NYPD Helps after Airbnb host scams me

  • Hi Guest, welcome to the help forum. You can get fast answers to your customer service questions here. We have a dedicated team of advocates who are ready to help. Just go to the section that matches your question and ask us!
  • If you've posted a question or issue for our advocates to assist with, please be sure to check back frequently for responses and requests for clarification.
  • Did you know you can get email notifications when something new posts to your favorite forum? It's easy. Just click the "watch" link right next to the "post new thread" button at the top of your favorite forum. The rest is easy. Now you'll never miss another conversation.
  • Want to become an expert user? Drop by the How to use this forum section and all will be revealed. We'll show you how to make the most of your experience.
Mar 12, 2019
11
5
3
48
#1
NYPD Helps after Airbnb host scams me

I booked a two-night stay through Airbnb website at a property listed on their official site. The money for the accommodations was paid to Airbnb. In fact, I communicated with the host at my arrival time and who would let me into the property through Airbnb inbox messaging.

Imagine my surprise when I arrived at the location and discovered it didn’t exist as I watched my Uber driver pull away.

There I stood confused in freezing weather. I immediately called Airbnb. After speaking to upwards of 10 customer service agents and what they call case managers; I had what I’ll call a mini breakdown. The freezing temperatures couple with my diabetes left me in a state of confusion. My fingers and toes became numb and I felt as if I would pass out. I called the New York Police department.

Long story short the NYPD helped me find a hotel and I caught an Uber there.

While Airbnb did refund my money, they are responsible for my emotional and physical distress, ruined vacation. I spent the first night in a hotel with swollen and itchy legs.

After repeatedly calling Airbnb and also contacting the site on their social media pages. Here is the response they finally sent:

Hosts alone are responsible for their Listings and Host Services. When Members make or accept a booking, they are entering into a contract directly with each other.


While I thank Airbnb for apologizing and also refunding my money; if I had known I’d entered into a contract with the hosts I would have not booked through their site. I look at Airbnb as a co-signer. They are the site I trust (scratch that, they are the site I trusted) so I booked through them and would never book through someone directly. They co-signed and they should wrong this right.

Do you agree? Why or why not?
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
16,150
14,741
113
New York
www.promalvacations.com
#2
It’s illegal in NYC period to rent using Airbnb less than 30 days. Airbnb knows this but continues to allow these listings. Yes Airbnb is responsible but they are that arrogant that they just flaunt it and don’t stop and even NYC has been unable to stop it in court.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
May 16, 2018
76
39
18
55
#3
Wow. I had no idea. I had toyed with the idea of AirBnB for my last trip to NYC and decided against it since the trip was too important and I had no wiggle room for shenanigans. Before I decided, however, I had actually viewed pages and pages of AirBnB NYC properties to rent for a single night. There was absolutely no warning that it was illegal.

It was AirBnB's job to know that the property was being rented illegally.

AirBnB is totally responsible, and if I were in your shoes, I'd want to take them to small claims court.

They broke the law knowingly and deliberately, and so the outcome was foreseeable and preventable. I hope you sue them.
 
Sep 19, 2015
3,834
5,038
113
48
#4
I am sorry you were scammed.

The majority of air bnb listings are illegal -- the exceptions are if an owner is present -- such as renting a room in an apartment -- or if the building is not classified as Class A under the multiple dwelling law -- which is 3 or more units. So a person with a brownstone that has one only 2 residences can rent out one through air bnb.

There are a few old SRO buildings which because of their mixed use zoning laws do allow transient residents and air bnb.

One has to think of Air BnB as the classified ads -- there is no way to verify the legitimacy of each one -- it truly is a case of buyer beware.
 
Sep 19, 2015
3,834
5,038
113
48
#5
It’s illegal in NYC period to rent using Airbnb less than 30 days. Airbnb knows this but continues to allow these listings. Yes Airbnb is responsible but they are that arrogant that they just flaunt it and don’t stop and even NYC has been unable to stop it in court.
Neil there are certain exceptions -- client owns a brownstone that they live in with one street level flat, so it is not a class A building under multiple dwelling law and not subject to the rules. Also I have had colleagues who have rented out a room and the "host" was there, which could have been awkward but was not. Now whether that was allowed by the building is another issue.

I would suspect that well over the majority of entire apartments air bnb listings are illegal.
 
