I stayed in a very nice Airbnb in Majorca a few weeks ago. Everything went perfectly and our hosts were very helpful. However, after giving them a good review, we had problems arise. The host claimed that we bleached some towels and pillowcases, and was requesting $361 CAD as compensation. After dealing with Airbnb instead of the host, they are still requesting that I send $156 CAD for a few linens. However, we did not wash any of the linens, nor did we bleach them. Furthermore, that is a ridiculous amount of money for a few linens. There is no proof that we bleached the linens (because we didn’t), and they are still accusing us of this, Make sure that if you are staying at an Airbnb, you document everything, because you never know what they will accuse you of.
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Landlord Did a Bait and Switch – Kept Full Rent Paid
We are from Maryland. In July, we hosted visiting German relatives (a couple with two small children) who also asked to see New York during their stay. My husband had work commitments and could not go with us, but I and my 81-year-old elderly mother-in-law agreed to drive them there for a few days’ stay. Using AirBNB, we selected a property in the Bedford Stuyvesant (“Bed Stuy”) neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY at 138 Lexington Avenue, owned by a Crystal Elly Haylett. Here’s the link to the house: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/3752035. The 5-star feedback on this property (which we later realized was entirely provided by visiting foreigners living outside the U.S.- should have been a red flag) gave no hint at all about the high crime factor in this neighborhood. While the landlord and AirBNB tamely describe Bed Stuy on the AirBNB site as “a neighborhood in-transition”, we later learned that this is a far more dangerous place that continues to show up in the high crime rate zone for shootings an murders (see the crime map for Bed Stuy for the time period we were searching, above). We used the positive feedback that Crystal displays in her AirBNB ad as our guide in deciding to book this property; feedback that we now realize could likely be edited since we were unable to leave details of our own bad experience. Once we discovered, to our horror, more details about the high crime in her Lexington Avenue neighborhood, it was clear that it would be a coin-toss for us as to whether or not we felt safe enough to roam the streets there after dark. When my own sister (who lives just an hour north of New York City) and a niece (who commutes daily into the city to Penn Station for her job) called and begged us to move our lodging to another, safer neighborhood in New York, that was the nail in the coffin for us, and we asked Crystal to change shortly after we booked her place. However, Crystal initially refused. Since all of our vacation money was tied up in her deposit (something we were clear on with her) we had little choice but to move ahead and stay at her property despite the risks. We told Crystal quite clearly in writing that, because we could not afford to lose our deposit (again, our vacation money for lodging) we had no choice but to stay at her property, regardless of our crime findings. Perhaps she feared that we would leave a negative review for her (which caused us to be suspicious since she professed emphatically that it was so wonderful there), because she soon wrote back to suggest we look for another property that we’d feel more comfortable with. I thanked her and made it very clear that we expected to get 100% of our money returned, something she never once disputed. But once we made the change she herself requested, and found a safer property elsewhere in New York, she refused to give us our money back (again, 100% of the rental fee). AirBNB is standing by her, even though it’s clear that she is the one who asked us to look for another property, and did not dispute our request at all for a full refund if we acted on her request. One can easily see why neither the landlord nor AirBNB would be more forthcoming about the high number of shootings and robberies in neighborhoods like this – it’s unlikely that more Americans would book them – and it’s likely the reason why she has nearly all unsuspecting foreigners staying there. And so, here we are today, out nearly $1300 thanks to Crystal Elly Haylett who pulled a bait & switch on us – encouraging us to book another property in the explicit full knowledge that we could not afford to surrender our deposit (full rent) and kept our deposit. AirBNB is doing little to assist us, and a lot to defend this landlord. We’ve reported the full details of our experience to The Better Business Bureau and are hiring an attorney to pursue action directly against the landlord. AirBNB has so far failed to provide us with Crystal Elly Haylett’s full contact information so that we can move forward with our action. Despite this bad, eye-opening experience, my husband and I have had three excellent previous experiences with AirBNB. But this latest one has likely burst the bubble for us. Travelers reading this: BEWARE. AirBNB has so far done nothing to protect us and everything to protect an untruthful landlord who effectively stole our vacation money. Our German relatives are not impressed either and have professed to spread the word over there about our bad experience with AirBNB once they return. We will definitely share our experience whenever and wherever we can. Moving forward, we plan to use VRBO to book future housing. I encourage anyone reading this to consider doing the same.