Airbnb Left me Pregnant and Homeless After False Charges

I have yet to read about a case as unique and long as mine. Instead of explaining my story, since it would take me hours, I’ll copy and paste the email I sent to Airbnb about my experience. Long story short: I’m pregnant, homeless, no food, no gas, no shelter. Airbnb evicted me from an illegal sublet due to the host renting out his home illegally. I had to borrow $1200 from my family while I waited for the refund. Ten whole days went by when I was contacted via email saying the money had been put into my account. Not 15 minutes later, Airbnb double charged me and took every penny out of my bank account: $1500, $1100 for rent and $400 for living expenses.

This left me homeless because I couldn’t pay the rent. I’m two months pregnant and living out of my car. No gas. No food. No job since I haven’t had gas to get there. I couldn’t pay my family back from the refund I got that was taken back 15 minutes later. Now let me say what Airbnb has done seven days later: nothing. There has been promise after promise to help and call back. I have two days until my phone bill needs to be paid, which means no more contact with Airbnb unless I find wifi to email them. The only thing I have been asked to do is write an email for the investigation; this is what I wrote seven days ago and there has still been no call back (I call every day for hours just to be told “it’s not my department and I cannot help you but someone will call you”).

To whom this may concern: about eight months ago my fiancé and myself decided we would use Airbnb to save up to buy an apartment. We decided we would use Airbnb for one year to avoid moving costs. We knew this would be a hard year due to the fact we would need to divide our trip up; no host would allow us to stay more than a month or a couple months. Every single Airbnb has been a nightmare. I feel as though I’m getting into the wrong field (psychology) because I thought every host would be different so that it would work out better than the last. Instead, it got worse.

It was my first host who convinced me, brand new to Airbnb, that it was okay to pay cash the day we came to view the home. I now know why. The second day I called Airbnb due to health hazards. He began doing major illegal construction in the home. I called and showed all types of pictures. He did construction on the only shower in the home, knocking walls down while I was doing homework and hammering at 3:00 AM. He had no permits, and got saw dust all over my belongings; by this I mean ruined clothes, shoes, bedding, etc. and that was the day we left.

We took all our belongings and went to another Airbnb. We were promised a parking space and he didn’t even have street parking. We dealt with walking a half mile every day after work. My fiancé is a longshoreman that works 40-hour shifts and gets home all hours of the night. Every day he had to walk that when he parked after work. If you look at my messages with the host they say it all.

Then we stayed at an Airbnb which was absolutely disgusting. It started to get really bad when we went with another host. He began smoking crack cocaine in the house. I called Airbnb and opened another case. He was committing domestic violence. There were roaches, mice, and a lot of screaming between him and his wife. You can look at messages with the host as well; they will say it all and I opened a new case. We were supposed to stay with him for two months but I couldn’t do schoolwork once again due to an Airbnb host.

We left and went to a host who was the worst of them all. I was put in a completely occupied room. I was convinced he got confused and put us in the wrong room because it wasn’t the room in the pictures. We were promised a TV, AC, and fridge and we were put in a tiny 90-degree room with no fan. There were also bedbugs so Airbnb’s emergency department placed me with someone else. The money was transferred from one host to another. I got an email with a receipt stating I paid as well. The host, at the beginning of our month-long stay, said he received a $1200 payout. I sent Airbnb both the receipt stating I paid and messages from the host saying that I paid.

The new host’s house was disgusting too but we said we would stick it out. It was gross but at least the people were nice and had a newborn. I cleaned their home and was a very nice guest. Everything was fine until the host began going into our room when we weren’t home, and he would walk around half naked; he was rude. That’s all in our messages. I didn’t call the host on it since I decided I was going to leave him a review instead – stating the facts – so Airbnb and others could look at his reviews.

Why in the world would the host not reach out to Airbnb about $1200 if he didn’t receive that? That’s crazy. I even have him saying he received the payment. I got an email one day saying there was trouble receiving my payment so I called right away and the Airbnb agent said it took a little while for the money to be transferred and that I should completely ignore the mail. He proceeded to give me $20 for the inconveniences of the emails and I should not worry at all about the money. That phone call was obviously recorded so please listen to the man tell me to ignore the emails, state the host got the money, and offer twenty dollars for the inconveniences from the email scare. We stayed there for a month and it was the worst experience ever.

