A Holiday from Hell Thanks to Flooded Apartment

We arrived in Palma to find our apartment had been flooded. Our host took us to another that had been hurriedly evacuated by a Roma family (at least that’s how it looked). Our dealings with our Eastern European host were through a go-between who was simply charming and promised the Earth, but delivered nothing. We were promised we would eventually be settled in our booked apartment but it was never going to happen.

On our third day, water poured out from our shower and flooded the place, so we were moved to a hotel for one night. At first the go-between, who was on a sympathy kick, told us how lucky we were and he was paying for the hotel out of his own pocket. Fawlty Towers would have been an improvement.

Despite being asked to provide three rooms, the owner waited until we arrived before frantically searching for bed linen. We were asked to wait with our cases half way up an unlit staircase while he went looking. After twenty minutes or so there was a frantic knocking on the front door – the police. They had come to arrest a guy in the room opposite the one I was destined for. There weren’t three rooms, only two.

At this we told the go-between to forget it. He finally put us in a hostel. It was clean and modern and had ensuites so we were okay with this. But we had no idea where we were staying the following night as he had confessed our originally booked apartment was nowhere near habitable, the cost of the hostel was twice that of Fawlty Towers, and he wasn’t sure he’d get back what he’d already paid.

We had already started negotiating with Airbnb by email and phone (they hate you using the phone and hide contact numbers). They had only two responses to urgent messages: Airbnb didn’t believe we weren’t in the booked apartment so we had to send photos to prove it. Of course, by then we were in the hostel. Luckily I had taken a couple of pics to send to my wife so we retrieved those and sent them to Airbnb.

They then agreed on a partial refund but debited us the full cost of the first night, despite the fact that our original contract had not been honoured. We had already booked a new apartment so the refund was good news but still cost us. Then as we were (mid-afternoon) on our way to the new place the phone rang and it was the go-between, saying the leak had been repaired and we could go back to our revolting apartment. We told him where he could shove it.

The new apartment was lovely, modern and clean. However it turned out this apartment was next to a drug dealer’s home. Although the block had a entry lock I think they disabled it at night. We had paper-thin walls, and comings and goings all night long. This ended at 5:00 AM on our last night with a couple of guys hammering on the door and kicking it trying to attract attention. I’m not sure anyone was even in. I got out of bed and went to our door to suggest they stop (unpleasant confrontation in the extreme) but parted telling them I was calling the police. They left. The end of a lovely holiday.

Airbnb Wants Two Women to Stay Without Working Locks

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This link is to a host who has a dangerous Airbnb rental. Upon arrival, the lock codes did not work. We had to go to the “cafe”, which is also a bar, to get someone there to help us. It turned out that everyone working at that bar has all the lock codes, and manual keys to override the codes; at least one person was trying to get in. The lock was broken. The host was unavailable and said that the bar employees would have to help us. One employee said we would have to leave the place unlocked since the lock did not work. When we examined the doors to find out why the locks weren’t working, we saw severe damage to the doors and door jambs. Apparently this place had been broken into and the jambs were never repaired. In addition, there were cracks in the wooden doors. With everyone else being able to get into this place, and we were two women traveling alone, we left immediately and got a safer room. Airbnb and the host fought us on the refund, and refused to pay for any additional expenses because we had to spend more money on a hotel, even though we chose the cheapest one we could find. I will not use Airbnb again. Ever.

Host Became Aggressive Asking for Personal Information

After booking a long stay costing over $2000, the host became quite aggressive and asked for pictures of me, my full name, and the address of where I lived. I find this completely inappropriate. Even if I knew the same about him, which I don’t, I still think this is inappropriate and invasive. Airbnb won’t respond to my concerns (can’t get through on phone, emails no good, and no place on the help forum for this type of concern) and I can’t cancel without losing half of the booking fee. I’m out of my mind as to what to do. Given the aggressive behavior I don’t want to stay with this host, but losing half the fee would be a big financial impact for me. I’m a bit afraid because the host already has my personal email address and some other details so I don’t want to post the listing.

Using Airbnb on Disability when the Weather is Dangerous

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I am recognised as disabled with severe impairments and high PTSD and high vulnerability. Here is a picture of my highest Disability Living Allowance awarded in 2007 because I am deemed vulnerable and unsafe and need support. I have fought and become as independent as possible as most care and support is abusive and disgusting physically abusive, sexual abusive, or financially abusive. I use this allowance to be independent, free, and as active as possible.

