Airbnb nightmare and refusal to refund after host served an eviction notice

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Aug 5, 2019
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#1
Looking for help or insight on our current predicament. Thanks in advance.

We booked an Airbnb for a 30 day stay. We are a family of 2 adults, an infant, a 3 year old, a dog, and a cat. It was difficult to find a place that met our criteria of allowing pets, and particularly for that duration of stay, and on short notice. The place had 5 reviews at the time of our booking, none of which indicated any particular issue with the unit.

When we checked in, we found the 2 bedroom apartment unit to be in satisfactory condition but certainly not excellent (carpets were filthy, towel bar was hanging off the wall, several lights weren't working, and the AC didn't work). We messaged the host to see if he could address any of these issues. Our first tip off that something might be awry is when we were told "never go to the leasing office or have any direct communication with management. Adding to that same sense was when he showed up in person to try to fix the issues. Needless to say he is not a handyman or part of the apartment maintenance team and was therefore unable to address any of the problems other than the towel bar. He indicated that he would be filling out a maintenance request with the leasing office but that we should vacate the premises prior to their arrival and if encountering any of the management team, to let them know we are staying with him. This obviously made us question whether the unit was allowed to be placed on Airbnb in the first place but oh well. A maintenance guy came a day or two later and asked a bunch of questions about the AC to which my wife responded that she doesn't know much history about it because we had only been there a couple of days. He acted surprised by her comments but did not question it further.

Fast forward to 7 days into our 30 day booking and we arrive back at the unit to find an eviction notice on the door posted by management and indicating that the rent was past due. At this point we contacted both the host and Airbnb. We asked the host point blank via Airbnb messaging whether the unit was a legal Airbnb and he replied by saying that it is not but that he thought it was when we booked it. While this may have been believable, we happened to pull up the listing again and noticed a new, more recent 6th review had just been written by the guest staying immediately prior to arrival which was entitled "WORST AIRBNB EXPERIENCE EVER". She went into detail outlining how the management team at the complex had followed her to the unit and escorted her off the premises in explaining to her that she was renting an illegal unit. So, clearly, both the host and Airbnb had knowledge of it being an illegal unit prior to us ever walking in the door but neither party ever contacted us to let us know or offer a refund. Now, to make matters more dire, we find out he is late on his rent and the leasing office will be changing the locks on the unit in 3 days. In a panic, we frantically searched for other suitable Airbnb units to accommodate us for the remainder of our 3 week stay but on short notice, none were to be found. We ended up booking on short notice a non refundable Marriott Residence Inn as we have pets and small children that require a separate room. This cost us MORE than our original Airbnb stay. The host then messaged us and told us the rent had been paid and not to worry. He did not of course address the fact that if we chose to stay, management would escort us off the premises anyhow. He also offered as an alternative, a prorated refund which of course would not even cover the costs of us moving to a hotel. We insisted on a full refund on the basis of his blatant violation of Airbnb rules and regulations and both his and Airbnb's foreknowledge of its illegal status prior to our arrival. Airbnb refused to offer us anything other than the prorated amount back for the 9 of 30 days that we stayed there. No full refund nor any compensation of any kind despite the additional costs incurred, not to mention the HOURS of time day and night speaking to multiple different unhelpful Airbnb case coordinators. It is honestly hard to fathom that this is an acceptable business practice of any kind - not from the standpoint of customer satisfaction, nor from the standpoint of what is legal or fair. It appears that our complaints and appeals have fallen on deaf ears despite the obviously extenuating series of events that took place. Any suggestions or comments in how we might approach this? Thanks.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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17,000
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New York
www.promalvacations.com
#2
Did you contact Airbnb when this happened and ask them to find another place for you? You need to contact them while you are there and let them find another place.

Airbnb is merely a glorified classified ad and are not in the business of being service oriented. They try to deflect everything to making you deal with the owner.