An hour after we arrived at our next host my fiancé dropped the keys down the elevator shaft so we called the host. He said it was no problem and he would get one from the landlord. Not 15 minutes later, I had his landlord and a police officer telling me I was living in an illegal house, that our host was not allowed to sublet, and we had to leave. Then I got an email from Airbnb saying to leave by 8:00 PM and that Airbnb was evicting me. At that point we took all our belongings and sat in the car for hours talking to Airbnb about a second emergency placement.

After hours and hours and hours on the phone of me saying I don’t trust Airbnb anymore I was convinced by an agent she would find me a “super host” with great reviews. Still sitting in the car with all our belongings, I listened to Airbnb telling me about our next host. She accepted all my money and then said that she couldn’t host us until the next day. I told her we couldn’t sleep in our car and she said it wasn’t her fault, that she doesn’t live there. My fiancé then told me to call Airbnb to get our money. He didn’t have it in him to work 70 hours a week to pay for us to continue to get screwed.

We made the scariest decision of our lives which was to take our money and move into a hotel. Like I said, we were using Airbnb to find an apartment so we decided that we would stay at a hotel for a couple weeks while we looked for an apartment and wait for our money to be put back into our bank account from the last host. Airbnb wouldn’t even pay for two full nights at the hotel for us. They gave us $200 and that was it. We were supposed to wait 7 to 10 days for a refund with literally no money. I had to borrow the money from my best friend to pay for the hotel and promised her Airbnb was going to give me a refund; we just needed a loan.

While living in the hotel I found an apartment for us. We just needed the refund and we could afford it. I waited those days and finally got the refund. I called the landlord and said I would meet him the next day to get the keys and pay. I told him I would meet him at 10:00 AM. Not 15 minutes after the money was put into the account Airbnb took it out and sent me a second receipt for a payment. I felt like I was in a dream; there is no way Airbnb could still be ruining our lives.

I immediately called Airbnb and had an agent tell me immediately that it was a double charge and that this would be fixed. I then called back after no word from getting the double charge back after 13 hours. At this point I had six hours to meet the landlord for the apartment so I called again and had someone tell me to call the landlord. My money would be put into my account.

Needless to say I lost the apartment we were supposed to move into today. Now I’m over a month pregnant and had to give the rest of my bank account to the hotel so we wouldn’t be homeless. We have a few days here then we are officially homeless because of Airbnb. I had three agents promise me the money within 24 hours. I was promised phone calls. I was promised this would all be fixed and nothing has happened. I have received not a dime, not a phone call, not even empathy. At 26 years old, my future, first apartment, and shelter was taken.

I start school on the 6th of September and I’m going to be homeless sleeping in our car most likely. I never thought something like this could even happen. I don’t even feel like I was compensated properly from all my troubles. This is the most stressed out I’ve ever been in my life. We are such hard working good people. Anyways hopefully I gave Airbnb enough evidence to prove my future was just pulled out from underneath me. I’m begging for our money back ASAP. I haven’t slept for two full nights waiting and waiting for our money. Please listen to the agents promising me this money and telling me I was double charged.

Airbnb Doesn’t Care About Basic Cleanliness

I booked a room in LA for three months. It was probably not the best move, but I didn’t know anyone in LA and I actually thought it would be safer to use Airbnb. When I finally got there, I thought it was the dirtiest place I had ever seen. I can only assume that the host and his flatmate used used all the old furniture they had to furnish the so-called guest room. There was one shaky secretary, one chair whose height adjustment no longer worked, an old drawer, and one old bed. This bed was quite a sight: its stage was broken, so the host decided to put one mattress on top of the other in order to compensate for that. The mattress on the top looked and felt like a rescue from an underfunded dog shelter: it was quite possibly older than myself (30) and it sank in when I’d lie on it to sleep. Quite soon I had a lot of back pain.

