I've been traveling on Airbnb for about 8 years, maybe longer. Airbnb Problems with my hosts haven't been so much of an issue. This is partly because I've gotten really good on how to choose an Airbnb rental, but also because I take certain precautions so that if Airbnb Problems do arise, I am covered. Today, I'll walk you through everything I do to prevent Airbnb Problems, and what you need to do in case something comes up. Before we discuss what to do if you have a Airbnb problems you need to know there are two cardinal rules you must always follow:
- Always communicate via the Airbnb platform
- NEVER (EVER EVER EVER) exchange money outside the platform
What to Do If you Have Airbnb Problems
Preventing Airbnb Problems Before Arrival
Assuming you followed my guide on choosing an Airbnb rental, you're already miles ahead. The best way to not have to worry is to prevent issues, so we'll discuss that first. As soon as your booking is confirmed you'll need to contact the host. Not all hosts are created equal, so if he/she does not contact you immediately, you need to reach out to them and begin the process. These are the things you need to discuss with your Airbnb host:
- How will check-in be handled. Will you meet the host or one of his/her agents
- Are there any specific things you need to know (don't talk to neighbors, the doorknob to the kitchen falls down, etc)
- What is the best way to reach them in case of emergency
- What is the wifi code
- On directions, are there landmarks that will help you locate the house? What does the facade look like?
- How do you throw out the garbage/recycling
Once you get the answers, take a screenshot on your phone and add these to a favorites folder. This way, if something happens to your internet connection, you always have an easy way to access this information. This should prevent a good number of Airbnb Problems, but let's go through a few things that could happen that could be issues before your arrival:
1. Your Host Messages You Asking You to Cancel
You're so excited about your trip. All of the sudden, you get a note your host messages you asking you to handle. They give you a sob story about how they will get a fee from Airbnb if they cancel. First DO NOT CANCEL THE RESERVATION. If you cancel, you could lose some or all of the money you've already paid depending on which Airbnb cancellation policy the host chose. If they are pushing you to cancel but won't do it themselves, get Airbnb involved immediately. As I mentioned, you could lose all your money, so under no circumstances are you to cancel yourself.
2. Your Host Wants You to Change Dates
Same as above, if the host messages you asking to change dates and you're ok with it. Ask them to put in a request for date modification. If the date changes are not something you want, then you need to contact Airbnb and get them involved again. You booked the dates, they belong to you.
3. You Need to Change Your Dates
This one is easy, go to "Your Trips" then click "change or cancel" under the reservation that needs to be changed. There may be fees attached to this, so make sure to check these out before you go through with the reservation modification.
4. Your Host Has Not Responded
We get these unresponsive hosts from time to time. Usually, if they have a 4.5-5 star rating, it won't be an issue (you should not rent from a host with 4 stars or less - ever). However, if it is getting closer to your trip and you have yet to hear from the host, you need to take action. Send one more message to your host letting them know that you're getting closer to your stay and you want to coordinate everything. Then, contact Airbnb to let them know that you've not been able to reach your host and that you're getting concerned. It is so important to have Airbnb in the loop for anything like this. Ask Airbnb for advice on how you should proceed. They will then tell you exactly what you need to do and will most likely offer to contact your host and make sure your reservation is still on.
Airbnb Problems That Can Happen Upon Arrival
Take a Video of the Apartment:
The first thing you are going to do is grab your smart phone and make a video of the apartment you are renting. You want to have proof of the condition it was received in. Anything that looks odd, you need to document on film. As soon as you're done with the video, upload it to YouTube (as unlisted). This will guarantee that you have a time stamp in case Airbnb Problems arise at check out.
If you see anything weird upon arrival (say a scratch on an expensive looking marble table) note the host so that you have documentation that this was not caused by your stay.
If the Airbnb is not What You Expected
If you arrive and the apartment is not as advertised, you have 24 hours to tell Airbnb and ask for a refund and get help with finding a new flat. What is "not as advertised"? Say for example that you booked an entire place, but you get there and you get only a bedroom. Or, that you booked a two bedroom, but you get a one bedroom instead. Or maybe you are there and it promised air conditioning, but there is none. These are all not as advertised. Keep in mind, that since it is last minute, you may not get a place as large as the original or as cheap. Airbnb will usually cover the same amount you paid, but if you can't find anything at that cost, you may have to put money out of pocket. In this case you need to
- take pictures & video to document the issue
- check the refund policy
- email your host to give them a chance to take care of things
- immediately message Airbnb so that they're in the loop & can help
Airbnb Problems During Your Stay (24 hours after your arrival)
Something breaks or stops working
Airbnb's are not hotels (the good ones rarely look like hotels or Ikea specials). Because Airbnb rentals aren't hotels, but people's homes, sometimes issues will arise. These can be as tiny as the electricity going out for a few minutes, or the washing machine breaking, to something as catastrophic as a flood (rarely happens, but happened to me once). If anything weird happens during your stay, the first thing you need to do is contact your host via the Airbnb platform. You don't want to call them, you don't want to email them, you don't want to whatsapp them. If you do this, you will complicate your life. Keep all your communications on the Airbnb platform so that if a situation gets complicated, your Airbnb case worker will be able to follow the entire conversation all the way through. Then, contact Airbnb help so that they are in the loop.