I am actually travelling because I feel unsafe at home due to disability hate and threats. I’m looking for better future accommodation in Scotland using my disability benefits to do it. Social and support services are hopeless. “Disabled people are not human being but animals – it does not matter what anybody does to us.” That is from the professionals. I am independent and manage myself. I am active in the disability movement and an active blogger. I also campaign regarding disabilities, austerity, and the effects of cutting funds and services. I am also an active blogger and defender when it comes to abuse and discrimination.

I have travelled to Scotland using my DLA and highest Disability Premium Rate to work closely actively with others to move here. I feel very unsafe where I am in the southeast of England; councils and police are ineffective and disability abuse and targeting is high. I chronicle and write about disability abuse and inequalities. I get in a lot of trouble and ruffle a lot of feathers.

I paid for an Airbnb for last five days with a host in Glasgow, opposite Alexandra Park, which my little dog enjoyed immensely. I paid upfront for next stay, a full two weeks near Gretna Green, a remote dog and horse holiday place. The snow came down, and it got worse. Travel was impossible, and not only could I not get there but future hosts said they were not snowed in and could not come out themselves for next few days at least.

The host where I stayed wanted me to leave in the thick snow and blizzards. I did not have anywhere to go and was then short of funds. I begged to stay and even sleep on floor. She wanted me to leave and also got her boyfriend to approach me and insist. They offered to order me a taxi to get me out.

There had been no problems. I had been a perfect guest. I questioned the cruelty and unsafety of kicking me out and emphasised my disability and vulnerability. This seemed to fall on deaf ears. They went out to get more friends to come back later. I contacted Airbnb. It took ages for a response. By now people were being advised to stay at home; travel services were cancelled and weather was on high red alert and would be for at least two days. There was nowhere to move on to and no more money.

I argued and Airbnb agreed to refund my last payment as I could not get anywhere otherwise: nearly £300 and an extra £75 on top so I could immediately find somewhere else. I insisted and they assured me it would be in my account immediately. This communication, threat, and fear had now taken eight hours. When their email alerted me to payments refunded it said clearly it still could take up to 15 days for the funds to transfer and clear.

This means I have no accommodation. I have no money. I am under threat and pressure to leave, and there is only the streets and homelessness as a severe disabled woman with cognitive impairment, experience of a series of strokes and gross PTSD due to attacks and sexual assault faced with the prospect of being put in even greater danger.

I have contacted Airbnb again and warned and informed them of the consequences. I informed them of their duty of care They have so far not gotten back to me and I am alone in a cold flat where I am not wanted, waiting for hostess to come back with companions to pressure me. The only prospect is the streets and the cold. So far Airbnb has not gotten back to me.

This is where I am now. As I write this, I feel this is very important as Airbnb likes to promote itself as a trendy, aware, dedicated to equality, cheap accommodation service for those on little money and travelling cheaply. Yet now I am in a very distressing and precarious position. I wanted this dreadful state of affairs to be known as important for the health and safety of other vulnerable lone disabled women.

I have been active in addressing abuse and like many when I suffer discrimination and potential harm I can only write about it. Thank you for listening I am going to have another cup of tea and try and sleep on the floor until the hostess comes back and maybe I am out on streets. This is disgusting. I am an active writer, campaigner, and blogger on disability rights. Hate and failure of services and businesses accommodation of any kind is a nightmare. It’s more about intimidation and abuse than safety and having a home.

Fight Breaks Out, Airbnb Does Nothing to Help

Recently, my family and I visited the midwest. We are regular users of Airbnb and, most of the time, whatever issues we encounter are easily remedied by adjusting our attitude or expectations. But this stay was different.

The property was one of twelve hosted by the same person in a suburban area. Because our stay was only four days and we anticipated being tourists, we booked a basement with a bath and small kitchen. We arrived and things went smoothly: the beds were comfy, there was no kitchen (but there was a microwave and small cooler), and our check in was a breeze.

About 6:00 PM, we heard what sounded like a Dothraki horde running laps around the main floor of the place. We would hear loud bangs and even heard glass shatter. I quickly messaged the host and got a reply from a number not related to our host. The responder was, we think, his wife. In any case, she apologized and said they had three dogs and were pet sitting two more. The barking and noise was constant for nearly three hours. Finally, we heard the owner come home.