Mar 12, 2019
11
5
3
48
#6
I would suspect that well over the majority of entire apartments air bnb listings are illegal. Wow, the majority of the listings illegal??? eye opening.
 
Sep 19, 2015
3,834
5,038
113
48
#7
I would suspect that well over the majority of entire apartments air bnb listings are illegal. Wow, the majority of the listings illegal??? eye opening.
There have been recent lawsuits against real estate brokers, condo owners, developers --- it has turned into big business:

The most recent lawsuit:

https://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-...0-million-illegal-short-term-rental-operation

These are all civil penalties, not criminal.

NYC housing and zoning laws are very complicated. In general, entire unit in a 3 or more units it is not legal unless someone has a permit for a hotel.
As I said there are some exceptions, one massive mixed use residential/commercial building that is not a class A because it allows SROs (Single Residency Occupancy transient units) -- it is midtown in the 30s --

What turns people away from hotels are all the ridiculous fees -- like resort fee, destination fee, and then NY adds on so many extra taxes, that the prices end up being ridiculous.
 
Sep 19, 2015
3,834
5,038
113
48
#8
I am glad that the NYP helped; there are a lot of great people on the force (as with every profession, there are bad ones) and I am so sorry this happened to you.
 
Mar 12, 2019
11
5
3
48
#9
I am glad that the NYP helped; there are a lot of great people on the force (as with every profession, there are bad ones) and I am so sorry this happened to you.
Thanks for your kind words. I felt bad needing their assistance since there are always more pressing issues. BTW, just read that article on illegal short term rentals and it's shocking. This sentence here stopped me in my tracks, " "As tens of thousands of New Yorkers sleep in homeless shelters, Metropolitan Property Group and related entities together reaped over $20 million by engineering thousands of illegal hotel stays in apartments that are supposed to be homes. " Wow...!
 
Sep 19, 2015
3,834
5,038
113
48
#10
Do not feel bad about contacting the NYPD; as someone who pays a fair amount of NYC taxes I want the NYPD to help people like you who have been scammed.

Take the press release about the homeless with a bit of a grain of salt -- ok an entire shaker. The city has been putting the homeless and many working poor into abysmal rentals run by slumlords with little oversight -- and this is the same city government that allowed a for profit company to buy a not for profit nursing home for low income patients, change the deed and zoning, toss out the people and sell the land to a developer. But I digress..

There are many other cities cracking down on air b n b so NYC is not alone.

There are also scam websites that pop up for rentals -- it is cheap to make a scam website and get someone's money. It is depressing but one has to be super vigilant.

NYC has had some very cold days and having reduced circulation from diabetes must have been awful.

I think people need to be aware of the limitations of the new models of business -- especially the sharing economy. Air B n B is just like a broker, they take no responsibility for making sure that a place is legitimate.
 
Nov 20, 2015
137
250
63
#11
When you asked AirBnB for compensation beyond what they already paid, how much did you request? I assume you asked to be reimbursed for the extra Uber ride and any excess money you had to spend on a hotel over the amount you expected to pay on the rental. I don't think they owe you anything beyond a refund, but I think it would be nice to offer you something to defray your extra expenses.
 
Likes: VoR61
Mar 12, 2019
11
5
3
48
#12
Do not feel bad about contacting the NYPD; as someone who pays a fair amount of NYC taxes I want the NYPD to help people like you who have been scammed.

Take the press release about the homeless with a bit of a grain of salt -- ok an entire shaker. The city has been putting the homeless and many working poor into abysmal rentals run by slumlords with little oversight -- and this is the same city government that allowed a for profit company to buy a not for profit nursing home for low income patients, change the deed and zoning, toss out the people and sell the land to a developer. But I digress..

There are many other cities cracking down on air b n b so NYC is not alone.

There are also scam websites that pop up for rentals -- it is cheap to make a scam website and get someone's money. It is depressing but one has to be super vigilant.

NYC has had some very cold days and having reduced circulation from diabetes must have been awful.

I think people need to be aware of the limitations of the new models of business -- especially the sharing economy. Air B n B is just like a broker, they take no responsibility for making sure that a place is legitimate.

