But .... even if you screen your guests, this could still happen.
This is a good reminder to get real I.D. from all your guests before making a reservation.
Then, if anything like this were to happen. you would know exactly who the criminals were. In this case, it sounds like the person who rented her apartment out, doesn't even know for sure who the people were, who stayed at her place.
Also ... I wonder, was it allowed, through her lease agreement, for her to rent out the apartment for one week, for "half of the rent" she was paying to her landlord? Most landlords have pretty strict policies about this sort of thing.
In addition to not letting you talk to your renters until AFTER they've paid, which is true, and stupid, AirBnB has the most RIDICULOUS cancellation policies I've ever heard of! They actually expect you to give partial refunds, if the people cancel AFTER their arrival! It's unbelievable. Or, you can be "strict" and give them all their money back up to ONE WEEK before arrival! Are you kidding? I could never rebook a week's rental in one week, much less the same day! They offer a "very strict" policy of 30 days, but only to "certain" members. In other words, you can't set your own (ours is 60 days). They also take 6% off the top from you, and another 6% fee from the renter, which makes zero sense. Why would anyone do that, when it's free to rent thru most of the other sites? (Oh, yeah, get this, THEY don't have to refund any of THEIR 12%, ever, it's in their fine print, only YOU have to make refunds!) It's a joke. They seem to think we're hotels, with constant walk-ins. Why would ANYONE refund someone's money if they change their mind AFTER they've already arrived? When we read the rules we were aghast. We did the math. 6% of all our rents in one year is would be twenty times the one-time fee VRBO charges. It isn't competitive, they take all control away from you to decide your own policies, and they end up way more expensive than any other site on the market. Check it out. We talked to them, especially about their cancellation policies; they said they had researched "hotel" policies. It was really clear they don't know what they're doing when it comes to vacation rentals.
Maureen, you're speaking my language ... I agree with a lot of what you are talking about.
But .. to clarify ... Not letting you talk to the renters in person until AFTER they have paid, is not stupid at all ... at least not from AirBnB's point of view. They know that if you were to talk to the guests directly, you'd be able to offer the guests a better rate. If the guests book directly with you, AirBnB will miss out on their 6% to 12% commission. Therefore, it's actually a very smart (not stupid) thing that AirBnB is doing.
They do allow you to e-mail back and forth with the guest, through their AirBnB web site / messaging system, and that is the only contact with the guest you are allowed, before the reservation is made. You are supposed to screen the guests and "Get to know them" via e-mail, which I don't feel to be totally trustworthy. It is so much easier to pretend to be someone you're not, through e-mail, compared to on a phone conversation or in person. Also AirBnB monitors the e-mails that go back and forth ... if you try to share a personal e-mail address or phone number or direct the guest to a web site, AirBnB filters it out or gives you an error message, telling you that you cannot share this kind of info with a guest. Both the hosts and the guests are supposed to ask their friends to post nice things about them online at the AirBnB web site. As a host, you're supposed to look at the pictures and "friend recommendations" and decide if the person is someone you will trust with staying in your home, while you are not there. Or ... someone you trust to sleep ON YOUR SOFA, sharing your living space, while you ARE there. Which might be even scarier. Especially considering the terrible bunch of "guests" (vandals / criminals / thieves) that the person who wrote the blog above, seemed to have had.
A bit of correction about the AirBnB commission ... from the bookings I have TRIED doing through AirBnB, I saw that they tacked the 6% to 12% commission as a service fee ON TOP of the quoted rate. So the AirBnB commission (service fee) would not exactly come out of my pocket. It comes out of the guest's pocket.
Now there is also a 3% processing fee (also mentioned by Maureen), which is charged to us, the owners (if we ever got a booking through them), and this covers the credit card fees. The processing fee is indeed subtracted out of the money we charge for our rates. Nonetheless, the processing fee is similar to the 2.5% that we would be paying anyway, if we were to accept credit cards directly. So I don't begrudge the 3% processing fee.
And I don't begrudge the 6% to 12% commission (AirBnB service fee) ... since it is paid directly by the guest, on top of our regular fees ... however, it's kind of silly for the guest to pay that commission when they could get on VRBO or HomeAway and book with us directly. (And not have to pay the commission.)
