Unstable Host and Airbnb Turned my Vacation into Hell

My first and last experience with Airbnb pointed out a fundamental flaw in their business model: hotel, motel and even most B&B operators are professionals; Airbnb hosts are amateurs. Because of that, they may not understand they are in the hospitality business, and Airbnb guests can be the unfortunate guinea pigs. As soon as our family arrived at our condo, our host came around and seemed to be spying on us. That evening she chased down a group of us out for a stroll; she asked them how many were staying at the condo told them she suspected more were staying there than she permitted. Later that night she pounded on the door and loudly proclaimed the same accusation. We explained that we had only six staying there (the two-bedroom unit was advertised to sleep six) and two people visiting who were staying elsewhere. She demanded we leave. When we refused, she picked up her phone and dialed 911, claiming she was the victim of assault! When asked if she had been physically assaulted, she replied “no, but I have been verbally assaulted.” When that apparently didn’t impress the operator, she claimed she had “nine drunk tenants and I want them out.”

We told her if she wanted in the unit she would need a warrant. Eventually the police arrived, and she demanded through texting that we come out and meet with the officer. When we didn’t respond, she called Airbnb. To my shock, Airbnb texted me that they had a serious complaint against me and that they had cancelled the reservation and ruled that a refund was not permitted! The next morning, this obviously emotionally unstable host opened the front door and pounded on the wall, shouting: “Your reservation has been cancelled and you need to leave!” We knew she had no legal right to evict us, so we stayed; however, the stress ruined our vacation. And the fact that Airbnb supported her madness only added to the nightmare. Beware of Airbnb… you will be subject to the whims of your host and the company will not have your back!

Lost Everything in Airbnb Theft… Inside Job?

We moved to Southern California on July 15th, 2016 and unfortunately, while staying at an Airbnb in Pasadena and looking for a permanent place, our apartment got broken into and everything we had brought with us including our passports, birth certificates, national ID cards, all our academic diplomas and transcripts, and every single immigration document we had got stolen (including the copies of them). This is in addition to the huge financial loss due to the jewelry, laptops, even specialty contact lenses being stolen. Obviously the police were immediately notified and involved. We are still in shock and I don’t think it’s something we can easily recover from. We’ve compiled the list of the items we remember that have been stolen and every day still remember some new items that are missing and realize they were in our suitcase or backpacks… The truth seems to be far from what the reviews and the Internet suggest!

Unfortunately, some of the documents are irreplaceable such as both of our undergrad and masters original transcripts and diplomas as they are issued only once in our home country. This can have a significantly negative impact on our professional lives and careers. The magnitude of the damage is beyond repair. The host and management company failed to change the lock on the unit, after the previous tenant had not returned the keys. The Airbnb host and the apartment management are telling us conflicting stories. The Airbnb host says he had asked for the locks to be changed but management denies it, as says he only asked for a duplicate key.

The apartment management claims that the security cameras were being serviced exactly in that hour when the burglary happened and thus no footage has been recorded. There was no evidence of forced entry (remember this is a gated apartment complex with a digital entrance, gated parking, and a key to the unit). These all suggest that it was an inside job. Nothing that was originally in the Airbnb property was even touched by the thief, whereas all of the stolen items belonged only to us! The property loss is about $20,000 (jewelry, laptops, bags, clothes, etc.). Financial loss is something that you can forget and recover from, however the loss of all identification documents, educational records, and most importantly the feeling of having been violated this way, is something that will be haunting us for a long time. We firmly believe the people who caused this need to pay for it and make sure this does not happen to anyone else…

We believe Airbnb should have done something to make sure any apartment that is being rented using Airbnb’s name is a safe place and that if a tenant does not return a key, that it is immediately reported, and the unit made unavailable as soon as possible. I hope this will not happen to anyone else!

Traumatic Airbnb Experience in Philadelphia

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I stayed in an apartment that Airbnb found for me in Philadelphia. It is in the Rittenhouse area and is listed by Andrea. I requested to stay with my wife and three children, ages 6, 4, and 5 months, for five weeks. I traveled all the way from Europe. I was in constant contact with the host before arriving and read all the comments about the location. I am a Veteran in the US forces and have been overseas for 10+ years. I wanted to show my family where I am from because they have never been here. My parents left the city a long time ago. After an eight and a half hour plane ride we arrived to a dirty apartment. We told the host there was leftover food in the cabinets and refrigerator and she suggested we eat it. My wife and I decided to clean the apartment because, where else were we going to go?

