifying that their listing is true yet, they do not enforce the agreement. In addition, while they provide long lists of amenities to allow guests to tailor their choices, they do not train their customer service resolution agents in the meanings of the terms. To make it even more enraging, the host is still a Superhost and has perpetrated this “beachfront” versus “waterfront” scam in their response to reviews of the property.

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Airbnb Host has not been Responsive and Lied in Reviews

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I usually have pretty decent luck with Airbnb but not this time. As guests, we understand that things and issues can happen all the time. When things happen, hosts should respond promptly and try to resolve the issue as best they can. However, this is not what we’ve experienced; our host is not helpful and ignoring us when we seek solutions, even if the damaged amenity is the bedding.

In short, this is what happened. We found the air mattress at our Airbnb damaged so we notified the host immediately for a solution because we wanted to sleep comfortably on something, not on the hard floor during winter.  The host acknowledged the issue, then ignored us.

We contacted Airbnb customer service regarding this issue, the host being very unresponsive when we, the guests, were trying to communicate. The issue turned into a claim and guests are eligible to request a refund from the host. Our host was not happy about the settlement of the claim and wrote a crazy review accusing us.

In a more detailed fashion, this is what happened. We booked this Airbnb for our ski trip. Although it is a studio, the listing said it can fit six people. We were a group of five so we thought it would be fine. Users on Airbnb might notice that the housing price varies by the dateby a lot; the place usually is around $170ish per night and due to the holiday season, we paid almost $500/night.

The night when we arrived at the studio, we found out there was a hole in the air mattress and immediately notified the host to see if there was any way she could fix it. The host replied: “Oh no! There’s a leak in the air mattress? I’m so sorry I don’t have another. How else can I fix this?” We were very surprised that the host was not aware of the damage to the air mattress.

Most hosts check the key amenities after the previous guests check out and before new guests check in. There are also dishes in the dishwasher that we were not sure were clean or dirty from the previous guests. I guess she didn’t check carefully before we arrived. We were also surprised that she didn’t have a spare air mattress and was asking the guests for a solution. We were already pretty tired from skiing all day and really needed comfortable sleep to recover.

We then messaged her: “I guess we need to figure out ourselves how to squeeze five people in one bed and sofa? We are also going to stay tomorrow night. Anyway, can you fix it tomorrow so everyone can have a comfortable sleep?” The host didn’t reply to us the entire night, and the last message we sent her was only around 9:00 PM.

This is the first time we experienced this. Our past Airbnb hosts have all been very responsive and able to fix issues very quickly. We weren’t sure if she was going to help us to resolve the issue so we reached out to Airbnb customer service about the situation with a picture of the hole in the mattress. They provided us with a couple options but none that could help us the first night. We squeezed three people in one bed and two people on the sofa. It was really really uncomfortable. Customer service also mentioned they were going to reach out to the host regarding this matter.

Finally, the host replied to us the second morning saying she was really sorry about the air mattress and she had another mattress at another rental she could bring over around noon - 1:00 PM. I then gave my friend’s contact information to her since she would be staying at the Airbnb the entire day and the rest of us would be out.

Around 5:00 PM we went back to Airbnb and my friend told me the host hadn’t showed up yet. I then checked my message inbox and ddn’t see anything about rescheduling the time or a delay. A couple minutes later, I got her message saying she would be there in 30 minutes. About an hour later, she still hadn’t show up. I messaged her asking when she would be there and she replied: “On my way up.”

About five minutes later, she finally showed up with air mattress. Because of the lateness, I thought she lived pretty far from there and it took time for her to get to our place because of the snow. I asked her: do you live in town? She pointed at a house right outside the window saying: I live right there. I was pretty shocked at that moment . Why did she ignore us the first night and take so long to get our place if she lives next door?

Another issue came up when the host was trying to set up the air mattress for us and she realized that she didn’t have the air pump; we couldn’t use it. She then went back to her place and found a cot and asking us if that was okay. I said yes because it was better than nothing.

I also want to note  the sofa bed and cot were not comfortable at all; we kept rolling and sinking to the center since none of them have support from the bottom. The only comfortable bedding is the bed. I talked with Airbnb customer service again regarding the second night situation updates and they suggested I initiate a conversation with the host to request a refund regarding our first night’s experience. They can start there once I’ve initiated the conversation.

Based on Airbnb’s refund policy,  if key amenities are missing or damaged, the guest is eligible for the refund from the host. We then sent the host a request for a possible refund due to missing/damaged amenities. Of course the host didn’t reply to us at all so we had to reach out to customer service again. Reaching out to Airbnb customer service is a very painful experience; once your claim gets assigned to a case manager, you can only work with them on your case. There is no way you can directly contact them. The only way is to write an in-app message and hope they see it and get back to you.

My experience of getting a response from a case manager on this case has never been shorter than one day. After a couple days of waiting and calling the Airbnb customer service number to ask them leave a note to my case manager for an update, my case manager finally got back to me, saying that he was unable to reach out to the host and they want to talk to the host in order to make a fair assessment about the claim.