About the cancellation policy ... Maureen, you are correct .... AirBnB does not allow the cancellation policy to be as strict as our usual polices. But it seems that the owner / host would be able to keep 50% of the money for cancellations made more than seven days out. It EVEN looks like the owner / host can keep 50% of the money .... if the cancellation is made 100 or 45 days prior ... it just says that if the guests cancels more than 7 days prior, he is only entitled to 50% refund. From the sound of it, once the guest makes the reservation, he is losing at least 50% of the amount (and the owner is keeping that amount), no matter when he/she cancels. Although it's not the same as being able to keep 100%, I think 50% is a pretty good amount of money to be able to keep. We normally allow FULL REFUND up to 30 days prior to arrival (and no refund after 30 days prior to arrival) .. so making the guest responsible from 50% of the amount, from the get go (even if the booking is scheduled for several months away) ... is actually stricter than our own policy. (If am interpreting that right.)
With the "strict policy," if the guest cancels less than 7 days prior to arrival, the host / owners get to keep all of the money that they would have coming to them. And it appears that AirBnB does NOT provide a refund for early departures either ... unless there is some sort a dispute (which would be mediated by AirBnB). So ... thankfully, the owner would not have to worry about refunds in case the guest's travel plans change and he/she decides to leave early.
Here is a link to the actual cancellation policies at AirBnB.
Here is "cut and paste" of the "strict" cancellation policy.
Strict: 50% refund up until 1 week prior to arrival, except fees
- Must be made seven full days prior to 12:00 AM local time on the day of check in, otherwise no refund. For example, if check-in is on Friday, cancel by the previous Thursday at midnight.
- If the guest arrives and decides to leave early, the nights not spent are not refunded.
- Cleaning fees are always refunded if the guest did not check in.
- The Airbnb service fee is non-refundable.
- If there is a complaint from either party, notice must be given to Airbnb within 24 hours of check-in.
- Airbnb will mediate when necessary, and has the final say in all disputes.
- A reservation is not officially canceled until the guest receives a cancellation confirmation e-mail from Airbnb. To get your cancellation e-mail, go to Travel Plans. If the cancellation e-mail is not received, contact Airbnb.
There are definitely pluses and minuses of using AirBnB. I can see how it might be nice to have someone like AirBnB taking care of all the payments, and resolving all disputes with the guests .... less headache for the owners, etc. So I can see why some people like using the service. For some people, I'm sure the benefits outweigh the negatives.
Maureen, I agree ... the fact that you can't get to know the guests in person, before making the booking, is a real problem. Especially in the case of the vacation rental industry, which I believe is built on mutual trust between the owner and the guest. How can you build that kind of trust if you don't get to talk with the potential guests before making a booking? If the person who wrote the blog referenced above, had been able to screen her guests, she might have never rented to these people.
I agree that it's important to be able to talk on the phone with someone before taking the booking (especially when it comes to gauging age of the renter or group). And yes, I understand completely that ABB is protecting it's bottom line by not allowing contact before they get their money. Smart for them, yes, but only at our expense, although I agree with you, sfvacationhut, that the S.F. case could have happened with any booking service (there are criminals out there).
When I signed up at their start, they told me 6% was charged to the renter, and 6% to the owner (plus the 3% credit card fee), which made no financial sense to me, since that would add up to many thousands per year, compared with a few hundred at most sites, once yearly. The credit card fee is fine. If they've changed this or I was told incorrectly, then that's a big improvement.
But, after rereading the cancellation terms on your link, they do indeed allow 100% refunds for "nights not spent" with only ONE DAY's notice, including when that "notice" begins AFTER arrival! Which means if they show up and don't like it, they only have to pay for the first night, and you get screwed on the rest (pardon me). I quote: "Flexible" policy: "Full Refund with notice one full day prior to arrival." If they cancel AFTER arrival: "nights not spent 24 hours after official cancellation are 100% refunded," and "if guests cancel with LESS than 24 hours, [only] the first night is non-refundable." The rest of their week's booking is 100% refundable! No dispute required, it can be for any reason, as long as they give you 24 hrs. notice. My main question is, why would any competent vacation rental booking service even offer the possibility of full refunds with 24 hrs. notice? That seems insane, does it not? Or, you can choose "Moderate" policy: "Full Refund five days prior." Even if they cancel after arrival, you'd have to 100% refund any nts past the five. Makes no sense whatsoever. Again, no dispute or other problem need occur, it can be their whim. Or, you can use the "Strict" policy: 50 percent% refund if they give you at least 7 days notice. How is that "strict?" You rented it to them months ago, you've turned away other bookings, you most likely cannot fill their space in 7 days, so now you lose HALF of your income for that week? Why should you? I disagree that it's a 'pretty good deal,' since for us, half a booking could mean losing thousands of dollars. We could never replace them in a week. But why should it cost any owner? I notice ABB isn't willing to refund a penny of their own fees, on ANY of the plans. Only the "Very Strict" policy offers owners any real protection, but that's reserved for "invititation only." Huh? Shouldn't that be up to us? Bizarre. So after reading the first two plans, which mandate 100% refunds with one and five days notice, respectively, I'm not sure why you think the renter will lose his money regardless, unless you mean just the 6% fee to ABB. (And personally, I feel ABB should share the pain if refunds are made - they're awfully generous with our money). And we aren't allowed to charge a cancellation fee, though we're not getting our 3% back from ABB. None of those plans are realistic for vacation rentals, I think.
