business

Airbnb hosts are sick of Airbnb, too

6 Comments
By SAM KEMMIS

Disgruntled Airbnb guests are taking to Twitter and TikTok to vent about everything from cleaning fees to misleading listings. But they aren’t the only ones with complaints: Airbnb hosts themselves have become increasingly disillusioned with the platform and its disrespectful guests.

On message boards and Facebook groups, hosts are sharing their own challenges and horror stories. One host claimed that a group of guests was unwilling to leave the property despite receiving a full refund from Airbnb.

“I went to the apartment to check what was going on, and I was in shock to discover that the tenants were still in the apartment,” the host wrote on the website AirbnbHell. “They immediately called the police on me and I was kicked out of my own apartment by a team of the police — a complete shock.”

While these anecdotes might seem like the natural byproduct of the largely unregulated short-term rental industry, they speak to larger trends impacting hosts. A 2021 report from Bloomberg detailed how Airbnb’s secretive crisis team spends millions of dollars to cover up crimes and other publicity nightmares in its listings. And the platform recently launched “anti-party technology ” in an effort to defray hosts’ frustrations with large, destructive gatherings.

These issues raise the question: Is Airbnb itself the problem — or are the guests?

SILLY STRING AND FOUL ODORS

In May of this year, Airbnb launched a new “AirCover” protection plan for guests and hosts . It promises quick reimbursement for hosts and up to $1 million in damage protection. And while many hosts consider this policy generous, it still comes with plenty of gray areas.

Emily Muskin Rathner , a digital marketing professional living in Cleveland, began renting her house on Airbnb in August 2021. She says that hosting has been a pleasant and profitable enterprise overall, but a few guests have caused major problems, including a family that rented the house this June.

“They left the house a mess,” she says. “There was human feces on our laundry. They sprayed Silly String all over the place. I don’t care about Silly String, but can you pick it up? It left stains, oddly.”

Muskin Rathner received reimbursement from Airbnb for most of her claims. But some damage, such as nail polish smeared on the bathroom tile, didn’t qualify for reimbursement because she wasn’t able to provide documentation for the cost of the tile. And then there was the smell.

“It really, really stunk. The air conditioning had been left off for a week — in June.”

RED TAPE EVERYWHERE

The early days of short-term vacation rentals offered hosts a simple proposition: Rent your home and earn some extra money. Yet as the industry has matured, it’s been met with regulation efforts from local governments.

Cities such as Denver and Portland, Oregon, have been cracking down on unlicensed short-term rentals, levying fines against hosts and requiring expensive permits. These policies allow local governments to collect taxes and regulate problematic behavior, but they add one more layer of complexity for hosts, many of whom have little experience in hospitality.

Furthermore, many local governments place the burden of tax collection on hosts, not Airbnb. A 2022 analysis by the National League of Cities, an advocacy organization composed of city, town and village leaders, estimated that 82% of cities require hosts to remit taxes themselves, while only 5% require the platform to do so on hosts’ behalf.

Hosts must now not only act as full-time customer service agents and hospitality experts, but also navigate local regulations and master convoluted taxation laws.

COMPETITION FROM MANAGEMENT COMPANIES

The romantic notion of home sharing as a means for homeowners to pay their mortgages has given way to management companies inserting themselves and aiming to maximize profits. And small-time hosts can’t keep up with these corporate competitors.

A study of short-term rentals in the UK found that the number of listings managed by hosts with a single property dropped from 69% in 2015 to 39% in 2019. And data from the nonprofit Inside Airbnb suggests that only 39.1% of properties in Los Angeles are managed by single-property hosts.

These mega-hosts are able to operate at scale, maximizing efficiency on everything from pricing adjustments to cleaning staff. Single-property hosts can’t keep up, or are unwilling to deal with the hassle, and are being elbowed out of the ecosystem.

This article was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Sam Kemmis is a writer at NerdWallet.

© Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

6 Comments
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I recently mentioned my parents were going to Europe from Canada next month and got Airbnb place.

I found out that this was not the case but sort of is the case.

Seems several years back they found this place via Airbnb but now the owner has "regulars" and dropped Airbnb and will only take new clients if they are introduced by a well known regular with recommendation.

They say they have been doing this for some time now and not just in France.

For other countries they have places that are now independent from Airbnb via recommendations.

They say the UK Bed and breakfast associations are better deals when they go there but at over 80 they like the idea of someone local being available if there is a problem.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

As for hosting Airbnb or even old traditional bed and breakfast.

The laws in your location are crucial.

I know people that though Airbnb would be great only to get scammed by squatters and rent scammers who know the laws of the area.

They move in stay 30 + days and suddenly they have rights to remain as "tenants" or "squatters".

So know your local laws.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

AirBnB is just a travel agent middleman.

It got its original kudos from offering people's actual houses when they were vacant. This is very nice and interesting, alternative, and kind of romantic, but that model, was soon superceded by mass-market, fully commercial holiday lets, increasingly owned by businesses with multiple properties. No more bohemians' houses, just lots of cheaply converted flats full of Ikea furniture run by businesspeople with spreadsheets. This kind of accom may still work for you better than a hotel, I fully get that, but as a business model there is nothing remotely "disruptive" about it. In going from C2C to B2C as described in the story, Airbnb sold out all the people who gave the site its original appeal.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Owners of AirBnB suffered during the pandemic with many returning to rentals. In Japan, there are now only about 600 units.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

AirBnB has become more expensive than hotels in some cases.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

For various reasons, my family needs to cook our own food when we travel, so being able to rent a flat or a house with a fully-stocked kitchen was preferable for us. But we haven't done it since before the pandemic, and now it looks like the system is falling apart.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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