The room itself was filthy beyond belief. It seemed to have never been cleaned for over a year. I vacuumed the carpet the first morning I spent there, and I cleaned the secretary, the windows, and the drawer. Everything was dusty and stained. The sheets also did not seem to be recently cleaned. The rest of the house wasn’t much better: the furniture was far newer and more appropriate, but it was equally dirty. It boggles my mind: do these people actually think it’s normal to live like this? There was an unpleasant smell in the house. The kitchen had mold. The floor was sticky due to the accumulated filth.

I left the house after one week (as soon as I found another room). I asked for a refund, which, as expected, the little scammer that calls himself a host refused to pay. So I got Airbnb involved. What did they do? Nothing. Zero. After two weeks they still hadn’t responded to my claim. I had to call them, after spending an hour searching for their number on the internet (it’s nowhere on their website, which is indicative of their whole attitude). When they finally said something, it amounted to nothing.

“The host is unwilling to negotiate a refund.” Oh, really? Who would have guessed?

So how much did I lose? $2000, thanks to the host’s strict cancellation policy (which has already been struck down by a court in South Korea). The host then went on to double book the room. In addition, some of the reviews on his posting were fake. How do I know this? I had seen one of his flatmate’s friends when I was there, the first morning. He left a review on the posting two weeks after I left, raving about how awesome the host was.

Two Months Bouncing Around Airbnb Misery

My nightmare began in early February. I’d moved back to Chicago, having completed law school there in January 2017. I initially found a great and cheap sublet in Lincoln Square for January. Unfortunately, the tenant returned from traveling abroad in early February and Airbnb was my best alternative. I didn’t have time to go apartment hunting as I was deep in bar exam preparation. I selected a shared living situation with a host in Andersonville who had sterling reviews and claimed to be a very relaxed and almost guru-like individual, living in harmony and exuding peace. What I found was a middle-aged woman who believed she had psychic abilities, had recently had foot surgery, and was taking a lot of pain medication.

I had a very bizarre breakfast with her the first morning. She babbled on and on for a couple of hours and prepared mystery goo, clearly under the influence of her pain medication (and likely her delusions of psychic powers). I left in the early afternoon of that first morning to go study at the university library and was there until late into the evening. I returned, watched the tail of the Super Bowl, chatted with her, and then went to bed. The next day I went to work and returned home in the evening and resumed studying for the bar at a table she’d encouraged me to use for that purpose. At around 8:30 PM she brought me more mysterious food, and then at 8:45 she came over and told me she was uncomfortable with me for reasons unknown, as I’d barely been there and she’d certainly been the much weirder individual in our interactions.

Her name is “Ashqi”, a name some random guru purportedly gave her. She’s a paralegal in Chicago but she has no understanding of the law. I’d recommend running far away from her listing if you see it. As I began questioning what that was about, she proclaimed she didn’t like feeling like she was being unreasonable in her own home. Well, if you take someone’s money and offer them housing through a formal service that does only that, then you should expect to address the concerns of your guests, particularly if you express to them that they make you uncomfortable. She said she’d think about it and went back into her kitchen with her friend with whom she’d been cackling loudly as I was attempting to study. I let the situation sink in, and resolved that I would leave the next day.

Fifteen minutes later, after I’d been made uncomfortable to the point of returning to the bedroom and locking the door, she told me she needed me out that night. This was at 9:30 PM. I immediately got on the phone to Airbnb, eventually got through, and let them know that she was violating their user agreement (and local, state and federal housing laws to boot). They were surprisingly accommodating and refunded the total to my account so I could book another Airbnb that night. I had a fairly uneventful stay in a Lakeview apartment for the next five days. However, it was too pricey to remain so I booked with a couple who had a space that looked like a nice and stable place to stay in order to finish out my bar prep. The listing claimed it was a private room, living space, and private bath. The first two were true, but the bathroom was in their kitchen, while the bedroom and living space were downstairs.

Furthermore, what they didn’t disclose is that they had two young girls who made constant shrieking and running noises right above the bedroom from about 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM. These girls and their babysitter were almost constantly in the kitchen, right outside the bathroom, and would stare icily each and every time I had to go use the bathroom. It made holding in it for hours at a time often the best choice. What was more, the laundry room adjoining the living space had three separate litter boxes in it (for one cat), all of which had heaps of cat feces and urine clumps in them for the entire two weeks, despite the fact that the cat never used them while I was there, instead going outside. It was really nasty.

