Retired Public School Teacher Staying in Costa Rica

Our first stay in Costa Rica we used Airbnb for a stay that should have lasted three weeks. Because of problems with the host and his large dog, the host agreed to let us leave early. After we left he did not return our messages and eventually sent an email saying that he had decided to keep the $1,000 payment to teach us a lesson.

We contacted Airbnb but they closed our case due to not being able to reach the host in Costa Rica. The reason the place wasn’t working out was because his large German Shepard was free to roam around during our stay (including in our small pool) keeping our dogs from being able to leave the house freely. The dog also jumped up on my wife standing up trying to keep our dog away from the other dog. The dog was able to push his muddy paws on my wife’s face.

The last straw was when the host cut down a large tree outside our window and then started burning construction trash. The smoke and toxic fumes filled our rental. We told the host but he did not stop. We yelled that we needed to leave asap and he agreed. We stayed up till very late repacking all our stuff and cleaning the unit (three bedrooms, two story) only to be ripped off by this man. Another issue is that early on he told us that he was heavily armed on his site which now we believe to be a threat. We reported each of these issues individually to Airbnb and they have yet to respond to them.

Airbnb Platform Allows Hosts to Threaten and Extort Guests

We rented an Airbnb apartment to stay in downtown Toronto from April 19 to May 18. When we arrived, the place was extremely dirty. All kitchen items were in poor conditions. We couldn’t even cook or make coffee. There was a lot of hair and food stains all over the living room rug and carpets, a couch full of some animal hair, among many other issues.

I have a one-year old child and such a place would be less than appropriate for a toddler to be crawling all around. Not to mention Toronto was in the midst of a lockdown, and with all COVID safety protocols in place, those were the hygiene conditions of that Airbnb Plus property. After a lot of stressful back and forth communication with Airbnb and the host, they sent someone to clean and replaced a few kitchen items so we could at least cook. It was better, but far from ideal. We had to stay there for the rest of the contract because we wouldn’t get a refund and it would be hard to find something else at that point, so we made it work.

We left the Airbnb apartment two nights before the contract was up. The apartment was incomparably cleaner and in a more organized conditions that what we found when we arrived (I cleaned everything up myself because I couldn’t have my baby staying in such a dirty place). We took some pictures just to be safe and left. We thought everything was okay.

After Airbnb sent me multiple emails requesting that I write a review about my stay, I decided to do so. I believe that was around 11:00 PM on May 31. I woke up in the morning and there was an email in my mailbox titled “action required: your host is requesting $2,635 CAD for damages.” All the damages listed there were untrue. It’s scary how just a few hours after I had written my review that host was able to come up with a whole document with pictures of the alleged damage and invoices from stores for all the furniture he supposedly had to replace.

I won’t go into details of each of his absurd claims, but I called Airbnb and explained that I was being retaliated because of a review. A week later, Airbnb sent me an email saying the host’s claims were not covered by Airbnb, that he hadn’t provided enough evidence and they would not be pursuing payment from us. The request was removed from my account. We thought we were done with this.

The host sent me a message through the Airbnb app trying to extort money from our family. He threatened to start legal action against me if didn’t pay him $2,635 through Airbnb in three days. The payment request wasn’t even there anymore because Airbnb had declined it. Again, I called Airbnb and said I was not feeling safe, that I wanted to block this host from communicating with me (which I still am not able to do because the Airbnb app is not allowing me). They sent me an email a few days later saying I did not need to worry anymore, that they had given the host a final warning.

I received a letter from the host’s lawyer in my new home demanding payment by Aug. 20 (we just had moved to this address a couple months ago and that guy found out where we live). Airbnb was again notified about that.

We are not feeling safe. This host is clearly a troubled unstable person going to great lenghts to retaliate because he didn’t like a review. This is all happening because Airbnb created a platform that allows people to easily harass each other like that. We made a contract with Airbnb, not with this criminal and now we are being persecuted for that. He won’t leave us alone. Why are we having to waste our resources and time to deal with this?

