Airbnb’s Complete Lack of Oversight: Dirty Homes

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My husband and I booked an Airbnb, for the first time ever, to travel from Eastern Canada to spend two weeks in Scottsdale, Arizona. We arrived only to find the property in a deplorable, filthy condition. I don’t mean dirty; I mean filthy. There was urine and dried feces on the toilet and pubic hair in the sinks. The bedding had not been changed and the pillows, instead of being white, were a golden brown, as were the stains on the bed covering. The carpeting, which was suppose to be tan, was a dirty mess of brown and black. There were dirty dish cloths and open food containers in the kitchen. One of the bedrooms had an air mattress.

After complaining to the host, who was leasing in violation of her Homeowners Association, she tried to tell us that the cleaner had come to clean the house, her water broke, and she had to leave to have a baby. Really… she was nine months pregnant and cleaning? Our host also told us that she had moved to San Francisco; however, when I texted her that the house was dirty, she showed up five minutes later to say that the house wasn’t bad, she tried her best and continued to tell us that she would pray for us. Being thousands of miles away from home with no place to stay, we did not need someone praying for us; it all felt more than a little weird.

I have been trying to resolve this issue with Airbnb; however, they say that they are not responsible for refunds, if the host does not agree to a refund. How can this be? Do they allow anyone to list their properties? People with questionable hygiene, sexual perverts, murderers? Is there no obligation on the part of Airbnb to screen hosts, ensure properties meet a certain standard, and ensure the safety of guests? Have you tried getting ahold of anyone at Airbnb? Just finding a phone number for them is like trying to pull hen’s teeth and they don’t have any. I have learned a very valuable, expensive lesson from Airbnb and I would like to pass on to those considering renting through them: don’t do it. Use VRBO or HomeAway.

Rittenhouse Square Filthy Philadelphia Airbnb

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I recently stayed at an Airbnb in Philadelphia. It was so disgusting: black mold in the shower and urine stains on the sofa. The window to the fire escape did not lock. I had my family with me. It was New Year’s Eve weekend. We bravely stayed for one evening. I thought I would wake up with bed bugs. I contacted the host the day we arrived multiple times. He was very responsive. I contacted him again in the morning asking for a refund because his place was just so filthy and unsafe. He said he’d refund me. He’s not so responsive anymore. Two weeks later, and I’m still waiting. Airbnb customer service said to read over the cancellation policy. I guess they don’t care what type of accommodations their hosts offer. I will never, ever, use Airbnb again. Unbelievable.

Misleading, Dodgy Host Protected by Airbnb

In order to allow our son to stay with us in New York, we foolishly responded to an Airbnb posting describing a quiet, modern, spacious and well-appointed apartment. We were due to move in early in the evening after returning from New Year’s in Boston. Perhaps the first clue was a request not to tell other apartment owners that we were paying guests. When we arrived we found a dark, old, ground floor apartment, on the street. We could hear people talking outside and traffic noise. There was a stupefying smell of bleach, mould in the bathroom, and a living area dominated by a fridge with no extra room. The flooring was old and dirty, the blinds were broken, and there was a general sense of disrepair. We stayed long enough to survey the disaster and then checked back into a hotel in which we had previously stayed. We immediately reported our concerns to the host who simply denied everything. We reported the issues along with photographs to Airbnb. Despite numerous phone calls we had little response until today when our case manager informed us that our request for a refund had been denied. So we are $4,500 out of pocket with nowhere to go. This appalling organisation needs to be stopped immediately.

Ants and Poor Maintenance Ruin Airbnb Holiday

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I rented a four-bedroom house in Reno from Christmas to January 1st. My daughter, husband, granddaughter, and two nephews were staying here with me to attend my other daughter’s wedding December 30th. When I arrived at the house, it was clearly dirty: poorly made beds, food and ants on the floor and counter. I emailed the host through Airbnb and listed the items. He sent over his mother-in-law and friend to address the issues. She was on an oxygen tank. I left for the day and when I got back, the bathrooms were still dirty, the sinks still did not drain, and I found ants all over the kitchen floor. I took pictures and used the host’s personal email to send them and complain again about the ant problem. He never responded. I sent him another email a day later asking for a $400 refund since he was not addressing the ant issue. He never responded. After dealing with the ants constantly, we could not leave a soda can on the counter, or a crumb of food anywhere without the ants swarming.

