Let’s Talk About How Airbnb Reviews Work

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My friend and I were going on a quick trip to Pittsburgh for a concert. We did not want to stay in a room adjoined to a house, so we ended up booking a unit described as a “tiny home.” The pictures were all close-ups, so I gave it the benefit of the doubt. Once I booked, the host demanded I change my accidental booking of one person to two (which was fine because the listing boasted an air mattress as well). Overall a $133 fee.

We got to the unit, in which the host just left the key in the door (super safe) to find a shack connected to a house. This is what one calls an efficiency, not a tiny home. Also, if this mysterious air mattress existed, it was nowhere to be found. Here I was, drinking a beer while being able to hear my friend, willing to overlook this because we had to leave.

In the morning, I awoke to my friend complaining of bites, and we looked in the bed; it was covered in ants. Still, I am trying to overlook things. While in the car ride back I received the attached message from the host. I tried to go about things as he wished, and didn’t leave a review just yet. I asked if the extra $30 for the second person could possibly be refunded as he listed it incorrectly, and, you know, bug bites. Nope, no such luck.

Lo and behold, Airbnb customer service was even worse. “The host just wants a good review.” The best part? I finally left a negative review after being patient and kind for 48 hours. Remember how I was supposed to get five stars? Yep, here’s what happened after my review. So there is my tale. Good luck to those who have issues with this service – you will need it.

My Bad Airbnb Review was Disappeared

I wrote a very clear, factual, but damning review of a room in Bolinas, California, and Airbnb did not post the review. When I called to see where that review went, they claimed they do not spike bad reviews, but that is pure BS. The room was almost $300 with add-on fees, and it consisted of a bed and a folding chair. That’s it: no table; no soap; no instructions on how to work the door lock; no parking (in spite of the fact the listing claimed there was parking for guests).

They’re an exploitative rental, and Airbnb is exploitative for protecting bad hosts. I could say more but just realize that Airbnb is not an honest mediator. Guests reviews, very factual but negative, are not shared with you, the consumer public. I’m done with them. You should try another platform and avoid places that they falsely list.

Beware of False Advertising: No Farms to be Found

In Free Union, Virginia, there is a couple who have fraudulently described their property as a working farm stay and this is not true: “This is a small working farm – we have cows, chickens, honey bees, a dog and a cat. Consequently, while we are here at Rockfield Farm we tend to stay very busy with chores, so you will be left alone for the most part. We are happy to assist or answer questions anytime, however.”

It is not Rockfield Farm nor has it been a working farm for several years, like when their momma gave them the property 25 years ago. You will be left alone because they will stay hidden to make it seem like the farm chores you see being done are by them when in fact that is not the case.

They do not own a farm nor the animals described on their listing. They lease their pastures to a business that farms the property and has wrongfully told you have access to the property, being the fence. If you are found on the property you will be asked to leave, if you do not leave, you will be trespassing on the property as the lease these scammers signed clearly states they nor their guests have access to the farming area.

They are not busy with chores, other than perhaps their own laundry or doing their post-college age kids’ laundry for them. They do not have a dog, or a cat or a cow or any of the things described in their Airbnb as they have been making a profit off of the farmers’ actual hard work.

Please note, there are photos of Airbnb guests on camera trespassing on the leased property, touching animals, messing with pens, fences, etc. Airbnb guests who bring dogs please note that if your dog gets off their lease and damages farming property or livestock, you will be held liable. Virginia code §3.2-6402 gives us immunity from any damages incurred by Airbnb guests or their pets, including but not limited to severe injury and death. You will be filmed should you step foot onto the leased property and these images will be used in legal action against the Airbnb hosts.

Now I’m just sure the little loft under the building is as cute as can be, but you have been warned: they are profiting from other people’s hard work and lying about it, putting you and your family at risk of legal repercussions.

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Tranquil Nature Reserve Actually Shanty Town

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Disastrous holiday with appalling customer service. Never will I use Airbnb again.

Over two months ago we found out my partner was pregnant. We decided that before the baby arrived we wanted a relaxing and peaceful break where we could quietly celebrate the news with her parents. We set about searching for somewhere suitable. We are both experienced travellers all over the world and happy hiking and camping but obviously this time with my partner being pregnant and her elderly parents coming along we didn’t want anything too basic.