Two more days later, and my case manager said he was able to speak with my host and sent me this message : “The host was a bit surprised about my request, and she also mentioned that there were scratches on the pots/pans.” The host probably thought that she could not get away from the refund so she started making things up.

First of all, based on Airbnb’s refund policy ,  if key amenities are missing or damage during our stay, guests are eligible to request a refund. She shouldn’t be surprised at all because we were missing one bed on our first night’s stay. Second, the scratches on the pots and pans were already there when we got there. It is ridiculous to claim they were made by us.

I asked Airbnb customer service if she wanted to report the scratches on the pots and pans against us, she should provide before and after pictures with a timestamp matching our stay (we were pretty sure such photos didn’t exists because they weren’t made by us). After more waiting, an Airbnb case manager replied that they haven’t heard anything back from the host in regards to the pot/pan scratches and were able to settle my claim about the damage amenities.

The settlement result was we received a refund of our first night’s stay. A couple hours after I got the news from the case manager that the claim was settled, the host left this crazy review accusing us of everything. She didn’t respond to customer service in a timely manner but she wrote bad reviews promptly. She just relentlessly made things up… such a crazy and ridiculous host.

In the review she wrote we:

  • Trashed her place. The fact she rented it out to another group right after we left probably meant we didn’t trash it enough.
  • Abused her kindness. Hmmmm, if lying and slow replies are considered kindness then I think we did abuse it.
  • We lied about our dog being potty trained, if our dog pooping outside is considered as lying about potty training. We didn’t even talk to her about anything in regards to dog potty training because our dog was well trained a couple years ago.
  • We filed a complaint against her because we didn’t know how to use the pull-out bed. I need to be honest about this one; we didn’t know how to use the pull-out sofa when we first arrived, but that was not the reason we filed a complaint against her. Though the pull-out sofa was very uncomfortable, the claim was about the air mattress leaking (damage/missing amenities). We were unable to sleep on it.
  • I think she forgot to mention about the scratches on the pots/pans which she mentioned to customer service. I think she needs to add that to the review just to keep her lie consistent.

Airbnb Host Opens Claim After Claim

An Airbnb host has opened several claims against me. All cases have been ruled in my favor but he keeps opening others. The first was for asking me to pay additional fees including utilities when they weren’t in the listing. I had paid $460 without valid bills.

Forty days after check out, he asked for more. I refused because he refused to give me valid documentation for the bills. He opened a damage claim on day 55 saying I damaged the coffee table. I had images and videos of me checking in and out. Airbnb closed it and then refunded me for the utilities.

He then today opened a damage claim to replace the stove for $600. He didn’t say what was damaged. I sent images and videos of the stove upon check out in clean and working condition. I think what he is trying to do is that I told him that I didn’t think his cleaning person did a good job or that he never changed his drip pans. I bought new ones for him for $13.

I don’t know what to do and it is causing me stress. He also kept showing up to the property like a stalker because 60 days after check out he keeps contacting me for more money. I’m not sure what to do and I hope Airbnb will once again rule in my favor. I sent them everything on all of the other cases but they keep letting him open cases.

Even when I was there he said I might see him like ten times a day to check on things and I asked him to text me to let me know so I will be aware someone is coming into the property. This has caused me stress and depression that even after checking out 60 days ago I have to keep dealing with this.

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Inaccurate Airbnb Listing Leads to Leaving Early

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My disabled husband and I booked this accommodation being told it was an entire home; it was not – it was a tiny room at the rear of building. It was supposed to be less than a two-minute walk to the beach but it’s nowhere near the beach.

As this was completely unsuitable for my husband we had to leave immediately and get a taxi to take us around Barbados to find suitable accommodations. We had to book two separate hotels as it was the Christmas season and paid almost £2000 for our stay here.

Airbnb still lists this property as less than a two-minute walk to the beach and as an entire home. We are struggling to get a full refund even though I have all the evidence needed to prove it is an inaccurate listing. The host also did not turn up for us at the airport nor send someone for us nor inform us he wasn’t coming for us. When we got there the host started shouting at us when challenged regarding the distance to the beach.

Airbnb Experience Completely Ruined our NYC Stay

After confirming my stay with the Airbnb host, she messaged me asking if it was okay to stay in the occupancy during our visit. She sold it by saying that her place was two units that were joined and that her side was remote and isolated, that we would only be sharing the living and kitchen area, and that she was barely home anyway.

When we arrived, physically looked at the space, and spoke to her, the exact opposite was true. The pull out couch was right outside her bedroom door, next to her desk which she said she’d be using. The bathroom she assigned us was literally in the kitchen. The room she assigned us was smaller than a broom closet, while hers was huge with a private bath. There was absolutely zero possibility for privacy. She misled us in order to stay while making money off her unit.

Unfortunately, being a nice guy, I agreed based on her description. Airbnb said there was nothing I could do, since I didn’t record our encounter. I’m not a PI; I’m on vacation and don”t even know the legality of recording her or her private space. I told her the situation she just put me in was undoable. With no other option I had to leave and rent a hotel room. This experience completely ruined our NYC stay.

