Not Impressed with Airbnb Experiences Overall

VRBO

I stayed in a few Airbnbs over the world in 2016. I decided to try Airbnb because I wanted the experience of living as a local would. I wanted the experience of getting to know the culture and lifestyle of the places I was visiting on an authentic level.

I wanted to stay in places that had some character and didn’t look like generic corporate beige. I wanted to stay in residential neighborhoods rather than in the middle of a tourist trap. More importantly, I wanted to save money on staying in hotels/motels and also on food by being able to have access to a kitchen and prepare my own meals. These are all things Airbnb advertised at the time and I was very interested in being able to travel that way.

The first thing that I was struck by when deciding to rent an Airbnb was how expensive they were, even in comparison to local motel rates; many were the same and some even more. The second thing that I was struck by was how inaccurate the descriptions were on the majority of the listings. The third thing that I was struck by was that many of these listings were places other people lived most of the time but were just renting out when they were not there, and were not designed with the guest’s comfort and enjoyment in mind.

The first place I stayed at was in the U.S. and it consisted of a bedroom in a house with half a bathroom. Again, the price was about the same as a local motel. The washer and dryer didn’t work, the floor was chipped and cracked and the window screen was broken. The floor was stained and dirty. It wasn’t like I had access to the entire house — just the room. The owner was not available most of the time and didn’t answer or address any of my needs the entire time, even though they got paid.

The second place I stayed was a room in another house. The lady who owned it was actually super nice. I went to an ecstatic dance event with her and we had a great time. She had children and one of her kids was in camp, so I was staying in her son’s room. Again, she was a lovely woman but it was weird sleeping in a kid’s room with kid’s sheets. It was clear she was a struggling single mom who was trying to make some money for her mortgage, so I felt like overall it was something I didn’t have a problem with. However, I wouldn’t ever stay there again.

The third place I stayed in was in Denmark. That was the only Airbnb where I had access to the entire apartment that was clean, orderly, and as described on the listing. The owner was helpful in helping me rent a bike. The price was also reasonable and I was able to actually save money with food because all the kitchen equipment actually worked. That was the only place that I would ever stay again.

The last place was in Germany and that was the last time I ever rented an Airbnb. The description was completely inaccurate; the apartment was located way on the other side of town. I had to walk two miles to with my luggage. The owner met me and he seemed nice. He gave me the key and talked about the town for a few minutes before he left.

The apartment didn’t have much working in the kitchen and not even a working microwave. The bathroom was filthy, with a piece of dirty duct tape on the floor holding it all together. The sheets I’m pretty sure had not been washed and the only appliance that worked was the TV.

The day that I left I got locked into the building and wasn’t able to leave since I had given him back the key. I knocked on some random apartment for someone to let me out. After that experience, I checked the local hotel and motel rates in the city itself and found that they were comparable and in some cases even less than what the Airbnb host was charging.

For the same price, you can get a hotel room with clean sheets, clean towels, a clean bathroom, a safe, and someone to clean your room. A hotel will generally be up to standards and have good customer service, but this is not the case with Airbnb.

You just get the feeling that many of these Airbnb hosts are far more interested in making additional income to pay their bills than they are in providing a valuable, guest and customer service oriented, hospitable experience. They aren’t obligated like hotels are to abide by certain hospitality industry standards. They aren’t even obligated to abide by certain safety codes and are not subject to inspection.

According to some of the reviews I have read on this website, many Airbnb listings are not even required to actually exist. Many of them are fake or are dishonest in their listing description.

I’m posting this because everyone talks about how great Airbnb is, but that has not been my experience overall. You really are not saving any money and you’re really taking a gamble on whether or not the place you are renting from even exists. If it does, will it be up to code, or is it a fire trap? Is it going to be clean? Will your host cancel your reservation right before you arrive? Is the host an ex-con, a rapist or murderer? Of course, this can go for the guests too.