I filed a complaint with Airbnb seeking half of my money back. I paid $1936 for the week and asked for $1000 back. They took several days to get back to me and I had already returned home when they contacted me. Customer service asked for more pictures, which I sent, and called me back a few hours later. They said that the resolution was now closed and the guest agreed to refund the $120 cleaning deposit. I said that was not even close to compensating me for the amount of time we spend cleaning and killing ants. They told me I would be banned from Airbnb if I disputed the charge, that there were other arbitrators who would do the same if I disputed it again. They advised I should have left if it was that bad. I reminded them that this was over New Year’s in Reno and the hotels were charging a premium. Getting three hotel rooms and moving all our stuff was not an option for our family. She offered me $75 off a future stay, to which I said “No thanks.”

I am waiting to hear back on my second resolution complaint. I have never spent $276 per night and had to deal with ants constantly. I am appalled at my first resolution. I have also seen my review, which was censored and cut in half, while they left the host’s review, twice as long. He personally attacked me saying I was a dissatisfied type of person looking for problems. Trust me, I didn’t have to look far to see ants all over our food and drinks. I did purchase something to unclog his sinks, set out ant traps, and thoroughly cleaned the bathrooms myself. I feel extremely let down by this experience. If this had been a hotel and ants destroyed our food and drinks, they would take a much better approach at compensating a guest for their stay. I will update this when I hear back regarding my second resolution complaint.

Airbnb Neighbor Rents Out Home for Large Parties

I live next door to a large modern home in Sherman Oaks, California. For months we’ve seen people coming and going, films being shot, and dogs barking all day and all night. However, New Year’s Eve made us realize this house is actually empty and is being rented out for large parties. New Year’s Eve was pure hell. Even at 3:00 AM the music was still pounding, women were screaming and giggling, beer bottles were being thrown, furniture was being toppled on the back porch, and there were firecrackers being set off. Over 300 people in one house. If it happens again the police will become involved. The owner has turned this place into a frat flophouse. She should be ashamed of herself. None of the neighbors are happy. Maybe Airbnb as a company should vet these owners a little more carefully. I will make this owners life miserable if it continues. There’s no way to contact Airbnb. I tried and all they keep doing is sending me rental listings in my neighborhood. I wouldn’t use Airbnb if my life depended on it. They are as much to blame as these absentee owners who are just in it to collect the rent.

Cancelled in the Keys: Ruined Christmas and New Years

I’m still in disbelief and my host is a despicable example of a human being. His name is Aaron. On July 1st I used the Airbnb app and paid for three nights on his “boat in the bay with all the toys” to spend New Years in the Keys with my two youngest sons. You must understand this trip was their Christmas gift. Instead of buying them toys and such they might forget in a few days or hours I take them on a trip every year. Being a single mom this is no small feat. This year I wanted a new experience for them since we usually go to the mountains. The Keys were going to be great. I made a deposit on a fishing charter and was about to call to make a deposit for a snorkeling trip. I decided to communicate with the host again since we would be heading his way in two days. I sent him a text explaining how excited we were and asking if we were to meet him at the address provided at the check in time provided. I got an immediate notice through the app that my trip had been canceled.

I texted him. No response. I called him, and it went to voicemail. I decided to check his listing out again on the app and noticed all the trips he had canceled. Most were much further out than two days so I’m not sure why mine was not canceled earlier. I was mad and in tears at this point. After some searching I found a customer service number for Airbnb. The poor man got an earful and tried to find something else close by. He offered me a $150 credit towards another stay but we could not find anything close by that I could afford. I applied for the refund and will be keeping an eye on that to make sure I get my money back but I still lost my $416 deposit for our fishing charter. My boys were devastated. My pocketbook was devastated as well. That may not be much to you but it’s a lot to me and my boys. While the customer service experience with them was good the business model sucks. Please beware of the scammers!

