Domestic Horror at Airbnb Forces Guests to Call 911

My husband and I decided to use Airbnb for the first time because we were looking to spend a romantic weekend in the Poconos area of Pennsylvania. When we got to the house we were greeted by the hostess’ husband who informed us that his wife was delayed by a flight coming from Texas and he would go pick her up at midnight. My husband and I were offered beer and later this man asked my husband to go fishing. It all seemed wonderful and when they returned from their fishing trip we went to bed expecting that the man would go out around midnight to pick his wife up at the airport.

Sleep was difficult because the mattresses thrown on the floor were uncomfortable and squeaked at every turn. Nevertheless we had agreed to make the best of the one-night stay. Well, around 1:00 AM, I was awakened by loud cursing and yelling by a male voice, which I tied to ignore. Soon I heard more yelling and now a female voice was involved. I figured the hostess had been picked up from the airport and was settling home to go to bed. However, the voices got louder as did the cursing and it all seemed to be outside.

I looked outside our window and saw the hostess’ husband yelling at another man and later as the other man got back into his car the hostess’ husband kicked his car, which angered the man in the car (I later found out he was a taxi driver the hostess had used to get home). The man got out and the two men began to argue again, but eventually the taxi driver got in his vehicle and left. The issue did not end there as the hostess’ husband continue to argue with her, to the point of smashing her fingers on the door. This caused her to scream which caused us to come down.

We offered the hostess to call 911 as she told us that he smashed her fingers and also poured beer all over her luggage which was still outside the house in the driveway. We offered to assist bringing it in, but her husband would not allow it. When she tried to go get it, he tried to lock her out of the home. He escalated in his loud verbal attacks and threats to the point where we had to call 911 at around 2:00 AM. Once police arrived we waited to get the okay from them to be allowed to leave. We left around 3:30 AM and had to sleep in our car. While this ordeal was going on, we found out that the husband was never consulted by the hostess about her plan to make their home into an Airbnb, which he disagreed with. He informed us that he had assaulted another guest who arrived at the house around 10:00 PM on a night when the hostess’ husband was expected to work the next day. We found out from the hostess that her husband was on parole and has a criminal record. What a night.

Airbnb Guest Has Few Valid Complaints, Plenty of Disrespect

I had a guest who is actually from across town in Halifax. She stayed at one of my properties for two nights. She arrived by bus and went to my neighbour’s house by mistake. She had a very powerful personality and I think she was upset or insulted when I went out to do my yoga, work, and meet with friends. She used all of my toilet paper in two nights. I hope it was just in her bag and not in my drains. She complained about my towel detergent and all her illnesses and sensitivities. I asked for her passport, as I noticed my listing somehow had the validation restriction lifted. She was very upset. I explained the Airbnb website asked to show ID.

Then she commented on my insulating plastic wrap on my china cabinet handles. This is my house and I have this cabinet for my china. There are plenty of dishes to use for my guests in the kitchen. What concerns me now is the long letter she wrote over nothing; it was a personal attack on me and my character. I have not experienced this disrespectful behaviour from any guest. She was so overbearing. I am afraid to write a comment about her and feel she will definitely downgrade my rating due to her own unhappiness. What do I do? I am getting my lock changed at a cost of $117, as I feel this lady was so unbalanced. She wrote about a towel that she was concerned about but that is minor. I told her not to worry about it; there were only three there. I usually put four but I could read her aggressive energy and just wanted her out. I offered to give her a lift in my car, in a diplomatic way. This was a guest from hell. I lost money to host her, but learned my listing validation was turned off.

Airbnb Host Locked Women out of Granada Apartment

My daughter just made an emergency call to us from Granada, Spain. She and her friend have a room in an Airbnb apartment, and went out for the evening. They came back about 3:00 AM and the host (a woman) would not let them in. They have been outside for hours, and called the police, the American Embassy, and Airbnb, and no one would help them. These are two young girls (about 22) who have recently graduated from college. Their passports are in the apartment, so they cannot get a hotel room or anyplace else, until they get their passports. This woman is horrible. They know she is doing this on purpose – this is a horrible and scary situation. Their bags and all IDs are inside this woman’s apartment. Airbnb won’t do anything. They should not have such despicable people as hosts that would abuse their guests… Airbnb has put my daughter and her friend in an unsafe and scary situation.