Airbnb has some potential but it needs much more oversight. The listings should be subject to certain local laws to ensure they are complying with safety standards. They should be subject to inspections and paying fees to local governments so that they do not displace local residents.

As it is practiced today, it is a bad idea and really should be banned. Many people can’t access affordable housing and it is largely due to Airbnb being turned into short term rentals which can charge a higher rate. Guests coming in and out of the neighborhoods are not required to register their status if they are ex-convicts or sex offenders.

Is it really worth any of the savings if you don’t know if your valuables will be safe or if the host is safe? If the kitchen equipment doesn’t work, and you have to dine out anyway? Are you really “living as a local” if the place you are renting is on the other side of town?

In short, think about it before renting an Airbnb. Is it really worth the risk? Maybe have a back up plan like a hotel booked which has a 24-hour cancellation policy just in case. Or just stay in the hotel and forget Airbnb.

VRBO

Worst Airbnb Experience Ever, no Refund

VRBO

I paid $1471 for a two-week stay but had to leave after having vicious dogs running at myself and my dogs. I called Airbnb and told them I was going to have to find another place because our safety was a factor. I spent four hours with three different people on the phone with Airbnb and was assured my cancellation would be done by then. I paid another $1800 out of pocket to move an hour away to a private rental and gave Airbnb time to do my cancellation and let me know what was going on. I called every day trying to find out what was going on. This morning I got a refund for $289 out of $1471. I’m not going to sit and let this happen. This has been a horrible experience and completely wrecked my vacation. They are about to get sued.

VRBO

Risks for Hosts and Guests in Unapproved Sublets

VRBO

I own approved short-term accommodation in Australia. The state government and the local authority require me, as part of the conditions to operate, to comply with requirements of health, safety, insurance, and local amenity or I can be closed down and/or fined.

For example, doors leading into or out of the accommodation cannot have a lock on the inside requiring a key to be opened in case of fire, the smoke/fire detector system is superior to that required for normal residential use, linen must be washed every three days in at least 90 degrees Celsius (194 degrees F), pests (cockroaches, rodents, flies etc) must be controlled by regular fumigation/baiting/barriers, and pets are not allowed in the kitchen, bedrooms or swimming pool area due to disease.

Very strict rules are in force if I supply any food, e.g. sugar cannot be available in an open container, milk must be date stamped and in an unbroken sealed container and refrigerated below 4 C with logs of purchase and use by date, and the fridge must have a thermometer and be kept below 4 degrees Celsius. Regulations for the swimming pool are horrendous but all for the health and safety of guests. I also have to pay a yearly license fee to operate.

The premises are regularly inspected, without notice, by Government Health & Safety Officers. These measures obviously cost more than that of normal residential accommodation as they are over and above the usual requirements. Consequently, I cannot compete in price with an individual who rents out on Airbnb a spare room in their home or the whole of their accommodation when they go on holiday. Airbnb encourages people through incentives to let out their accommodation, with no checks of their legal standing to do so. Unapproved and illegal lets regularly crop up on Airbnb before the authorities shut them down.

People being people seek the cheapest deal and so bypass me in favour of an Airbnb sublet. This causes loss of business for me. It also means guests expose themselves to hazards, disease and financial risks by staying in unapproved accommodation.

For example, a recent newspaper report of an illegal Airbnb property advertised as ‘family friendly’ had a young family as guests over Christmas. The property had swings built by the owner. The father was pushing his two young children on the swing when it toppled over as it was not anchored in the ground. The younger child was crushed and killed on the spot. The other child was admitted to Intensive Care at hospital with life threatening injuries. The owner had invalidated his insurance as he was operating illegally so stands to lose his house in litigation for personal damages/injury. He was also fined by the authorities.

