Airbnb Doesn’t Care About Burglary in Richmond, Virginia

A couple of days ago during Hurricane Irma my boyfriend, his mom, and I rented a two bedroom apartment in the center of Richmond, Virginia to escape the storm. The listing looked extremely decent and the host had over 100 positive reviews. The flat was located on the first floor of a two-story building in the historic center of Richmond.

After arriving at the place around 10-11 PM we went to sleep and left the apartment early the next day to explore the city. We arrived back to the flat for the first time at 11:00 PM and that’s when we noticed we had been burgled. The host had two entrance doors at his apartment: one was a code door and the other door was a back door that could be opened only from the inside.

My boyfriend’s mom and I entered the house using the front door, while my boyfriend went to park the car and was waiting for us to open the back door for him. Upon reaching the back door, I discovered that it was unlocked. I asked my boyfriend if he left the door opened but he assured me that when we were leaving he checked that everything had been locked.

We started searching the rooms and noticed that my backpack with all my valuables was missing, that my boyfriend’s mom’s stuff was upside down and all of my boyfriend’s bags had been opened. Then we saw that the window of one of the rooms in the apartment was open, meaning that the burglars had entered the flat through the window and left using the back door.

We immediately called the police and wrote a report about it. It was interesting that the host had three TVs in the apartment as well as other electronics, but none of his things were missing, only my own valuables. Upon reaching out to the host, he of course said that he was not responsible for the robbery, even when he was negligent and did not provide any security for his apartment. Living on the ground floor, the host did not have any protection on his windows and not a single camera.

When speaking to me, the host said that the neighborhood where we were staying was very safe and nothing had ever happened to guests before. However, after the incident, he decided to put cameras about his house. I wish he would have done this before renting us his place. Airbnb has not taken any responsibility for what has happened to us and has completely ignored our requests. They did not even refund us the night that we had to spend in a hotel after the robbery because we were scared to stay at that apartment one more night. To sum it up, this stay with Airbnb cost us over a $3,000 in valuables and no one wanted to find a resolution to this incident.

Who’s Worse, Shonky Hosts or Shonky Airbnb?

I booked a villa in Greece on Airbnb, got confirmation, and soon received a request for my private email address from my host so he could send me directions. Two minutes later he emailed me to say my villa was not available but he had another selection of wonderful choices; however, I shouldn’t tell Airbnb about this. What he is doing is using their site to rent but avoiding the fee. I called Airbnb, who could not care less. They sent me an email so I could forward the dodgy offer to them from the host but guess what? The Airbnb email comes from a “No Reply” sender. Airbnb and their hosts are in this for the money and the renters are the mugs. The company simply will not help you.

Am I Being Fooled? Long-term Airbnb in Iceland

I was planing to rent an apartment in Reykjavik, Iceland. The price looked a little cheap. I wanted to ask if it was the real deal; the landlord said he lives abroad and he is offering to pay one month’s rent and one month’s deposit through Airbnb, that he will keep the money until I get the keys and agree to rent the apartment, and only then will the rent be deposited in his bank account. Here are his messages:

Hello, I just read your email regarding my apartment located in Reykjavik. It has two bedrooms, a living room, bathroom, and kitchen. I bought this apartment for my daughter while she was studying in Iceland. She’s back home permanently, so I’m renting the place for an indefinite time. Before we go any further I would like to know a little something about you: how many people intend to live in the apartment, and for how long? The flat looks exactly like the pictures, fully furnished and renovated. Also – very important – the utilities (cold/hot water, electricity, wireless broadband Internet, digital TV, parking spot, dishwasher, garbage disposal, microwave, refrigerator, washing machine, etc.) are included in the price of 125.000ISK/month. As for me, you can rest assured that I will never ask you to leave the apartment.

