Warning to Hosts Allowing Renters Who Smoke Marijuana

If you are a host potentially housing federal employees, you need to be aware of Airbnb’s tolerance of marijuana use by guests. Federal employees are randomly tested for drugs to maintain security clearances, which will terminate their employment if they fail. This includes marijuana as it is a Schedule I controlled substance.

Despite this, Airbnb policy cites that “many states” legalized marijuana, and therefore they allow its use by guests. As a host, you need to realize the potential for cross-contamination of guests, and your potential liability if you’re the cause. After over four years of solid five-star ratings and excellent guests, our number came up. We had the guest from hell.

The 21-year-old arrived on a “one-year break” from college, and claimed to have a job telecommuting and a full ride to a good school. When we showed her around the room, and the amenities, it was as if she wasn’t even listening.

A few weeks later she asked to turn the heat up at night. We had to point out that she had a heated bed. She often didn’t clean up after herself in the common area kitchen. Once, we asked her to remove dishes from the sink. She removed some and promptly added more. She routinely woke us up at 5:00 AM singing or talking loudly on the phone, and had to be reminded of the rules numerous times.

When her time was up on Airbnb, she asked to extend four months, and promised to follow the rules. One night at 4:00 AM, she woke us up yelling vulgarities. We texted her, “haha, quiet time please.” She later tried explaining it away as her watching and commenting on a documentary, as unbelievable as that was.

Two days later, in retaliation, she sent a text complaining of loud sex noises from our room, saying she had an interview to attend and asking us to keep it down. Then she texted that she needed to talk, setting up an appointment to meet in the kitchen. We set up a different time and she didn’t reply or show.

Later that night, she said that she needed to talk to us “about boundaries.” I texted her back the rules of the house, emphasizing the ones that she was breaking. She texted that she felt “uncomfortable” and made up a story about her catching us having sex in a common area within plain sight. We refused to give it credence and told her she had a week to leave.

Upon leaving, she demanded her money back for the rent, prior to room inspection, and sent harassing and threatening texts. We inspected the room and it reeked of marijuana. Servpro inspected it, found receipts for pot, spent vials, and paraphernalia. Their estimate was $1,500 to clean the room, contents, and high-touch common areas.

That night, her mom called and asks why we hadn’t returned her money. We told her the situation, and that she was liable to pay for cleaning to decontaminate. She wasn’t aware of her daughter smoking pot, and she wasn’t aware of the daughter’s promiscuity. We felt bad having to be the one to tell her.

Within a week, we got a call from Airbnb. The guest filed a complaint. We told our side of the story and sent pictures of solid evidence of pot use, spent containers, receipts, notes to herself with a daily schedule beginning with “smoke” at 6:00 AM. It didn’t matter. Airbnb removed our accounts, citing a violation of their safety policy and providing no other evidence. They refused to pay for the cleaning, saying that their policy does not prohibit marijuana use, although we explained that there were many federal facilities in the area, and workers are subjected to drug testing, including marijuana as it’s a Schedule I federally controlled substance.

The guest was using oils as well, and it was all over the place. Future guests, mostly professionals, could test positive on random drug tests and lose their security clearances and jobs by coming into contact with the residues in the room. Regardless, Airbnb refused to pay, and we were banned with no explanation other than the vague violation of the safety policy.

Other than the cleaning costs not being refunded, we were glad to be done with Airbnb, as it was an eye-opening experience. Reading other experiences of hosts here cemented this decision. Again, beware of Airbnb’s tolerance of federally illegal drug use by their guests, and let these hosts’ experiences here be a lesson to those thinking of doing business with Airbnb.

Host Violated My Privacy, Had Access to Room

On July 31, I spent one night in Provincetown, MA. The host reeked of cigarette smoke. The room was dirty, there was hair on the pillow, and there were locks on the bathroom and bedroom doors that did not work. I didn’t feel comfortable taking a shower and I couldn’t lock my door when I left to go back downtown for the night.

I always put my zipper on my backpack or suitcase in a certain position. It had moved. He didn’t take anything, because I took all my valuables with me in a second backpack. But that’s a huge violation. The only lock that worked on the bedroom door was a keypad lock that he said didn’t work, but I didn’t know if he could put in a battery from the outside and try to get in. When I came in the doorknob was loose and I couldn’t turn it to get back into my room. I kept turning until it tightened and I was able to get in. Because of the lock, I had to put a table against the door and sleep in my clothes, all packed in case I had to leave in a moment’s notice.

