I have been using Airbnb regularly as guest and host for three years. However, when a recent guest damaged my flat I found there is absolutely no customer service from the company. Over the weeks since I raised a complaint I have been promised responses that never came and each time I message on its system my case is automatically closed. The guest had booked the flat, which is profiled as no-smoking, no parties and no extra guests, for herself, her daughter and two friends for a Christmas shopping weekend.
I returned to an overpowering smell of cannabis as though dozens of people had been smoking. The flat was filthy. My towels had been used to wipe muddy floors and smelled of booze. Wineglasses were broken or missing, wine stained the floorboards, the vacuum cleaner was broken and stank of cannabis and there was some stuck to a chair cushion. A neighbour said a number of young people had been coming and going over the two days.
Airbnb claimed it could not contact the guest as she’d closed her profile. If it doesn’t provide the host with compensation and enforce a fine, where is my security as a host?
Satisfying as it would be to fine delinquent guests, private companies do not have the power to do so.
However, the host guarantee promises cover for up to $1m for damage to property, although there are a raft of exclusions including that caused by pets or guests who overstay, excessive use of utilities and damage to communal areas.
Beware, though. This is not an insurance policy. Indeed, renting your room without informing your insurer could invalidate your policy and, if you do inform them, it’s likely your premium will rise or the insurer will refuse to cover the risk.
None of that excuses Airbnb’s silence when you sent the evidence.
When the Observer wades in it says: “We apologise for our delay in supporting this host and are reaching out to make things right.”
That translates as £300. You are asking for £789 to reflect the extra cleaning, the extra guests and compensation because the flat could not be let until you had rectified the damage. But the guarantee only includes physical loss and damage.
If you let your flat regularly you should consider getting a comprehensive insurance cover from a specialised broker to fill in the many gaps of the free guarantee.
If you need help email Anna Tims at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Your Problems, The Observer, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Include an address and phone number. Submission and publication are subject to our terms and conditions