Airbnb Host Steals our Bags in Prague

The day of our departure the host had a menacing and insulting attitude when we spoke by telephone. We missed the hour of check-out (Monday August 26th, 11:00 AM) that he had fixed some hours before (he sent me a message at 9:00 PM on Friday the 25th).

When we arrived at 12:30 PM to pick our bags (with our passports and all our personal belongings) and leave the keys for the flat, we found out that our bags had been taken away. In a panic (we thought that the bags were stolen), I phoned the host. He explained to me in a very rude way that, as retaliation for missing the check-out time, he had taken the bags.

He told me that, because of my mistake, he had lost 15 euros, and that now I had to pay for that. I apologized several times and told him that we needed our bags because we had our flight at 3:00 PM. He told me that he was busy with other clients and that he didn’t know exactly at what time he would arrive at the flat with our luggage. “Maybe in two hours,” he said.

He even hung up the phone rudely saying that he couldn’t waste more time with me, as he was with another client. I knew he was trying to frighten us, as he knew we had to catch a flight. We waited in the flat some minutes and then the cleaning lady arrived (the host didn’t even have the courage to give us our luggage personally).

My mistake was that I didn’t check my inbox on Friday the 25th, and so I didn’t know the exact hour of check-out. Nevertheless, this error doesn’t justify the host’s rude, menacing and overall illegal action (he temporarily took away our bags with our documents). We strongly discourage other Airbnb guests from booking this apartment.

Risks for Hosts and Guests in Unapproved Sublets

I own approved short-term accommodation in Australia. The state government and the local authority require me, as part of the conditions to operate, to comply with requirements of health, safety, insurance, and local amenity or I can be closed down and/or fined.

For example, doors leading into or out of the accommodation cannot have a lock on the inside requiring a key to be opened in case of fire, the smoke/fire detector system is superior to that required for normal residential use, linen must be washed every three days in at least 90 degrees Celsius (194 degrees F), pests (cockroaches, rodents, flies etc) must be controlled by regular fumigation/baiting/barriers, and pets are not allowed in the kitchen, bedrooms or swimming pool area due to disease.

Very strict rules are in force if I supply any food, e.g. sugar cannot be available in an open container, milk must be date stamped and in an unbroken sealed container and refrigerated below 4 C with logs of purchase and use by date, and the fridge must have a thermometer and be kept below 4 degrees Celsius. Regulations for the swimming pool are horrendous but all for the health and safety of guests. I also have to pay a yearly license fee to operate.

The premises are regularly inspected, without notice, by Government Health & Safety Officers. These measures obviously cost more than that of normal residential accommodation as they are over and above the usual requirements. Consequently, I cannot compete in price with an individual who rents out on Airbnb a spare room in their home or the whole of their accommodation when they go on holiday. Airbnb encourages people through incentives to let out their accommodation, with no checks of their legal standing to do so. Unapproved and illegal lets regularly crop up on Airbnb before the authorities shut them down.

People being people seek the cheapest deal and so bypass me in favour of an Airbnb sublet. This causes loss of business for me. It also means guests expose themselves to hazards, disease and financial risks by staying in unapproved accommodation.

For example, a recent newspaper report of an illegal Airbnb property advertised as ‘family friendly’ had a young family as guests over Christmas. The property had swings built by the owner. The father was pushing his two young children on the swing when it toppled over as it was not anchored in the ground. The younger child was crushed and killed on the spot. The other child was admitted to Intensive Care at hospital with life threatening injuries. The owner had invalidated his insurance as he was operating illegally so stands to lose his house in litigation for personal damages/injury. He was also fined by the authorities.

This would not have happened it he had stayed in approved accommodation such as mine. Bear in mind that all insurance is invalidated if not operating legally or to purpose. Most homeowners have residential property and contents insurance. Insurance companies view letting out a room or property to the public as a commercial activity and not residential use by the owner/occupier. Thus any claim for third party liability, damage, loss or injury will be dismissed by the insurer if found the property was not used in accordance with law and insured purpose.

We all know how insurers try to evade paying out if possible. This means a guest must proceed against the host’s personal assets, which may be nil if renting and not an owner or insolvent.