I have PTSD to begin with and then to experience this compounded it. I wrote Airbnb on Aug. 2. I’m still waiting. I also filed a report with both Attorney Generals in MA and CA and a dispute with Paypal.

Are Some Host Reviews an Invasion of Privacy?

We spent a few nights in Kelowna in an Airbnb accommodation. We are a couple with some dietary restrictions, so we were specifically looking for a unit with a kitchen.

Our tw0-day stay at this unit was okay. We didn’t have any problem except that we had to deal with cheap dollar store pans, pots and utensils, which we kind of ignored because we were there for just two nights. Upon finishing the trip, we were unpleasantly surprised to see the host posted a review that among other things said “the guests spent whole two nights cooking in the unit kitchen provided.”

I personally took it as invasion of privacy as it is none of the host’s business to see what we were doing. I found it creepy as it also raised questions on whether the host was keeping an eye on what we were doing. I reached out to Airbnb with this concern and they brought the review down first. Upon pushing further, they assigned someone to this case who claimed that they had spoken to the host and that the hosts had assured them that they were not spying on us and checking out what we were doing.

To my utter anguish Airbnb decided to bring back the review and publish it again for some reason best known to them. Upon following up, they said that the review had been taken down due to some error earlier. This all begets the question — how seriously does Airbnb take privacy-related complaints?

In my case, I still do not know why someone would care what guests were doing in their basement unit, proudly boast about it in their reviews, and Airbnb would still not take it down. Any host could tell the whole world what you have been doing during your stay and Airbnb doesn’t think it’s inappropriate to post such personal stuff. No issues with breach of privacy.

Airbnb Doesn’t Delete Confidential User Data

I wanted to unsubscribe from Airbnb emails but they have no unsubscribe function as required under Australian law (Spam Act 2003). To unsubscribe, Airbnb’s terms state only to “send us an email” to terminate the agreement. An email was sent as requested with the subject and body “cancel my account” for two accounts (i.e. Germany and Australia).

For the first account, Airbnb advised me with three reply emails sent from a third party (zendesk.com) that the requested account was cancelled. I conducted a test five days later to confirm the cancellation had failed. Access was granted to the cancelled account on login with the last password. Confidential account and profile information including my date of birth and phone number were still accessible, able to be updated, and obviously still held by Airbnb.

Airbnb refused to cancel my second account unless a “government ID” was provided, in spite of the request being sent from the same email address used to login. Airbnb was advised that the email reply was indistinguishable from a “phishing” scam. Airbnb was asked to state what legal authority Airbnb relied on to demand a government ID from me to cancel my account.

Airbnb simply continued to demand proof of identity to cancel the account without stating the legal authority for their demand other than suggesting it was merely an Airbnb policy. After replying to all further Airbnb responses with automatic resending of the original “cancel my account” request, Airbnb finally advised that the account had been cancelled but the data would not be deleted due to my failure to provide ID.

Airbnb has demonstrated their: failure to provide an unsubscribe facility as required by the Australian Spam Act 2003; failure to terminate (AKA “cancel my account”) the agreement while claiming to have done so; failure to give physical effect to the termination of the agreement granting Airbnb the right to hold confidential personal information necessary for service delivery by not deleting that information on termination.

The above evidence shows blatant breaches of Airbnb’s own policy, the Australian Spam Act 2003, and the German GDPR, which proves Airbnb’s intention not to protect consumer information.

Birthday at New York Airbnb Gone Wrong

I got about five friends together for my birthday at a park in upstate New York, then it started raining. I found an Airbnb that seemed large enough for my friends and since none of us were from the town we just wanted a place to chill and wait out the rain for an hour or two. For $125 it was fine.

We arrived and brought up our coolers. Not even five minutes after we arrived, we got a knock on the door and this tall man counted us out. There were six of us and I said six on the reservation. He left and was very rude.

Then about ten minutes after that I got a call from Airbnb saying I was breaking the rules with having too many people and having alcohol in the apartment. We were all obviously over 21 and there was no rule against having alcohol.

At this point I was very annoyed. Luckily I had “I Love Lucy” on DVD and brought that into the room. We were all on the couch watching it. We didn’t even finish an episode when we got another knock on the door with a different woman bursting into the room, and saying that we unplugged their camera in the living room.

Now we knew we were being filmed in the apartment and decided to leave within 45 minutes. I’m starting to think they did it on purpose to take my money and get us out asap.