You have a problem with someone
If you are having problems with the host or another guest (in the case of a shared listing), most of the time you're out of luck. The best recourse here is to calmly communicate with the person in question. However, if you feel threatened or at danger, the best thing to do is get local police involved, but always communicate with Airbnb so they have documentation of any issue going on. Communication is key here.
You think your Airbnb may be illegal
This is a very grey area. Many cities like NYC, Paris, and San Francisco have strict rules or have outlawed Airbnb. Sometimes the laws are murky. The good news is that Airbnb won't penalize you if you're at your Airbnb rental and you get kicked out by the city or building because your host was bending/breaking the rules. The bad news is that you may have to shell out a large amount of money to find a last minute replacement (either via Airbnb or Hotel). If you don't want to go through this at all, check Google before you pick an Airbnb in the city. If you still decide to book, feel free to be open and honest with your host. Ask them if there are any precautions you should take, for example not talk to neighbors, say you're a cousin/friend if someone asks. If something should happen, contact Airbnb immediately. Let them know the situation and ask them for help. They are very concerned about their reputation, so if worse comes to worse, they will help you to find a place to stay (and maybe even put in for the difference). It would not hurt to have money slated just in case.
Always be calm, keep profanities out of the conversation, and keep extras to a minimum (stick to the facts). You will make your case worker's life a lot easier and things will run smoothly.
You Lose Your Key
This one is a bit sneaky, but I ask my hosts for two pairs of keys (one for me and one for Antonio). If I do not get two sets, I usually make a copy, that way one of us always has a spare. Just make sure to give it to your host when you leave. So far, all hosts have been thankful for the spare set.
How to Contact Airbnb About Airbnb Problems
The Airbnb resolution center: this is your place to go if something has happened and it is after 24 hours of your check in. This is where you would request money from your host. When would you use this? Say your host is out of the country and the bathroom breaks. You pay for it out of pocket and need to be reimbursed by your host. This would be an appropriate situation for this usage.
Twitter: If for some reason, Airbnb does not get back to you in a speedy manner, Twitter is your next best bet. You need to reach out to @Airbnbhelp, not the regular @airbnb account. They've always gotten back to me within 30 minutes max.
Airbnb Support Phone Numbers
(Last updated 2/1/17)
When you call Airbnb, you need to have the phone number that is associated with your account ready.
AirBnB 24/7 US Phones
US toll free: +1-855-424-7262
US local: +1-415-800-5959
International Airbnb Support Phones
Argentina +54 11 53 52 78 88
Australia +61 2 8520 3333
Austria +43 (0) 72 08 83 800
Brazil +55 21 3958-5800
China +86 10 5904 5310 / 400 889 7054
Denmark +45 89 88 20 00
France +33 (0)1 84 88 40 00
Germany +49 030 30 80 83 80
Greece +30 211 1989888
Hong Kong +852 5808 8888
India +000 800 440 5103
Ireland +353 16 97 1831
Israel +972 3 939 9977
Japan +81 800 100 1008
Malaysia +603 7724 0164 / + 1800 889 814
Mexico +52 55 41 70 43 33
Netherlands +31 (0) 20 52 22 333
New Zealand +64 4 4880 888
Norway +47 21 61 16 88
Poland +48 22 30 72 000
Portugal +351 30 880 3888
Puerto Rico: + 17879190880
Russia +7 495 4658090
Singapore +65 6622 7306 / + 1800 723 1238
South Korea +82 808 220 230
Spain +34 91 123 45 67
Sweden +46 844 68 12 34
Switzerland +41 (0) 43 50 84 900
UK +44 203 318 1111
I hope you find this list on what to do if you have Airbnb Problems helpful. If you have questions about Airbnb, leave a comment. If you haven't yet used airbnb, feel free to use my Airbnb discount code. I'm looking forward to meeting you. Happy Travels.