They were also a very dirty family, which could be excused given the ages of their children, but it got to the point where I became very ill twice during the two weeks just from going on into their bathroom and kitchen. They left dishes out for days, and food uncovered on the stove overnight. They pled with me to leave them good reviews from the very start and complained about bad reviews they’d received. When I checked out, despite what was a pretty bad experience, I left a good review. They in turn criticized how much time I spent in the house. I told them in the initial message that I’d be preparing for the bar exam. They weren’t too bright and I guess assumed that meant I’d be out of the house like a tourist for reasons unknown.

Again I found another good place in Lakeview, but could only stay there for two weeks before it was booked again. I decided to pick one more place before I was able to move into my apartment in mid-March. I could only afford a place in Wicker Park at $28/night. The pictures accurately represented the hovel it was. From all appearances it would have served well as the kind of place where people are held captive secretly like in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: unfinished, one old crappy rug, a few extremely dirty cooking implements, and a twin bed that was probably salvaged from an alley. I was fine with all of that; I needed to save money for apartment move-in fees and other associated costs. I just had to grin and bear it. It was a place I actively avoided until I had to sleep, though that was difficult in the middle of winter in Chicago.

I booked for two weeks but found a place to stay earlier (I’d informed the host my purpose in staying there was to look for an apartment while I started a new job) and attempted to change my reservation to end five days early. The host had already messaged me in the middle of the night two nights prior, lightly accusing me of withholding payment from him (as if that was even possible). I informed him Airbnb guests are charged immediately upon booking and his issue was with Airbnb. He said he’d get in contact. When I requested the change, he immediately rejected it. I messaged him to let him know why I was requesting it, and he said he’d already turned someone else down in order to accommodate me. He clearly didn’t turn down an Airbnb guest because no one could have attempted to book it while I had it booked.

I gently insisted that I needed to check out and whatever his issues with payment were, they needed to be addressed to Airbnb. Again he refused, suggesting that he wouldn’t let me leave until he got paid. I suggested that it was likely Airbnb withheld funds from hosts as a policy until reservations had ended, specifically to ensure that hosts couldn’t withhold refunds or keep guests’ money and kick them out prematurely. He wasn’t interested in this rationale. I find myself currently a day away from a release from Airbnb hell, and yet still in the midst of it, currently listening to the same hold music I’ve been hearing for the last 90 minutes, waiting for some form of customer service.

Long story short: use Airbnb only for short-term vacation rentals and even then, be prepared to know your legal rights as a tenant in the jurisdiction in which you’re staying. Contrary to what many hosts and probably guests seem to think, Airbnb is really just a financial clearing house for rental situations. They are not in the hospitality industry and hosts certainly are not, despite the artifice they present of being a hotel alternative. You have rights as a tenant under these short-term tenancies that are the same as if you were renting an apartment. You have a right to notice before you are kicked out and in truth, you can’t legally be removed from the tenancy unless you’ve committed an unlawful act. A violation of the host’s house policies may permit them to cancel your reservation, but you are not compelled to leave the premises immediately upon that cancellation regardless of what the host insists upon.

The relationship is one of landlord to tenant, not host to guest. Knowing this, regardless of the length of your stay, should allow you to familiarize yourself with your rights as a tenant in the specific jurisdiction and assert those rights at all times. Really, just avoid it unless you have no other choice. There are a number of great hosts and guests but Airbnb does a really bad job of explaining to their hosts what their responsibilities are to their guests (tenants) and the nature of the contract they’re entering into each time they accept a booking. This is undoubtedly intentional from Airbnb, as allowing confusion and misunderstanding about the legal rights, responsibilities and remedies available to the people they have using their platform to persist mitigates the potential for litigation against them. Indemnification by misinformation and lack of transparency.