Airbnb Host Ruins Family Winter Vacation

We booked our stay through Airbnb to stay in a “well kept house overlooking Park City main street” in Utah. The host was listed as Felicia. I was traveling with my mother, husband, twelve-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter. The host acted completely crazy from the beginning. We should have cancelled our trip. We booked from December 28, 2016 to January 4, 2017. We thought we might have to leave a couple days early due to work but because of the cancellation policy we figured we would just have to absorb the extra days or my mother would stay on with my 3-year-old goddaughter. Regardless, the house was supposed to be ours until January 4th. The host said, “well I will get the next owners to come a day early and if you watch my dog I will knock off another day.” We said sure. Then she said there is no phone number for Airbnb and that she couldn’t get them to give us our refund via email. It sounded weird. She said she didn’t get paid from Airbnb until after our stay but she would leave us cash for the refund in the house. After talking to Airbnb they said they pay their hosts the day the renters arrive. The first lie she told; they just started stacking up.

We were driving from Los Angeles. Not a short drive. On our way into Park City, Felicia texted that her dog has major anxiety and can’t be left alone. Because of this, she would keep the dog for a couple days and then wanted to meet with us at her house to hand over her dog for the other four days and the refund, as she had promised. She had told us previously that she was going to Santa Monica the same day that we were arriving and so to be sure to get to the house in a timely fashion to take Jude, her dog, out. Why hadn’t she left to go to California? Why was she still there? She said maybe she should just keep her dog and not give us our refund for either day. We said this would be fine; at this point we were already thinking that this situation was getting weird and we really just wanted to stay clear of her. I do not like dishonest people and we had already caught her in several lies. When we rent we don’t want to meet hosts. We just want to have a family vacation.

We finally arrived at the house and it all began. I had to use the bathroom as soon as we walked in. I sat on the toilet and the whole thing started wobbling; it was not attached to the floor. I am not a big person, so for me to be able to wobble the whole toilet meant it was extremely unstable. I looked at the back of the bathroom door and there was a big hole in it. I immediately took a photo with my phone and texted it to Felicia. She said that she knew about it and that her maid had been there. She also said that the people before us were big partiers and had left the house a mess, so much so that the neighbors had to call the police. Nothing was adding up. She had told me on the phone that she had been at the house since June and needed to get away from the snow. It just went on and on as I went through the house. The house smelled like cigarettes. She said there was no smoking allowed yet there were no fewer than three ashtrays in the kitchen. There were exposed electrical outlets that actually pulled up and out of the floor when someone unplugged something, and both the balcony doors would not lock. We found those two things out because our three-year-old let herself out onto the 3rd floor balcony after we thought the doors were dead bolted. The host said she knew about that too but thought the maid had fixed the door. There was a cracked window pane.

Everything in the house from the floors to every single dish in the kitchen was filthy. Every dish, glass, and utensil was old. It looked like things that had been used in the 1970s. We started cleaning. We stripped the beds and the master bed still had clothes on it: a black shirt, pants, and undershirts. We got into the house at about 4:00 PM on the 28th and were cleaning until midnight. Nothing ever felt clean. Even the things we washed came out with hair all over them. The gas valve in the fireplace was all eroded. The master bath shower didn’t drain so you couldn’t take a shower very long or it would overflow. We documented everything and contacted both Airbnb and the host. The host offered to send over a handyman and she wanted to come with him. Why was the host trying to get in the rental so badly? This was the second time she tried to come in while we were there; it was extremely intrusive. We had just arrived. We really wanted to just have a family vacation. She had been there for months. Why were we supposed to wait around for the repairman and then the repairs on our dime?

We took pictures and sent them to both the host and to Airbnb. We said why don’t you just refund us our money $4700.00 (not cheap) and we will leave. Our vacation had already been ruined. We were uncomfortable and did not feel that it was a safe environment for our three-year-old or our twelve-year-old. They said we did not have enough documentation and would do nothing. The host called us liars even though she admitted to knowing about most of the things we documented. She harassed us by texting me constantly not only through Airbnb email but through her personal email. The final straw was on New Year’s Eve when my husband went to get wood out of the garage. He found mouse droppings and saw a mouse scurry towards the door into the house.

We left New Year’s Day and drove twelve hours back to Los Angeles. We had paid for the house until January 4th. I knew the host wanted to come back to the house because she had lied about leaving town. She knew that we might be leaving on January 2nd. She would not give us a dime back so I told her that she couldn’t return to the house until the 4th. She called me January 2nd like clockwork knowing that we may be leaving early. She called saying that it was obvious we had already left because there were no tire tracks out the garage and it had been snowing. How did she know that? Had she been watching us? When I said it was none of her business whether we were there or not because we had paid until January 4th. She called again lying about a window being open and that she wanted to go into the house and close it. There were no windows open. You couldn’t even open the windows. We were afraid to open the master window because of the cracked window pane. Which was the window she claimed was open?

