Shabby Airbnb in Beverly Hills with Ants

Last week we completed a nearly two-week Airbnb stay in Los Angeles. It was not good. There were ants in the bedroom and bathroom which were discovered in the first hour of arrival. Our host helpfully offered the upstairs accommodation instead (normally more expensive, but it was offered at the same price). We were grateful even as we noted that it had the same bug problem on a smaller scale.

The host responded the next day with ant bait traps and spray. We put the ant traps in the affected bathroom and bedroom and this confined the problem to those areas. Our group of five adjusted and moved into two bedrooms instead of the three and used one bathroom since the other had the bug problem, All was manageable and though it was disappointing, they were just ants. One can live with inconvenience.

However, on the last couple of days the ants moved into our beds. At 7:30 PM of the last night of our stay we texted the host that we had to camp in the living room since there were ants in our bed. Incredibly enough, there was no response.

A few hours later after 10:00 PM, I texted the host again. No response. Nor has there been any response, gesture, refund or apology since then.

I contacted Airbnb. I provided photos of the ants and a screenshot of my messages with host about the ants. The process with Airbnb had an investigative tone (somewhat tolerable and understandable) until the representative said that in order to really move the needle I needed to have taken photos the very first moment I communicated with the host on hour one of day one.

This seemed an excessive of burden of proof to require when nothing adversarial had even taken place. He also seemed to convey from the host that we attracted the ants in the first place or later. This felt punitive and demoralizing. It felt like a lot was required to back up a reasonable claim: refund the money for the last night because we had to leave the bedroom and maybe a small gesture in addition. We would have been okay with that.

Instead, what we got was a torturous, rigid and righteous reading of the rules as though it were the Magna Carta or the constitution of Airbnb. The offer of $126 (half of one night’s stay) was completely lacking in imagination and compassionate identification with the renter. It were as though I had to prove (even after photos were produced and messages sent) that we hadn’t fabricated a claim. To get what? One full night credit?

The prospect of writing a review is not only unappealing but unfair to the host and disconnected from reality. The host has medium sized business staging properties and manages them for Airbnb renters in southern California. What good is a single review against a conglomerate of Airbnb and its multi-property host?

I feel like David against Goliath. I simply want the respect entitled to someone who came to Airbnb in good faith with the presumption of a lodging where every night of your stay you can sleep in your bed.

Airbnb Cozy Modern Studio Over a Dumpster

We were super excited to stay at this property because all of the photos on the Airbnb ad showed a lovely walk and beachfront condo. Little did we know that none of the exterior photos were of the unit being advertised. All of the exterior photos showed views of a beachfront unit with a patio and grill, when in fact this unit was in a separate building, facing the other direction, over a wall and an alley. There was no view, and no patio.

The only furniture near the patio (which was between the beach view units) was walled off with a sign that said: “owner only, no trespassing.” There was no view and no outdoor space, and it was the opposite of beachfront property; it was dumpster alley front. The inside was tiny, with no fans or air conditioning, only a tiny bed you had to climb a ladder to reach that faced an alley. There was not even a window that opens, just a tiny crank window in the bathroom that opened about two inches. We couldn’t sleep because there was a window (that does not open for air flow) right next to the bed with no shade. Cars drove down the alley all night with lights shining in our faces. It was also extremely loud due to all the drunk people fighting and running up and down the alley all night. It turned out, the bed was actually over the alley dumpster. Good luck sleeping with drunk people throwing bottles in it all night.

There was also a sunken shower that extended into the middle of the walkway – super dangerous and not at all family friendly. The Airbnb booking included TV. There was a TV, but it was mounted about nine feet off the ground, had no working remote, and was not actually hooked up even for local channels. For $250 a night, most people would think things like TV and air conditioning are standard. This is clearly a professional investment property. No one lives here – or could – full time. It is a tiny closet-sized box in an alleyway.

Airbnb did not care that the place was not as advertised. Simply not advertising them doesn’t relieve the host of his responsibility to be accurate. Accuracy includes divulging information, not withholding it. There should be a map showing that this is a back wall-facing unit with no views, no air conditioning, no TV, and no patio. I paid $978 and the place was so bad that we packed up and left at 7:00 AM, and moved to a hotel. I immediately messaged the host and agreed to pay 25% of the total price, so $734. He messaged me back and said he would refund me in accordance with the moderate cancellation policy. I thought that meant we had an agreement (which is more than fair, considering that we only stayed one night).

I didn’t hear from him again until I had arrived back in my hometown and he messaged me saying I would be refunded only $195. This really made me mad and I am sure it was tactical. He then told Airbnb that because I didn’t click “cancel” on my reservation, he couldn’t rent out the place for the remaining three days. He never told me that I had to do anything other than notify him. I am sure that this guy is out for the maximum return on his investment and doesn’t care about the comfort of guests. He also clearly was comfortable crossing the line into false advertising because he knew Airbnb wouldn’t do anything about it. They didn’t. They even acknowledged that some of the photos could be misleading, but have done nothing about it.