Under Investigation for False Privacy Claim from Guest

We are currently under investigation from Airbnb after a guest who stayed at our place for the last 40 days (into their 100-day stay) decided to make a false claim against my husband and I for “violating their privacy.” After the guest’s initial inquiry about staying at our cottage in northern Ontario, we told them that we were currently there doing renovations to the lower level to make it a duplex.

Our listing does state that they are renting the entire cottage, but we had called Airbnb and asked for guidance on what to do since we were doing renovations. They simply told us that as long as we had approval from the inquiring guests that we would be there, everything should be fine. We have all the documentation and emails and written consent from the inquiring guests that they were okay with us being there doing the renovations in the lower level. We kept up communications to make sure we weren’t bothering them with any excess noise and tried to only be there during the day when they were at work.

Their check in date was Jan. 11, and they were medium-term rentals staying until April 30/ All throughout the time from Jan. 11 until Feb. 9 everything was fine as far as we knew. We have text proving that they were fine and anytime we needed to enter their space to do something and we have written documentation of asking their permission.

We did expect the renovation to be complete as of mid-January, until the stay at home order that was in place on Jan. 14 obviously delayed our renovations by a couple of weeks. This is something that was completely out of our control.

On Feb. 9, the guest called my husband and said that they were feeling a little bit frustrated with how long this was going. We packed up that day and went home to avoid any conflict and prevent making our guest feel uncomfortable. My husband went back up on Valentine’s Day weekend to clean up his tools while they were not there because they didn’t stay there on the weekends. As of then, everything was fine: we hadn’t heard any other complaints and everything was communicated to the guests.

We then got a notification through Airbnb that the guests would like to change their check out date from April 30 to Feb. 25, which we declined because there was no reason for them to check out early. The renovation was now completed and no one would be in the lower level for the remainder of their stay (why they waited to complain until we were finally done is beyond me).

The next day we got an email from Airbnb stating that there has been a privacy claim against us and that our account will be suspended until the investigation was complete. We got a call on Feb. 20 asking for our side of the story. The claim was that my husband was there during their stay and that was a violation of their privacy.

We used completely separate entrances; we never even saw the guests more than maybe three times the entire five weeks we were there. We never once entered their space without permission and only three separate times: once to replace our modem for the Internet; once to replenish the soap and a broken spoon that the cleaner had told us was broken; and once for the plumber to check something on the washer. All visits were agreed upon and never were an issue when those things happened.

The Airbnb investigator was completely rude and interrupted us multiple times while we were trying to explain our side of the story. We have been Superhosts since the second month of hosting and I’ve had nothing but great reviews with the exception of one who was annoyed that the Internet wasn’t as fast as that in Toronto. I can’t believe that Airbnb is allowing one guest among 17 positive reviews to tarnish our entire reputation as hosts and potentially shut us down.

I guess my question is has anyone experienced something similar to this and what was the outcome? Our worry is that they are going to refund the guest for the time that they stayed there if they deem that we did indeed “violate their privacy“ even though we have proof that they knew the whole time we were there. If Airbnb does decide to cancel their reservation, is there a chance that we will need to refund them for the days that they have already stayed there and if so how is that legal?

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  1. I am so sorry this happened to you. You can appeal, I have read that squeaky wheel gets the grease with AirBnB(astards, as my husband calls them)! Our neighbour is currently suspended from her property in the UK because a guest said a man knocked on her door or something like that. The owners live in Canada, so hardly going to be them, especially during Covid!

    We had a nightmare guest who after 2 weeks of a 4-week booking I caught with yet ANOTHER guest (making 5 instead of the 2 – then 3 – then 4 I allowed). There could have been more but I just stood in the doorway, feeling uncomfortable about entering the space.

    When I told her there would be an extra guest fee at this point (she had a massive discount) she stopped replying, then when I pushed through Airbnb that she would have to pay or get out, retaliated by falsely reporting me to both the police and the platform for having ‘cameras in all the bedrooms’. There were no cameras, the police agreed, but I was suspended (and all my incoming bookings for 4 units cancelled) and then banned after a decade on the platform with all happy guests in 3-5 units throughout this time.