We settled on the idea of a nearby island of Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands which is owned by Spain. It is frequented by millions of European tourists per year and well developed so it should have been a very easy trip.

After much research I finally found the perfect place on Airbnb located in a nature reserve in the north of the island. The description said “ideal for those who choose tranquility” and “for those who want to live in contact with nature while enjoying the sport and what seas of tranquility offer.”

Again, as my partner is pregnant, we didn’t want anything too basic and this was the perfect fit: TV, iron, laptop-friendly workspace, etc. We even got an extra reminder that this was one of a “few places in the area where breakfast would be included!”

It was advertised at 50 euros a night but slightly less on the nights we were looking for. I naively was only slightly wary when I saw it just had one review but it was a new place that had very recently opened and it was absolutely glowing: “The garden gives great spaces for the eyes. A feeling of great freedom, openness, connection with the authentic nature of Fuerteventura… great pleasure staying in the house… contemplate the beauty of what surrounds you.”

It went on and on with absolute rave reviews. This guest clearly thought this was the best, most beautiful place she had ever stayed so surely we in the very worst case weren’t going to dislike it. We booked four nights and were very excited about it. How wrong we were.

The trip started out well with good communication from the host who by a strange coincidence turned out to be Italian just like the solitary reviewer. Polite, quick to respond and would be meeting us at the property at the check in time. After a long day of travelling, by late evening we drove into the nature reserve; the reviews were correct, it was beautiful.

I continued to follow my GPS across a dirt track towards our peaceful isolated house. Upon the horizon a group of buildings started to appear. As we got closer we realised that these buildings were in fact made of pallets and various other discarded materials and were surrounded by rubbish. This was a medium sized chabola illegal house, called slums or favela in other parts of the world.

We have seen many of these on our travels through Asia and Africa. Essential and unavoidable in many developing countries but unusual to find in the middle of a nature reserve. It was with absolute disbelief when I saw the GPS was taking me right into the middle of it.

However, there was no GPS mistake when I pulled up outside a somewhat recognisable house and was met by a smiling host and a stray pit bull. We were quickly ushered into the house which in fairness wasn’t too different from what we were expecting; the interior matches the photos that were displayed. We had studied the photos on the website so we knew the basic style and layout.

What wasn’t apparent from the pictures was the horrible smell and that it was that it was an entirely open plan including the bathroom and toilet which was adjoining the living room. My partner started to panic about having to ask everyone to leave the house any time she needed the toilet (which is often during pregnancy).

It was then the other conditions started to be explained. First, there was no water main; it came from an outside container which is very limited so ‘use the toilet at least four times before flushing it’ as it will run out. Second, no electricity. We were taken back outside through a broken rusted door that was falling down and needed to be tied on by rope. There we found an old generator and a couple of jerrycans.

Our host politely explained the quirks of how to start this particular old generator. He also explained that it would last about five hours, then I needed to drive to a nearby petrol station (about 30 minutes), buy enough petrol to fill a jerrycan, and then refill the generator with a half water bottle scattered around the floor that could be used as a funnel.

While I was trying to work out why I was having to pay for the petrol or the logistics having to refill something every five hours night and day just to have a fridge working or the lights on I became aware that it wouldn’t really be a problem as there was no way we were going to be able to stand the ridiculous noise of the generator for longer than five minutes, let alone five hours. Once started we couldn’t be heard over the top of it and even in the house it was loud enough to feel like you were in the middle of a construction site. Tranquil it most certainly was not.

The tour of the outside didn’t get any better. Past the pizza oven – which was being used as a bin – around to the side of the house which wasn’t shown in the pictures we discovered a pile of broken furniture leaning up against the house (sofa, plastic table and a bathroom sink, indoor dining room chairs) and then just beyond that a dumpsite. All manner of broken things and building rubble which I imagine was the previous interior of the house had been piled up and left.

Was this the “authentic nature of Fuerteventura”? It was certainly true that in stunned silence we were ‘contemplating’ the ‘beauty’ that surrounded us. In truth at this moment the host looked so embarrassed by the place and eager to move us away from the rubbish that we didn’t really question it much, he just kept repeating that he wasn’t the owner, just the host.