Thanks Christina. The police were kind, but you could tell they were in a rush. Still, he helped me use my Google app to find a hotel and also to get an Uber. I was in emotion and physical distress and I couldn’t think how to do those things. Airbnb kept putting me on hold, stating they would call me back and then calling me back at the incorrect number.

Re: shortage in housing for residents, it’s the same thing in my state and I feel sorry for anyone w/o the basics. A home is the basics.
 
Mar 12, 2019
11
5
3
48
#13
When you asked AirBnB for compensation beyond what they already paid, how much did you request? I assume you asked to be reimbursed for the extra Uber ride and any excess money you had to spend on a hotel over the amount you expected to pay on the rental. I don't think they owe you anything beyond a refund, but I think it would be nice to offer you something to defray your extra expenses.
Of course they don't owe me. But I was in emotional and physical distress and what started out as a great week in New York, ended very badly.
 
Mar 12, 2019
11
5
3
48
#16
Did you post your experience on Airbnb’s Favebook or Twitter pages? Users that this happens to are the ones that need to get the word out. We already know about this here.
I posted this thread on Twitter. I didn't know about Airbnb Favebook and will go check it out now. So, far I've shared this site with others.
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
7,689
7,497
113
San Francisco
#17
I am delighted that you managed so well, FBK. What an awful experience, yet what a nice experience with the NYPD officers. My nephew is NYPD, and he will be happy to hear your story. I applaud you for being so clever to call them for help. I have a healthy distrust of all these kinds of alternative accommodations. The lack of continuity just screams "problem" to me, especially now that I know the entities that offer the listings just shrug their shoulders and refer customers to "the host". I'm much happier at the Hilton. My sister has been renting through VRBOHomeAway for years, with a couple of very minor problems, but I'm more comfortable with a hotel where I know what to expect. AND there is someone there who is interested in helping me if I need it. Please do post wherrever possible so others can begin to realize just how thin the ice is with these properties.
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Mar 12, 2019
11
5
3
48
#18
I am delighted that you managed so well, FBK. What an awful experience, yet what a nice experience with the NYPD officers. My nephew is NYPD, and he will be happy to hear your story. I applaud you for being so clever to call them for help. I have a healthy distrust of all these kinds of alternative accommodations. The lack of continuity just screams "problem" to me, especially now that I know the entities that offer the listings just shrug their shoulders and refer customers to "the host". I'm much happier at the Hilton. My sister has been renting through VRBOHomeAway for years, with a couple of very minor problems, but I'm more comfortable with a hotel where I know what to expect. AND there is someone there who is interested in helping me if I need it. Please do post wherrever possible so others can begin to realize just how thin the ice is with these properties.
Hello jsn55. Yes, let your nephew know that the NYPD helped and I'm thankful. I totally agree with you and after my experience I also feel comfortable at a hotel where as you said - one can know what to expect .
Regarding Airbnb you don't know what you'll get. Sorry to hear your sister has had stuff occur at VRBO, even if it's small things it can ruin a vacation. It's not that you won't encounter a snafu at a hotel, but again it's at least knowing that something can be fixed fairly quickly.
 
Feb 3, 2017
122
160
43
45
#19
This sort of illegal stuff with vacation rentals is not only about airbnb, they are just the most high-profile, vocal entity - but about all websites listing vacation rentals (VRBO, Homeaway, whatever)

Someone willing to break the law (the hosts) are not inclined to always follow all laws - even when a listing does exist - Some often do not have legally required safety features installed, they often ask their guests to lie to tenants of the building if asked and to say they are a relative of the host, etc -

This is not just the case here in NYC - cities all over are coping with this problem and many have passed legislation regulating, restricting or banning these rentals or are in the process of developing legislation to do so.

It's important to check the laws of any town/city on this issue prior to booking such a rental. It is a fluid situation for many cities and even though it has been on the books here in NYC for years, we have strengthened the law, increased penalties significantly, added new penalty categories, increased enforcement and have encouraged tenants in buildings where transients are discovered, to report the host.
 
Likes: Neil Maley
Mar 12, 2019
11
5
3
48
#20
Thanks for your input about Airbnbs and vacation rentals. It’s interesting you bring up safety features because the Airbnb I stayed at (prior to being scammed by the 2nd Airbnb host), didn’t have a fire escape ladder (older building) or any known safety features. I stayed on the second floor and I wondered how I’d get out in case of a fire.