Solution to Airbnb Guests Damaging Properties

To hosts or those who are thinking of opening their own Airbnb. I have been hosting for over three years with 67 properties, and had over 50,000 guests stay with me. I met many other hosts and the biggest issues they all run into are with negligent guests. In my units alone I have had over 10% (5,000) of my guests violate my house rules.

Airbnb is based on trust. A guest, AKA a stranger, is entering your home and you have no idea who they are or their intentions. When violations occur, you must be able to prove them, and Airbnb always sides with guests. How do you prove smell over the phone? It’s rare, but few times, I was able to prove that a guest violated my house rules, threw a party, and thanks for my live notification system – AKA neighbors – I was able to keep the $250 damage deposit, remove the guest, and reopen my calendar for new bookings. I realized that I just made $600 of a violation.

Three major common and costly issues I face on daily basis along with other hosts:

Indoor cigarette and marijuana smoking – causes smoke to get into the walls and ventilation making it hard to remove. This cost me cancellations or horrible guest reviews.

Theft – There is new scam going around. Airbnb guests used fake IDs to book my unit for three days, and while you are gone they list all your valuables on Craigslist, etc., and basically have a garage sale in your unit without you being aware. By the time my cleaners got to the room, the only thing that was left was the lock and forks. It cost me about $5K to replace everything and a $500 cancellation. Airbnb ignored the claim.

Parties – Some of our properties are in Florida, AKA party towns. We have guests who threw parties, smoked, drank, caused major damages to the furniture and walls, and destroyed neighbors’ pools… the list is long. Which again, cost me time and money and many police reports.

I figured out a way to fix these issues, using technology, by building it myself. I want to protect all 680,000 hosts, and that’s why I have built and developed a patented, smart smoke detector designed to protect and prove violations. It is federally illegal to tamper with, and has a built-in tamper-proof sensor. But it does so much more: it has a real-time notification system that monitors your guests for violations, from the moment the guest enters to the moment they leave.

It’s able to detect and notify live:

• Indoor Smoking (Cigarette and Marijuana Detection)

• Fire and Carbon Monoxide

• Unauthorized Guests

• Break Ins

• Theft

• Excessive noise levels

• Humidity level (Mold Detection)

• Air Quality

• Bluetooth and Z-Wave Compatible with Smart Locks and Security Systems

• Guest Check-In Notification

As as bonus, it also comes with a built-in Property Management System that syncs with Airbnb, VRBO, Expedia, Booking.com, TripAdvisor and many others. This system is non invasive, has no cameras, and even mandatory in some cities. It’s plug and play, all you have to do is swap it with your existing smoke detector. I would love to hear your comments and questions.

Waking up to a Stranger in my Airbnb Room

I booked a place with Airbnb last night. It was a pretty neat place, nice and cozy. I had planned to go out but it was raining and cold. I was tired, so I decided to stay in. I watched lots of movies. It was pretty cool. Then I went to sleep.

I’ve been dealing with an itch due to dermatitis, so it was better for me to be naked after applying some anti-itch lotion. In the morning, I was woken up by the sound of snoring. I was like: what is that sound? How loud are the neighbours? I remember that there was this creepy video I watched online where a guy who claimed his house was haunted said he heard noises of someone snoring next to his bed, but I was like… nah… most likely the neighbours.

I tried to ignore it, but was trying to figure out where the sound was coming from. It sounded like it was coming from a wall where there was no room, so that was strange. Then I opened my eyes.

There was no ghost next to me, but there was a mass at the foot of my bed; some guy was sleeping there. Some random Korean dude… snoring at the foot of the bed… I was like wtf? So I woke him up and was like… what are you doing in my room? Get the f%$# out!

He’s like “Oh, it’s a double room. I thought it was booked for two people?”

I was like wtf? I didn’t even make sense. It was just a single room with a single bed. So I told him to get out. I couldn’t believe this… I was ready to leave. He called the host and gave me the phone. It turned out the host gave us both the same instructions to go to the same room. I promptly requested a refund.

Complain to Airbnb about Your Privacy

I wanted to share that I emailed Aisling Hassell using her email (aisling.hassell@airbnb.com) to complain about Airbnb’s new policy of requiring guests to upload a photo of their government ID. I got a response from response@airbnb.com:

Hi [Name], a wonderful day to you! This is a community education specialist and I would be glad to assist you today. I understand that this situation is difficult, but let’s try to find a solution. I’ll make sure to exhaust all resources I have to resolve your concern.