The Roof Caved in at our Montréal Airbnb Apartment

It has been a year since we went to Montréal, Québec, where we had a nightmarish experience which could have been lethal. Indeed, the two-room apartment we rented looked very nice on the Website pictures but when we moved in, there were lots of missing features and, worst of all, it looked shabby (quite a few damaged and broken things, not least of which was the toilet seat) and filthy (among other things, the sheets had been slept in and not changed). After getting in touch with the host, we were given unconvincing explanations about supposedly careless guests prior to our arrival and handed a few extra towels and sheets. We mentioned the cracks in the ceiling as something rather preoccupying but the host did not seem to pay attention.

On the second day of our stay, when we got back home in the evening after some sightseeing around Montréal, we were absolutely shattered when we stepped inside the apartment. The roof had caved in where the cracks had been and collapsed onto the bed where our eighteen-year-old daughter had slept the night before, damaging her iPad and leaving the tiny bedroom littered with rubble which could have killed her had the accident taken place during the night. We once again got in touch with the host lady who seemed as stunned and devastated as we were when she rushed to her place and then helped us call Airbnb to try and solve the issue.

We spent half the night talking on the phone with an Airbnb employee in the US but the company representative claimed that the homeowners were responsible for any occurrence inside the place they rent through Airbnb. Accordingly, the company cannot be held responsible for anything that occurs if the host did not take out rental insurance. After some discussion, the host agreed to refund the remaining days but we insisted that we wanted a whole refund of the amount we had paid through Airbnb. The company clerk only offered a token $100 (less than 5% of the price we had paid) as a refund and did not offer any help at all in finding a place to spend the night and go on with our two-week stay. Shame on Airbnb.

For all her faults for renting such a shabby place, the host lady was nice enough and agreed to refund the whole sum, which was okay with us. However, the company did not suffer any loss in the matter, which is really shocking as they are the ones who should suffer most from providing such a lousy product to tourists.

As I have made clear enough through my account of a rather scary experience, Airbnb does not assume any responsibility at all in case of any problems, and only offered us a coupon for our next stay which will never happen since we have decided to never again have anything to do with this company whose policies, were they better known, would mean bankruptcy. Their practice is a shameless way to take advantage of both hosts and guests. Needless to say, we had to fall back on a nice hotel room which cost us twice as much as what we had paid Airbnb. We were safe and cosy at long last, which is what every traveler is entitled to but which is not what Airbnb users are always likely to experience. We were also glad to still be alive and well but in retrospect we shuddered at the thought of what might have happened if one or all three of us had been seriously hurt in the accident. The conclusion that I draw is that Airbnb would deny any responsibility whatsoever in such tragic situations so beware and look elsewhere for nicer places to spend a holiday.

Sweet Dreams in the Dungeon, Hope There’s no Fire

A while ago, I stayed in an Airbnb in Southern France, in a very charming little village. It was big, it was cheap, and there was a nice roof terrace, but the host wasn’t entirely straightforward about a major issue: two of the bedrooms were in a damp, dark basement, only accessible via steep and rickety stairs and without any fire escape. One of the bedrooms did not have any windows at all. It was basically a cellar with two beds in it. The walls weren’t even plastered. The other room only had a tiny opening near the ceiling, which was out of reach, impossible to open, and of no use as an emergency exit.

If this had been a properly regulated holiday rental, these rooms would have never been allowed to be classified as bedrooms. The basement bathroom did not have door handles and my partner managed to lock himself in for a good half hour until we rescued him.

For the first couple nights I refused to sleep in the basement, instead hunkering down in the extremely dusty living room with my kids. However, when my son, who has a dust allergy, started coughing, we had no choice but to sleep in the basement. All our clothes ended up smelling damp. Every night I had problems falling asleep because I was worried. If there had been any kind of issue, an electrical fire (the wiring also looked dubious) for instance, this could have been very dangerous for us.

I did not complain as I did not make the booking myself but I will not use Airbnb again. There is no guarantee that what you get will be fit for human habitation or safe in the event of an emergency. That’s why hotels charge more: because they have to comply with regulations and the taxes they pay fund health and safety inspections by local municipalities. You may save money on Airbnb but you might die. Sorry to put it in such stark terms, but it’s as bad as that and I’ve learnt my lesson.

There’s Rude, There’s Extremely Rude, Then There’s This Host

There’s rude, there’s extremely rude and then there’s being told to “f$#@ off” by your host. That’s what happened when I phoned my Airbnb host about the TV not working (aerial feed had been torn out; bare wire remained). “I don’t see it as a problem,” he assured me. He suggested I repair it myself.