Cleaning consisted of swiping down the microwave, and finding bedsheets with human hair all over them. After vacuuming everything, we found more things wrong within the first 24 hours of staying. The apartment was infested with ants and large roaches, the kind that are as large as your thumb. One flew across the room onto my daughter’s bed. The host said, “we are in the city and you should expect roaches and mice.” The host did offer to spray the place with pesticides but told me I had to find out if they would be safe for children as the problem occurred after the first 24 hours. I spoke with the exterminator and he sent me a write-up of his poisons. It said that if any were inhaled to go to the emergency room. Needless to say, I told them they could not use it around my children. I was told that was all they could do. My 4-year-old daughter stepped on a piece of glass in the apartment and punctured her foot. The roaches are a constant problem. I brushed my teeth and found ants in my mouth because I forgot to check my tooth brush.

The listed washer and dryer was coin operated next door, shared between the tenants of two fully occupied buildings. The host does not supply quarters and I was told to go to a bank and get them (not mentioned in the listing). The ceiling began to leak on the outlet in the living room where the air conditioner is plugged in. The host never came by to check and told me if I wanted to move, I should contact Airbnb, as she is not responsible for the problems. I contacted Airbnb several times and the people I spoke with sympathized with me and my family. Airbnb offered me these options: refund what is left of my money from the stay and send me on my way; or refund what is left of my money and coordinate a stay somewhere else that is smaller, has fewer amenities than this place was supposed to have, and costs over $1000 dollars more.

They also sent me a $75 gift certificate for a five-star restaurant that would cost over $100 for the evening. I didn’t have the money to move out or buy a ticket home, so my family and I were stuck in an apartment with roaches, ants, and a ceiling leaking on electrical outlets. The apartment smelled of sewage because of the water leak, and more rain was projected. The host, Andrea, has her money, Airbnb has their money, and my family and I were stuck. Airbnb did send a cleaning crew by, which helped. Then less than 24 hours later it rained again so the place still smelled like sewage. The bugs never left. If anyone would like to see pictures I would be happy to provide them.

Be aware if you are in a situation where Airbnb cannot find something for the price they deem is appropriate they will let you rot in a location that has been proven to be vermin infested and dangerous. Because I could not leave I was told I wouldn’t be reimbursed for anything when we left. God help you if you have children and use Airbnb.

UPDATE: After posting this on Facebook Airbnb did pay to move me for my last eight days out of a 38-day stay (all it took was me letting the world know what was going on). Both Airbnb and Andrea refuse to discuss or pay for the damage to my property that occurred during the stay. They also told me if I wanted to write a review of the property I had to send them the review so they could screen it first. The property still listed on their site. They never pulled it.

Airbnb Nightmare Ends in Police Arriving

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I made the mistake of renting from someone who had never rented before. I should have known it was going to be crazy from the start with the slew of emails. From the moment we arrived we got emails threatening they were going to cancel the booking. I had violated the rules because I had booked for my son and husband despite the fact that the host was notified two weeks in advance that the booking for my son and his roommate. Upon arrival, he demanded the video cameras inside the listing be turned on or he would cancel the booking. He continued to call and email me to the point of harassment. He showed up at the listing four times in one day. After two days of continual harassment my son finally turned the cameras off at which point he showed up and told them to get out of his house. This is when I called the police. We had no idea how this unstable person would act, especially after he said he had loaded weapons in the house.

Ruining NYC: Airbnb Neighbor Nightmare

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I would suggest a new category of victim for this website: Airbnb neighbor. My home and four other apartments in a small 6-unit building were all unwilling dragged into the pitfalls of the sharing economy. We had involuntary, front-row seats to the joy of when one individual volunteers access to your doorstep to the world without your consent and lies to everyone involved for her personal financial gain. Stephanie Browne is a serial Airbnb “host” who at one point listed up to three separate full apartment rentals in Bushwick, Brooklyn; this is illegal to do in NY for less than 30 days.  Having reaped much financial gain as a full-blown gentrifier with two separate rental apartments in one building, she proceeded to expand her hotel room business by signing a lease in another small 6-unit apartment building. Our new “neighbor” proceeded to rent the apartment out as early as two weeks from when she moved in to the unit.