Other things to consider:

– This criminal host is an Airbnb “Superhost”.
– The Airbnb Plus property is located in a building that does not allow short-term rentals. We had to constantly lie to the concierge and every time we parked our car in the garage.
– I communicated with Airbnb every step of the way and we are still having to deal with that criminal host almost three months later.
– Once I wrote my review, I could read the review the host had written before. He called me “nice and polite” with no mention of any damages. Would you call someone that caused you an almost $3,000 worth of damage “nice and polite”?
– He replied to my review with more false accusations, saying I was going after monetary compensation and Airbnb did nothing about that. But I am not the one trying to extort $2,635 from a family, am I?

That is the hospitality Airbnb offers you. We are not feeling safe and I am posting this here because we don’t know what else to do.

Host Rented the Apartment During our Stay

We are three girls and one boy from San Francisco, traveling to NYC this past weekend. The Airbnb nightmare in NYC resulted in two intrusions in the middle of the night that ended up with the police escorting the host out. Airbnb support “apologized for the inconvenience” and this guy is still renting on the platform.

The first red flag was that the host never gave us the address to the apartment after asking numerous times until right before our plane was going to take off. We had to call Airbnb support and we were not sure if we would have a place to stay that night. He called us after Airbnb support was involved and the first thing he said was “I am EXTREMELY BUSY”. Finally we got the address. He acknowledged his tone in the text.

The second red flag was after we saw how dirty, and not true to the description the apartment was (expectation vs reality here), the host cancelled the posting. We had to find the original images using a website cache. We called Airbnb support and they gave us a refund and a 60-dollar coupon to rebook a room. Since it was 5:00 PM on the last night we were staying in NYC, we confirmed with them if we could stay another night. They said yes, and that they would take care of the payout to the host.

On our last night, shit started going down. At around 11:30 PM a girl walked in with suitcases and keys. We were all shocked. She said she got the keys from a mutual friend and thought she could stay here. We were dumbfounded and said we are here for another night. She left after that. After that we were scared of another guest intrusion, so we propped a chair against the door.

At 12:09 AM we were awoken with loud banging and kicking on the door. An angry man’s voice shouted: “Get out of my fucking apartment! Open the fucking door!” on repeat. We cracked open the door. It waas our host and his girlfriend. He threatened us that he would get into the apartment “either nicely or not nicely.”

One of my friends (a licensed lawyer in NY), asked if we could have a civil discussion. He said yes, and we let him inside. He ordered us to sit down. He had a large duffel bag with him that made a huge thud when he let it down. I called 911 at the start of the break-in but I didn’t have pants on so I stayed in the room, only coming out after the 911 call ended and I found a pair of pants from one of my friend’s on the floor.

During the confrontation, he was very agitated and smoking the entire time. Apparently the large hole in the kitchen only happened Saturday morning (we arrived Saturday afternoon at 3:00 PM) and he just didn’t have time to take care of it. That’s some fast acting mold. He was very upset that he was “not getting a dime from us staying here,” plus he got fined on top of our stay.

He demanded to be paid either from Airbnb or us, right there right now. He called Airbnb support there, and demanded to talk to “the highest level staffed personnel there.” I don’t think they listened to him. He later hung up. He calmed down a bit after seeing the messages we showed him saying we are staying according to instructions and Airbnb will pay.

He threatened to call the cops. I told them not to worry; I already did. His girlfriend was trying to de-escalate the situation after this. It seemed like it was not the first time she had seen this happened. He works from 9:00 to 5:00 so that’s why he missed all the calls. However, he did not miss the phone call at midnight from the new tenant telling him we were in there.

We interrupted his $200 dinner with his girlfriend (I thought he worked from 9:00 to 5:00? Who is eating a fancy dinner at midnight?) He avoided questions on why the apartment was so dirty. The cleaning fee was $100 – what was that spent on?

