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?