Considering Airbnb As A Guest Or A Host? Read This First

A‌i‌r‌b‌n‌b‌,‌ ‌I‌n‌c‌.‌ operates an online marketplace and hospitality service that allows people to lease or rent short-term lodging such as apartments, homes, cottages and other similar accommodations.  Airbnb doesn’t own any real estate; instead, they simply act as a broker that receives a percentage for bookings. And they’ve done a whole LOT of bookings – as of this writing, Airbnb has over 5 million lodging listings in 81,000 cities and 191 countries, and has facilitated over 300 million check-ins.

Most Airbnb experiences wind up being positive for both guests and hosts. Of course, there are always some highly publicized issues, such when hosts were placing hidden cameras in the Airbnb units and the guests didn’t know about them. Granted, it’s one thing to have cameras to help ward against theft; it’s another to have a camera hidden in the bathroom.

Unfortunately, cameras in the bathrooms are only one thing that Airbnb guests have to worry about when they’re sleeping in the accommodations of a total stranger. And Airbnb hosts have their own concerns as well, including what happens when their guests lie, steal or are otherwise flaky.

So before you get involved with Airbnb, you may want to take a look at this website we’ve found…

With nearly 500,000 readers so far, AirbnbHell.com has story after story about Airbnb experiences gone wrong. Being charged twice. A host who made the guest feel threatened. Drug dealers in the same building. Listings of places that, when the guests arrived, didn’t exist. Last minute cancellations. Filth. Damage to the property. No air conditioning in the summer. A host who posted the guest’s personal information online. Theft. The host who didn’t let the guest check in until after 11pm. The list goes on and on. And unfortunately, sometimes Airbnb will do the right thing, and sometimes…not so much.

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Here are some things to know about Airbnb, as per Airbnbhell.com:

If you are a potential Airbnb GUEST:

  1. If any of your personal items, cash, or valuables are stolen (by the host, other guests, or burglars) you have no protection from Airbnb.
  2. If there is a foul odor, loud noises, or any other problems with your room that are not easily documented with photos, you are out of luck and your claim for a refund will be denied.
  3. If you rent a single room, there is no guarantee regarding how many people might be living in a given home/condo while you are there.  If there is a shared bathroom, you might end up sharing it with 1 person, or 20.
  4. A “fully stocked kitchen” means very different things to different people.  One pot, 2 dishes and a handful of silverware does not mean you can actually cook a meal there, yet this is not enough evidence to seek a claim for refund
  5. If you buy groceries and another guest or the host uses them or throws them away, you’re out of luck.
  6. If the host or another guest has a party every night, you will have to thoroughly document each incident with video recordings and time stamps to seek any sort of claim or refund.  Even then, it will be a battle that may take weeks and you are unlikely to win.
  7. Airbnb charges you about 15% on top of what the host actually receives for your reservation (even more if you need to exchange currency).  That means you COULD get your reservation for about 15% LESS if you booked directly with the host.
  8. If you have to cancel your reservation at the last minute, the host has the right to keep some or all of your money for your entire stay.  You will not have any ability to write a review of your host if you cancel your reservation, even if you end up paying for your entire stay and the host double-books the rental space.

If you are a potential Airbnb HOST:

  1. If your guests claim any sort of insect/pest/vermin problem, airbnb will instantly return 50% of your guests money for their entire reservation, even if it’s a year long reservation and the claim is false.  This is a common scam tactic.
  2. If your guests steal your cash or other difficult-to-prove assets, airbnb will do nothing.
  3. If you make any claim regarding damage to reclaim part or all of the security deposit, airbnb will make your life a living hell by demanding receipts for your original purchase even if it’s furniture that you’ve owned for 20 years.  If you don’t have receipts, you’re out of luck, and even if you do, it will take weeks or months to get any resolution.
  4. If you wait more than 24 hours to make a claim regarding damage from guests, your claim will be denied by default.
  5. Airbnb takes 3% of every reservation from you, but they also take about 15% from the guest!  That means your guests are WILLING to pay 18% more than you’re actually receiving but you’re not getting any of that extra money.  Airbnb also takes a very aggressive 3% Exchange Rate Fee for transactions not in USD, for a total of about 21% in fees taken off the top!
  6. Even if you use a Strict Cancellation Policy to protect yourself from flaky guests canceling their reservation at the last minute, Airbnb has the right to override that policy at any time and without warning or explanation and refund the guest the entire amount of their reservation, even if it’s less than 24 hours before the guest is scheduled to check in.
  7. The “1 million dollar host guarantee” is virtually impossible to actually claim.  Don’t fall for this marketing ploy!
  8. Airbnb has been known to cancel and remove even long-term hosts listings without warning and without any explanation.  This may cause you to lose communication with your current guests, and lose significant income for all upcoming reservations which are also instantly canceled.

Of course, problems don’t always happen. With over 300,000,000 check ins under Airbnb’s belt, it’s obvious that more often than not, things go just fine. But if you’re the cautious type, or if you’re trying to decide if you want to be an Airbnb host, or if you just don’t know if a hotel vs. Airbnb is best for you and yours, you (obviously) want to do all of your homework…and that includes reading the bad with the good. So check out Airbnbhell.com, and be an educated consumer.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

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