The choice is yours: make some bucks via Airbnb and risk losing your home or being declared bankrupt if things go wrong as well as being prosecuted, or, if a guest, save a few dollars and risk sickness, injury or death without benefit of the host’s insurance, if any, if let out illegally.

Privacy Data Rights, or Lack Thereof, with Airbnb

This is not a guest or host or neighbor story, but those are the only categories. In July 2019, I opened an Airbnb account. Airbnb’s unprofessional and disorganized conduct led me to cancel my account within about 24 hours of opening it. Airbnb’s response was that it was permitted to continue to maintain and use my data, even if my account was closed.

I asked Airbnb to show me the contract language that allowed that. Airbnb failed and refused to do so. After a long message thread over several days, Airbnb referred me to their “Airbnb Community” department. He said he would follow the privacy protection laws, but only if I would send additional private data, to “verify” my identity. Airbnb claimed it did not copy my personal information, but has refused to tell me whether, and to whom, Airbnb has already shared or uploaded my personal information.

Furthermore, my research indicates that in order to verify anyone’s identity in compliance with the law, a company need only verify my email address. I’ve asked Airbnb to refer me to the authority on which it relies to demand even more personal data before erasing my personal data, and it has wholly failed to respond.

This is only a summary of the details. I have reported this to the FTC, the California BBB, the GDPR in the EU (I am a US and Canadian citizen with residency in Italy), Complaintsboard.com, and to a writer for The Washington Post. If anyone has any suggestions on any other agencies who would be interested in this problem, please post them.

Airbnb Host Tried to Evict Me, Company Didn’t Help

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I’ve been at a reservation for over two months now in Washington. Recently the landlady tried to buy the entire house out of her contracts and everyone refused. She then proceeded to start construction which has resulted in utilities being cut off on a regular basis. I took pictures and videos of the construction and complained to Airbnb. Wanna know what they did?

They called me about a week later telling me I had to get out and I would be refunded for the time I haven’t stayed yet. I said “no”, that I wouldn’t be leaving, and any attempt to kick me out could be argued in a court of law as an illegal eviction. I told them because I was already there for over two months I qualified as a tenant I didn’t actually have to leave if they forced me out.

The Airbnb support person told me if I didn’t get out by the end of the day I would be trespassing and the police would get involved. I mentioned how I would be contacting the police and an attorney to sue them if they moved forward.

She responded: “This is our policy so it’s fine.”

Me: “If a policy is in violation of state law the state will just ignore it.”

Her: “You can contact your lawyers and do what you want. We are a 25 billion dollar company and this is our policy.”

Me: “What about the Airbnb policy that states that if a home is unlivable or there’s unnecessary construction the guest gets a refund? What about the Airbnb policy?”

Her: Makes a comment about my tone and says she will be looking at the pictures I sent.

She put me on hold and it became very clear she had no idea what she was doing. She offered me $100 and to pay me back for the nights I haven’t stayed yet. I told her, “No. I’m not going to accept that. You can’t force me to take compensation I don’t believe is adequate and if you’re going to move forward with these actions I would like an explicit email acknowledging the fact that I did not agree to your terms. I will be contacting the police and an attorney.”

She said, “Sure, whatever,” mentioned my tone again, and hung up.

In the meantime, I contacted the police non-emergency number and they said they would call me back. It had been about two minutes since I spoke with Airbnb and they called me back.

Same support woman: “Your host is thinking about changing her mind but she says construction will continue. You can stay if you’re okay with the construction.”

Me: “I’m not okay with construction but if you allow me to stay I will.”

Her: “Well, why do you want to stay if there’s construction? She said you can stay if you’re okay with it and she will continue to shut off the water.”

Me: “Because I believe what she is doing is illegal and if I stay I’ll be able to collect damages in a court of law. Additionally if you kick me out right now I’ll be thrown on the street so even if you allow me to stay I will be suing her at this point. You don’t have to mention how I’ll be suing her.”

She hung up again, and said she would tell the host I wanted to “continue my reservation.” What a nice way of saying I didn’t want to spend the night on the streets. How kind of her.

