I am utterly lost as to what to do as I cannot get hold of anyone from Airbnb. Through Twitter they keep saying a case manager will get back to me, but no one ever does.
We booked a two-week stay at an apartment advertised as having two double and one single bedrooms plus an air mattress in living room. We arrived at night after a tiring 12-hour journey with our young children. It turned out that there was just one double bedroom and a small toddler bed available to us as the usual resident had hoarded so much stuff the other bedroom was completely inaccessible; it was a store room and there was no air mattress. It was already past our kids’ bedtime however, so we thought we should just get them to bed and see what we could do in the morning.
The apartment was utterly filthy: thick, black mold in the shower cubicle, by the windows and bed, blobs of something and pubes on the bathroom floor, the linen didn’t feel or smell fresh, piles and piles of stuff everywhere so we couldn’t unpack our suitcases, filthy kitchen facilities and caked-on food. As there wasn’t room as advertised, we had to make a makeshift bed on the floor for one of us.
We took photos straightaway, called Airbnb, and asked to move. They said that we had to give the host a chance to rectify it out of courtesy. I contacted him and he said that it was too late for him to come and clean. I said that we could go on a day trip and be out the whole day for him to clean but he declined, saying he was busy. I then suggested that if he was away, perhaps he could send a cleaner. He said no, but that we could clean it ourselves.
In between communications, I caught a severe bug and was taken to A&E. It was the biggest national holiday in the country so finding elsewhere that day was proving impossible and I wouldn’t have been well enough to move. Despite the host knowing this, he suggested I clean it. I had to clean some areas in the kitchen so that we could eat, but obviously wouldn’t scrub someone’s house on my only annual holiday and also when I was severely ill.
We asked for help from Airbnb who said on the phone and confirmed by email that as per their policy, they have asked the host to come and clean and that he will need to refund us for the nights affected and the paid period starts from when he has done so. That day we also found what looked like vermin feces in the kitchen and thought that was it – we had to get out.
The only Airbnb with enough room was one far more expensive and Airbnb did not help us with what would happen with the extra cost as it was over our budget. During calling Airbnb for advice, someone else snapped up the other apartment and I continued asking for Airbnb to help. The host was meant to come and clean the afternoon the next day, but instead, to our huge fright, he used his keys and barged in at night.
He was intoxicated, very tall and large, and had to be stopped from walking in closer to me and the children. He proceeded to shout, get aggressive to my husband, and said he wanted us out. He was angry about Airbnb’s instructions to him and our complaint. I was so frightened I called the police and would have been able to do nothing to him had my husband not been in as he was so large.
I called Airbnb’s security number, and all they did was take my number and ensured someone would ring me asap. I kept ringing and only got through some ten hours later; they still did nothing. The police came and so frightened he would return, I found the cheaper of only two available hotels. We packed, cleaned as not to affect our rating whilst the other watched the door, lifted our little ones into the car and moved to a hotel just before midnight.
We were traumatized and for a long time afterwards I had to still keep double checking the doors were locked at home. To this day, I check on our children at night to ensure they are okay and still there. The children were very unsettled and we had tears in our eyes by the time we went to the hotel. We did not want to move them again so incurred the unexpected cost of the hotel and had to get food out which was really expensive compared to cooking at home. Our son had also been struck by the bug so was laid out in the hotel room.
I spent rest of the holiday trying to sort out the situation with Airbnb and we feel like we had no holiday; we came back more worn out than when we left. The host also contacted me outside Airbnb messaging saying gross things like I have worn his partners underwear and shared my contact details with someone else to harass me to click “cancel” myself, which I didn’t as I assumed it would affect refunds.
Airbnb did not follow through on their email and I did not receive a full refund for the affected nights. I took the matter up with my bank, who made a decision that it was not as advertised and not fit for our purposes after reviewing my photo evidence and police report; they returned my money. However, the host left me a bad review to say he would not recommend our family to any host, which is unfair as despite all that happened, we left the apartment far cleaner than we found it and broke no rules.
Despite police involvement and misleading advertising and harassing messages, Airbnb is not banning him. I truly hope other travelers are safe in his rentals. We had to fork out for an unexpected hotel bill and all stay in one room for the remainder of our stay despite our whole holiday being ruined and us being left traumatized by the utterly frightening incident of a large man entering at night when we were putting our little ones to bed.
Airbnb closed my case, and the host continues hosting. They promised through Twitter to contact me but didn’t. I am still so shaken up. Had he come an hour earlier, I would have been upstairs in the shower with the children closest to the stairs and my husband out. He was in such a mood he would not have turned away. My son still has the infection he acquired whilst there, so it was the worst holiday we have ever endured.
What do I do about these issues I still have? Airbnb is impossible to get an answer from. All I get at best is that someone will get back to me, but they never do. I want to do my bit to keep other travelers safe out there, particularly people with children.