Bad Experience at Noisy Airbnb in Hong Kong

I booked a one-bedroom apartment for a three-night stay in Hong Kong. The reviews were good, and although it was somewhat pricey (the equivalent of £100 a night), I knew that prices would be high in HK, and ‘sucked it up’.

The flat consisted of a bedroom, a small living room with an open kitchenette and a small bathroom. I assumed the owner rented it out all the time. It dawned on me later that she actually lived there, and moved elsewhere when she had a booking. The street, described as ‘quiet’ though with a little noise from a restaurant downstairs, was actually a party street with bars and restaurants open until the early hours every night. People would stand outside, smoking, laughing, and shouting.

Worse than this noise though, was the racket made by the ancient window-mounted air conditioner. The owner said it was a little noisy and needed servicing. That was an understatement – it was like a diesel engine rumbling away making enough noise to wake the dead. At times it started to pulsate and make the whole room vibrate. If the owner knew it was problematic, why didn’t she have it fixed before I arrived and paid £2,100 up front for my stay? Not using the aircon was not an option since it was so darn hot. I managed to sleep with the aid of earplugs.

I am a vegan, so wanted to cook my own food. Impossible – there were no pots and pans. There was no connected stove (a non-working gas ring). Even the microwave was useless since the power cord would not reach the plug socket. The windows were also filthy; you could barely see outside. The owner cleaned them one day, after I complained. I left after five nights and asked for a refund, but guess what? They only refund 50% of your rental fee. I wrote a damning review which Airbnb edited. All they posted was ‘amenities need improving’.

Is Airbnb really that selective that they censor renters’ reviews? I checked in to a serviced apartment. For an extra £10 a night I get a lovely serviced room and use of the residents’ gym and laundry room. Never again, Airbnb. Never again.

Can I Give a Negative Rating for this Airbnb?

If I could have put zero stars I would have. My partner was staying in this particular Airbnb home (Eccles, Manchester) for what should’ve been a month. We asked the host (who wasn’t living with us) if it would be okay for me to visit. She agreed it was fine – no more money would need to be paid as long as we asked the tenants. She had asked them and said it was fine.

I came to stay for the planned two weeks, bought advance train tickets, and planned what we were going to do as I was primarily there to support her. I usually work from home via a Ltd company which is great for me as I’m disabled. One night – I think it was a Wednesday – my partner invited her cousin and best friend over for a meal and to hang out for no longer than an hour. As usual, the noise got a little loud but no louder than a group of three girls usually get; they thought nothing of it as they believed no one else was there. One of the tenants flung open his bedroom door and started swearing and shouting, claiming we were taking the piss and he had to be at work early the next day.

After that we all moved into the small double bedroom. Realising that wasn’t going to work, her cousin and best friend left. After that the atmosphere in the house became passively hostile and unpleasant. The tenants refused to talk to us about what happened, claiming we had no respect and that I was staying there illegally. They told the host that either we would have to go or they would… it was awkward the whole time we stayed. They didn’t say a word to us when we did our best to apologize and just be pleasant.

The room itself was damp. It smelt of dampness. The heating, which we couldn’t control, wasn’t on long enough to dry clothes. We’re moving to another Airbnb in Manchester this evening however we don’t have much hope that it’ll be any better than this (and we’ve confirmed with the host in writing that I’ll be staying too).

I urge anyone who is thinking of using Airbnb anywhere to just not do it. It’s cheap for a reason. The rooms are poor quality and if you happen to live with tenants they will make your life miserable. Don’t use Airbnb; you’d be happier sleeping on the street.

Airbnb Party Houses Are Out of Control

“I’m in hell. This is hell and I’m in it.”

That was the second to last complaint I left with Airbnb about the McMansion next door. The last one I just left a few minutes ago, at three o’clock in the morning on a Friday. I have to get to work in a few hours. I live in a residential area of Los Angeles. There’s a high school nearby, lots of homes and apartments, and it’s comfortably far from noisy areas and nightclubs. Within the past couple years, one of the properties right behind our apartment complex underwent construction, and when it was completed there was a massive open-plan mansion there. Just kind of wedged in among the other houses. It’s a quaint little neighborhood just off of Melrose.

Walled off, it’s like a fortress that you can’t see into, but you can certainly hear everything happening within. There’s a large pool area and a patio in the back, about ten or fifteen feet from the bedroom windows of every rear-facing apartment in our building, and you can hear the rushing of the swimming pool’s water feature with your windows closed. That’s actually quite nice… it’s like camping near a tiny, douchebag waterfall.

