Airbnb is a great way for travelers to find unique accommodations that meet their budgets and specifications. Budget-conscious travelers benefit because Airbnb offers great vacation rentals that often cost less than hotels. Plus, travelers get to enjoy cozy accommodations that differ from the standard hotel experience.
While Airbnb excels at connecting hosts and guests, there have been some notable horror stories in recent years of guests who have had very negative experiences with hosts and their rental properties.
Many guests are so focused on booking their ideal vacation rentals (which are usually the most luxurious condos or picturesque little houses in popular, sought-after locations) that they forget to perform due diligence on their potential hosts.
To ensure their safety, as well as a stress-free Airbnb experience, guests should order background reports from reputable people search sites before confirming their bookings.
Finding out more information about your potential hosts and their properties is vital, as it can prevent you from endangering yourself, as the following true stories attest.
Airbnb Horror Stories: Unstable Hosts and Bloodthirsty Pets
Some guests have reported being physically threatened, sexually assaulted, and drugged by unstable hosts, while others have reported being bitten or physically attacked by pets that were kept on the rental properties.
Guests have also reported members of their party being injured by faulty amenities, resulting in permanent injuries and even death. One weekend getaway in a Texas vacation rental ended in tragedy when a guest sat on a rope swing tied to a tree. The trunk that the swing was tied to broke in half and landed on the guest’s head. This ended most of his brain activity, and he eventually died.
These horror stories highlight the dangers of skipping safety precautions and preliminary background checks before booking rooms with hosts.
Airbnb Will Not Perform Background Checks for You
While Airbnb has made an effort to ensure the safety of both hosts and guests (with measures like verified IDs, detailed profiles and reviews, the Host Guarantee, and a secure messaging system that enables hosts and guests to communicate), the company admits that it does not perform background checks on its accounts, though it reserves the right to do so.
This lack of thorough screening of hosts and guests disadvantages both parties, and unless guests take the extra step of carrying out safety measures and ordering background checks on potential hosts from reliable background report companies, they’re entering rental properties with a certain degree of risk.
Tips that Will Help You Stay Safe When Booking Lodgings through Airbnb
Contact the Host Before Making a Reservation Request
Once you’ve found a few interesting rental options that meet your specifications, make it a point to contact your potential hosts via Airbnb’s secure messaging system. When guests make inquiries or reservation requests on Airbnb, all messages will appear in their inboxes.
Ask potential hosts as many relevant questions about themselves and their properties as necessary. Will the host be staying on the rental property during the duration of your stay, or will you have the rental property all to yourself? Will there be any pets on the premises? Should you avoid using certain amenities on the property or handle such amenities with extra care?
Ask as many relevant questions as needed and you’ll be able to avoid unwanted surprises or misunderstandings once you stay in the rental property.
Check the Host’s Profile and Reviews on Airbnb
Avoid making reservation requests with hosts with no reviews. All reviews are written by Airbnb’s hosts and guests, and each review left on a host’s profile was written by a real paying guest.
Pay attention to the details in the reviews. Was the rental property comfortable and agreeable? Did guests feel safe? If the host was present, was he accommodating or unwilling to cater to his guests? If the host wasn’t present on the rental property, was he or the agent that handled the booking easy to reach in case of emergencies?
Message some of the guests who’ve left reviews and ask them more in-depth questions about the host and their stay. This will help you build a clearer picture of your potential host.
Make sure to check each potential host’s profile for the flag icon. If you see a flag icon on any profiles or listings, this means that someone in the community has reported suspicious or inappropriate activity. The flag icon can be found at the top of each profile, at the right sidebar of the listing, and on the top right corner of messages.
Check the Hosts’ Social Media Profiles and Do a Google Search
Doing a little investigative work outside of Airbnb could mean the difference between staying with a gracious host and staying with one you’ll try to forget in future therapy sessions. Check your potential host’s social media profiles and pay attention to his personal information and public posts. You should also do a Google search on your potential host to find out more about him.
If you find information via Google or his social media profiles that makes you uneasy, or if the information from his social media profiles does not match the information found on his Airbnb profile, then you should cancel your reservation request.
Order a Background Report on the Host
Just as importantly, make sure to order a background report on your potential host from a reputable background screening provider. Background reports contain all kinds of vital information that would be missing from Airbnb profiles and reviews—including testimonials from the host’s friends, family, and colleagues; government records; criminal history; lawsuits; and social media posts.
If the information found in the background report builds a negative picture of your potential host, then consider cancelling your reservation request. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Observe Common Sense Safety Tips Before Going on Your Trip
Remember to observe common sense safety tips before going on your trip. Give family and friends the exact address of the rental property you’ll be staying at. If you’re coming to the United States from abroad, make sure your phone is able to make and receive international calls so that you can contact loved ones in case of emergencies.
Also, make sure that you know the number of the local police and emergency services in your area. By observing these and other common sense safety tips, you’ll ensure a stress-free stay with your Airbnb host.