Night two began at 7:00 PM. We returned to the basement exhausted. The Kentucky Derby was in full swing upstairs. We tried everything we could think of, including purchasing a very large box fan, to dampen the noise. At 11:00 PM, I contacted the host. They said: “We’re at a concert… sorry about the dogs.”

In the meantime, we did our best to stay quiet so the dogs would stop barking. At 2:00 AM, the owners arrived home and it got quiet enough to sleep. They apparently kennel the dogs at night.

At 4:22 in the morning, a large bang jolted us awake. We heard swearing and footsteps and then someone let the dogs out (and not in a funny, rap song way). For the next three hours, we were subjected to bangs, stomps… think of a stampede. I texted the owner multiple times with no response. At 9:40 AM, I had had it. I went and knocked on the main door. No one answered. I did get a text saying that we had just woke them up. The wife of the owner apologized and said a friend had come home drunk at 4:00, so it wasn’t their fault.

Then, we started hearing a fight break out. Women were screaming. A man was ranting about losing money and we heard a woman say, “You f***ing turned our home into a hotel and those mother f***ers can go to hell!”

Then we heard shuffling and chaos and the lady screamed: “Help!”

I tossed my car keys to my kids and told them to go lock themselves in the car while I called the police and packed up our stuff. After calling the police, I called Airbnb to report an emergency. I was asked to leave my number and a rep would call me back. I never got a call back. My phone did ring, once, but no one spoke.

The host cancelled our reservation so I couldn’t leave feedback. The host told Airbnb there was no fight and that what we heard was a television. Ten minutes later, the wife, who obviously had left the house, texted us and said she was sorry for subjecting our children to a fight but we shouldn’t “expect people to walk on eggshells when we book a basement.”

Abusive Host Convinces Guests to Leave Early

Do not stay here. We were delayed so we didn’t need access earlier than the 3:00 PM check in time. The host is an appalling communicator. On the day before the booking I sent two messages four hours apart requesting clarification of address and check in procedure. I told the host that we would not have wifi while in transit on the day of arrival. The host sent a reply overnight. He agreed to allow us to store our luggage if we arrived early.

Unfortunately, we were unavoidably delayed so we didn’t need access to the apartment earlier than the check in time. He claimed that this inconvenienced him, and it went downhill from there. In his message, written in perfect English, he sent an incorrect address – wrong house number, wrong floor, wrong apartment number and wrong access code. The building couldn’t be located using Airbnb maps’ link on the listing, so we had to guess the house number from the photo on the listing.

Our friend arrived in Madrid three hours before us. We had planned to meet at the apartment, but he couldn’t get in because of the wrong information, nor could he contact the host for clarification; I was the only guest who had access to the Airbnb messaging system. He had travelled from the US and had to wait outside the apartment with his luggage until we finally arrived. On arrival, my daughter and I tried to open the apartment using the instructions provided then had to find wifi in the local area to locate our friend and get the correct address from the host.

The host and his sister came to let us in. They both entered the apartment and demanded that I speak in Spanish (“you’re in Spain, speak Spanish”), even though he had listed that he speaks English, and all previous communication was in English. He had a heated discussion in Spanish with our NYC friend and the host then ordered us to leave (in English). I refused to leave as I’d paid for the accommodation. I told him that if he provides a full refund we would leave, but he refused to accept that.

He then came within 10 cm of me, pointing in my face and shouting abuse. I told him several times to back off. At that point we realised that this was getting very serious and that we needed to comply or alternatively to call police to intervene. He did not apologise for his poor communication, instead he claimed he had been an exemplary host by offering for us to store our luggage. We thanked him for that and he and his sister left. His sister spoke English, but she did not intervene on our behalf. Instead she allowed her brother to abuse us. I was very shaken and concerned for our safety. We vacated the premises very early the next day, to avoid any further abuse.

I Reported an Attack then Faced Retaliation from Airbnb

Over the holidays, I rented an apartment. There were problems with the maid. She basically moved into the unit with me and spent half the day there, despite me desperately trying to get her out.