One more issue I forgot, that seems outrageous to me. We only get paid AFTER the renter ARRIVES??? This is nuts! If I understand this correctly, if I get a booking 4-6 months, even one year in advance (we OFTEN get that), Air B&B collects the money, and SITS on it, collecting interest on our money, and sends us a check only after the renter actually arrives. HUH? Why would people put up with this, unless all their rentals are very short notice? Our average is 3 months or more, and our deposits can be thousands. Why should they earn interest on that money? We would go broke if we had to wait months or even a year to get paid a deposit for a booking (we require half at booking). Our cash flow would just STOP dead in it's tracks. And forget about low season sales on high season dates, to generate extra cash during the low season, to pay the mortgage with. Not possible. It's our money, and once they collect it, they should pay it out promptly. I can't afford to wait months. We depend on those payments to pay our mortgage.
To the person who said ABB was so much less work than vrbo and others (Flipkey is the best). Not at all! It's all done by emails, on both sites. Taking payments is easy, with Paypal, etc. The other sites are so much safer, because you call all the shots and can screen so much better. But in the end, you said it best: Why would any renter pay an extra 6% fee when they don't have to? It just makes no sense for the renters, much less the owners. Do people just not know they're paying more? I just don't get it. Anyway, I do truly appreciate your link and opinions on this issue, and I agree with your reservations on this. I just think they have a lot to learn. When they do, I'll take another look.
(BTW - Flipkey is kicking VRBO's butt for us: WAY cheaper, unlimited free pics, free TripAdvisor exposure, and just as many or MORE inquiries! Try it. I love it!)
YES ... FlipKey is also rocking my world.
I haven't had any bookings with AirBnB, I believe, because of a combination of two things .... (1) we have been booked solid with VRBO, HomeAway, and FlipKey (people on those sites plan WAY MORE in advance), and (2) our prices are higher than most of the offerings on AirBnB, since we are thrown in with people literally renting their sofa to crash on for the night ... if you just go scanning through the listings on AirBnB, our place stands out like a very expensive thumb!!! (if you can find it.)
In fact, I can't even find my listing on AirBnB when I go looking on the web site, as a random customer trying to find guest apartments in San Francisco. Our apartment seems to be so buried among the 1500+ listings for "San Francisco, CA" ... I just don't know how anyone would find us on AirBnB.
However, there have been a couple of people who inquired, and I sent them quotes ... and that's how I found out that the AirBnB service fee is tacked ON TOP OF the posted rates. (AirBnB automatically added the service fee, and I saw it, in the message that AirBnB generated for the customer, based on my quote.)
Also, Maureen, when I was saying that you could have a cancellation policy that WOULD NOT give the Guests a refund, simply because they changed their mind and decided to check out early ... I was talking about the "strict" cancellation policy. I'm not sure why a regular vacation home owner would consider any of the other policies. So let's be clear, I'm only talking about the "strict" policy. While the "strict" cancellation policy is less strict than us in some ways (as we do not give any refund for cancellations less than 30 days out) ... it is more strict than us in another way, as it apparently (??? I'm not sure) puts the guest on the hook for 50% of the money paid, even if they cancel way in advance.
What I know for sure about the "strict" cancellation policy is, if the guest cancels less than 7 days prior to arrival, they forfeit ALL THE MONEY. They do not get a refund if they check out early either. (Unless they file some sort of complaint which would be investigated by AirBnB.)
Yes, I see the difference. It sounds like that might be tough for owners
like us, with higher priced rentals, to only get half back. I guess our
policy is pretty strict: no cancellations less than 60 days out (though of
course we would refund if we do re-rent), because as you say, people plan
further ahead for more expensive rentals. Also, do you find, as I have, that
your stricter (30 or 60 day) cancellation policy seems to deter ANY
cancellations? Since instituting it, we haven't had a single one. We also
protect ourselves with a 10% cancellation fee (AB&B doesn't allow for one);
do you have one? This weeds out the non-serious. Also, we highly encourage
people to buy trip insurance, in case they get ill or unemployed, etc.,
within the 60 days. That gives them peace of mind.