“Okay, but how would you feel about it if this happened to you?” I asked. “Get another place. Find another room.” he said. “What?” I asked, shocked. “F$#@ OFF” he shouted. Then the phone went dead. I was on another man’s property. I was with my wife and my daughter. I was now uncertain as to whether or not we could stay. I felt very unwelcome. How can I write a good review after that?

After Bed Bugs, Airbnb Cancelled Reservation

This has been the worst Airbnb experience of my life. We just checked out of a Lisbon Airbnb where bed bugs ate us alive. Please see the attached photos of the painful welts all over my body, face and neck. After complaining to Airbnb, the resolution manager proceeded to cancel the rest of our trip. We are now standing in the airport about to board a flight to Seville with no accommodations to go to when we land at midnight. Two girls alone in a foreign city. Three different resolution managers we initially spoke to told us that we would receive a refund and that we would also be rebooked in a hotel for this evening at Airbnb’s own cost (the least they could do). We did receive the refund and were trying to retrieve the hotel information when a new manager informed us that they would not be creating a reservation for us because they already went ahead and processed the refund. She claimed it was one or the other – which is not what three prior managers told us. We are now standing stranded in the airport with nowhere to go when we land. This was the most disgusting, unsafe experience I have ever encountered and I will be spreading this story publicly as far as I can so that other young women traveling don’t get put it the same unsafe and frightening situation.

Host Lied About Practically Everything at Airbnb in Gloucester

This Airbnb host lied about what she is offering and although Airbnb has been notified and provided with documentation, they still run her listing which is unchanged on the crucial points I will mention. Although I got a full refund and half the cost of staying at a hotel for the first night from Airbnb, I found dealing with Airbnb support to be quite challenging. It took a great deal of time and aggravation. It unnecessarily became the focus of things for me during the first 24 hours of my vacation, when I was exhausted and uncertain where I would be able to spend the night far from home.

Please note that Airbnb will encourage you to write a review and to put lots of detail into it, but not inform you that they will only post a certain number of words of it, whether that means they cut you off mid-sentence, making you look like a lunatic or not. They will not inform you that you only have 48 hours to edit your review. If most people are like me, they will write the review and spend the first 48 hours checking the host’s listing to see it if has been posted yet. Then, when it is too late, they will check further and see that by that point Airbnb will not allow editing of the review. Airbnb are terrible in many ways and I would be hesitant to consider booking using their site again.

The best part of the whole experience was the people of Gloucester who were unfailingly kind and helpful when they saw I was in trouble. I initially planned to stay in the room on my own, looking forward to several days of relaxing on the beach and catching up with cousins in the area. Although I didn’t need a second bed when I first asked for permission to book, it had stuck in my head that the listing said there were two beds. I looked at the listing again and confirmed that there were when a cousin from a bit outside the area said she’d like she’d like to join me. I was a bit confused, though, since the photograph of the room clearly showed just one bed. Maybe it was a bed that could be split into two? My cousin told me she had an air mattress she could bring if necessary.

I messaged the host through Airbnb to ask what the story was. Suddenly the lightning fast responses I’d gotten previously when asking if I could book dramatically slowed down. I tried calling her at the number provided by the site. A text came in from her while the phone was ringing that said “I can’t talk now”. Okay… I’d called during business hours and she was busy. Later I received a text back from her saying “who is this?” If she had to know who was phoning her, wasn’t there a more polite way to ask? I texted her back identifying myself and apologized for bothering her. No response. I received a message from her through the Airbnb system that said I should “bring the air mattress just in case”. Just in case she wasn’t being honest about her listing, which clearly stated two beds?

In retrospect, I wish I had cancelled then and paid the cost of the hotel I eventually went to instead. I should have known further trouble awaited. I arrived half an hour early in front of the house, where there was street parking, not “private parking” as was listed in the amenities section of her listing. I texted the host to ask if I should come back, or if she could possibly check me in a little early, since it was very hot in the car, but received no response. After a little while, I phoned and left the same message on her voicemail.

A few minutes after the agreed upon time, she pulled up. She made no indication that she’d received either of my messages. She took me inside and we chatted a bit. I mentioned that one of the reasons I’d been interested in getting away is that the air conditioning at home had been on the blink. It wasn’t until she took me downstairs to the room that she revealed the room had no air conditioning, only a small fan. The “private” room also had no door between it and the rest of the house, being at the bottom of a flight of stairs from the living area. It had its own door to the outside on the opposite wall. Only a baby gate stood between the rest of the apartment and your “privacy”.