Once the host had left and the pit bull had chased his car out through the chabola we had time to reflect upon what we were about to stay in. Luckily my partner’s parents weren’t due to arrive until the next day. I sat down on the sofa and rechecked the advert on Airbnb to see I had made no mistake. I had not.

It was clear that the accommodation no way matched what they were advertising from the important things like clean and with electricity and water to the less vital things like the breakfast that was most certainly not going to be provided. While contemplating how to explain the situation to her parents I looked down to find my shoes and legs cover in flees, and I do mean covered.

At that point my partner decided she would do the rest of her contemplating in the car. She rushed outside to find a local resident and extremely suspicious looking character peering into the back of car which was still loaded with all our holiday gear. When I asked who he was he merely commented that he was the cousin of the owner and continued to walk around the property at his own leisurely pace.

This was now a step too far, it had gone from being a somewhat comical, farcical situation to actually feeling quite unsafe. While the nature reserve is certainly ‘isolated’, the house being in the centre of the chabola most certainly was not. It may be the area is quite safe and the ‘cousin’ was just coming to be friendly but this certainly wasn’t the type of holiday that had been sold to us and we weren’t willing to stay and find out.

I stayed just long enough to take some photos and then drove away to try and work out what to do next. I called the host to tell him we wouldn’t be staying even a night and by his tone he had been waiting for that phone call. He said not a problem at all and even avoided an embarrassing situation by not asking us for the reasons. He just reminded us again that he was not the owner which I understood to imply that even he wouldn’t want to stay there. I asked about a refund and he said he hadn’t received any money and it would all be returned by Airbnb.

At this point it was 8:00 PM and with very little mobile battery left we were trying to navigate the nightmare Airbnb customer support site and look for somewhere to stay. I eventually found the support contact and emailed explaining the situation. On that evening I received absolutely no reply at all and we were in a desperate sprint to find something, anything safe that we could stay in that night.

By 10:00 PM we were lucky enough to find a very accommodating host who replied pretty much immediately to our messages and let us stay. Before I could book the new place my only option was to ‘cancel the reservation’ of the old which seemed to imply it was in some way our fault and therefore we were penalized in that they kept most of the money. Only 66 euros were returned to us.

While the new accommodation was excellent, a great host who had provided an honest and truthful advert, it was a more expensive flat, only for two people and in a crowded tourist resort. Not at all the holiday we were looking for. It also meant that there was no space for my in laws and with all the uncertainty they decided to cancel their flight and not come at all.

I have attached a link to show just how poor the support was when they eventually replied as my words couldn’t really do it justice. Needless to say we ended up paying for two accommodations (minus 66 euros). I wrote at length and sent plenty of pictures as evidence but Airbnb seemed entirely uninterested, delivering superficial responses.

It was only after five days with one day left in our holiday that I was passed to a specialist who asked if he could help book us into accommodation. I guess he imagined we had been sleeping on the streets for the previous four nights. When it was apparent that he wasn’t properly reading my replies or trying to understand the situation his response of ‘I have a lot of cases needed to be assisted as well’ was infuriating. A particular favourite phrase that he wrote after admitting it was a host violation was ‘just to set your expectation we will do our best in order to meet the proper standard but we cannot guarantee this hundred percent to provide the expected outcome’ (sic).

It has now been nearly a week and Airbnb has just stopped replying to my messages. Last I heard I was eligible for a refund but that has never arrived and they are simply ignoring all my attempts at communication. While we are both safely home and we can look back on a spoilt holiday somewhat fatalistically as I explained to customer support it is the safety of others that is most concerning. People book with them expecting a certain level of security, their whole brand is based around that. If not we might as well just arrive in a place and knock on any old door and ask to stay.

A current look on their site shows that this accommodation is still being advertised in exactly the same way. My lengthy review has not been published, still only the original poster, so they will have people booking it expecting what we expected. I find it worryingly immoral that Airbnb is continuing to advertise it in the same way. At best they will be spoiling people’s holidays and costing them money. At worst… well, it doesn’t bear thinking about. Here is the link to the place. Check it out in full here.