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Host Tries to Claim an Extra $1500 with Fake Photos

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A group of friends and I were delighted to find a listing that had private rooms and bathrooms for each of us in Hong Kong. We booked way in advance before the protests started, and the entire listing was over $1300. Later, as the protests got more intense, that particular area became quite the hotspot. I saw videos online of bricks being torn up to create roadblocks, of police tear gassing protesters – all within a block of the Airbnb.

I contacted the host to see if we could cancel and got our first lie in response – that the Airbnb was ‘far from the protests.’ She said we could cancel but we’d lose half of what we’d paid. $600+ is nothing to sneeze at, so we reluctantly decided to risk it. Luckily, the situation calmed down.

Upon arrival, it was clear she was lying. The sidewalk in front of the Airbnb was cemented over because, though it wasn’t featured in the videos, it had been torn up during protests. That was no big deal compared to the actual Airbnb itself and her later behavior.

We checked in, and all the rooms except one (the one heavily featured on the listing) were much smaller. The photos, on closer inspection, had been taken with a fisheye lens to make them look bigger. The size we could live with. The smell and grime we could not. The place smelled of musty mildew and that smell never went away.

The bathrooms were also tiny, having the shower placed pretty much above the toilet. Again – this wouldn’t be that bad if it weren’t dirty. One toilet was so close to the wall you couldn’t sit without your knees touching the wall. The person in that room gave up after a night and got a hotel room for the rest of his stay. The rest of us endured but also got hotel rooms for two nights.

We were not aware that we could have complained to Airbnb and gotten alternative lodgings. I had never encountered such a situation before, having had positive experiences, so we assumed that if we were to back out we would be out of $1300. Now I know better.

After the stay, I submitted my review, and after discussing it with my fellow travelers, got over my dislike of confrontation to ask the host for a refund. She offered to refund just the cleaning fee of $60. I then submitted a formal request for a refund via the resolution center, and this is where it gets crazy.

She claimed the place had been professionally cleaned (please look at the photos and tell me if you think that counts as professional cleaning) and threatened to report me to the police and said she would be charging me for damage. What damage? She sent me a request for an additional $1500 for stained white sheets, complete with photos. The photos were fake. We had taken a video before we left that clearly showed the sheets provided to us in completely different colors and patterns.

I refused to pay this, of course, and this was the final straw that made me escalate to Airbnb support, who – to their credit – gave me a 50% refund. The host sent me one last message before I blocked her, saying she’d reported me to police for refusing to pay. Needless to say I will never use Airbnb again if I can help it.

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Most Terrifying Airbnb Experience, Haven’t Received Anything

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I had a super intense depressing day. All I wanted to do was just take a shower, lie down, and relax. I recently had a fire and lost everything so I got an Airbnb yesterday. Everything in the post was a lie: it said it had its own entrance; it said it had a hot tub; it said it had two beds in my room; it said it had heat; it said it had a gym.

I came to find out the house that I got dropped off at after I spent $30 for a Uber ride wasn’t even the address listed on the post. I found this out when a girl from across the street came out and said she was the Airbnb host. I walked across the street and asked her why the listing said it was that house. She said that it was a glitch in the GPS.

I walked inside the house and there was no heat. Mind you, it was below zero outside. The whole house was nasty and trashed. My room was not the room in the post. That it had no heat was bad enough, but she also had a bunch of people there. She was doing drugs inside the house with all her friends.

There was no hot tub. I didn’t have my own entrance. I mean basically everything was a complete lie. I got on the phone with Airbnb and they ended up telling me to leave. I ended up walking a mile to get to the next closest place. Mind you, it was below zero and I just had the worst week of my life. I ended up at a Wawa convenience store. My phone’s going to die here.

The Airbnb people told me they were going to comp me some money to go somewhere and get some food until they figured out what to do. They told me they were going to call me back. It’s the next day and I still haven’t got a refund or anything. I had to spend another $30 on a ride, spending extra money out of pocket to stay somewhere. I missed a day of work and got written up for it. It’s been one thing after the next and they still haven’t even called me or done anything to fix my issue.

Airbnb Supports Fraudulent Listings by Hosts

I checked into my cabana and it was listed as having two beds. There was one bed in a closet. The previous tenant had busted the TV, left it up on the wall, and had no plans to replace it. The pool and hot tub were freezing. There was no hot water in the shower. The space heaters, which were the only source of heat, kicked off continuously because they were plugged into power strips.

I immediately contacted Airbnb and informed them of the fraud. They told me that I had to give the host a chance to fix it. After four days of no sign of repair, I called Airbnb back and moved out. The host would not even take their phone calls for a week. It’s now three weeks later and I have spoken to twelve caseworkers, a specialist and one manager and now the final answer is I’m not getting my refund because apparently this is all my fault. Airbnb has left me with nowhere to go. They have kept my money, ruined all of my holidays plans and caused a great deal of stress. They are criminals.