In the meantime I finally got in touch with the police and explained the situation: how she decided to kick me out once I complained about the construction, and how I’m a tenant due to the way I’ve rented. He asked if I’d received mail at the property. I explained I had received some mail there. He then got upset and said, “Okay, so who am I talking to? I need a phone number.”

I gave him the landlady’s phone number. He called me five minutes later and told me she was no longer evicting me and she “changed her mind.”

I’m going to be suing. At this point in considering suing Airbnb too. The dumbest part is I have pictures of all of the construction and even messages from the landlady confirming when I complained and that the construction is renovations and not repairs necessary to the property.

Airbnb Still Doesn’t Understand Local Tax

I collect hotel occupancy tax for the City of Galveston, Texas. We have a state tax rate of 6% and a local rate of 9% for a total of 15%. Without notice, in May of 2017, Airbnb began collecting and remitting only the state tax (6%). Additionally, Airbnb did not give owners a way to collect the local tax as part of the guest’s transaction. Owners would contact the guests and explain they would be charged an additional 9% upon arrival. Not only did the Airbnb reps lie to owners that Airbnb was collecting and remitting all taxes, but their reps lied to guests that there was no local tax to be paid. VRBO did the same thing in April 2019. We need to make this nightmare go away.

Injury, Infestation and Impertinence at Shendoah Solitude

I stayed at the Shenendoah Solitude in April, 2019. The listing notes “A 4WD vehicle is required to access the property in the winter.”

We went on a sunny, spring April day and could barely access the property. One of our guest’s cars was damaged en route, as the road was pure dirt and rocks, piled up to 1.5 feet high at places dues to a tractor having come through to ‘smooth the road.’ One car (a Mini Cooper) had to stay down in a parking lot at one of the local businesses for fear of getting stuck.

We were all rattled and annoyed as soon as we arrived. We saw a sign for “wildlife sightings” and began to fill out our experiences. During the trip we sighted: 1,000s of ants, wasps, water bugs, crickets, spiders, ladybugs, mosquitoes and coffee filter fungi, all inside the property.

We were provided with one roll of paper towels for seven people, for one night, and no additional rolls of toilet paper in the bathrooms. We could not find more than two towels per bathroom. One of the beds did not have sheets. We called the host and requested these items. She brought them. Upon cooking we noticed there were no oven mitts and no pot holders or trivets and had to do some pretty creative things, like wrapping our hands in the precious few towels, to remove items from the stove and oven.

The second night I took a shower in one bathroom in a very slippery tub that didn’t drain and fell getting out of it, crashing down on the sliding door tray. Getting down the mountain was even harder, and another car’s chassis got punctured.

All things considered: a terrible stay. However, that wasn’t why I am even taking the time to write this; it was the absolute horridness of the host that blew this experience from terrible to utterly despicable.

I emailed the rental property company with pictures of my injuries and reported on the safety issues. No response. I went to review the property on Airbnb and reported the safety issues there. I did not post a negative review about the host because I believe in karma, and if they took care of the issues I noted all would be good in the world.

But no, I accidentally ‘published’ my blank review which unleashed the wretched host’s review of me to the world. She called me “picky” and made fun of why I had called her: “Good communication, but this guest was nitpicky and had a lot of complaints. They called and said they had two towels for six people – the towels were in the cabinet. They called again and complained that the county was doing road work on one of the roads leading to the cabin and said that she was going to have to go get her car looked at because the road was so bumpy, etc.”

This was uncalled for. I contacted Airbnb and initiated a complaint regarding my injuries. I asked for a refund as well as compensation for my injuries and what I was prevented from doing in my life due to a severe hamstring and ACL contusions. They assigned a claims adjuster who looked at the documentation, receipts and my communications with the renter. The claims adjuster awarded me a little over $1,000.

When it came time to sign the release contract I noted that there were misspelling and inappropriate terms in the contract. I sent it back to Airbnb legal. The result? They completely ignored me, the claim, and have simply refused to respond to me any further. The claim is dead. I have been awarded no refund for the rental fee, no damages for the injury, and the property continues to be listed.