The police then rang the doorbell. Thank you NYPD; you guys are the best. They arrived so fast. The host and his girlfriend left and never came back. The policeman came up and told us he would make sure he didn’t come back and the policeman would walk them out. He told us to barricade the door again in case they came back.

Two of my girlfriends suggested we book and move to another room and I said I would not let him win. We all slept there that night although not very well. This whole time, the host never bothered to respond to Airbnb support, or our messages, or reached out to us to let us know about the new tenant, or the fact that he was coming to kick down the door with a heavy duffel bag. He left it at our apartment and we did not look inside.

What was really surprising was Airbnb’s response. They just apologized for “the inconvenience” and told us to leave feedback on their website. This guy is still out there renting to people. What baffled me was this apartment had 100+ great reviews and the host said he has been renting for six years.

Airbnb asked us what else we wanted after the refund. We don’t care about the money. We don’t want any more people falling for his fake pictures and this crazy guy breaking into your apartment at night. Our full booking was only around $360 a night, so we care more about taking this guy off the platform than the actual refund.

Airbnb Nightmare: Threatened with Forcible Eviction

I had an Airbnb reservation for a basement (entire unit) from April 20th until May 27th. On April 22nd around 9:00 PM, the landlord decided that she wanted to cancel the reservation (because I was using the heater that was in the unit). Immediately, Airbnb contacted me, and told me I should leave the unit as soon as possible or the police would force me out. I had to rush to find a place so I wouldn’t spend the night in the streets.

We (my husband was with me at that time) visited this unit on April 4th to make sure everything was alright before reserving it; I was going to live there for 37 nights and I didn’t want to have any surprises. Everything looked okay. We also asked about the heating in the unit, and the landlords said that there was no problem as there was a wall heating unit in the living room. Even when I checked in on April 20th, the landlord explained to me how to operate the heating unit.

On April 22nd, I wanted to take a shower but when I opened the faucet, some brown waste came from the tap and filled the bathroom floor. It looked like sewage waste to me, therefore I messaged the host and asked her to take a look. When she came down and checked, she said that the house has a reliable sewage system and this should have come from the city water supply.

Then she came to the living room and asked me why I had the wall heating system on. I said that because I felt cold (the temperature was 2-3 C outside). She said I didn’t have the right to turn on the heating because the electricity bill would be high. I said I told her that I wanted to turn the heating system on. She left. The second time she came to clean up the waste in the bathroom, she told me that I couldn’t stay there anymore and I had to leave the unit. I said to discuss her issues with Airbnb.

Later, an Airbnb representative contacted me and told me that she had cancelled the reservation and I should leave the unit as soon as possible. I told her that I would find a unit tomorrow and will leave (I was very worried about my health with the sewage issue), but she said that I had to do it tonight or the landlord could call the police, and they would force me to leave. Mind you that this was 9:00 PM on a Sunday. I finally found a hotel at 10:00 PM and left the unit. I had to pay a high price for the unit because I was reserving at the last minute. This event has caused me so much stress that I couldn’t work for several days, and even remembering those events causes me trouble.

The next day, I sent a message to Airbnb and asked how they could force someone to leave the unit or threaten them with the police. This is totally unacceptable. If I have a reservation, I can’t cancel it without paying a high cancellation fee, but Airbnb can tell the clients to leave at 9:00 PM on a Sunday night or threaten them if they want to. The unit has serious sewage issues. It will threaten the health of anyone who wants to live there.

The following are the first messages that were exchanged between me and the Airbnb representative that night. She first called me but I couldn’t hear her, so she messaged me on the Airbnb website.

Agent:”I do apologize if you could not hear me. Your reservation with [host] is ending early. Please leave the listing as soon as possible. I have sent you an email that gives you the option to rebook or receive a full refund. Please let me know if you need rebooking assistance.”

Me: “Hi, I will think and let you know tonight. Thanks.”

Agent: “I have just tried giving you another call but was unable to reach you. Please let me know what time you can get out of the listing. If you don’t leave she has the authority to call the cops.”

Agent: “Are you leaving the listing now?”