'Is Airbnb safe?' is the first question that pops into your mind when looking for an Airbnb listing as a guest in a new city. Although the home-sharing company provides safety guidelines on its web platforms, thousands of customers experience safety concerns every day. In 2021, the Airbnb informed Bloomberg that it receives safety-related complaints from more than 190,000 guests yearly.
Fortunately, Airbnb often resolves some issues and refunds guests. However, most safety problems leave a terrible taste in the guests’ minds. To enjoy a stress-free vacation, you must perform your due diligence on an Airbnb home.
Airbnb offers up to 6 million rental units to users every day. As such, it is expected that the company may find it difficult to certify the safety and integrity of all those residences, flats, log cabins, and treehouses. Common safety complaints from most Airbnb guests include fake listings, losing money to Airbnb scammers, hidden cameras in a rental unit, and bed bug infestations. To deal with these concerns, consider using the following tips:
Every Airbnb host you speak to will probably tell you their neighborhood is safe. So, rather than rely on your host's opinion, do your own research, starting with the city's crime statistics. Generally, most local law enforcement agencies publish crime statistics on their official websites or report them to the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) platform. Checking an area’s crime statistics may also be important if the vacation rental unit seems too cheap.
It is also possible to find sexual predators around the Airbnb property using the National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW). You can use the Location Search to find sex offenders in a city or town.
Performing quick security checks involves inspecting the Airbnb property to ensure all necessary features are present. Check that all amenities listed are fully functional, including smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Do not hesitate to report issues like broken toilets, water leaks, unsafe furniture, and missing amenities to Airbnb customer support.
Even though Airbnb's policy prohibits hidden cameras without disclosure, there are many reports of hosts who install secret cameras to watch their guests. Some hosts may hide very tiny cameras in unassuming areas that are difficult to spot. When checking for unwanted cameras, here are some tips to follow:
Airbnb scams are becoming more common in the US as fraudsters devise new ways to trick travelers. According to a report by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the rate of online rental scams increased by 64% between 2020 and 2021.
Although there are many online vacation home scammers, their techniques are similar. In most cases, these fraudulent persons need your personal or bank details to carry out identity theft. At other times, they want you to send money to them directly via gift cards, cryptocurrency, or wire transfers. Here are two major Airbnb scams to watch out for when searching for a booking:
You should also be wary of hosts trying to convince you to interact outside the app or official website. For example, they may insert their email address over images or conceal it in the description. Always use Airbnb for communication and payment so you can request a refund if something goes wrong.
An Airbnb listing can have all the great amenities in a very secure neighborhood and still be unsafe to live in due to the host's poor hygiene practices. Cleanliness complaints may include pests, mildew, decaying food, and other unpleasant or hazardous living conditions. Always remember that cleanliness is very important and poor hygiene might be dangerous.
Once you notice any unsafe issue while checking out the apartment, take pictures that can serve as evidence to support your claim. If possible, take photos of the actual bugs, insect bites, and any bedding stains since they will reveal the presence of any insect infestation and the general condition of the mattress. Show the images to your host and notify Airbnb if you don't get any positive reply or action.
It is possible to sue Airbnb for health injuries sustained while lodged at the apartment. However, note that the company will only answer to charges if you did not know of the bed bug infestation problem before booking the rental unit. As such, it is important to always read the reviews and ratings before choosing a short-term rental property.
Reviews and ratings offer a lot of information about a listing. However, most guests hurry through the reviews without paying attention to details. For starters, consider only rental units with over 50 completed stays and ratings above 4.5. Nonetheless, remember that high ratings do not necessarily mean that the rental unit is 100% safe.
You can also use the Airbnb review filter to find specific customer reviews with certain keywords. For example, search for words like 'bad,' 'broken,' 'but,' 'dirty,' 'refund,' 'missing,' and 'unsafe.' Be mindful of recurring issues in the reviews and speak to the host if you find any. Consider looking for other hosts if the current one can't provide appropriate responses to the negative comments.
Alternatively, check out the profiles of Airbnb Superhosts. Superhosts earn their reputation by completing a minimum of 10 stays a year, maintaining a minimum response rate of 90%, and having an average rating of 4.8 stars without canceling bookings. However, this does not mean Superhosts are completely safe.
You can also look at the host’s reviews. Also, ensure that your host provides a government ID, telephone number, and email. With the help of a reverse phone search tool, you can find the host's details (location and name) using the telephone number provided on their profile. If the location and name do not match the one on the profile, you might be dealing with a scammer.
It is possible to find other issues with an Airbnb listing even after you have performed your due diligence. However, once you've taken the necessary safety steps before booking, handling disputes and getting a refund will be easy, thanks to Airbnb's refund policy. According to the policy, guests can qualify for a refund if:
Generally, guests are expected to resolve issues with their hosts by showing them valid evidence of their complaints. However, if the safety problems are not resolved within 24 hours, you should contact the Airbnb 24/7 customer support team. You can contact customer service via mail, online, or phone within 72 hours of discovering the safety issues.
Airbnb often processes all refunds through its free insurance program, AirCover. However, you can get more insurance protection from third-party providers to secure yourself and your valuables from external factors beyond your host's control.