    This has been going on for a month now. I have managed to appeal, but am on about the 4th or 5th case worker, have had to remove guest myself, and Airbnb treated me like a criminal.

    I only had a handful of bookings but I look like a jerk to those guests, who could well have become long-term repeat business.

    I am disallusioned with Airbnb and going to severely limit my bookings on the platform, only opening the calendars up 3 months maximum in advance and raising my prices. I will never discount again. I get much better quality guests through Homeaway – now VRBO. Luckily, my original properties get 80% of their bookings directly or through repeat guests. LSI – Listing Site Independence (see Matt Landau’s page http://www.vrmb.com) – is an acheivable goal, but this house is new so hasn’t the momentum.

    Good luck, keep the pressure on, and get a website out there, you can do it yourself for very little.

  2. yes similar happened here:

    we had a ‘youth hostel ‘ style listing and got a privacy violation complaint. they did not say name of which guest where how ( i had other units on same land listed to), told me they d call me at 2 pm next day ( i was doing eldercare at that time, a priority), and when i wrote them later that i figured out that 1 young lady had asked the other young lady if she could peek in her room, by invitation when they were both home , had chatted, shared facilities as in youth hostel, etc), they said the 1 young girl had filed violation of privacy complaint and that she got her money back ( at end of 4 day stay(, and that they had cancelled my next 2 guests ( in other units), and permanently blocked me from airbnb after a year of superhost and making them tons of money.
    I was immediatley nable yo access my acct. I managed to contact the 2 canceled guests who i had seen thought i had cacelled them and were in great distress over it as ‘i had sounded so nice’ ( yeah, airbnb as a corporation ‘sounded so nice, thoo:)), and luckily found them thru much online search, , and explained to them they were welcome to come.

    the only thing that is harming me still, now, is that it is IMPOSSIBLE for me to get ahold of airbnb now. My county TOT has been charging me late fees on not providing the last 2 mos, june, july of 2020 of gross rental income statements, which normally showed on my acct in portal. the TOT taxes did, presumably, get paid to county, as i had it set up to be paid by airbnb, but my county charges late fees bc they want an exact accounting from me, plus proof from airbnb, end each month.

    if anyone knows how to get ahold of them for such when acct was closed by them, i’d appreciate to see comment in here. My county ( as bureacrats should) , says this is on me as i am the rental operator.

    As for my ‘loss’ after a year of airbnb, THANKS AND PRAISES…
    I felt immediate relief from all the guests abusing my kindness, not reading what my listing said and then complaining, crazy reviews i had to suffer thru and retort, ( while still maintaining between 4.5 and 5 starts, another weird judgment from complete strangers i was so happy to be releived of!)playing motelmaid alth this is a friendly, rustic , rural community in very touristy west marin co CA.

    Airbnb is def a nice weather friend, and their system for violating privacy, giving the host no more credibility against guest as a dog has against animal control in a dangerous dog hearing ( the dog is not even allowed in courtbuilding!), meaning, THERE IS ZERO RECOURSE.

    So my advice is, thank the gods for this great relief. they have sold their soul if they ever had one. Fall on your knees in gratitude first, then go online and sign u to all the other platforms at once, to see which ones works out for you.

    for me the past almost year, this has been, unequivocally, HIPCAMP.COM, who, contrary to what i assumed, also does pricey cottages besides campspots. And mostly, they have excellent and fast customers service, and the guests are 100% wonderful and grateful.
    They are up and coming.. in new areas all the time.. check them out..

  3. I had a private claim and Airbnb would not even tell me who it was! They have a policy of always assuming the guest is right so it leaves hosts in an untenable position if they make a false claim. The process potentially is extremely unfair and in my case certainly was. I will never deal with them again.

  4. Update. Feb 23 we got an email stating our account was opened back up and we had a right to be at the property. Never heard another thing from the case manager. Woke up this morning that the reservation was cancelled and not only are they letting them out of the reservation for the next 60 days, they are refunding them the $14,000 that they have already paid without even notifying us.

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