My daughter is building her life here, and I am too old to move to Iceland, so we won’t disturb you. You can use my furniture, or you can also use your own if you prefer. If you decide to use yours, you will have access to a very large and well-ventilated cellar, where you can store my furniture. Now, a little bit about myself so we can get to know each other better. My name is Thomas Nordanger and I’m a 58-year-old structural engineer. I work for MWH Global Engineering. I worked hard to have a good career and I really respect hard-earned money. The company I work for has projects all around the world so most of my time I’m traveling. I have a lovely wife, Sarah, and a 25-year-old daughter, Maria. I am very proud to say that soon I’m going to be a grandfather. Another member of our family is an 8-year-old Labrador which we all love, so, I have no problem if you will keep pets. I’m in Rome now working on a new project. The only inconvenience is that my job doesn’t allow me to leave Rome even for a single day. We just hired some new staff and I’m in charge of their training. However, this won’t affect you at all. I can make arrangements to rent the apartment from Rome (on my expense of course). Looking forward to hear from you soon. All the best from Italy!

After I expressed some concern about the situation, he wrote this:

Thank you for your reply but the problem is that I’m in Rome already. Like I have informed you, the price you shall pay for one month’s rent will be 125.000ISK, with no extra taxes to pay. The security deposit is 125.000ISK. I want to retrieve the money from my bank account on a monthly basis, so I hope it will be no problem for you to wire the money to my bank account. The apartment is ready for you; you will need only to receive the keys and the contract to check in, and see if you like it. Obviously we need a way to complete this deal, that will allow us to make sure we receive what we are after. Along those lines, I have found a way for us to complete the deal safely and fast, and in this way you will receive the keys in less than three days, if you move quickly as well.

The solution is a worldwide third party company called Airbnb (www.airbnb.com). They will provide assistance in handling the payment and delivery of the rental package. We use this company to see that you are a trusting and serious person. With this procedure you will be able to check the apartment before I receive the payment. Please be aware that it is not necessary for you to register with Airbnb given that I’ve been a registered user for four years and I’ve made over five transactions with them so far. They are really professional and they have great services. Let me know if you are interested so I can provide you with all the steps of this transaction. You need to know everything about this process before we get this started. I think is right for both of us.

I replied again asking for more information, and he wrote back:

This transaction cannot be made face-to-face. This is the whole reason for using Airbnb – for both of us to be 100% protected. Regarding the process, you will only have to deposit the first month’s rent with Airbnb for the contract and security deposit 125.000ISK + 125.000ISK = 250.000ISK and they can proceed with shipping the rental package (keys and documents). I will pay for three-day delivery so you will receive the keys and the contract signed by me right away. I will explain you step by step how this process will work:

To start the process all I need is your information (full name and address). I will go online at Airbnb to deposit the keys and the contract with your name as the intended receiver. Airbnb will check the package to see if everything is in order and also the legal papers that will come along with the keys and proof of ownership with their Real Estate Professional Department. Airbnb will send you a delivery notification to let you know they have the keys and the papers in their custody. They will also send you all the payment instructions to complete the rental transaction.

At this point you will have to go to your bank and make a money transfer to the bank account of an Airbnb representative for the amount we agreed upon; the total amount you shall deposit is 250.000ISK. After you make the deposit you will have to send the payment details to Airbnb. Airbnb will verify the transfer and if everything is in order they will start the shipping procedures using UPS or TNT Next Day Shipping Service. After you receive the package, you will go and check the apartment and in three days (inspection time) you must contact Airbnb to inform them if you want to keep the apartment or not. If everything is in order you will instruct Airbnb to send me the information about the money deposit and I will be able to receive the funds.

If you don’t like the apartment they will be sending the money back to you and you will send back the keys and contract. Airbnb can’t release the funds without your approval. Now I must know for sure if you agree because there are a lot of people interested in renting this apartment and I want to know for sure if I can tell them it’s unavailable. If you agree to what I suggested I will tell them that my apartment is already rented and I will keep it for you. If you agree then I must have all the shipping details so I will be able to make all the arrangements for the Airbnb delivery. Thank you for your interest and I await news from you.

What do you think?

Airbnb Changed my Review to Favor Host

Unless I have very bad recall of what I submitted, Airbnb edited my review to eliminate part of my comment about the “value” being over priced for what turned out to be the conditions of the lodging, and Airbnb upgraded the rating I provided in response to their question about “value”. Airbnb also upgraded my “cleanliness” rating from 4 to 4.5 stars. I have been unable to discover any method to communicate with Airbnb about this concern. Ten minutes after I submitted my review, I thought of something that would be a useful addition to my review for future customers, but there is no way to amend or augment the review after it is posted.