The identification info you provide to Airbnb is governed by our Privacy Policy and transmitted using secure encryption, the same process that websites use to transmit credit card numbers. When we receive information from your driver’s license, passport, or national identity card, we store the number in an encrypted form, so you should only have to confirm your identity once.

Only authorized Airbnb employees are allowed access to your original documentation for troubleshooting or internal purposes. Our third-party databases store information according to our written instructions. If allowed under the laws of the jurisdiction where you reside, you may request that Airbnb not process your personal information for certain specific purposes (including profiling) where such processing is based on legitimate interest.

If you object to such processing, Airbnb will no longer process your personal information for these purposes unless we can demonstrate compelling legitimate grounds for such processing, or such processing is required for the establishment, exercise, or defense of legal claims. You may exercise your rights to object just tell us.

Other Airbnb users who are concerned about their privacy could try emailing Aisling or just response@airbnb.com and then requesting to exercise their right to object to data collection. The Airbnb privacy policy also directs users to opt-out@airbnb.com.

Harassed after a Stay at an Airbnb Hostel

My first experience was so bad and eye opening that I refuse to use Airbnb again. I was heading to Toronto for a wedding and needed a room for the night. I knew I’d just need a place to sleep so I found an inexpensive room. I can’t remember what I paid, but it was around $45.

The way it was written, it sounded like it was an in-law suite. I figured they probably meant it was just a single room with a shared kitchen but the description was badly written.

When I pulled up, it was one of the largest houses I’d ever seen. I knocked and several Chinese people answered the door. I’m an ESL teacher specializing in Chinese education and it’s Toronto; I wasn’t put off by this… until I found out none of them were the owner. They said I needed to call the host and they gave me his number.

He appeared a minute or two after I called. He started giving me a tour, asking what room I’d like. I noticed very quickly there were like ten people living here and room for probably twenty – all Chinese. He appeared to be running a hostel. As he was giving me the tour, it was clear he had no idea why I was there. I explained again that I was there for Airbnb.

“Oh!” He says. Gone goes the offer of big rooms upstairs. He led me to a small room in the basement. It was relatively clean, just a little dingy. I got ready and then left for the wedding. When I got home after midnight, the residents were in the kitchen and super loud. I debated just abandoning it and driving home at 2:00 AM tired, but didn’t.

I got home and the host starting texting asking I leave a review. He left me a nice review; I didn’t return the favor. I left an unfavorable review explaining it was a hostel with loud residents and a host who doesn’t know who is coming and going.

He then proceeded to text my personal phone, harassing me about it, saying I was an idiot for thinking I would get an in-law suite for that price; I should have known there would be other people, etc. At this point I blocked him and contacted Airbnb. He was apparently “talked to”, and I was told to block him. No offer of compensation, which is fine because I said outright I wouldn’t be returning.

Airbnb Invades Privacy and Preys on the Poor

When you keep your nightly rate going up and down, you’re trying to desperately get more guests in, so you can pay your rent – and the algorithm knows that. Of course, the more desperate for cash you are, the more likely you are to be booked by indecent guests. So it happened with me.

This guest was an influencer (of course), rated low on cleaning and observing house rules. I had to give it a go; I couldn’t miss my rent payment. Furthermore, if hosts cancel they will be penalised.

I entered 48 hours of hell, between this couple having sex in common areas, taking my bath towels and leaving them on the floor, while simultaneously trashing the whole place like a frat house, with a sense of entitlement and superiority: “I hate Germans, they dress bad and are annoying,” she said. I’m not German, and it doesn’t take Martin Luther King to forbid that kind of language into my home.

I reported her to Airbnb. Airbnb disclosed my report to her – violating my privacy, EU/US privacy laws and putting me in a dangerous position. I got a bad, fake review (of course) where she clearly states “I filed a report on her.”

This violates Airbnb content policy, but Airbnb won’t remove it. After numerous email exchanges they finally provided me with their legal department address (of course, in order to make things more difficult, they only gave me a postal address), and closed the case, saying “this is our final decision.”

This is the message for Airbnb hosts: If you experience a prejudiced incident and you decide to report it, be prepared for a violation of your privacy rights, a lower booking rate and therefore less money to cover your rent. Disgusting.

Airbnb is running a poverty-line, slave-powered system. It will be replaced one day; the very nature of business capitalism finds a way. Whatever they do to me will be done to them.