My family and I booked a week in a £2,000 Airbnb cottage for my mum’s 70th birthday. We found the property dirty, and without the advertised wifi. We tried to contact the host but got no reply.
On the fourth day of our stay, a letter arrived from a company claiming that it, rather than our “host”, owned the cottage. The following day, a woman arrived and demanded more money to continue our break. She told us we were there unlawfully as the original “host” was subletting to us without permission, and threatened to call the police if we didn’t leave.
Airbnb offered to refund the unused two nights and promised to escalate our request for a full refund for the ruined week once we’d left. So far, we’re out of pocket.
Illegal subletting on Airbnb is a growing problem, according to housing law specialist Landlord Action. “It does not ask hosts if they are the owner, or have the landlord’s permission to let, and they won’t change their process to include that,” says founder Paul Shamplina.
Airbnb told the Observer it takes “appropriate action” against those found to be letting illegally.
Your illegal “host” would have pocketed your money by the time Airbnb requested the refund, as funds are remitted 24 hours after a guest checks in. You would have fared better taking photos and contacting Airbnb directly. Its AirCover protection guarantees alternative accommodation, or a full refund, provided guests report valid problems, with supporting evidence, to the host and Airbnb within 72 hours of discovering them.
Airbnb says: “We were disappointed to learn about this experience, and have provided a full refund, as well as an additional coupon as a gesture of goodwill.”
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