The biggest problem came while we were still upstairs in the kitchen and I asked her about a key. She told me that she “never locks” the apartment. She must have seen the utter shock on my face, because she then told me that if I expected her to lock the place all the time she would give me a key. There was quite a bit of hostility in her voice when she said this. Having just had a very long drive and being exhausted, I said nothing while I decided what to do about the situation. I certainly didn’t want to stay in an unlocked space, nor was I comfortable asking for the key, given the hostility expressed towards me just for mentioning it (I should note that this was in a small apartment where the host herself lives). Given that there was already bad blood and I was overpaying for an air conditioned room that didn’t exist, the best I could do was get out of there as soon as possible.

Airbnb support did assist, but they also failed to express a shred of empathy for me in the situation, demanding that I take photos as evidence and repeatedly asking if I had addressed the problems with the host. As pointed out on this site, not all problems are photographable, and not all problems can be rectified instantly. In those cases, it is ridiculous to repeatedly interrogate the guest as to whether they have “brought the problem to the host’s attention”. Why would I need to bring something to her attention that clearly is not as she stated and that she obviously knows about? After all, she lives in the space.

Please also note the importance of acting quickly when you first find a problem with Airbnb accommodation. The amount of support I received would certainly not have been there if I had waited until the next day, not fully adequate as it was. One of the ironies of the experience was that I was on the phone with Airbnb at the time I left the apartment to get my iPad from the car and shut the front door behind me… and found myself locked out. A door knob lock must have been engaged. Having the phone in my hand, I called the host and left a message on her voicemail saying I was locked out. She pulled up in her car soon afterwards, but gave no indication that I’d left her an emergency message.

After taking the necessary photos, I exited the apartment with my belongings. I was certain she knew that I was gone, but began sending messages to me through the Airbnb system. She seemed to be trying to make it look like I was still there. She sent one saying she just wanted to let me know the door upstairs was unlocked, and another saying she’d left a key for me on a table. Completely weird. Checking her listing currently shows she is still lying about the number of beds, the lack of air conditioning, and the “private parking”. She fails to mention the room has no door between it and the rest of the apartment. She does go into a long explanation about leaving one of the doors to the place unlocked all the time (I wonder how her landlord would feel about that if they knew?) and about the easy availability of street parking. Why lie and say there is private parking?

Construction Airbnb Nightmare in Napa, No Refund Given

I initially booked a home in Napa for the weekend of April 6 through April 9, 2017, through Airbnb. The home was advertised as recently renovated. The pictures provided on the website displayed what appeared to be a clean home in reasonably good condition. Upon arriving at the home late on the evening of Thursday, April 6th we found that the driveway was inaccessible due to heavy construction equipment (a skip loader to be precise). A portable lavatory and run-off barriers blocked the driveway entrance which was still in the process of having a roadbed installed for what must be assumed as subsequent paving and surfacing. It was evident that the property was still undergoing construction as another home was under construction in the back of the property.

The entryway leading to the front steps of the home was laden in mud and debris from the construction and lack of any ground cover to absorb the recent rains. Little if any illumination made it treacherous to maneuver to the front steps of the home late at night and several of the guests stepped in deep puddles of mud, ruining their shoes.

The beds had no sheets and linens and towels were piled near the washing machine in the laundry area. It was very evident that the home had not been prepared for the arrival of new guests that evening. I immediately sent the owner an email expressing my displeasure with the condition of the home and received no response. The following morning, Friday, April 7, I attempted to take a shower only to find out that there was no hot water. I called the owner but was unsuccessful in reaching him. Shortly thereafter he returned my call and explained that his cleaning woman had gotten into an accident that same Thursday and did not show up to clean and prep the home for arrival of new guest. I also mentioned the lack of hot water and he indicated that he would have his plumber come by immediately to inspect the situation.

When I asked how long that would be the owner indicated that his plumber would be arriving within 30 minutes. I did impress upon the owner that this was unacceptable and that we had a very tight schedule that morning and may not be able to wait around. The plumber did arrive and I personally accompanied him to the basement to review the hot water heater, which was dated 1990, yet the listing for the home clearly stated that the home was recently remodeled with new plumbing. I stood by and watched the plumber attempt to get the pilot to the hot water heater ignited, which after several attempts he was successful in doing so.

I along with my guest waited for over twenty minutes for the hot water to begin flowing so that we could take our showers but the hot water never did come on. In addition, we noted several GFI receptacles in the kitchen had been tripped, suggesting that there may have been a short somewhere along that electrical line, which I was quick to point out to the plumber. He offered no suggestions, which meant that several of the electrical receptacles in the kitchen were inoperable.