Finally, if you’re a guest, I’d suggest asking as many questions of potential hosts as possible, particularly in shared living situations. They owe you candor but most think they can adopt the rules that best suit them. Ask them what they are concealing from their listing or what might be misleading. Lead with the assertion that you aren’t asking in order to avoid staying with them, but to better understand what your living situation is. If they think they’re offering customer service in this mistaken fantasy they have of being a hotelier or B&B operator, they’ll be much more likely to be honest. That may be the only time you get any sort of honest action out of them, but it will help you avoid some of my nightmare.

Host Cancelled my Long-Term Booking in Sri Lanka

Last November I booked a long term stay in Sri Lanka. I wanted to stay for ten weeks in order to have some time to write, as well as to look at properties to buy as I hope to move there eventually. I found the perfect place, booked from June through mid-August, and all seemed well. The place had very good reviews and seemed perfect. Last January the host began emailing me: Why was I staying so long? He didn’t think it was a good idea; better to stay a week in different cities; he didn’t serve breakfast. All of this was in short, separate messages. He wanted me to cut my stay to a shorter one and he would refund my payment. I explained to him that I am a retiree and did not want to move around; I wanted to stay in one place, relax, write, and look for a property to buy. He sent about ten such messages. I did not hear back from him and assumed he had accepted.

Then, recently I decided that I would indeed prefer to go in July not June so went to let him know this. I found that my entire reservation had been deleted from Airbnb, as well as all messages and notifications from him. I looked at his reservation calendar, and I saw that the months I had booked are now mostly open again. I booked for two weeks in July, which at first were accepted. I then wrote him to ask why he had cancelled without letting me know, and what we were to do about the down payment I had made. At first he seemed confused; maybe he did not realise I was the same person. Then he declined the reservation, and wrote me to say I had not paid. I have searched the Airbnb site up and down and there is no way to contact them about this. Since the reservation itself is not there any more, I cannot complain. They only allow discussions on reservations that are on the site, but mine has been completely deleted. I need a contact email ASAP. I live in Germany so calling is a bit of a hassle. What can I do?

Scammers Keep Adapting: Long-Term Apartment in Vienna

I was planning to find an apartment to rent in Vienna long term and used the website jobwohnen.at to look for a place. There I found a really good offer of a very nice apartment, with a really good price and an incredible location. I thought it was perfect and decided to write the person renting the apartment, Matilda Veracruz Barrera. The listing was in German and it seemed really nice. Since I speak Spanish and the name of the contact was clearly from a Spanish-speaking country, I suggested that we could communicate in Spanish. After a short time, I received this message:

“Hello, I just read your email regarding my apartment for rent located in Vienna, Austria. It has two rooms: one bedroom, one living room (51 square meters). I bought this apartment for my daughter during her studies in Austria, but now she’s back home permanently. I’m renting the place for an unlimited time. Before we go any further I would like to know a little something about you, like how many people you intend to live in the apartment, and for how long. The flat is exactly like in the pictures, furnished and renovated. The utilities (cold/hot water, electricity, wireless broadband Internet, digital TV , dishwasher, microwave, refrigerator, washing machine, etc.) are included in the price of the rent. You will have one parking spot, whose rent is 470 EUR month. The guarantee deposit is  1250 EUR, and you get it back when you decide to leave the apartment (you will have to give me at least 30 days’ notice). As for me, you can rest assured that I will never ask you to leave the apartment. My daughter is building her life here. I am too old to move to Austria, so we won’t disturb you. You can use my furniture, or you can also use your own if you prefer. If you decide to use yours, you will have access to a very large and well ventilated cellar, where you can store my furniture. Now, a little bit about myself so we can get to know each other better. My name is Matilda Veracruz Barrera and I’m 56 years old, Deputy Director of the chamber of commerce from Barcelona/Spain, planning to retire in the next two years. I have a lovely husband, Luis Veracruz Barrera, and a 25-year-old daughter, Luisa. I am very proud to say that soon I’m going to be a grandmother. Another member of our family is an 8-year-old Labrador which we all love, so I have no problem if you keep pets. The only inconvenience is that my job doesn’t allow me to leave Barcelona even for one single day. We just hired some new staff and I’m in charge of their training. This won’t affect you at all. I can make arrangements to rent the apartment from Barcelona (on my expense of course). Looking forward to hearing from you soon. All the best from Spain!”