She said she was going in with a police escort. She didn’t bring the police. She just went in and stayed at her house while we paid for it. That is theft; we paid for the house until January 4th. Why would she go inside and not at least give us back the money for the three days she is staying in the house? Airbnb said they would not respond to any of our questions or concerns anymore and that as far as they were concerned, the case was closed; they would not be refunding any money to us. We talked to three customer service representatives, all to no avail. Airbnb and Felicia are thieves. I was traveling with my mother, husband, twelve-year-old son and three-year-old daughter. This host is actually trying to blame all these things on us now. We started documenting problems within five minutes of entering the property. How could any of these problems be caused by us? She called us liars and said that she is putting us on some sort of renters blacklist. We have been manipulated, scammed, lied to and treated worse than I have ever been treated. We have been coming to Park City for winter break for ten years and used to love it there. I do not think we will ever be back. Felicia and Airbnb have not only ruined our vacation but our tradition.

Does anyone know of any recourse? We are so upset.

Bait and Switch: Unethical Airbnb Owners

This story is regarding my Airbnb rental and my host, Caroline. On December 17th, 2016 I made a reservation with Caroline to rent a home in San Pedro, CA, I received confirmation of my reservation and at that time my credit card was charged $1,829 for a one-week rental of the home. The rental dates were from February 18-25, 2017. On December 18th, 2016 I wrote to ask Caroline whether, during our stay, we could have a luncheon for my 90-year-old mother in law. She wrote back saying that would be no problem. Then, on December 19th, 2016, I was shocked to receive the following email:

“Good morning! I spoke with the owners this morning again about your booking and they are really worried about a party and are not keen to it any longer. They went to a neighborhood party and a few people mentioned that they were not happy about the last party and would report them. I’m sorry. I wish I could change their mind and they are sorry too but they can’t afford the risk. I hope you guys can understand. They also mentioned the house was booked at $200 and that they can’t afford to stay at a nice hotel for that and that they’d prefer a minimum of $250 per night. I’m not sure how our minimum got changed to $200 but that wasn’t correct. There’s been some software changes in the system but we can’t figure out how that could have changed. I hope this isn’t all too disappointing. I’ve never asked for a guest to cancel but this is what the owners want me to do. If you guys can make it work then I’ll need you to accept the changes or if it can’t work, which I’d understand, then you can cancel. Again, I’m really sorry about having to chance this on you. But I hope you’ve got enough time until February to choose another place if that may be.”

I had made a reservation in good faith to rent this property and now, with less than 60 days until the short-term rental began, I was being told the rental cost was being increased by 24%. As this rental was found on Airbnb, I contacted them to ask about this uncomfortable situation. I was contacted by two customer service representatives who said this was absolutely not acceptable behavior, that it was a “bait and switch” tactic, and against Airbnb’s policies. A few days later another representative from Airbnb contacted me and said she would work to resolve the situation. Instead, on December 27th, 2016, they informed me my reservation was being cancelled. I believe the actions taken by Caroline were illegal under California State Law, specifically regarding short-term rentals: “If you have a month-to-month (or shorter) periodic rental agreement, the landlord must give you at least 60 days’ advance notice if the rent increase is greater than 10 percent.”

Albuquerque Host Takes Advantage of Widow

I’m a widow who made a reservation to see family in New Mexico. As the sole caretaker for my brother, who is a disabled Vietnam Vet, I got hung up when he needed an operation at the VA in Georgia. It came up suddenly and I ended up having to contact Douglas, my soon-to-be host. I apologized heartily, told him I didn’t want to cancel, that I’d be back in New Mexico as I am there 3-4 times a year, and asked him what I should do. He told me I should cancel immediately and perhaps get some of my money back. I did as he said and I got nothing back. He refused my request for a refund of my $530, lied by saying he suggested I should have simply changed the date, and gave me a song and dance when I asked him why he asked me to cancel if he would have changed the dates. In reality he just wanted to keep the money I took five months to save to see family. When I asked more about how to work it out and expressed my dissatisfaction, he suggested I simply contact Airbnb. I will never rent from this man again (he has multiple properties) on my many yearly trips to Albuquerque and will do my best to make sure no one else has the same bad experience that I’ve had. What a total disappointment. He is a liar and a thief. I trusted this man. I suppose it was because the other Airbnb hosts I’ve had were so wonderful. I have documentation of my reason to cancel and it’s hard to know someone would take advantage of a widow. I do not recommend Douglas Lopez or his properties to anyone. Avoid him if at all possible.