When there are guests staying there, you can hear the water feature and literally everything else, and that’s why I’m in hell. The property owner rents this property out at $600 a night. That attracts two types of clientele: people pooling their cash and looking for a place to party, and rich douchebags. The difference between the two groups is negligible. No matter who the guest is, it always results in some form of party, with shouting, blaring music, and general assholery until around four o’clock in the morning on any given night. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Saturday or a Tuesday.

These people paid $600 to party in a mansion in our back yard and – by god – they’re going to make the most of it. We can close all of our windows and crank up the volume if we want to watch a movie and it makes no difference; the noise carries so well and so aggressively that any music or shouting drowns us out in our own home. It’s like they’re bringing the party into our apartment, into our living room, into our laps, sitting right down and screaming in our faces.

To escape the noise, I’ve devised a lot of tactics, mostly involving a variety of white-noise devices and noise-cancelling headphones. What a future we live in. Several people in my apartment building have complained, either to the police or to Airbnb. It’s not like we were expecting much, but Airbnb somehow exceeded our expectations in not giving a single f#$k about us or our complaints. The police – I was told the last time I called – are generally putting up with too high a volume of calls to deal with noise complaints.

The property owner, who lives (I think) in France most of the year, is the kind of guy who charges $600 a night for strangers to party in his party mansion, so his capacity for caring about whether or not his neighbors sleep at night is buried away somewhere in the wretched cavity of his decomposing soul. One of our neighbors was talking about going to the local courthouse, but as of yet, nothing has materialized there.

I spent an hour one night just trying to make contact with the guests who were having the world’s loudest bachelorette party. Or maybe it was a birthday party. Or maybe I don’t give a f#$k what it was. All I really care about was the five hours of shrill screaming that started at 7:00 PM and somehow lasted throughout the entire night. I discovered that the wall surrounding the mansion is apparently very good at letting noise escape, but also very good at keeping noise out. I shouted, I pounded, I shouted some more. The front gate was locked, of course, and it wasn’t until the next day and I was speaking to a neighbor that I discovered the property owner had disconnected the front gate’s buzzer, so that if you buzz it for an hour in the middle of the night, no one inside the mansion can hear it. Ultimately, I wound up scaling one of the property’s walls in order to get the attention of the guests so they might be so kind as to shut up. Great times, all around.

The long and the short of the matter is, the poor suckers who live in my apartment complex – all of whom have jobs we need to be rested for, some of us having children who definitely do not manage well when they don’t sleep – are living within ten feet of a nightclub. A shitty, horrible nightclub. For me, the ordeal will be over on the 15th of December. That’s when I can move into a new place in a different part of town, where I’ll be able to sleep at night. My roommate is moving out on the 8th. For a moment we entertained the notion of sticking out the rest of the month, like normal people living in a normal apartment, but there’s nothing normal about this. There’s nothing normal at all about this. This is hell. I’m in hell.

Airbnb’s Business Model Doesn’t Include Customer Service

It took one very bad weekend to learn that Airbnb is merely a platform and has nothing to do with customer service. I had a lapse in judgment and allowed young locals into my home because they agreed to abide by the rules and to forfeit their security deposit if they were noisy. After creating enough noise that I was alerted 3-4 times on my noise alert system, I asked Airbnb to cancel the reservation.

Airbnb wouldn’t do this because they don’t recognize any noise alert system as legitimate evidence and problems that exist only between the host and guest aren’t managed at all. If a neighbor calls the police, or complains, then it appears Airbnb may get involved since they have a dedicated page for neighbor complaints. The “case manager”, i.e., an untrained, uninformed, completely lacking in anything related to Airbnb policy, called my guest and made things far worse. She as much as told him that my noise alert system was bogus and I was probably being too picky.

Of course I got a text at 1:00 AM from a neighbor complaining of loud noise all night. My initial phone call to Airbnb support was at 6:00 AM and this “case manager” agreed to cancel the reservation and that the security deposit could be available if the guest broke house rules. By 2:00 PM, after numerous phone calls and texts, the “case manager” looked up the policy on noise only to find out there isn’t a policy on noise. Of course I could not use the security deposit for this problem.

My take away from this experience: governmental entities are at the top of the food chain for a company as massive as Airbnb. Without permission, Airbnb doesn’t exist. Collecting the tax money from guests is its highest priority. In regards to guests, Airbnb markets cater almost exclusively to millennials (yes, others use the site but marketing is geared to the 20-35 year olds). Airbnb could lose its supply of young guests very quickly if they made an issue about noise. The word would spread like wildfire on social media and leave the door open for another platform to pick up these customers.