New Orleans Airbnb Host Lies About Capacity

My family has been planing a trip down to New Orleans for a year now and part of that was finding accommodations. We have a large group of people (25) coming on this trip and could not an Airbnb that would accommodate us. We decided to speak to a host who presented us with links of what we assumed were to places that would hold all of us.

We inquired about a villa that was close to the French Quarter and noticed it said it could hold 9 people. So we asked him if we could still have 25 and he said “Yes, it is perfect.”

Once again, we assumed that this would work for our group. Upon payment we once again noticed that it still said 9 instead of the 25 we discussed so once again we asked the host why it didn’t say 25. He did not reply until five days before our reservation and now said “You can only have 9 people.”

We told the host that was not what was discussed and never once did he try to fix it. Instead he said here are some more places you can book for more money. We feel scammed and do not believe this host has our best interests at heart.

When we called customer service they took his side over ours even though we have a paper trail of conversations that are clearly misleading us, the customer. We are beyond frustrated. This is our very first family reunion as adults and aside from the hurricane trying to ruin it we now have Airbnb keeping us apart. I would give this company a zero if it was an option.

Want to Cancel and get Refund for Reservation

First of all, I did not get any passcode or wifi information upon arrival at my Airbnb. When I did get the wifi info, I could not log in. Even after mentioning the problem to the host a full day ago, the matter has not been resolved.

When I pushed for the availability of the internet, the host tried to do several different things which did not need to be done. I asked him if he had contacted his provider and he said no. He claimed that he is not tech savvy, but still did not contact support from his provider and rather tried to work on the same booster again and again.

The TV sometimes connected to the network but even that network was so slow that Netflix kept on buffering and continued showing it was loading. My laptop and cell phone did not connect to the internet at all and I have been using my Verizon cell phone data for these two days/nights.

By my understanding of how the internet works are, he has internet but he does not have enough bandwidth to accommodate all his guests. The host even accused me of doing something wrong, as apparently, he saw my browser open. It was funny because a guy living in the 21st century did not understand the concept of using mobile hotspot technology.

I wanted to leave the Airbnb and get a full refund for all the nights I was not staying. I called Airbnb customer service and was kept on hold for more than a half hour, after which a support staff member picked up the phone. She heard about the issues I was facing with my reservation and she forwarded my call to a senior member of her team and asked me to stay on hold for the call.

The senior member talked with my host and to my utter amazement the Airbnb agent decided to go with the story of the host. The host said that he had internet and just that it was a bit slow. Slow or not, I did not get any which I could possibly use and thus I should be given a refund so that I can choose to stay at another place.

French Airbnb Features Fake Seaside View

I had stayed with a friend outside of La Rochelle for a few days. Not having a car, when this friend went away it seemed wiser to rent a place in the city to be able to get around, take a boat, etc, more easily. I rented an Airbnb for a Sunday and Monday.

After accepting my reservation, and after I had paid, the host never gave me the address. This was a bad sign. The place was in an industrial area, not a residential area. She had probably rented an old boat sales place (looked like a car sales place) and transformed the downstairs kitchen into a catering place where she prepared food she delivered to clients, and the upstairs had a kitchen living area for her, her bedroom, a bathroom and a few small bedrooms.

The outer wall was floor to ceiling windows (since it was a showroom-type place) with a very tiny slit for an opening. Outside in the evening it was a pleasant 65° F: nice for sleeping. However, inside it was about 85°. It was impossible to have darkness as the shades didn’t reach all the way down to the floor, and if one opened the shades, one’s whole bedroom was broadly visible from the street. There was no lock on the bedroom nor bathroom door.

The pictures were ten pictures of the pretty living room with pictures of boats just out the window and the accommodation appeared to be close to the sea – surely we had a seaside view? No, it was an industrial boat repair area, with noisy boat repairs going on all day Sunday.

Though the pictures of the living room and view were promoted, the host said this was for her and she didn’t want me to come into the living room much or to use the kitchen much. She did allow me to put half a cucumber and a piece of cheese in the fridge but didn’t want me to use the kitchen or electric kettle. I had to walk half a mile down to a park every time I wanted to eat as I couldn’t eat in the apartment. There was no restaurant nearby.