I am so happy to meet another big fan of Flipkey! Aren't they GREAT!? I
can't stop singing their praises. Their very first year, and I was pulling
more inquiries than even vrbo! $229 (may have gone up), and all the
pictures I can upload! I resent vrbo's $30 per picture upcharge, which
means $600! Flipkey is less than half, and puts you on TripAdvisor as well,
which everyone's heard of, and where they also put your reviews. It's been
a Godsend for us. They are giving vrbo, with it's ever rising prices, a
real run for the money! And I'm getting WAY more inquiries from Flipkey
than I am from Homeaway! Has this been your experience?
Maureen, that's a very good point about AirBnB collecting the money via credit card from the guest (full amount up front), and then keeping it until the guest's arrival, at which time they begin to dispersing the money to the host. I'm sure that the interest gained on those assets are part of their business model.
And I think you're right, I'm not sure, but ... probably AirBnB is more for last-minute travel. If they generally don't attract guests who are booking several months in advance ... this would explain why people (hosts) have not complained about the idea of AirBnB sitting on the money and keeping the interest gained on it.
Those who do use AirBnB a lot already .... what do you think?
Yes, Airbnb is often the last minute traveler. In NYC, definitely last minute, if at all. ( In NYC, there are plenty of couch surfing rentals!)
In Key Largo FL, it has worked much better.
Depending on what you are offering, and where, Airbnb can be a nice adjunct to your regular advertising spots.
If your property is a very strict cancellation policy, (no refund within 30 days of rental)Airbnb takes 5% from the rental fee. So for a rental that is $100, except only $95. Even if the traveler books one week before, the very strict cancellation policy applys and there goes the 5%.
I have rented my flat with Airbnb and used the so called strict cancellation policy which I thought protected me. However, the client cancelled at the last minute due to illness and I was sent the funds by Airbnb telling me the client cancelled but due to my policy would receive the funds, the cancellation was the day before arrival and I had no way to get another booking. Within a few hours Airbnb sent another email to say that due extenuating circumstances they were giving the customer a full refund and I now owe them all the money for this booking which will be deducted from any future bookings with them! I wrote back angrily and questioned this and all they did was send a link to this policy which had never been shown or explained to me before. My argument is that no other rental agency or hotel would give a full refund at last minute, not for any reason at all! I asked them if at the very least they would give me 50%, especially as I've had many rentals with them with a good ranking and reviews, they refused. I have since found out the customer had his own private insurance and was making a claim and told Airbnb about this, they had no right to refund my portion of the rental and probably have their own policy in place to get back their commision yet I have absolutely nothing! I am utterly disgusted at their attitude towards their hosts, without whom they would have no business. Sadly, I had to find this out now but will shortly be considering other ways to get an income, I strongly advise other renters to avoid working with Airbnb who are nothing more than a Facebook style company pretending to be a proper business yet all they are about is stupid social networking whilst making millions for doing absolutely nothing!
Terri 113, this is terrible! If it is not too late, quit AB&B today, and
keep the money. They would never win this case, as the policy is on your
side. Then spend the cash and pay for a decent level (Silver or Gold) ad
on BOTH VRBO and Homeaway, and TAKE CONTROL of your own payments, rules,
and your OWN contract, not theirs. That's what we do; if that happened to
us, it would be up to US what to do, no one else. Do not use any company
that controls payments for you. I also strongly suggest you advertise on
Flipkey; we get lots of good rentals from them, and unlimited photos, for
only $299, much cheaper than VRBO, etc. We get several inquiries a week
from them. With ALL of them, YOU can control your contract and rules, and
make your own policies. Don't take any more AB&B inquiries; close your ad
down, and then there is nothing they can pay themselves back from. The
fact they weren't demanding immediate repayment means they know they don't
have a leg to stand on. Don't let them do this to you, especially knowing
the renters have insurance. Good luck to you.
See below for an e-mail update from AirBnB, on this story that kiawahcottage has posted.
I think it's really great that AirBnB admitted they made some mistakes, rather than trying to pretend that everything was hunky dory.
Interestingly .... as it says below ... On August 15th, AirBnB will be implementing a $50,000 Airbnb Guarantee, protecting the property of hosts from damage by Airbnb guests who book reservations through our website.
Note that this new AirBnB guarantee seems even better than the "damage protection insurance" provided by HomeAway, since that one only covers "unintentional damages." If such damage protection is possible, I hope that HomeAway and VRBO will start offering damage protection like this, too.