Their guest refund policy tells you that you must contact them during your stay:

https://www.airbnb.com/help/article/544/what-is-airbnbs-guest-refund-policy-for-homes
 
Aug 5, 2019
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#3
Thanks for your reply. Yes. Unfortunately there were no Airbnb’s available that would match with our dates and that would accept pets within the same general vicinity.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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#4
You indeed probably encountered an illegal rental. I'm so sorry. I hope that ABB will do something for you. Use our Company Contacts and ask for some compensation. This kind of thing is happening more and more. The concept is sound, but the scammers get involved looking for a quick buck and that's probably what you encountered. Wish we could be more help. An awful experience for your whole family, that's for sure.
 

Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
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#6
Airbnb is quite arrogant about these things - they consistently allow illegal rentals on their site. Look at NYC- unless the landlord lives on site, short term rentals are illegal. Airbnb knows this and still allows them to be listed.
Same in Portland OR.
 
Aug 5, 2019
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#7
Thanks for the replies. In my case, I was uncomfortable with it being an illegal rental but what was more unnerving was the fact that the host was past due on his rent and served with a 3 day notice.
 

mmb

Verified Member
Jan 20, 2015
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#9
Airbnb is quite arrogant about these things - they consistently allow illegal rentals on their site. Look at NYC- unless the landlord lives on site, short term rentals are illegal. Airbnb knows this and still allows them to be listed.
Just found out this is true in Denver also. City is going after the owners.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
18,799
17,000
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#10
Airbnb’s refund policy is if they can’t find another accommodation for you, they will provide a refund. Unfortunately I don’t see them reimbursing for the other hotel but the OP has nothing to lose by going up the chain and asking.

Here are our contacts;

https://www.elliott.org/company-contacts/airbnb/

Write to the contacts via email (not postal) one at a time starting at Customer Service the way we advise in this post:

https://forum.elliott.org/threads/resolving-consumer-complaints-and-developing-a-paper-trail.8903/

If, after going up the entire executive chain, you don’t find an executive that will make an exception, you may want to consult an attorney to see if you have any options of suing Airbnb.

One thing I would do is call the County Clerks office in the town you stayed in to find out if short terms rentals are allowed. If they are not you can report the illegal rental.

I would also contact the management company and ensure they know this person is renting out the place.
 

Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
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#11
As an owner of apartment buildings, we specifically inform our tenants that Airbnb are not allowed. Guess what? They do it anyway. We have caught a couple of tenants by checking the website periodically. It is time-consuming and a PIA. Our City does not allow short term rentals of this sort unless the owner is also occupying the property (ie. a room can legally be rented as long as the owner of the property is living there). Airbnb is doing nothing to solve the problem and even makes it worse because they won't show the exact location of the rental on their site. I am very familiar with the interiors of our apartments so I can catch them that way. One time I observed someone who didn't have a key to the building, waiting for someone to leave or enter so I followed them to the apartment. Sure enough, it was listed on Airbnb.
 
Feb 3, 2017
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#12
Cities worldwide are working on or have passed legislation making many (in some cases, most) vacation rentals illegal.

It is really important to check a city/state's laws on this issue prior to renting -

People here in NYC are more frequently now reporting transients in our buildings to both landlords and to the city and visitors are being kicked out and left to scramble at the last minute for accommodations. Long time lease holders are losing their apartments because they are violating the law by renting out their apartments like this - the consequences are significant and airbnb and other vacation rental listing websites really don't care - it is about the money, nothing more.
 
Aug 5, 2019
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#13
Yes. I had no idea as to how pervasive this problem has become. But, the incentive for owners to “chance it” are compelling. This particular owner apparently pays $1100/ month in rent and charged us $6500.