This would not have happened it he had stayed in approved accommodation such as mine. Bear in mind that all insurance is invalidated if not operating legally or to purpose. Most homeowners have residential property and contents insurance. Insurance companies view letting out a room or property to the public as a commercial activity and not residential use by the owner/occupier. Thus any claim for third party liability, damage, loss or injury will be dismissed by the insurer if found the property was not used in accordance with law and insured purpose.

We all know how insurers try to evade paying out if possible. This means a guest must proceed against the host’s personal assets, which may be nil if renting and not an owner or insolvent.

The choice is yours: make some bucks via Airbnb and risk losing your home or being declared bankrupt if things go wrong as well as being prosecuted, or, if a guest, save a few dollars and risk sickness, injury or death without benefit of the host’s insurance, if any, if let out illegally.

VRBO

The Love Shack… Just Groovy, Airbnb

I live in a quiet suburban neighborhood in Farmers Branch, Texas. Homes in my neighborhood are 50-60 years old, some remodeled, many not, averaging 2,000 sq ft. It’s a quiet neighborhood with many elderly, some young families and mid-life couples/families.

In November 2018, a homeowner two doors down listed his home on Airbnb as “The Love Shack.” The home is very nice inside and has a great outdoor entertaining area with a pool. I would estimate he gets about 80% occupancy. Over the past six months, our neighborhood has increasingly become angry about the activity at this house. Here are a few examples of what we’ve seen and experienced:

  • Loud parties late at night and into the early morning hours
  • Many cars parked on our street taking up spaces in front of our homes
  • Cars racing down our street
  • Drunk teenagers
  • Marijuana use (resulting in arrests)
  • Trash left out for days, then strewn about by critters
  • Thug and hooker traffic
  • Vomit in the street
  • Beer cans/bottles and party waste in our yards and streets

There are often large teenager parties involving very large quantities of alcohol (hence the vomit). We see thug and hooker parties. Now we are beginning to see prostitution in the neighborhood this past week (April 13th).

One night, a bed was delivered to the home (there’s already three bedrooms in the house). Later that night, there were very bright flashes coming from the house. Based on the attire and thuggery in the house that night, there’s no doubt this was a porn shoot.

The owner has been contacted multiple times. He is disputing the city’s code violations for trash and he has revised his rules to disallow bad behavior. However, he isn’t actively monitoring the activity in this house for the sake of being a good neighbor. In fact, he has asked us to call him if we observe guests breaking his rules. I am not his personal security detail.

Airbnb invites activity into our neighborhood that people don’t want to do in their own neighborhood. Then what the hell makes you think I want it in  my neighborhood? This comes in the form of drunken teen parties, sex parties, porn activity, prostitution, perhaps sex trafficking, drug use and generally, undesirable people and activities.

This is degrading the safety and security of our neighborhood, so much so that several of us neighbors have had to install security cameras and additional security lighting. Numerous complaints have been filed with Airbnb. We get nice letters stating they shared our complaints with the owner. Nothing changes. The homeowner could care less. He is getting his bone at our cost. I believe Airbnb has a good and viable purpose, but not in my neighborhood. This means war.

Airbnb Allows Theft and Does Nothing

We rented our house to three people from the Airbnb website where we advertised our three bedroom, two bathroom vacation rental. They stole all of our furniture, washer, dryer, artwork, and dishes. We immediately contacted Airbnb, filed a police report, found our receipts and emailed them all to Airbnb. They have done nothing to take care of this. They have a million dollar insurance policy and we never received a dime from this theft. Their insurance guy won’t return our phone calls and so we lost $15,000 worth of furnishings and appliances and Airbnb has done nothing to help us. I guess if you are a thief, rent through Airbnb and steal from the house you are renting, as Airbnb won’t do anything to catch you or help the people from whom you stole. I hope all thieves read this, rip everyone else off, and then, maybe when no one advertises through Airbnb anymore, they will go out of business. I am now going to contact the insurance commission and file a complaint. I will also contact other hosts on Airbnb and let them know about this so they can decide if they dare to continue with Airbnb.