Last month, the home of a San Francisco host named EJ was tragically vandalized by a guest. The damage was so bad that her life was turned upside down. When we learned of this our hearts sank. We felt paralyzed, and over the last four weeks, we have really screwed things up. Earlier this week, I wrote a blog post trying to explain the situation, but it didn’t reflect my true feelings. So here we go.
There have been a lot of questions swirling around, and I would like to apologize and set the record straight in my own words. In the last few days we have had a crash course in crisis management. I hope this can be a valuable lesson to other businesses about what not to do in a time of crisis, and why you should always uphold your values and trust your instincts.
With regards to EJ, we let her down, and for that we are very sorry. We should have responded faster, communicated more sensitively, and taken more decisive action to make sure she felt safe and secure. But we weren’t prepared for the crisis and we dropped the ball. Now we’re dealing with the consequences. In working with the San Francisco Police Department, we are happy to say a suspect is now in custody. Even so, we realize that we have disappointed the community. To EJ, and all the other hosts who have had bad experiences, we know you deserve better from us.
We want to make it right. On August 15th, we will be implementing a $50,000 Airbnb Guarantee, protecting the property of hosts from damage by Airbnb guests who book reservations through our website. We will extend this program to EJ and any other hosts who may have reported such property damage while renting on Airbnb in the past.
We’ve built this company by listening to our community. Guided by your feedback, we have iterated to become safer and more secure. Our job’s not done yet; we’re still evolving. In the wake of these recent events, we’ve heard an uproar from people, both inside and outside our community. Know that we were closely listening.
Today we are launching a new safety section of the website (www.airbnb.com/safety) with the following offerings:
- Airbnb Guarantee
Starting August 15th, when hosts book reservations through Airbnb their personal property will be covered for loss or damage due to vandalism or theft caused by an Airbnb guest up to $50,000 with our Airbnb Guarantee. Terms will apply to the program and may vary (e.g. by country). This program will also apply retroactively to any hosts who may have reported such property damage prior to August 1, 2011.
- 24-Hour Customer Hotline
Beginning next week, we will have operators and customer support staff ready to provide around the clock phone and email support for anything big or small.
- 2x Customer Support Team
Since last month we have more than doubled our Customer Support team from forty-two to eighty-eight people, and will be bringing on a 10-year veteran from eBay as our Director of Customer Support next week.
- Dedicated Trust & Safety Department
Airbnb now has an in-house task force devoted to the manual review of suspicious activity. This team will also build new security features based on community feedback.
- Contact the CEO
If you can’t get a hold of anyone or if you just want to contact me, email@example.com.
We’ve also added several other safety-related features to strengthen the trust and confidence of our community:
- Safety Tips
Suggestions for both guests and hosts on how to utilize our tools to better inform your decisions.
- Verified Profiles
Our updated user profiles chronicle their public history on Airbnb, giving you more insight than ever about a potential host or guest. Along with standard social information, you’ll also see if a user has verified their phone number, connected to their Facebook account, and whether the majority of their reviews are positive or negative. And as always, you can read their reviews and references.
- Customized trust settings
We now give hosts the ability to set custom trust parameters for bookings; those who don’t meet the specified requirements will be unable to make a reservation. Selections for Trust Settings include: verified phone numbers, profile descriptions, location information, with more coming soon.
- Product suggestions poll
Have more ideas on improving safety? Now, you can submit and vote on the best ideas through our new product suggestions poll.
Many more product updates will be released in the coming days. In addition to these new features, there are safeguards already in place to protect the community. These include over 60 million Social Connections, private messaging to screen before booking, a secure reservation and payment system and transaction-based reviews. We also provide verified photographs, fraud detection algorithms, and flagging capabilities.
These steps are just the beginning. Improving the safety and security of our system is ongoing. Although we do have these measures in place, no system is without some risk, so we remind you to be vigilant and discerning. As a member of the community, you have invaluable experience that we hope to draw upon to improve our system. If you have any constructive ideas or feedback, please share them with us at www.airbnb.com/safety.
What’s made us proud during this trying time is the response of our community. Emails of support to EJ poured in; many hosts offered her a place to stay in their homes. It’s been inspiring to see that Airbnb can really bring out the best in people. Like Airbnb, the world works on the idea that people are good, and we’re in this together.
When we first started Airbnb, I told my mom about our plans for the business and she said, “Are you crazy? I’d never do that.” But when I told my late grandfather he said, “Of course! Everyone used to stay in each others’ homes.” We’re bringing back this age-old idea with new technology. Now each day, you and the rest of the community are creating meaningful connections around the world.
Thank you for being part of Airbnb.
