San Diego

Airbnb Host Fights for Refunds After Guests Thrash Condo

A San Diego Airbnb host is receiving financial assistance from the company after his guests severely damaged his home twice within a five-week span.

The most recent damage was the weekend of April 12-14, according to the host.

He asked not to be identified to protect himself, his neighbors and the security guard from further harassment from the guests who stayed at his condo.

He’s been renting out his entire condo for the last two years to different Airbnb guests but the last guest, he said, left his home in shambles

“I felt extremely violated,” he said. “It was an overwhelming smell of smoke, cigarettes, marijuana, and the trash cans were full of alcohol and tobacco rolling papers.”

His neighbors yelled at him and said his renter had dozens of young guests, and complained that his guests were skateboarding all over the property and cursing at them and the security guard.

“They said they could see them jumping on their skateboards inside my condo through the windows,” the host said. He suspects the indoor skating is what left his condo with significant floor damage.

“It is sunken in here, you can feel where it sinks, and you can hear he floor crumbling where they must have jumped,” he said.

The host’s bills for the carpet and sub-flooring are nearly $10,000, but the cost of smoke damage restoration and new paint is more than $27,000. He said they stole his four watches from his bedroom closet, totaling another $5,000. He also was sent seven fines from his HOA, which came to hundreds of more dollars.

He said the first time he had property damage from a guest was five weeks earlier. He said when that happened the only way he got ahold of Airbnb was after sending the company emails for days. The vacation rental company didn’t respond until local news media started asking questions and putting the pressure on.

Unfortunately for the host, it took the same amount of effort to get a response the second time his condo was damaged. He showed NBC 7 al the emails he has sent to Airbnb explaining the situation and sent the comapny documented receipts from each cleaning and restoration company. He also included his HOA’s complaints to further legitimize his situation.

NBC 7 contacted Airbnb the morning of Tuesday, April 23. By the afternoon Airbnb had not only returned NBC 7’s calls but also emailed the host back and said they would pay his HOA fines and what it costs to cancel an upcoming reservation he had. They did not say they would pay for his cleaning or restoration bills, however they did say they would send three of their own adjuster to assess the damage.

The host said he would have canceled that second guest’s reservation because he saw several warning signs about her. For example, he thought her account looked like the previous guest who booked his place the month before in March, even though it said it was a verified account. Police told him the people who damaged his place the first time were gang-related guests. She also used a new account that did not show any prior rental history. And she says when he met her and gave her a tour, he saw there was a man in her car laying down as if he was hiding and said he wouldn’t come out to meet him.

However, the host says he couldn’t cancel the reservation because, per Airbnb’s host policy, hosts are penalized for cancelling without extenuating circumstance that can be detailed and explained thereafter.

“Even if you decided something is really wrong, or really shady, or something doesn’t look right, or they are acting suspicious, you can’t cancel them or you will be penalized by Airbnb. They don’t care what the reason is,” the host said.

An Airbnb spokesperson also sent NBC 7 this statement:

“We are fully supporting (the host) under our $1 Million Host Guarantee program and that support should have happened sooner. We’ve apologized to (the host) that in this instance our customer service fell below our standards. We have also removed this guest from our community.”

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