My experience with Airbnb was nothing short of a nightmare. I booked accommodation on Airbnb from February 9th through March 2nd, 2017 at premises owned by Tess. She asked me to leave the property on February 21st without contacting me. Airbnb also beglected to hear my side of the story, which is as follows:
The complaint by the host regarding the flat was based on three issues:
1. The locks being left unlocked. There were four separate locks to get into this tiny little studio flat. Two of these locks were in the middle of a dark alley with a step with no light whatsoever. I complained to the local contact about this. I asked him whether it is necessary to lock all four locks or would it be okay to just lock the one to the studio itself and the one to the gate outside, as this way the place is still safe and secure? There was no response from him. When Tess complained about it, I spent an extra ten minutes locking the two intermediate locks.
You may wonder why it took ten minutes? Because it was very difficult to see anything. Because she was complaining, I made this extra effort. I was in London to attend client meetings and buy a property and did not have the energy nor time to secure another flat… so I abided by her unreasonable requests.
2. There was loud music being played in the flat. I spent the evenings in the flat and spent my entire time working. Music was being played on my laptop to drown out the noise coming from upstairs with the constant walking around. I am a 40-something lawyer with my own practice, not a teenage girl playing loud music with no regard for neighbours. Not once did anyone knock on my door to ask me to lower the volume of the music. When the complaint came to me, I made a conscious effort to keep the volume at a low level.
3. There were uninvited guests. There was absolutely no room in the flat to have a person come and stand, let alone have me entertain them. The pictures of the flat do not reflect how very small it really is. The only explanation I have for people ringing the neighbours for me can only possibly be the delivery boys coming to deliver my dinner. There was no doorbell in the studio itself. This is one more thing that I told the local contact when I arrived. I asked him how I could have food deliveries, if I cannot hear when someone is at the door? He suggested I give the delivery people my phone number, which I did. But as you can imagine, they would not be calling a California mobile number for a food delivery in London.
When I came home on the night of February 21, 2017, it was after 10:00 PM. I then noticed the message from Airbnb. I had only one voicemail message on my phone at approximately 5:00 PM from her. By 1:00 AM, the local agent was at my door asking me to leave the property immediately. I insisted that the police be called so there is proof that I left the property, as every attempt that I made to reach Airbnb that evening was unsuccessful. After the police arrived, they sympathised with my situation but said they could not help in this matter. They provided me with a police report.
I was then told by the local agent that in fact the host was expecting relatives and guests and needed the empty flat. I was incredibly furious and shocked. The host does not live in the UK; she lives in Prague. She had assigned this property to yet another guest using an intermediary (as if Airbnb was not enough). She should have had the courtesy to call me and try to resolve the problem first, and come to a mutually acceptable solution. Furthermore, Airbnb should have defended me, as I am their customer; a legal relationship is created as I pay them directly. Since then, I have tried to reach out to Airbnb via emails and phone messages, and have not had even one representative bother to call me back. It is highly unprofessional for Airbnb representatives to make a decision to cancel a reservation on the evening of without verifying the facts with me and expecting me to leave the same night without reimbursement.