Note that there is another thread about AirBnB here:
If you want to read more of the HomeAway members' comments about AirBnB.
- Airbnb Guarantee
sfvacationhut...thanks for sharing this with the community. I am so impressed with the leadership of AirBnB. It is rare to see a CEO ever admit they made a mistake. Congratulations Brian Chesky on a job well done! What they have done is to take a really negative situation and turn it into something positive. The changes they have implemented shows they used good sound logic to solve a serious industry wide problem as this could have happened to any one of us. Now they are actually ahead of the completion which such a powerful guarantee to hosts and homeowners. I suspect they have a great advisor Board.
Before this situation even happened I was really impressed with their customer support department. They have on line chat that was wonderful… it showed me right away that they want to be known for outstanding customer service. Quite a bit different from VRBO where they have done just the opposite links to customer support are broken and they have done everything possible to hide the customer support telephone number.
I did not invest in HomeAway because I do not think they are going to be a long term player. Too many companies start out first but are left behind when a competitor comes along, Homeaway has a very arrogant attitude whereas AirBnB is hip they are in tune with the social networking community and most importantly demonstrated by this article they are agile and have the ability to respond to customers’ needs quickly.
I agree, it was very "big" of the AirBnB CEO to come out with a statement like this.
And kudos to AirBnB coming up with (what sounds like) a good solution to the problem.
I wonder why HomeAway, VRBO, etc, doesn't offer some kind of protection like this for us?
I would guess that the cases of vandalism and theft are very FEW AND FAR BETWEEN ... so hopefully it wouldn't break the bank for HomeAway if they were to insure us for this risk ... just as AirBnB is now doing.
Unfortunately HomeAway Damage Insurance only covers un-intentional (accidental) damage and, according to what another owner has posted .. it specifically excludes damage related to the use of alcohol. Eeeek! Aren't these some of the main problems we are worried about? It seems that any accidental damage would be very small ... except for something like a kitchen fire. But I think our regular homeowners / commercial / innkeeper insurance (whatever kind you have) would insure us for those things wouldn't it? By contrast, if someone wanted to INTENTIONALLY DAMAGE our place, the costs could be BIG. And those are the costs that would not be covered by the HomeAway Damage insurance.
The idea that we could be protected by this insurance is enough to make me look at AirBnB a lot more closely.
Glad you brought it up we are also rocking with Flipkey. Interesting one of my listing with HomeAway expired last month and normally a customer service rep would call when I would accidently forget to renew. This time it was not by accident I had no intension of renewing but what was interesting is they no longer call they are just blasting me with emails that say Renewal Statement which just gets deleted.
You asked what other owners think about AirBnB. I do not consider this site to be a listing site they are a travel agent site. We use travel agents to book our home on occasion and pay agents a commission of anywhere from 10% to upward of 25%. It is common practice that an agent requires that we use their contact and cancellation terms and yes they will hold the funds until the guests departure. If you have used Zonder they are kind of similar. In today’s world we still have lots of folks that are leery of the internet and are not comfortable with booking directly with an owner… which is why they use travel agents. If you have read any of the press on these guys they are staying that they will have more rooms than the Ritz Carlton by 2012. I have said before that I have felt like renting our homes has been like playing Russian Roulette and always worry about damage so my rental agreement is so strict a guest told me am I renting a home or a prison cell…the new AirBnB $50k protection plan is certainly going to make me sleep better at night.
SFvacationhut, whatever you do, know that your reg. homeowner's insurance
will NOT cover damage, intentional or not, or pay out claims by, "paying
guests." I suppose with damage, an owner COULD say they did it themselves
(I'm not advocating that), but if someone gets hurt and sues you......forget
it. We researched this with our insurance agent when we started 4 yrs ago
and he told us that most or all homeowner's policies (as opposed to a
business policy, say for a B&B or hotel) will not pay claims involving
"paying" guests. If you or your friend did it, or got hurt, then yes, you'd
have a claim. But scarily, if one of your guests gets hurt and files a
claim, you will not be covered by your HO policy, if they find out they were
a paying guest. He found only two companies that have policies that will
cover a paying guests: Lloyd's of London's (yeah, right, I'm sure that's
affordable), and Traveler's, which was quoted at over $4,000 per year. We
can't afford either, so while of course we keep up our reg. HO insurance
(AAA), we just cross our fingers that no guest will trip down the stairs (we
don't even think about them doing damage; that's what their credit card is
for on our damage clause in our contract: "damages over and above deposit
will be charged to booking card w/proper documentation") or hit their head
in the pool, or slip in the shower, and turn around and sue us. Of course
they'll say they paid to stay. But we have no assets, and the bank pretty
much owns the house, so I don't know what they could get. For us, it's kind
of moot, since if we don't do a vacation rental, we lose the house anyway.