Little White Lies Lead to Big Bad Airbnb

I booked my very first (and very last) Airbnb reservation in October 2016 and have had one problem after another with it. When I was first charged, the Airbnb system calculated the total amount and applied it to my credit card. Soon after that I was contacted by the host, John, and was told that the amount was not enough since there would be three adults staying in two rooms. I pointed out to him that I paid the amount that I was given as per Airbnb’s calculations, that I had entered all information correctly, and if there was a mistake in his listing then it was his mistake, not mine. He kept coming back and saying that it hadn’t been listed correctly and he was losing money over it. I finally agreed to pay him an additional $135 for the 7-night stay and that I would give it to him in cash when I arrived on December 3rd. I didn’t know at the time that this isn’t allowed by Airbnb. He contacted them and tried unsuccessfully to fix his listing.

Four days before my sons and I were expected to arrive he texted me and said that Airbnb needed to speak to me; he gave me a phone number to call. I spoke to a representative and was told John wanted an extra $135 and an additional $100 cleaning fee. I declined, saying I had made a deal with him for $135 and was not going to pay another $100 to clean one bedroom. He finally accepted that and I thought we were good to go. My sons and I arrived at the property around 7:00 PM on the 3rd and were greeted by John and another man by the name of Tom. So far so good. The next morning we also met another man by the name of Emilio. It shouldn’t have been a problem but I had been told that my sons and I were going to be the only guests during our stay; it turned out the other two people were long-term guests.

In all fairness, the home was as described in the listing, and fairly clean. John even gave us a healthy fresh continental breakfast each morning. However, when I booked he told me we would have a queen bed and a king with ensuite bath. What we ended up with was two queen beds, one per room. Of course my sons were adamant about not sharing a bed with their mother or each other. Two grown men will not share a queen bed, brothers or not. So my oldest son, who is 46, ended up sleeping on the floor with a comforter and a pillow. On the third morning my youngest who was using the bed came to me and showed me a bug he had found on the comforter that my oldest had used on the floor the night before and had thrown back up on the bed. It was a live bed bug!

I took the bug and showed it to the host and he acted and stated that he was totally shocked that we had found a bug. After getting down on hands and knees and searching both rooms we found solid indications that there was a bed bug problem in the house that had been previously treated. So we went to talk to John and his response was to suggest that my sons and I had brought them in on our suitcases. My oldest son pointed out that since there were so many dead bugs in the rooms around the baseboards it was impossible for them to “fall” out of our suitcases and stick themselves to the baseboards. John then proceeded to blame the bed bugs on his previous guests. The gall of the man knew no bounds.

It later came out in conversations that included Tom, that the house had indeed been treated for the bugs and that Terminex had said the infestation was under control. This had happened two days before we arrived. John had never said one word to me in all of our conversations in the previous month about having bugs in his home. This was the biggest lie of omission of all. Just an aside: we also found other irregularities during our bug hunt. There was marijuana in one of the drawers in one bedroom and a container on the dresser that contained multiple brands of a large number of condoms. We spent the remainder of our day spraying our suitcases with spray that Terminex had left at the house and several hours washing and drying our entire vacation wardrobe.

In the small amount of fairness that I feel I can give, John did contact Airbnb and they refunded every dollar I had been charged. John paid a local resort for accommodations for the remainder of our stay. The downside to all of this is that Airbnb listed the reservation as cancelled by me. Hence I have no way to leave a review of my experience. I would have been fair about it, most likely would not have mentioned all the times John lied, and definitely would have given him credit for paying for our hotel. I don’t feel it is fair that Airbnb didn’t give me the opportunity to leave any kind of review at all. I guess that’s their attempt to protect their business name. I will never use them again as I feel they have no oversight on the condition of their guests’ homes or rooms and really don’t seem to care.