Neighbors of Airbnb properties count, especially in huge centers like NYC, LA, and Chicago; too many complaints and the government entities may shut Airbnb down. Unless neighbors complain because of a very noisy vacation rental, the noise issue doesn’t exist for Airbnb.

In Airbnb’s business model, hosts are at the bottom of the food chain. We are easily replaceable 100% of the time. There will always be a steady supply of people willing to open their homes, rooms, or provide a sofa to make money. We simply don’t count for Airbnb other than as a place to keep their cash cows (guests) happy. I just learned this and honestly, if Airbnb would have been upfront with this, i.e. hosts don’t matter, I’d have done things differently. I would appreciate the platform, and the brutal honesty from Airbnb relative to hosts would save a lot of us time and money.

Extortion Review, Airbnb Won’t Take it Down Even With Proof

This guest used Instant Book for a month in advance for a weekend for 15 members of her family including herself. Note that she is a new member. From then on, there was no communication. She just wasn’t answering. A couple days before check-in, I finally got a hold of her and she informed me of some changes. I send her a price alteration, but time passed and she wouldn’t accept it. She kept ignoring me again. The day before check-in, I let her know since she was planning to break the house rules, I would cancel her reservation with Airbnb without a refund. Then she started responding. We finally got everything sorted out just before bedtime. One hour before checking in, she told me they were stuck in traffic and needed to push the time. Then again… and again. They finally arrived three hours late. We did strongly believe there were more than 15 people.

The first night, I got a noise complain from my neighbor. The entire group was outside, around the spa and had been screaming and very loud since their arrival. It was very late and dark, and my neighbor just couldn’t take it anymore. I tried to contact the guests, but my calls kept going to voicemail. I passed a message through Airbnb to warn her. I waited, and received no answer. I wrote to her again and made myself sound more serious. I got a response and from what my neighbor said, it took an additional 15 minutes, but the noise finally stopped. He still made it clear other neighbors wouldn’t have been as patient as him.

I arrived to check them out and found the upstairs hot faucet had been removed. How could this have happened? It was super noisy too. How could they have missed it? I continued my tour and a guest had decided to rip the lock off one of the closet to the point it ripped the door into two pieces. They forced open two other locked drawers too. They broke a large window frame probably by sitting on it or having a kid walk on it. They broke two parts of our spa and made a small tear in our spa cover. They were warned not to download anything because we didn’t have unlimited internet and they still used more than 85 BG in 40 hours. We have some decorative towels we asked the guests specifically not to touch because they already had a large number of perfectly usable towels at their disposal. Well, they decided not to listen and to only use our decorative ones. The BBQ was left in a horrific state; it was completely disgusting. This guest didn’t follow the house rules; she was truly disrespectful to me as well as the house.

I waited for her to reach out to me to apology about all the damages (my calls are still going straight to her voicemail each time) but she never did. She did text a week later inquiring about her security deposit where I finally was able to speak to her over the phone. She says she was unaware of everything. She didn’t do a tour of the house and wasn’t the last one to leave. She was not okay with everything I observed and was certainly not okay having any damaged charged to her. She said I better not charge her or she would give me a bad review. At the same time, I saw she just posted a review (a very bad one from what she said over the phone). I have some text messages exchanged that proves she indeed threatened me.

I called Airbnb and let them know immediately that she was violating their Terms of Service. They told me even if I had ”proof” and my story checked out, they couldn’t remove the review because in the text messages, she did not clearly say “don’t charge me or I will put you a bad review,” only “do not pursue or I will be obligated to take action.”

Because her review appeared at the same time, as she threatened me over the phone, customer service won’t budge. The facts speak for themselves. Airbnb guidelines strictly forbid reviews with content that is fraudulent, false and misleading, which is the case here. She had an amazing time and didn’t complain about anything. The review does not represent her personal experience. It is an attempt to use the review to force me to do something I’m not obligated to do (not charge her). They are not supposed to allow it, but they do. Thank you untrustworthy customer service at Airbnb.

Things to Avoid When Using Airbnb for the First Time

Last winter, after my wife’s bout with cancer, a catastrophic national election cycle, and a few other disasters, my wife and I decided to take a month out of Minnesota’s winter and go south to New Mexico. This was the first time I tested the Airbnb waters and that was probably not the best time for an “adventure”.