After the first week, I decided to stay a second week. The host agreed. She accepted a second booking at a discounted rate. On the last day, I was accosted for money for “payment for the last five days – in cash and now” and actually attacked by the maid. I only lost about $50, but reported the incident to Airbnb as a “Trust and Safety” issue. I also complained to the host. She proceeded to defend the staff member, and told me she would lodge her own complaint with Airbnb, stating that I had tons of “unregistered” guests, and damaged the apartment… and this was after she renewed my booking.

The next day, Airbnb contacted me and asked for a police report and photos of my injuries. They said the host complained that I damaged the unit and had four “unauthorized” visits. They wanted to know if I had stayed in the apartment without checking out after the first week and stayed for the second week, as they did not see the payment. A payment was in fact made with my Visa. I had 25 photos of the apartment as well as video. The only damage was a stain on the rug, which I believe had been there for months.

The results? The host’s listing was back online in two days, and I was banned as a user. Moral of the story: be very careful when making a safety complaint about a listing. The host can retaliate against you. There is no whistle-blower protection rule. Airbnb could accept all of the host’s complaints, ignore your safety concerns, and ban you.

Double booked, left stranded in sub-freezing temperature

We booked a house to stay in Hunter Mountain, New York for a skiing weekend and our other friend’s birthday weekend. There were 12-16 guests arranged to arrive on Saturday and Sunday to stay until Monday or Tuesday. The first group of us arrived early Saturday to go skiing in the morning and planned to check in to the Airbnb after around 3:00 or 4:00 PM.

When we arrived down from a long day of skiing in 10 degrees Fahrenheit, one guest arrived at the house confused and embarrassed to find a whole load of people he did not know. It turned out the host had double booked. We try to call the host and of course he did not answer.

We then tried to contact Airbnb who refused to talk over the phone and would only contact us by message. The person who was on the other end would only tell us to just rebook a place ourselves. This was the busiest weekend of the year in Hunter, as it was MLK weekend. There was nothing else to book. When asking her to call us she responded, “I am currently on a call. Is there any other listing you are interested in?”

We were standing outside in the freezing cold in front of the originally double booked house. Not only was this response incredibly rude but this was three hours after we first made contact with Airbnb. It is now 7:00 PM. We are trying to find a new place. The bar and resort at Hunter Mountain, where six other guests were patiently waiting, is now closing and the staff are asking them to leave.

We started calling hotels who were all saying they were booked up, until finally the fifth place we called had rooms free. It was 9:00 PM by the time we got a hotel after arriving at the original house before 3:00. It is shocking to know that Airbnb would happily leave their customers stranded in sub-freezing temperatures with nowhere to stay or even have the decency of a phone call. We are horrified by this carry on.

In summary, we experienced: a systematic error that caused a double booking by a scammer host (side note, the guests that were staying in this house said it was nothing like advertised – it was dirty and there were leaks, etc.); the original booking was $1650; dealing with incompetent staff at Airbnb who were arguing with us. We were in a difficult situation and were stressed out. A professional would have been polite and done everything they could to relax us and help sort out the situation.

It is also worth noting that I contacted Airbnb the Thursday before arriving because I was suspicious of the listing. I was called back twice to confirm and assure me that the booking was okay and I had nothing to worry about. The stress caused by over six hours of not knowing where to go or who to contact was multiplied by eight people who were tired and hungry and still in their ski gear or clothes they just traveled in. We were unable to confirm to the guests arriving on the Saturday if they were going to have somewhere to stay or to bother coming up the next morning at all. Multiply that by eight people whose weekend plans were now up in the air hours before they were to rent cars, rent ski gear, and pack.

The time and effort of having to check out and move from the hotel to the new booking before going skiing on Saturday was a factor. If you have ever been skiing you would know how much stuff there is for each person. I’d say we all lost out on about two hours each of valuable skiing time. This is not cheap: $75/day/person, the average skier skis four hours a day, that amounts to $37.5 X 6 skiers = $225

Airbnb’s continued their lack of communication the week after. When trying to resolve this issue, the only phone call that was returned was at 10:30 PM on Friday night while I was at work. We still have had no response from Airbnb since this incident and have posted this message to them by multiple sources, even directly to a colleague who works at Airbnb.

From Bad to Worse, Forced to Leave Multiple Airbnbs

To anyone looking to rent via Airbnb, please use caution. You cannot trust the reviews. A lot of people have their friends who write reviews for them. If a guest cancels before booking, Airbnb doesn’t allow them to leave reviews. I also believe they purposely delete bad reviews in the interest of keeping guests in the dark about the true conditions of some of the places listed on their site.

