Here’s my first and last experience with Airbnb. My wife, a friend and I rented a condo in April 2021 after reading positive reviews. This was to be a long-term stay for January, February, and March in Juan Dolio, the Dominican Republic.
Our friend arrived on Jan. 1. He called me after arrival and said the place was a dump but he was somewhat vague even saying he was not in the right condo unit. I was now worried. At that moment our hosts showed up; I could hear them in the background laughing. The following day I called my friend and asked what happened. He said he was still in the same unit and it was still a dump. I was still in Canada but flying out later that afternoon with my wife.
I called the host and told her my concerns and said I was thinking of canceling our flights. She assured me everything was fine and if there were any problems they would be rectified. On this assurance we decided to go. We told the host we would not be arriving at the condo till after midnight. She said this would be no problem as the reception is open 24 hours and they would register us and she would leave a key with them.
We arrived as said after midnight, registered and asked for the key. No key was left. We went up to the 12th floor and proceeded to try and wake our friend which took some time. By now exhausted from the travel, we decided to go to bed and face things afresh in the morning. The bedding and pillows smelt musty.
We awoke in the morning, and our fears were confirmed. It was a dump: filthy walls, cobwebs, cupboards falling off the hinges, rusted out washer and dryer, broken dishwasher not attached to the cupboard, all three showers broken, filthy stained couches, soiled mattress with what looked like urine and blood stains, patio furniture covered with blankets to hide the stains. This place was just plain worn out. It slept up to ten people and we believed it was a Party Palace where it was rented and trashed. We paid $4,300 CDN for the month of January expecting a luxury rental condo, not this dump.
We asked our next door neighbours to come take a look and they agreed it was disgusting and a health hazard. I am not a toxicologist but there appeared to be mold on the walls and furniture. It was definitely not COVID compliant. Our neighbours took us next door to have a look at their place; it was night and day in comparison.
I called the host to complain. She sent up the maintenance guy. I refused him entry and told her it was unfixable and she needed to come over. She said she would be there later then late afternoon cancelled, saying she would come the next day. I didn’t know it then but I was being played. If she came the next day the 24 hours to report to Airbnb would have expired.
The following day she showed up. I showed her the pictures on my iPad and she said it would be fixed. I told her it was beyond fixing , and she said she would move us. This was on Jan. 4. It was left this way on the understanding we would be moved to be notified later.
That day we went to the beach to try and relax. The beach area and surrounding grounds were amazing and beautiful, just what we anticipated. We returned to the condo around 3:30 PM to be met with a crew of six and the host in the condo without our permission. Two painters, two maintenance guys, two cleaners and the host were replacing showers and the washer and dryer, painting, cleaning, taking away part of the couch in all this chaos, and more the next day.
While it was good they acted quickly we were on vacation; nobody needs to go through this nonsense. They also painted over these black mouldy walls I still believe were a health hazard. The stained mattress was still in place, and there was a broken dishwasher and cupboards.
We got in touch with Airbnb. I spoke with 11 agents getting absolutely nowhere. We had sleepless nights from a bar directly below our tower that blasted music until 3:30 AM. Dogs were barking, chickens crowing, and cars racing and backfiring loud exhaust. After being passed on from agent to agent and specifically asking them the question over and over with no response and being told over and over “my shift is about to end, I will pass this on to the next available agent.”
We had our couch returned after being gone for 11 days. Each time we asked about the couch we were told by the host it was still drying after being cleaned — it was 30 degrees C. This was on Jan. 15, an unforgettable day in our lives. We decided on that day, we would stay until Jan. 31 having paid $4,300 Cdn and move on to new accommodation, thereby terminating our rental agreement due to no contact with the host or Airbnb to rectify our disgusting rental unit.
At first the host was okay with this, then she went ballistic with over 50 threatening texts telling us we were to vacate the premises by 11:00 AM the following day giving us 20 hours to pack and find other accommodation, she said cleaners would be at the condo at 11:00 AM and it had already been rented out the same day.
I contacted Airbnb with numerous emails telling them we were being evicted and this was an emergency situation. We needed help, and nobody replied. This day was to be unforgettable as our host also knew this as I had told her and she had recommended a nice restaurant for us to celebrate our “50th Golden
Wedding Anniversary.” I was fuming; I am in my early 70s and my wife will soon be 80. To evict an elderly couple with 20 hours’ notice to find other accommodation in the Dominican Republic on the weekend is reprehensible. Needless to say, our anniversary was ruined.
On the good side, I was able to secure accommodation through a local realtor team who really came through and found us a nice two bedroom. It was the same location in a different tower. Had we dealt with this exceptionally good team, we probably would have stayed but we returned back to Canada on Jan. 22. Airbnb rewarded our host with $4,300 and gave us a $24 refund.
That is why l will never use Airbnb again. I now tell all my friends and acquaintances to be beware. Thanks for reading.