This message to me seemed perfect but also strange, since I suggested that we could speak in Spanish but she responded in English. I thought that maybe this person had this already written in English and was just copying and pasting to anybody contacting her. Now I realize that the listing was in German and the sudden switch to English was weird as well, since I wrote her in German in the first place and just suggested Spanish as an option. I was very naïve and decided to write her back. I was super nice and super detailed with my moving date, and my purpose in Vienna, so that the person would trust me. After that message I received this:

“Gracias por su respuesta, Como te he informado antes, el precio de 1 mes de alquiler será de 470 euros con todas las facturas incluidas en él, y quiero también un depósito de garantía de 1250 euros (el depósito de garantía de € 1250 que recibirá de vuelta al final de la Contrato), sin impuestos adicionales a pagar. Quiero recibir el dinero mensualmente en mi cuenta bancaria, por lo que espero que no será ningún problema para que el cable del dinero. Estoy dispuesto a enviarle las llaves para que pueda visitarlo y ver que se adapte a sus necesidades. La entrega de las llaves y permiso de visualización (firmado por mí), se hará con Airbnb (www.airbnb.com) para asegurarse de que podamos confiar en el otro. Si estás interesado te puedo explicar el procedimiento, así que espero noticias de tu lado porque realmente necesito ocuparme de este asunto. ¡Gracias!”

This message seemed ok. I thought that it was the real deal since it was written in Spanish. The thing is that I gave so many details and this seemed to be a very cold message. Also the Spanish wording is a little bit weird and with some clear mistakes. I thought: mistakes from a Deputy Director of the chamber of commerce? If you put that message into Google Translate you get this:

“Thanks for your reply. As I have informed you, the price of one month’s rent will be 470 euros with all bills included, and I also want a security deposit of 1250 euros (you will receive the security deposit of €1250 back at the end of the contract), without additional taxes to be paid. I want to receive the money monthly into my bank account, so I hope it will not be any problem for you to do a wire transfer. I am willing to send you the keys so that you can visit and see that it suits your needs. The delivery of the keys and permission of visualization (signed by me), will be done with Airbnb (www.airbnb.com) to make sure we can trust each other. If you are interested I can explain the procedure, so I expect news from your side because I really need to deal with this. Thank you!”

Of course they used Google Translate. The whole situation still seemed so fishy but I decided to continue to read her responses. I wrote her a short message saying that I was interested and that I would like to know how the process with Airbnb works. I also told her that I needed the apartment for July and not immediately. I received then this back:

“Hello, the contract is made in your name, and yes, everything is included. First of all, I want to tell you that if you are ready to proceed with this transaction I will need to inform you the steps about how this service works. You will have two days to inspect the apartment before your final decision to rent. I will pay the shipping costs. This is how it works:

  1. I will deliver the papers to Airbnb.
  2. After I deliver the papers they will require your payment confirmation of the first month and the guarantee deposit (€470.00 + €1250.00=€1720) to the company. Airbnb will send you a delivery notification to let you know they have the keys and the papers in their custody. Also Airbnb will give you further instructions about the deposit.
  3. After the payment is confirmed the delivery process will start and when you receive the keys, you will have two days to inspect the property before your final decision to rent.
  4. If all is in order, you will instruct Airbnb to give me the money. Future rent will be sent directly to my bank account.
  5. If you refuse to rent the apartment, Airbnb will give you a full refund (€1720.00) and you will give them back the keys and the contract. If you are interested in renting the apartment please send me your information, so I can make the deal: name, address, city, postal code, country, phone number, a copy of your ID, passport or driving license by email (scan or photo) and a picture of you. Thanks!”

Again the conversation was switched back to English with no feedback on my elaborated details. It seemed so fishy at this point that I decided to Google this woman at the chamber of commerce of Barcelona, and I couldn’t find anything. Then I decided to look for Airbnb scams and found a very similar story posted on Airbnb Hell some days ago with a long-term apartment in Iceland. That’s why I’m sharing my story, because it is clearly a scam. I am not angry with Airbnb; they haven’t done anything to me. I cannot say that Airbnb is a good or a bad platform, since I’ve never used it before, but there’s definitely a bunch of idiots outside of Airbnb trying to use it to scam people. This post is just to show people out there to be careful with these kind of offers. Don’t fall into this trap. Fortunately I was careful enough in the end, but some people might fall for this and the amount of money they are asking for is quite a lot. I hope this helps others in similar situations and they will report it here or somewhere else. Please let me know where else can I share my story so people won’t be fooled in the future.