Why, we wondered, are families of five who obviously don’t know anything about the neighborhood carrying bottled water and coolers into a one bedroom apartment when our “neighbor” was nowhere to be seen? Sure enough, the apartment was listed on Airbnb for rent, with Stephanie Browne claiming to be the owner. This started a full year of random vacationing strangers parading through the building at all hours, with one guest at one point threatening the host by calling the police when she was locked out, and causing the entire building’s locks to be changed. She gave out building keys like party favors to the whole world. Meanwhile, she was not even residing in the country and had moved full-time to Europe.

Stephanie Browne is the diametric opposite of the “good actor” Airbnb claims makes up their hosts who only need to rent periodically to afford their rent. Browne, by holding three leases for apartments she neither owned or resided in purely for the use of temporary guests, is the exact cause of why everyone’s rent in NYC is going up. After much complaining and lackluster enforcement of the law by NYC Department of Buildings, she gave up the rental unit one year early. As a parting shot, she tried selling the books and furniture from her hotel room to her “neighbors” in the building and wrote this pitiful, inaccurate justification of her noxious lifestyle.

Meanwhile, she still continues to list two illegal rentals while living in Europe. Airbnb’s community complaint line is joke: they enabled her lies to the guests, the building owner, and the occupants of the building she put at constant inconvenience and risk. The moral of the story for other afflicted neighbors who become unwilling concierges to hotel rooms in their own building: know your rights, contact your management company, elected officials, local enforcement agencies, and get these hosts that are your neighbors where it hurts, their wallets.

First Airbnb Experience: Ripped off in Sag Harbor

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I’m a first time Airbnb user. We were very excited to book our first trip, an entire home called a “charming country cottage” in Sag Harbor. What we found was a house that was not the same as that in the picture in the ad, and we did not have the whole home but one small apartment on the first floor. It was Sag Harbor in the summer; everything  was full and with two small kids we could not exactly sleep on the street. We had to accept the accommodation despite feeling incredibly deceived and ripped off with false representation.

Afterwards we asked for a refund of around 60% of the booking cost which seemed more than fair and we expected the host to be removed from the listings; from previous comments it was clear she had rented by the room. As soon as she saw we were unhappy she turned from nice and charming to throwing mud at us. Now our only comment on our Airbnb profile is by her: “I am speechless how insulting the experience was hosting Carter. I would want to warn other hosts of this guest.”

This is nuts. This is like going to the police because you have been mugged and then the person who mugged you gets to post defamatory comments on your page. Look at the two pictures and guess which one is on Airbnb and which one is the actual house. Then assume from looking at the nice pic you are booking the “entire home” and just get the ground floor… I am so disappointed. We are waiting to hear back from Airbnb as to what action they will take and what refund we will receive. I have found no way to have the owner’s comments removed. I guess this is our first and last Airbnb experience and we have gone from huge enthusiasts and promoters of all we had heard of the brand pre-experience to hard core detractors. It’s such a shame. I still don’t understand how anyone can ever book a home on Airbnb when owners are allowed to post pictures that are not of their actual homes!

Hosts Get no Protection from Airbnb

I am currently with my very first guest from Airbnb. I have been renting my two units successfully for four years but on a monthly basis, from 35 days to 8 months at the time. I had established procedures on checking on my tenants and being very careful to whom I rent. I even learned how conmen work and could recognize them immediately. This first guest of mine was very disrespectful from the very beginning. Due to a mistake on Airbnb’s part they did not charge her the entire amount she owed, and now I cannot collect the balance. I called customer service twice and the second time, the girl said they had no record of my first call. I don’t want to go through the whole story, but after careful review of the posted terms and conditions, hosts need to understand that Airbnb does not protect their interests. Their platform is that they are only an advertising agency and the contract is between guests and hosts. They are not obligated to take care of claims on damages, payment issues, or similar problems. This is not hotel management. You are on your own. Of course, I am very experienced in knowing what my rights and obligations are under the law in my state, and I have no problems filing claims with the court. However, as a host, I don’t vet the tenants and I don’t have their billing information. So, it is almost impossible to file a claim in court against problematic tenants. Airbnb policies are not acceptable. You need to understand that they will not provide any help and they are not obligated to provide protection to hosts. Simply find another place to advertise.

Airbnb Left my Family in the Middle of the Street

We did an Instant Book on Airbnb. The email confirmation arrived saying all was set, pack your bags, in addition to nice things about using their service, with code confirmation. We drove all the way from Sacramento to Anaheim with my 4-year-old and mom – 70 years old – so after the long travel time in the car we were exhausted and hungry. Upon arrival, the receptionist in the place we rented said they did not receive any information about our rental. We called the host and he said he did not accept the reservation… apparently unaware of what an Instant Book means.