I wish a hotel would have been a comparable option for us but even the long term hotels don’t provide the same space or conveniences for families that Airbnb options do
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
18,799
17,000
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#14
As an owner of apartment buildings, we specifically inform our tenants that Airbnb are not allowed. Guess what? They do it anyway. We have caught a couple of tenants by checking the website periodically. It is time-consuming and a PIA. Our City does not allow short term rentals of this sort unless the owner is also occupying the property (ie. a room can legally be rented as long as the owner of the property is living there). Airbnb is doing nothing to solve the problem and even makes it worse because they won't show the exact location of the rental on their site. I am very familiar with the interiors of our apartments so I can catch them that way. One time I observed someone who didn't have a key to the building, waiting for someone to leave or enter so I followed them to the apartment. Sure enough, it was listed on Airbnb.
And isn’t there anything you can do about it? That must be very frustrating.
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
18,799
17,000
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#15
Yes. I had no idea as to how pervasive this problem has become. But, the incentive for owners to “chance it” are compelling. This particular owner apparently pays $1100/ month in rent and charged us $6500.

I wish a hotel would have been a comparable option for us but even the long term hotels don’t provide the same space or conveniences for families that Airbnb options do
Keep that in mind in the future if you ever use Airbnb again. This was a really expense long rental and there isn’t much you can do - you are out all that money.

Would it have been less expensive to board the pets then pay those prices?
 

Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
1,369
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#16
And isn’t there anything you can do about it? That must be very frustrating.
Just be vigilant. We document the listing (once it disappears we don’t have proof) then inform the tenant they have to stop the behavior. If they do it again within 6 months, they get evicted. It really ticks me off because they have no skin in the game...there is no screening criteria for short term renters. The tenant isn’t liable if their ‘renter’ poses a risk to the other tenants or building, but you can bet we would be. Not to mention, the more we invest in the property through improvements, the more they can charge but we can’t since the rent amount of fixed and Oregon now has the first state wide rent control. Airbnb is just a fancy looking cash taker. They do nothing for either the host or renter if things go wrong. They give the middle finger to every city they do business in. In essence, they are a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
 
Dec 17, 2018
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#17
Just be vigilant. We document the listing (once it disappears we don’t have proof) then inform the tenant they have to stop the behavior. If they do it again within 6 months, they get evicted. It really ticks me off because they have no skin in the game...there is no screening criteria for short term renters. The tenant isn’t liable if their ‘renter’ poses a risk to the other tenants or building, but you can bet we would be. Not to mention, the more we invest in the property through improvements, the more they can charge but we can’t since the rent amount of fixed and Oregon now has the first state wide rent control. Airbnb is just a fancy looking cash taker. They do nothing for either the host or renter if things go wrong. They give the middle finger to every city they do business in. In essence, they are a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
If it helps at all, I think a renter absolutely COULD be on the hook for damage caused by an Airbnb renter. If the tenant know it's not allowed, does it anyway, and if you've told them "this is why it's not allowed" then they are on notice that something bad could happen to another person or the property. Then it's a negligence issue. Possibly even into reckless territory depending on the situation. Don't let them off the hook that easily. I'd talk to your attorneys and see if they agree.
 

Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
1,369
2,303
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#18
If it helps at all, I think a renter absolutely COULD be on the hook for damage caused by an Airbnb renter. If the tenant know it's not allowed, does it anyway, and if you've told them "this is why it's not allowed" then they are on notice that something bad could happen to another person or the property. Then it's a negligence issue. Possibly even into reckless territory depending on the situation. Don't let them off the hook that easily. I'd talk to your attorneys and see if they agree.
Yes, very true. I guess what I was inferring is, in the case of something nefarious happens to another resident of the building, most people go after the deepest pockets which tends to be the landlord and not a tenant. But, absolutely, if the unit is damaged, the tenant on the lease would be held accountable for damages and they can/would be taken to small claims if necessary.
 
Apr 8, 2019
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#19
We live in an HOA and there is a restriction that no short term leases are allowed. The HOA can fine the homeowner and even put a lien on the property for violating the covenants.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
8,397
8,503
113
San Francisco
#20
I'm glad to know that some entities are taking action while waiting for the "government" to do something. We are in an age of "internet access = cheaper". Travellers are out for "cheaper" so they're willing to take a risk. Good grief, we see posts from people who want a refund from Priceline! Cheap rules. I don't think that any savings could possibly be equal to the trauma of a family with pets out on the street with no place to go. There are other solutions, they're just not "cheap".