Airbnb has revolutionized the way people travel and has provided property owners with a new way to earn extra income. However, with the rise of the sharing economy, there have been a number of horror stories that have surfaced, involving property damage, theft, and even criminal activity.
As a property owner, it’s important to be aware of these incidents and to take steps to protect yourself and your property.
In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at some of the most common Airbnb horror stories and discuss what property owners can learn from them.
One of the most common Airbnb horror stories involving short-term rentals is property damage. This can include everything from broken furniture to holes in the walls. There have also been accounts of cigarette burns to items, red wine stains that ruined white towels, and truly horrifying messes that cost a lot of money and required a deep clean. One Airbnb host lost thousands of dollars in repairs and lost bookings because a guest trashed a property and caused extensive damage.
To avoid this, it’s important to have a thorough inventory of your property and to document the condition of each item before guests arrive. Provide house rules if they pertain to any specific objects to avoid damages. It’s also a good idea to have a security deposit in place and to make sure guests understand your policies regarding damage.
Another common horror story is theft. This can include guests stealing items from the property or hosts discovering that guests have stolen items from their own homes. One Airbnb host had a guest who stole items from the property, including jewelry, electronics, and even the host’s personal identification documents.
To avoid this, it’s important to take precautions such as installing security cameras, having a lock box for valuables, and ensuring guests understand your policies regarding theft.
Some horror stories involve guests engaging in criminal activity while staying in Airbnb properties. This can include drug cultivation, voyeurism, and even murder. One Airbnb guest turned out to be a high-profile escort who had been using the property with their clients.
To minimize the risk of this happening, it’s important to conduct background checks on guests, to be aware of any red flags, and to report any suspicious behavior to Airbnb immediately.
Unfortunately, some guests or even hosts post false reviews or scams to manipulate the reputation of the property or the host. One bad review can feel like it totally overshadows many great reviews, so this is unfortunately quite a powerful tactic.
To avoid this, it’s important to respond professionally to any negative reviews and to report any suspicious or false reviews to Airbnb. As an Airbnb host, you always want to maintain a professional reputation and hope for an honest review.
It’s important to keep in mind that these incidents are relatively rare and not the norm. However, it’s still important for property owners to be aware of the potential risks and to take steps to protect themselves and their property. This includes conducting background checks on guests, having a thorough inventory of the property, having a security deposit in place, and being aware of any red flags or suspicious behavior. And always report any issues to Airbnb.
As an Airbnb guest, the last thing on your mind during your stay should be all the potential mishaps. Ideally, you should stick to the house rules and everything will be fine. However, there are always exceptions, and that one host who raises an eyebrow.
Bad experiences with hosts have ranged from simply a disgusting smell somewhere on the property to guests claiming to have actually been sexually assaulted. The spectrum for bad Airbnb bookings is varied, but do try and remember that they are everything but the norm.
Below we’ve listed a few of the worst Airbnb experiences reported on in the media in the last 10 years. While some of them simply justify a nasty review, others called Airbnb directly or involved the fire department and law enforcement.
The cameras were hidden behind candles on a shelf and the host had been recording the guests as they walked around without clothes and had private conversations about finances and their relationship.
The body had been buried in a shallow grave and was discovered by the family while they were outside. The host was arrested and charged with murder.
The couple heard noises coming from the basement and found the host living there without their knowledge.
The notes were found in different rooms of the house and were written in a way that made the woman feel unsafe. The host was arrested and charged with harassment.
The cameras were hidden in the living room, bedroom, and bathroom. The host was arrested and charged with voyeurism.
The woman found a large number of marijuana plants growing in the basement and notified the police. The host was arrested and charged with drug cultivation and possession.
The man found a camera hidden in the living room and notified the police.
The family returned to the rental property to find that several items were missing from their bags and purses. The host was arrested and charged with theft.
The woman found that the host had been living in the property while it was being rented out to her and had left behind personal belongings.
The friends returned to the rental property to find that the host had been living there without their knowledge and had changed the locks.
As an Airbnb host or property manager, it’s understandable that you would want to do everything in your power to protect your Airbnb apartment or the whole house, but you cannot do so at the expense of your guests’ safety or privacy.
The basics would be to cordon off the private from the common spaces and monitor only those with surveillance cameras. Indoor surveillance is often unnecessary and isn’t allowed without disclosing it to the guests. Any kind of security camera needs to be made clear in the listing. Have a bedroom door that can lock in the event of an emergency. And if there are any safety concerns whatsoever, deal with them before guests book the property.
It’s a bad idea to not have any house rules. These are complete strangers who are unfamiliar with your space and a short list of rules to keep things running smoothly should accompany all Airbnb bookings. You do not want a negative review that can turn your rental into one of the worst Airbnb experiences out there and constitutes a full refund.
While the horror stories are commonly the ones that take center stage, there are many positive and wholesome stories from Airbnb guests. Some people have had wonderful experiences using the platform, with hosts going above and beyond to make their stay enjoyable. Some examples include:
Guests who travel alone often share stories of being welcomed by an Airbnb host who showed them around the city, gave them recommendations, and even cooked a traditional meal for them.
Another Airbnb host went out of their way to make sure the children of the family staying property were comfortable and entertained, providing games, books, and even a small pool to play in.
There have been instances of guests traveling for work who had a host who was able to provide a quiet and comfortable workspace and even gave them a ride to their meetings.
A guest who was traveling for a special occasion, like a honeymoon or anniversary, had a host who went out of their way to make it special, for example preparing a romantic dinner, decorating the room with rose petals, or even arranging a surprise trip.
Another guest who was traveling to a foreign country and didn’t speak the language had a host who went out of their way to help them navigate the city, translate for them and make them feel comfortable.
So all isn’t lost. This should stop you from not using Airbnb anymore. Every Airbnb booked isn’t going to lead to a bad review, but if anything feels off upon arrival and you have genuine safety concerns, you wouldn’t be in the wrong to check out and contact Airbnb customer service.
While these horror stories are concerning, it’s important to remember that they are relatively rare and not the norm. By taking steps to protect yourself and your property, you can minimize the risk of having a negative experience and increase the chances of having a positive one.
By following the tips provided in this blog post—especially providing clear house rules—you can be prepared for any potential issues and ensure that your guests have a safe and enjoyable experience. And remember that Airbnb is a platform that connects people from all over the world and it is important to have a sense of openness and curiosity to experience the diversity of cultures and ways of living.
If you need an extra hand running your Airbnb business, you might want to look into automation, especially when it comes to your review process. With software like iGMS, you can build templates for reviews, remind you about how many days you have left to leave a review, and notify you when a guest has written a review.
In addition to automating the review process, iGMS can help you:
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