The listing said it was quiet, but in fact on a Sunday night at midnight there were many cars passing all night just in front. I recorded this on video and sent it to Airbnb. They said I could be refunded the second night. The lady kept yelling and yelling and pointing to her good reviews. I booked a small room in a very cute hotel for a similar price, thank goodness: ten times better.

By accident I had left my phone charger, personal journal, and a philosophy magazine at the place. The lady read my personal journal and made critical personal comments. She would not fix a time to give me my charger and journal back. I had to spend some hours contacting Airbnb. She told people at Airbnb that she would be there to give me my stuff but didn’t answer the door. I had to go around back to see that she was already there, and call Airbnb so that they would call her and she would finally give me my stuff.

While on the phone with Airbnb, they gave me a 50-euro credit for the bad experience. I wanted to note this on my review, but they said I was not allowed to. I wrote a poor review (just facts) while she wrote a very insulting one, and slightly xenophobic. She got a few more good reviews and then her listing disappeared.

Many of her reviews seemed to be from other hosts and seemed to be arrangements between hosts, to give one another good reviews. There were lots of reviews from people who had only given one review and were hosts and to whom she had also given a review as a guest (very reciprocal reviews).

Good riddance to this lady. Glad to see her place with the “boat views” (AKA boat repair shop views) is off the map. Airbnb should have cancelled her listing immediately and allowed me to post that they had refunded me the second night and given me credit for the first. Thank goodness I found a very cute hotel to have a nice last night.

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Infestation = $9 Refund on a $750 Charge

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My current Airbnb is not at all as described: there has been a carpenter ant infestation for the past week and a half where there are literally hundreds of them in the kitchen on the floor, shelves, and cabinets. I have been unable to cook because of it. In addition, there are cockroaches in the hallway and stairs.

The house is very dirty and under maintained overall. Many of the photos do not match the description. For example, there is supposed to be a “garden” in the yard but it is overrun with old chairs, wood planks, construction material, and leaf debris. The pool is empty, the “library” is a shelf with books covered in dust with broken glass on the floor (no joke), and the stove does not work as it was promised to be fixed on day two of my stay.

My host claims fees such as laundry or A/C are separate but in the description they were said to be included. I disputed this to Airbnb and I was switched to three different case managers in the process. They refused to give me a refund, and I left my Airbnb early (more like as soon as I possibly could). My Airbnb was $17/night. I left a full four days early and got back nine dollars in total.

The reason they dismissed my case is because the host provided “alternate photos” of dishes being left out, claiming this to be the cause for the hundreds of ants and cockroaches. My roommate and I never cooked in the kitchen because of the bugs; we wasted so much money on eating out because it was too disgusting to cook in there.

The son who lived in the house and used our kitchen always left dishes out – they were not ours. A few dishes does not result in the infestation of hundreds of vermin: only months of neglect, water damage, unfixed holes and leaks, and vile conditions will result in this. Absolutely ridiculous. I’ve been in touch with Airbnb and they immediately sided with the host.

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Serious Issues with the Water at Texas Airbnb

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This is my very first Airbnb “horror story” and I think it could have been resolved very easily with just some plain old fashioned honesty. I think it should be mandatory for hosts to disclose if there are any issues that might effect their guests’ health and their ability to function during their stay, particularly if they are trying to attend to any important issues from their room via phone.

I arrived late in the afternoon for my first day of a ten-day stay and as soon as I got into my room, I noticed there was a dog next door that barked continuously. The room next to mine was the owner’s daughter. She had locked up her dog and left. The little guy was letting everyone know he was very unhappy. This went on until well after 10:00 PM.

I did not notice anyone because I was busy unpacking, but the next morning when it started again, I asked the owner to please check on him. She explained that her daughter leaves him alone a lot and that she would let him out. Problem solved, or so I thought. Next morning… same routine.

By the third day the daughter decided to move to a larger unit, according to the owner. Great, peace at last, or so I thought. Now the owners have decided that this would be the very best time for them to remodel the newly vacated unit: time to break out the table saws, miter saws, mallets, and hammers and get busy.

The wall between my unit and the daughter’s newly vacated unit was maybe two inches thick with no insulation. The first day they started around 8:00 AM, they startled me so badly I had a severe anxiety attack within an hour. I asked if they were doing construction work and the host answered “Yes”.