We've been lucky for four years. I guess it's a crap shoot we'll have to
play; just wanted to be sure you knew your regular homeowner's insurance
won't cover your guests, in case you DO have assets to protect (Travelers
will do it, or they did 4 years ago).
Maureen, we do have home owners insurance that specifically covers the vacation rental property and liability associated with it .... it is through Foremost. It is $4300 per year ... way more than our previous policy, before we had the vacation rental, which was $1300 per year. Very expensive, but we didn't want to risk liability from lawsuits.
What I mean is that for accidental things that might go terribly wrong, such as a kitchen fire that gets out of hand and burns the house down .... I believe that would be covered by a person's normal homeowner / innkeeper / commercial insurance (whichever kind they have, assuming the person did his or her homework and made sure the insurance was VALID for vacation rental use). So for really big stuff, I'm not sure that the HomeAway "accidental damage only" policy would really be that big of a help, above and beyond the insurance that we should already be carrying.
That's for accidental damage ... if something were to go terribly wrong (e.g., burning the house down), it seems we are covered by our homeowner's insurance.
But for INTENTIONAL DAMAGE by the guests such as theft / vandalism, guess what? Our homeowners' insurance specifically DOES NOT cover that. This is where I am saying that the Vandalism / Theft / Damage protection from AirBnB could really come in handy. They are insuring us for the risk that a "member of the AirBnB community" might come into our house and ransack the place and steal everything they can get their hands on. Wow! That's huge. Because I've been told that very few, if any, insurance companies will insure a vacation rental for that risk. Our vacation rental / homeowners insurance policy costs $4300 per year, and it does not insure us for that.
Wow, that's amazing they won't cover it! You're smart to buy the real
insurance for vacation rentals - we just never seem to have the 4 grand,
because it all goes to BofA. But it's nice to know there's a third company
out there, Foremost, thanks. Sorry, I thought you thought reg. HO ins.
would cover your guests. You might consider a protective clause in your
contract that they sign that you'll charge their credit card for extra
damages, with documentation. Even though they can dispute it, you'd
probably win with if you can show visa their signed damage clause and proof
of damages. Just extra protection. (Also a good deterrent).
In addition to the e-mail that was sent out to all airbnb users, the same information was also posted by Brian Chesky, AirBnB CEO / Co-Founder, as a blog entitled "Our Commitment to Trust and Safety."
If you go to the above link, you'll see lots of comments and discussion, at the bottom of the page, from people with a variety of opinions and viewpoints.
I made a big mistake listing with AirBNB. Stay away. The requests came in swiftly and all from chiselers. They wanted my place for $450/week or LESS. I don't go below $800. They were not seeking quality. And in fact many were nasty. I wrote to the President who responded with a very sarcastic email. 1) you don't get to preview these guests 2) you don't get your money till after they leave (what happens if they never show). Their entire model is a disaster waiting to happen. ESPECIALLY for the people who are dumb enough to rent a room in their home to strangers. Taking my ad down gave me peace of mind. They do do one thing good. They get photographers to shoot your place (my guy was great) a step to verifying your property is for real. HA could learn from this.
I agree, and not only with the "no screening" part. Are people so independently wealthy that they don't need to collect a dime until AFTER their guests leave? That's CRAZY!!! We book up to a year ahead of time. NO WAY would I wait MONTHS or even a YEAR to get ANY of the money for the rental! Who does that? For us, it would mean that Airbnb would literally sit on thousands of dollars, collecting interest on that money, for months on end. The interest on everyone's money must be how they finance their business. But even on a smaller or less expensive rental, wouldn't it be even MORE important to get your money in a timely fashion? Letting Airbnb sit on your money is NUTS! (Second only to their utterly ridiculous cancellation policy, which even has a clause allowing renters to get most of their money back - all but one day - if they cancel AFTER arrival!) Just nuts. I called once and was told the owners have experience in the HOTEL business, not in the vacation rental biz, and it shows. They think we can afford to take cancellations the same day, and someone else will walk in!
Actually you get your money the day after the guests check-in, not after they leave. I will admit that AirBnb has some problems, and is definitely not how I would prefer to rent my home, but I did receive a legitimate last minute inquiry from them back in April and booked the family. It worked out good for me since it was so last minute that I would have actually received my money from ReservationManager after they left and I received my money from AirBnb the day after they checked-in. They checked in on a Sunday and I received a direct deposit from AirBnb on Monday. It seemed fine for a last minute booking and I was able to speak with them prior to accepting their inquiry. You just have to do it via their Voice Connect system.