Am I Being Fooled? Long-term Airbnb in Iceland

I was planing to rent an apartment in Reykjavik, Iceland. The price looked a little cheap. I wanted to ask if it was the real deal; the landlord said he lives abroad and he is offering to pay one month’s rent and one month’s deposit through Airbnb, that he will keep the money until I get the keys and agree to rent the apartment, and only then will the rent be deposited in his bank account. Here are his messages:

Hello, I just read your email regarding my apartment located in Reykjavik. It has two bedrooms, a living room, bathroom, and kitchen. I bought this apartment for my daughter while she was studying in Iceland. She’s back home permanently, so I’m renting the place for an indefinite time. Before we go any further I would like to know a little something about you: how many people intend to live in the apartment, and for how long? The flat looks exactly like the pictures, fully furnished and renovated. Also – very important – the utilities (cold/hot water, electricity, wireless broadband Internet, digital TV, parking spot, dishwasher, garbage disposal, microwave, refrigerator, washing machine, etc.) are included in the price of 125.000ISK/month. As for me, you can rest assured that I will never ask you to leave the apartment.

My daughter is building her life here, and I am too old to move to Iceland, so we won’t disturb you. You can use my furniture, or you can also use your own if you prefer. If you decide to use yours, you will have access to a very large and well-ventilated cellar, where you can store my furniture. Now, a little bit about myself so we can get to know each other better. My name is Thomas Nordanger and I’m a 58-year-old structural engineer. I work for MWH Global Engineering. I worked hard to have a good career and I really respect hard-earned money. The company I work for has projects all around the world so most of my time I’m traveling. I have a lovely wife, Sarah, and a 25-year-old daughter, Maria. I am very proud to say that soon I’m going to be a grandfather. Another member of our family is an 8-year-old Labrador which we all love, so, I have no problem if you will keep pets. I’m in Rome now working on a new project. The only inconvenience is that my job doesn’t allow me to leave Rome even for a single day. We just hired some new staff and I’m in charge of their training. However, this won’t affect you at all. I can make arrangements to rent the apartment from Rome (on my expense of course). Looking forward to hear from you soon. All the best from Italy!

After I expressed some concern about the situation, he wrote this:

Thank you for your reply but the problem is that I’m in Rome already. Like I have informed you, the price you shall pay for one month’s rent will be 125.000ISK, with no extra taxes to pay. The security deposit is 125.000ISK. I want to retrieve the money from my bank account on a monthly basis, so I hope it will be no problem for you to wire the money to my bank account. The apartment is ready for you; you will need only to receive the keys and the contract to check in, and see if you like it. Obviously we need a way to complete this deal, that will allow us to make sure we receive what we are after. Along those lines, I have found a way for us to complete the deal safely and fast, and in this way you will receive the keys in less than three days, if you move quickly as well.

The solution is a worldwide third party company called Airbnb (www.airbnb.com). They will provide assistance in handling the payment and delivery of the rental package. We use this company to see that you are a trusting and serious person. With this procedure you will be able to check the apartment before I receive the payment. Please be aware that it is not necessary for you to register with Airbnb given that I’ve been a registered user for four years and I’ve made over five transactions with them so far. They are really professional and they have great services. Let me know if you are interested so I can provide you with all the steps of this transaction. You need to know everything about this process before we get this started. I think is right for both of us.

I replied again asking for more information, and he wrote back:

This transaction cannot be made face-to-face. This is the whole reason for using Airbnb – for both of us to be 100% protected. Regarding the process, you will only have to deposit the first month’s rent with Airbnb for the contract and security deposit 125.000ISK + 125.000ISK = 250.000ISK and they can proceed with shipping the rental package (keys and documents). I will pay for three-day delivery so you will receive the keys and the contract signed by me right away. I will explain you step by step how this process will work:

To start the process all I need is your information (full name and address). I will go online at Airbnb to deposit the keys and the contract with your name as the intended receiver. Airbnb will check the package to see if everything is in order and also the legal papers that will come along with the keys and proof of ownership with their Real Estate Professional Department. Airbnb will send you a delivery notification to let you know they have the keys and the papers in their custody. They will also send you all the payment instructions to complete the rental transaction.