The place we rented was five minutes from Disneyland, equivalent to a 4-star hotel. I waited more than a hour for a case manager to show up and then she talked to me, offered me $150 as compensation for the ‘inconvenience’ and told me to find a place myself. After I argued with her, she asked for more time to make calls. It was 10:30 PM. We were here in the same place, in the middle of the street, with nowhere to go. We were loyal customers for years and they took no responsibility whatsoever that we ended up paying more than twice the price renting another hotel ourselves so as to not ruin our entire vacation. We also ended up losing one entire day of vacation and had to change hotels three times within four nights to be able to fix their problem. Our daughter has special needs; all the food we took from home ended up ruined and she got constipated pretty badly because her food was not available.

We are very disappointed with the entire situation. We understand that mistakes can happen but not taking any responsibility for their own mistakes is really disappointing. They sent emails saying somebody would look into our case and call us back but nobody has contacted us since.

Airbnb Nightmare: Chicago Bait and Switch

This happened over a year ago, but I thought I’d share. Two months before traveling to Chicago, I found a small apartment (in reality, the attic of an old Victorian) on Airbnb. I needed it for five nights and the description said there were three beds, a stocked kitchen, and a full bathroom. The price was right, so I booked it after exchanging emails with the host. In particular, I wanted to make sure it was safe and that I could prepare meals for my children. A week before traveling, I got a text message (off site) from the host. She said Airbnb made an error and because of that error the space is double booked. I told her that I didn’t know that was possible and, as I was the first to book, I should get priority. She didn’t respond.

We flew into Chicago and arrived at the place. It was adorable. However, there was one bed… not three. There was, however, a couch and a loft with a futon mattress. The kitchen had a sink and a hot plate. But, we could make it work. The first night, the host approached me by walking up the internal stairs (without knocking) and said that she will need us to move downstairs the next day. I was shocked. I asked why and she admitted that she was still double booked and that their business was economically better because the next family was spending a month; she couldn’t afford not to take their reservation. She said, “Not to worry… I have another space you can stay in.” I said, “Then make them stay there until we leave.” Obviously, that didn’t please her. But, she turned and left.

The next day, we went out to explore the city, returning at 9 PM. It was immediately obvious that there was a new rental car in the driveway. As we were getting out of the car, the host greeted us and told us she had moved our stuff downstairs and couldn’t wait to show us our “rustic cabin.” I was furious! But, I had kids and it was late so… what choice did I have? We were led downstairs and the host had the nerve to complain that we’d left dishes undone and towels on the counter upstairs. Well, yeah, we thought we would be returning to that room and planned to do our dishes then.

As soon as she opened the basement door, I was displeased. The stairs were steep, unlit and rotting. A string of Christmas lights had been hastily strung as lighting but it was dark. At the bottom of the stairs was an unfinished, stone basement. A small bathroom was crammed in this little area. The household boiler and washer/dryer were to the left. To the right was a room with drywall and a small fireplace. The TV was broken. The “bed” was a rock hard futon. There was exposed piping, wiring, unsecured chemicals, and spiders everywhere. But, worst of all, there were no windows or doors. Anywhere! The only escape was the stairs.

I told her this wasn’t what we signed up for (especially since my six year old was crying about the darkness of the place). She actually got offended and said, “I live here. I gave this up so you wouldn’t be stranded.” She said, “For your trouble… I can comp you.” As we had nowhere else to go, I said ok but asked for more lamps and lighting. The next day, we got up bright and early for a visit with family. When we got back to the basement, the host was in the basement, arms folded. She said she had thought it through and prayed about it and told me she needed to charge me still. I protested because this wasn’t right and the space wasn’t safe. She then said, “I told Airbnb to refund you, so we can do this in cash since I don’t have this apartment listed yet.”

I refused. I told her we would leave and she acted offended. I ended up paying $342 for a hotel. Airbnb did nothing! When I explained the safety concerns in the basement, they said they couldn’t address them because it wasn’t listed on the site. The only thing they cared about was her attempt to use cash. But, even that didn’t bother them because, again, she wasn’t attempting to get cash for the basement listing. In the end, she got away with it. Now, however, the basement is listed despite the safety hazards.