I will agree, however, that I would never let them sit on my money for months at a time. I did receive an inquiry through them for a stay in June back in March and I got them to book through my website rather than through AirBnb and it turned out fine.
I guess I could say that I've had the opposite response as you have. I almost never have any activity from AirBnb and the ones I have received were all very nice, respectful people. The reasons I don't like AirBnb are the same as everyone else here. The reason I do like them is that it is free to list and therefore free exposure and I like the fact that I can review travelers.
We are having problems with airbnb. My friend and I booked in a Paris flat which turned out to be very disappointing but we were only there for a few nights so we stayed. On leaving we handed in our keys, made sure the host had checked out our rooms(we left them clean and tidy)and came home, next day I wrote a bad review and that evening got an abusive call from the host saying we took the keys and we left place in a mess and destroyed furniture! Now airbnb say they have photos and documentation from host and are taking our deposits to pay for this so called damage. We are furious as we are 60 year ladies and even cleaned the rooms before we left. Our argument is that the host did not notify us til 36 hours later and he is being vindictive because of the bad review. He has obviously set up the rooms to look damaged but we haven't seen any pics Tom ow. Has anyone any idea howwe can fight this as the host is a liar and this amounts to fraud. We are in Uk. Would appreciate any ideas of how we can legally sort this out or even press criminal charges as we are outraged.
Airbnb hold a pre-authorisation deposit and take it out of the account should any damage be done. This guy is claiming we stole the keys and wrecked the rooms!! Airbnb in their wisdom cannot see how ridiculous it is and have decided to take out £164. We are furious as we left the rooms in really good condition, gave the keys back and yet he has set up photos of damage which Airbnb think are real. We haven’t even seen this proof or any documentation. Why did they not ask why no one rang us to ask us immediately where the keys were yet they had our phone number They contacted me 36 hours after the event and after I wrote a bad review of the place. You figure it out!
We are writing to the management to start with and I have already got on to the Daily Mail as it is now the principle of the matter. This man is actually committing fraud by his actions.
Fingers crossed everyone will see how stupid it is.
Thanks for your answer anyway.
It’s about time hosts challenge AirBnB cancellation policy. How can a company impose financial penalty for cancelling a bookings in your own home. This is your basic human rights to decide who you want to let into your home. This company is money driven and there are no concerns at all about the circumstances which lead to your decision to cancel a booking. For example I have had two automatic bookings, guest 1 booked after 9:30 pm so got a text alerting me to this booking. I kindly informed the guest that I won't be able to accommodate them because I didn't have sufficient notice to make the necessary preparations and I was ill with the flu. Naturally customer support informed me that it’s a host cancellation. Next thing I received an email the following week notifying me that I have been paid £4 for the current guest as the $100 was deducted for a previous cancellations. Hell be known I had another automatic booking and had to refused the booking and $100 taken off the current guest staying in the property.
This is a clearly an unethical and unlawful, first if you have carried out a service you should be paid. AirBnb has profited from the booking fees so suffer no loss so what is the justification of withholding money to guest. This company needs to be reminded that it is a referring company which has no control over our homes and cannot dictate who we should rent our space to. And by no means is AirBnB in a position not to pay you the money that has been paid by guest if you have had people staying in your house. AirBnb needs to be reminded that it is no longer in a unique position because of its competitors such as the following:
wimdbu, wheretosleep, 9flats, flatclub, flipkey to name a few.
Let’s take back power in our hands as without hour homes this company has no business. Shop around list your space on other sites know your rights and be prepared to defend it. As for me I am prepared to issue legal proceedings is necessary to be paid the money this site owes me.
Thanks for info.
Yes I have had problems with them too but as a guest so you have to be careful with Airbnb whatever you are. Airbnb would not return our deposits as the host had said we had trashed our rooms!!! I ask you, two middle class, middle aged ladies – all because I stupidly put in a bad review before the 48 hour deadline for deposit returns!! I fought back but still only got half back so have learned a valuable lesson – as a guest , sign that the room was inspected and given the ok as you leave.
How do they make automatic bookings? I am always informed re bookings beforehand and certainly do not want automatic bookings, as like you I need to prepare the room. I am not always around because of my work or holidays so that could not happen here so I had better check this out.
Are the other agencies ok with insurance? As my biggest fear as a host, is to come home and find the house ransacked by the guests as I have heard some horror stories.
Good luck with your fight as you will need it!
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