At this point you will have to go to your bank and make a money transfer to the bank account of an Airbnb representative for the amount we agreed upon; the total amount you shall deposit is 250.000ISK. After you make the deposit you will have to send the payment details to Airbnb. Airbnb will verify the transfer and if everything is in order they will start the shipping procedures using UPS or TNT Next Day Shipping Service. After you receive the package, you will go and check the apartment and in three days (inspection time) you must contact Airbnb to inform them if you want to keep the apartment or not. If everything is in order you will instruct Airbnb to send me the information about the money deposit and I will be able to receive the funds.

If you don’t like the apartment they will be sending the money back to you and you will send back the keys and contract. Airbnb can’t release the funds without your approval. Now I must know for sure if you agree because there are a lot of people interested in renting this apartment and I want to know for sure if I can tell them it’s unavailable. If you agree to what I suggested I will tell them that my apartment is already rented and I will keep it for you. If you agree then I must have all the shipping details so I will be able to make all the arrangements for the Airbnb delivery. Thank you for your interest and I await news from you.

What do you think?

Stuck in a Long-Term Airbnb Nightmare

We booked the Casa Iguana Hotel and Suites in Mismaloya, Mexico. Advertised was an equipped kitchen, hot tub, swimming pool, wifi, and mini market, with the pictures showing a waterfall cascading into the pool. We are booked from January 6th to February 24th. We are still here. We have tried contacting Airbnb to no avail. We arrived to an absolutely filthy two bedroom condo. It was equipped with one fork, a couple of knives, two chipped plates, a couple of cups, no pots and pans, no towels, no dish towels, and no hangers in the closet – the rack was broken and couldn’t hold a hanger anyway. The lamps and shades were filthy, the hot plate did not work, and the kitchen counter was dirty. There is no waterfall. The mini fridge was filled with so much frost we could not put anything in it. The hot tub is empty and does not work, the four lounge chairs around the pool (for a 42-unit hotel) are broken, there are eight chairs around the pool to sit on, and there are only three tables. The “bar” has never been open and has nothing in it.

We were relocated to another suite the day we arrived after I angrily made a complaint to the front desk about the unlivable conditions of our condo. The next condo was tolerable, but the hot plate still doesn’t work and the lamps are filthy. We decided to make the best of it. We were given a single hot plate that is so slow it took me an hour to make mac and cheese. Tonight was the final straw: there are kids literally screaming from the early morning to 11:00 PM. The mini market has shelves that are almost empty. What’s laughable is Airbnb’s promise to mediate, and relocate us under these appalling conditions. How can they mediate when I cannot get ahold of them? We are stuck in this nightmare. Our final payment is due on February 3rd. There is nothing for us to rent in Puerto Vallarta in our price range from February 3rd until we leave on February 24th. Never again will I be dealing with a company that makes promises they cannot fulfill.

Search for Respite in Florida Turns to Airbnb Scam

I’m a recovering cancer patient and I went to Sarasota, Florida for respite and to look for a permanent home. I used to live close by there and enjoyed what the city had to offer in the art and culture areas. The efficiency apartment I thought I was renting for more than a month turned out to be a sort of converted single car garage without many of the listed amenities, i.e. pool view, Internet, el fresco table, privacy. Tiny windows were blocked by bicycles hung on hooks and there was no real entrance. Instead, there was a wooden gate with a padlock. The garage faced a storage shed, recycle bins, and a large lumber pile with critters. The shower was smaller than my son’s coffin. The host and his wife were very nice. If you want to be scammed, nice people do it in a charming way. There was a puppy (this was August 2016 so it may be a little bigger now) and two little children, not the one little child in the advertisement. The apartment was not across the street from a bus stop, and I don’t recommend that you stop here, period.