I have booked three places and all three had glowing reviews. Two of the three places were in deplorable condition. One of the places was in such bad condition that it had blatant health and safety violations: burned out electrical sockets, black mold, no working utilities, no heat in the dead of winter, etc.

The only way to be safe when using Airbnb is to only book with hosts who offer a full refund if you arrive and the place is not up to standards. If you are depending on Airbnb to back you up, forget about it. In fact, you could end up with nowhere to go. It happened to me. Thank god I was familiar with the area and had another option to stay for a few days. You might not be so lucky.

Airbnb has lately been hit or miss for me. Two out of three places that I have booked in the last month have had serious mold and other safety issues. The first place I booked and cancelled because I was afraid for my life and health looked like an abandoned house (dark, dirty, electrical wiring burned out, walls dirty with paint splattered on them, doors that didn’t lock, black mold and moldy smell throughout the place). I literally had to threaten to take legal action to get my money back and even so it took three days.

In the meantime, I was left with no money to even find another place to stay while I went back and forth with Airbnb trying to get a refund. Thank god I was able to find an alternative for a few days and then I ended up booking a hotel that cost me over three times as much for one day as I would have paid for a week at the Airbnb. The current place I booked a week ago I thought would be better because it was in a nice area and is owned by a doctor. I arrived to find that the place smelled like a public urinal and mold mixed together. Now I am having to find another place so I lost money. Thank god I had only booked for a few days.

As you can see, it’s hit or miss with Airbnb and you won’t know what you are getting until you arrive and open the door. Your best and only protection is to book with guests who offer a full refund if the place is not up to standards or avoid Airbnb all together, which is what I plan to do.

Slum House Throws Female Guest out at 2 AM

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This was my first Airbnb, and it will be my last. I thought it would be nice to stay with someone local since I wouldn’t be in the room most of the time I was there. Checking in was easy, but I was confused about the key situation even though I read the rules.

My room had a bed that was unmade, and host said his cleaning lady hadn’t come yet. No biggie. I just slept on another bed. The sheets had an odor to them. I didn’t think much of it because I wasn’t going to be there often. I saw a key outside my door, but assumed it was the previous tenants’ key since the room had not been cleaned.

I came to find out I was using the lockbox key. I was called to return it and retrieve my other key. The person’s voice was full with attitude when I explained I couldn’t close the lockbox. He said he would do it. I didn’t let it get to me.

When I came home that night, I had some problems with the front door, and my new key. I used the lockbox key to open it, and then to my dismay could not shut it. I did not want to leave the house key outside, because it wasn’t safe, and I did not want to take the key again, and be met with attitude. It was late.

I texted my host to ask for help, but then figured it out and apologized for bothering him. I locked the door and went to my room. I saw my light was on, and the door was wide open. I left in the afternoon with some friends. My door was shut, and lights were off. I also saw three plastic cups. One was empty, another was full of water, and the last one had a brown liquor. Then I noticed my luggage had been searched, and there was a sports bra on my bed. That sports bra didn’t even belong to me.

I did not want to wake my host since I had already with my lockbox question. I just needed to be sure that I had rented the room for myself, and was not sharing it with others. This was my first time using Airbnb, and I thought maybe I had made a mistake. When I texted my host to ask I was quickly met with sarcastic remarks, and told that it wasn’t working out – I should just go.

I was a woman staying alone in another city that I didn’t know. It was 2:00 AM, and he was asking me to leave. I told him I didn’t have anywhere else to go. He kept with the insults the whole conversation, so I packed, and left. He kept insisting that he wasn’t a hotel, and it wasn’t worth his time for what I was paying. I was also made fun of for not locking my door. The lockbox key I was using previously did not lock my door, so I assumed the other one didn’t as well.

I was shaken, and betrayed. Who would just throw a woman out on their own at that time of night? This horrible person would. I was refunded close to $40. The house in the pictures looks funky, and cool. In actuality it is a run down dirty house with hardly any art at all. It stinks, and felt like I was staying at a halfway house, or men’s dorm.

I would not recommend Airbnb, especially for women. I’m sure the host will have a smart response to my story, and try to belittle me. It is okay. I just want to expose him and his crappy art house so no other woman will feel violated, as I did that night.