Our first three overnight stays were lucky and misleading. All three hosts were incredibly honest about their facilities and were terrific people. Our destination was in Truth or Consequences, NM (TorC, to local residents). We were trapped in TorC three years earlier when our VW-based Winnebago camper trapped us there for the entire winter, in my first year of retirement. As a result, we had friends in TorC and knew the area well enough to think we could figure out which Airbnb rentals were not just good deals but in a decent area. TorC, for a tiny place, has some really bad neighborhoods and even the “good ones” are in serious decline.

The place I selected had a slightly different description than the current, i.e. “You’ll love my place because of the privacy it affords. Not having to share a house with others. It is in a very quiet neighborhood in a Vintage Mobile Home park. Many guests end up making friends here!” It described being close to the Rio Grande River (it wasn’t) and having great views (it didn’t). That “very quiet” remark avoids mentioning a bunch of Harley gangbangers in the park and in a shop right behind the trailer… it was a trailer and not one that even begins to meet safe rental standards.

I have no idea how the host managed this picture, but it doesn’t even come close to describing how tightly the trailers were packed together. I would hear people coughing and snorting from three directions that first night. My wife has a moderate petroleum allergy and began to feel claustrophobic and agitated the moment we stepped into the trailer. To be frank, it stunk of cleaning chemicals and natural gas. All of the CO2 and fire detectors had their batteries removed. That is when I discovered what “strict cancellation” policies are all about.

In the end, my wife negotiated an exit for all of us, including us not notifying the host’s landlord that she was illegally renting his property. It cost me about $200 for that one night’s stay, but we found a far better rental through one of our TorC friends and I will never make that sort of mistake again with Airbnb.

Airbnb Beach Getaway Right Next to Insane Train

It had been a very long time since we’d had a decent vacation and in our mind it was: “No beach? No vacation!” We’d heard some pretty good things about Airbnb so we decided to look around in the San Diego area where we wanted to go. My wife did the looking and she did it for days. As it turned out most of the area was already booked. That’s why we were so pleased to see this listing vacant in Oceanside, CA. It seemed to have everything; a nice kitchen, wifi, free parking, and only a three-minute walk to the beach – and it was a very nice beach.

When we got there, the host told us about the train noise but said that most people sleep through it. That was when I decided to look at the listing and sure enough, buried way down at the bottom was the mention of the train noise. I seriously don’t know how anyone could sleep through this and believe me we tried. The only air conditioning in the place was a one-room portable air conditioner that needed to be vented to the outside. This means that you have to have the sliding door open a bit for the vent. The Heat throughout the place was brutal, especially upstairs. You have to have the windows open for the cross-breeze at night to give you any relief, but then you’re listening to the train. My wife did go out and buy us earplugs and a noise machine but the trains even drowned that out.

We ended up leaving one day early, because without decent sleep we were exhausted. I feel like we threw away money and will never stay there again or probably at any other Airbnb. You just don’t know what you’re getting.

Noisy Airbnb Nightmare in Jerusalem, Israel

On May 23rd, 2017 we booked a week at an Airbnb in Jerusalem. Our first impressions was that it appeared to be a nice clean apartment, and its owners appeared equally welcoming. We settled to sleep for the night, and then the noise started. It went on for some six hours or more. We heard talking all night, all from one man. As a result, I could not sleep.

I complained to Airbnb and they did not believe me. To date I have stayed in many Airbnb properties without an incident. The lack of attention Airbnb shows to their clients is appalling. They asked for photographs and communications. Even though I had a recording on WhatsApp of a dialogue that I had with the owners they did not believe me. The Airbnb contract is between the local owners and the guest, not with the company.

The hosts said: “I’m really sorry to hear about this incident. It’s the first time it has happened. We had a guest staying for a whole month and he never told me anything about it. I guess it’s a one time thing. The neighbor got drunk and made a lot of noise. Things happen… I really understand your frustration, especially since it happened on your first night with us. Unfortunately there is nothing I can do about it. I truly believe and hope it won’t happen again. My suggestion to you is to give it another night. Usually this apartment and neighborhood are very quiet! That having been said, I’ll understand if you want to cancel your reservation with us and move to another place. If you do so, we will refund you 50% of the reservation cost. By the way, did you try taking a broomstick and knocking on the ceiling, so he will understand he’s being loud? Maybe he didn’t realize. Try that or knocking on his door asking him to lower his voice. Like normal people do in this situation.”