I then asked her how long they would be over there doing this and she could not say. I told her I would need to check out that I could not function in any capacity with all that noise and asked her to please adjust my bill and refund the difference for the additional days. She informed me that there were no cancellations and no refunds, but that they would stop working on the unit. Which they did… for about four hours. Then they started up again.

In the interim, in the middle of the night, the toilet started gurgling and making hissing noises around 2:45 AM. It was so loud it woke me up out of a dead sleep. I jumped out of bed, tried to figure out what was going on with it, and discovered that a massive amount of air was hissing through the tube, so much so that the tube had come out of the cylinder it fit into, which water is supposed to be coming out of. The tank was almost empty.

After about 10-15 minutes of trying to resolve it, I just shut the water off at the valve line and it stopped. The next morning I checked it and turned it back on and everything seemed okay… until I turned on the water. Milky white liquid poured out of it continuously. I switched back and forth from hot to cold to see if it made any difference. Nope.

I contacted the host again. She had no idea what was going on. She said it just “looks dirty”. Hmmm… really? It looks like milk to me. I got distilled water for drinking but what could I use to bathe in?

The next day, there was no water at all. None. I contacted the host again. Amidst the banging, hammering, sawing and ongoing construction work, she advised me that there was no water in the entire city of Natalia, but she didn’t want to tell me because she did not want to “disturb” me.

By now, I was highly suspicious, so I just Googled “Natalia Texas Water Services” and up pops every alert and health risk related alerts you could imagine, including asbestos in their water system. By now I was mortified and resolved to contact Airbnb with requests for refunds and go elsewhere for the remainder of my trip.

That afternoon the water came back on but it was still milky white. I was not taking any chances with my health, so I refrained from using their water at all except to flush the toilets. Now I have to find another place to shower and bathe and forego having any phone conversations from my room because of the noise.

All of this could have been easily avoided with just an honest disclosure from the owners. If they had mentioned there would be ongoing construction next door to me, I would have politely declined, but that never happened. Nor were there any health-related disclosures about the water. Although they did have a pitcher with a filter in the refrigerator, no mention was ever made of why or what types of contaminants the pitcher filtered out.

All of this should have been disclosed to anyone considering staying there so that they could determine whether or not it would be a hindrance or issue for them or their health. Before anyone chooses to stay in Natalia Texas, I urge you to simply Google the water issues they have had and then choose wisely. As for me, I think I will pass.

I would deeply deeply appreciate a response from Airbnb on this matter as I only have a few days before I leave this review on their site as well along with a video of the running water coming out milky for several minutes.

My Wife Hosted our Home. Didn’t Tell Me

Back in 2016 my wife told me about Airbnb and said she would like to host our house. Nothing else was said until she was very adamant that we take off just to get away one weekend. When complications came up, she was forced to admit she had rented out our house “just to try it”. Well I was upset that she would do such a thing without telling me. We had a pretty serious discussion about my opinion, and her honesty.

Fast forward to 2017. She wanted to go on an extended weekend trip and I just could not because of work. Well she played hurt, then angry. On Friday she said, “Well, let’s just stay at a local motel.”

I thought that was pretty odd and she gave all kinds of excuses to be out of the house. Finally she admitted she had booked our house for the weekend. I was furious she did this again. This time I asked her to let me have access to her account and I found three more bookings in the next two months.

I wrote Airbnb explaining the situation and they said they couldn’t help me because I wasn’t on the account. “It’s a problem between you and your wife,” they said.

“True,” I said, “But I own the home!”

When I asked if it would be their problem if I turned the guests away, they still said nothing. They would not get involved. After a heated argument and with guests arriving in the morning, I submitted to moving out for the weekend if she closed her account with Airbnb and cancelled all of her booked guests. She did and promised me she would always talk to me before making any decisions like that.

Fast forward to this weekend. Same story. “Let’s get away for the week” prefaced by furious house cleaning. I came to find out that she had not deleted her account and in fact booked our house for the weekend… and every weekend during the months of June and July and one in August. My whole summer is booked with me away from our lake home.

I am stunned. I am calling Airbnb on Monday but I can guess their answer. My options? Refuse to let the guests in or maybe try and contact them and give them warning? Airbnb won’t get involved.