In summary: I will never use Airbnb again. It is like trying to get a hold of a foreign fly-by-night company. Airbnb is little better than these predatory sellers.

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Airbnb Guests Destroy Neighbors’ Property

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The house next door has been an Airbnb property for about a year. Until last weekend it wasn’t a problem. I arrived home from work on Saturday afternoon to discover that a large section of privacy fence that my husband and I had installed to divide the properties had been destroyed. This damage apparently occurred during the very large, very loud party that went on there over the entire weekend. I have attempted to contact both Airbnb and the property owners but have so far not gotten anywhere. I guess the next step will be to get a lawyer.

Robbed in Lisbon Apartment, Only Hosts Helped

We have just come back from a nightmare of a vacation and only sharing this with you all so everyone can be safe and secure themselves as everyone is traveling for the summer holidays.

We were in Lisbon June 10th-14th. On June 12th as we returned from our day out, we unlocked the apartment door. To our shock, we had been robbed. All valuables, personal belongings including clothes, shoes, purses, etc… everything of ours was gone.

The police didn’t cooperate as we were tourists and Airbnb customer care did not bother to respond to our urgent calls until the afternoon of the 13th. There was not a scratch or any forced entry in the apartment and the 13th being a public holiday in Lisbon we could not reach the right authorities. So it was well planned.

Travel insurance has shrugged themselves off our liability as it was a theft in a foreign jurisdiction at an apartment and not on us in person. Airbnb stopped responding to any of our communications as soon as we were out of Lisbon. We are calling them but not getting any conclusive assistance.

I’m only sharing so everyone is much aware of your belongings and be safe as we Indians tend to travel with cash and still believe in foreigners and their safety procedures, while they seem worse than one can imagine.

Airbnb has a community center for its hosts to discuss their issues and grievances. I want you to write your grievances with the hosts or any experience with Airbnb as a guest. Together we can make a difference.

I have managed to restart the correspondence after much pursuance with Airbnb since June 18th. I’m still pursuing the matter with Airbnb and to write a review for the host on Airbnb. The hosts are the only who helped us with our language barrier and pursued the police to lodge a complaint four hours after the incident by going to the police station.

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Dangerous Airbnb has my Car Towed, Wrist Broken

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My sister acts as a secretary for me, which really means she saves my life regularly. She booked me into the home of an Airbnb host in Kenasaw, GA (a suburb of Atlanta) in a condominium complex. Parking is an issue in Georgia. My sister had asked about parking and the lady texted me a parking number. The room was around back, which was strange.

I arrived during the day to a space with one bed, two sheets, a small refrigerator, and one roll of toilet tissue. The next day I got up, went to work, and stayed late because of torrential storms. When I arrived back at the room in the flood the lady’s van was parked in my spot. There were no others so I knocked on her door several times. I couldn’t get any response from this host.

I got my briefcase, my umbrella and coat and smudged along the trail to the back of the condo. There was no lighting in the back and I was using my phone to provide light. I got to the front door and there had been some carpentry work done while I was gone directly in front of my door. I steeped over part of it and a board that looked as if it were put there to walk on. The board slipped; I fell into the apartment door. I broke my wrist in two places.

That night my wrist hurt so I decided to go to the ER. I went out to get into my car about 4:00 AM and it was gone. I went through the acts of trying to contact my host, later to find she had had it towed. My focus changed from my wrist to my car. $235 later I was back in my car. It was time to go to work so I bought a wrist brace which helped a lot but not completely.

I got the host on the phone once and she very nervously said she didn’t own the property; it was her bosses. While looking for my car I called the condo association. They told me that area was the host’s and she knew there were not zones for Airbnb because she’d been reported before.

My wrist got worse before I finally went to the ER. It’s broken in two places because the host didn’t follow code. One other very simple violation of code is the life threatening issue of no smoke detectors. I photographed all of this. Stay away from this property – it could cost you your life.

P.S. If anyone who reads this knows a good personal injury attorney I would certainly like to meet with the attorney. I’m looking at six months in a cast and an operation.