A tenant in the next apartment revealed the truth of what was going on: “In this apartment complex, the Israeli Government lets apartments to Amidar, a social housing organization. According to the neighbor, who lives next door, next to him is a man who has a psychiatric disorder and in the garden there are two men who smoke joints. On the roof terrace are more drug addicts and this place is known to the Israeli police. [The host] knows this situation well and so it is no wonder that all night long there is noise. [The host]’s mother owns the apartment, and knows the situation here very well.”

I complained continuously to Airbnb and said I would send them the police report. At that point, they gave us a total refund. On our return to the UK they were still pestering me for the police report and I deleted my Airbnb account. I noticed that the apartment that we stayed in is still being rented out. You can view it here https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/17724596

Know What You’re Getting Into Before You Book

In the city center of Palma de Mallorca in the Balearic Islands of Spain, there was a cozy and quiet Airbnb apartment for rent in a building over 100 years old. It was newly renovated and in the historic center of Palma, located 150 meters from City Hall Square (Cort), 300 meters from the cathedral, and just 70 meters from the Plaza Mayor.

I would like to share my experience with you about this Airbnb host. I heard that Airbnb will start doing inspections and I am very glad for this. My last experience at Palma was not very good for a few reasons. I don’t want to make this story very long but I want it to convey what you are getting into if you are thinking about renting this apartment. The only good thing I can say about this apartment is that it was a good location if you like to be downtown. The rest I will be honest with you about; not a word of this is a lie. I have pictures and recordings to document my stay.

The stairs (she mentioned that there was no lift) are a nightmare. They aren’t meant to be used by older people; this should be mentioned in the listing. What she forgot to mention was that the building right beside the apartment (I mean less than two feet away) is under construction. The sound of drilling is still in my head. We had to leave from 7:30 AM to 6:00 PM. The noise seemed like they were actually in our bedroom. It was really terrible and extremely loud.

On a previous trip to Palma, we went to the beach and came back around 3:00 PM to take a nap. Not this time. One day we arrived at the apartment early and it was impossible even to talk because of the noise. I wrote a private letter to the host and the answer I received was not very good. He gave a very poor apology, saying that it was not noisy. I have this recorded.

There was also a very bad kitchen. It said on the listing that the kitchen was fully equipped, but there was not even a kettle to heat water. One knife that barely cuts.

The most important aspect for me was the safety. There was no fire escape, only two fire extinguishers in the second floor (people could be fighting over using them). I don’t know the rules in Spain, but this is unacceptable. An accident can happen when people smoke everywhere. There was no place to go in the event of a fire. There were also ants everywhere; the host was so “kind” that he left an ant killer spray.

Evening of Airbnb Hell in Marina Del Ray

The “Wayne and Abby Venice Beach” location is advertised as quiet, and their house rules insist on quiet behavior by Airbnb guests. My wife and I checked into this Airbnb location on Thursday afternoon, February 23rd. Thursday evening was peaceful, but Friday night, we endured non-stop loud noise in the building all night long, from 9:00 PM through 8:00 AM Saturday, February 25th. There was a wild party downstairs, which meant little sleep for us.

I notified and complained to the host at 6:09 AM Saturday. I did not receive any reply and sent another message via the Airbnb system before noon. At approximately 4:30 PM, I received a response from the host saying that she would notify her landlord. It was then that we realized that she as an Airbnb host is only a tenant herself in this multi-dwelling building. Her response and results were ineffective, and we decided to cancel the remainder of the trip, as another noisy party in the building was underway.

The host argued that we did not give her the opportunity to work things out. We notified Airbnb, checked out and canceled the reservation. We requested from Airbnb a refund for five of the six nights (one unsatisfactory evening plus four unused evenings). Airbnb processed only a partial refund of $444 (for the base room cost for three nights, but not for the pro-rated tax and “service” fee) already credited to our credit card. I contacted our credit card customer service on March 1st to complain. The credit card company is still adjudicating the matter. I’m requesting an additional net refund from Airbnb of $504.

Airbnb informed me that they consider the matter closed and will not respond to further inquiries from me. Furthermore, Airbnb has blocked me from posting a negative review. That’s why all you see are the positive reviews. We will never use Airbnb again, for anything. Imagine staying in a Holiday Inn, Hilton Garden Inn or Hampton Inn, getting no sleep because of noisy guests, and the hotel chain denying you a refund for lack of satisfaction? Imagine the hotel telling you to get lost with your complaint.