We left for our morning appointments and later that day I contacted the owner to inquire as to the status of the cleaning of the home, changing of the linens and towels, and most importantly the status of hot water. The owner assured me that all issues had been rectified to our satisfaction. Upon returning to the home later that evening, the ladies wanted to shower prior to dinner only to find out that of the four guests only two were successful in taking a warm shower as once again the hot water heater shut off.

The following morning, Saturday, April 8th, I again contacted the owner but this time he did not respond to my calls or text messages. I was successful on my own in getting the pilot lit for the hot water tank but the hot water stayed on only long enough for two of the four guests to get a shower. That evening and the following morning we had no success in getting hot water in spite of my numerous attempts to contact the owner.

From all accounts, the property was not ready for placement on Airbnb and was grossly misrepresented. Although there was clear evidence of some significant remodeling to the kitchen, the simple amenities that travelers expect (e.g. hot water on demand, a mud-free entry to the premises, clean linens, towels, soap and toilet tissue) were all lacking. Upon my personal inspection of the crawlspace below the home there was no evidence of new plumbing but instead, a patchwork of some replacement pipes. Advertisement for the home clearly indicated the home had recently received new plumbing yet the owner had failed to upgrade a hot water heater that dated back to 1990; this was an egregious misrepresentation of the condition of the home.

Having stayed at Airbnb homes all over the world this was unquestionably the worst facility I had ever had the misfortune of renting, not to mention the embarrassment of having another couple endure this hardship with us. The Tuesday following my return home, I made one last attempt to contact the owner to give him a chance to make some reasonable accommodation for the terrible hardship we endured at his home. Again my outreach fell on deaf ears as he never returned my calls.

One most interesting lesson learned from this ordeal was you need to choose your credit card company carefully. I have been an American Express Card holder for over 37 years and my attempt to obtain a refund through American Express would not have posed any difficulty for me. However, this is not the case with Chase and the Mileage Plus Visa Card, which unfortunately I chose to use to secure the property with. I initially disputed the charge with Chase but with each volume of documentation provided to them as requested, was met with another ridiculous request for further documentation.

From the outset, Chase contended that the charges were valid and sided with the merchant (in this case, the host). Never once did Chase speak or receive any documentation from the host to refute my claims but nevertheless, they were reluctant to resolve the matter yet provided a phone number to contact them to discuss. Needless to say, each attempt to contact a human at Chase was met with “the person you are trying to reach is away from their office right now”.

I did finally seek assistance from Airbnb who attempted to reach out to the host but was also unsuccessful in receiving any return call from him. Airbnb did post a small credit (just under $300) to my account but I felt considering the gross misrepresentation of the property by the owner that a more meaningful adjustment was required. I am currently still pursuing the matter and seeking a further adjustment through Airbnb. I have since cut up my Chase Mileage Plus Visa Card and the other Chase Card and returned them to Chase with a stern directive as to where they now can place their cards.

Moral of the story: there is a reason why I have held the Amex card all these years and have no problem paying the annual fee. Had I used the Amex card for the this trip I would have had this resolved back in April. Further, Airbnb needs to do a far better job at screening their hosts and protecting their customers.

Your Personal Safety Comes First With Airbnb

I have heard hundreds of horror stories from neighbors, guests and hosts alike. First of all, I cannot believe the number of people who give total strangers the keys to their home. Unless these hosts are changing the locks after each guest, they are asking for huge problems. A guest could easily have a copy of the key made and come back to the home at any time. Since guests book online, you have absolutely no idea who these people are who are staying in your home. It could be another Ted Bundy who may rape and kill your daughters. It could be another Jeffrey Dahmer who may rape and kill your sons. It could be a serial killer who could return in the middle of the night at some future date and kill your entire family. Or, in a less violent scenario, the guest may return sometime while you are away and rob your home. If you are going to allow strangers into your home:

1) Get a copy of the driver’s license of any guest who will be staying at your home.

2) Get an electronic front door lock and change the code after each guest departs.

3) Be sure you have dead bolt locks on all bedroom doors where your family members are sleeping.

In the US there are all sorts of online sites where you can check people’s backgrounds. Sign up for a membership to one of these sites and do a preliminary background check on each guest who will be staying in your home. There are actually a lot of very nice people in the world and you may be lucky enough to host some of these people in your home. However, there are also some very unethical, sick and violent people out there. Your first priority should be to protect yourself and your family.