Airbnb hosts are tired of Airbnb too – News-Herald
By SAM KEMMIS of NerdWallet
Disgruntled Airbnb customers are taking to Twitter and TikTok to speak out on everything from cleaning fees to misleading listings. But they’re not the only ones complaining: Airbnb hosts themselves are increasingly disappointed with the platform and its disrespectful hosts.
On message boards and Facebook groups, hosts share their own challenges and horror stories. A host claimed that a group of guests did not want to leave the property despite receiving a full refund from Airbnb.
“I went to the apartment to check on what was going on, and was shocked to find that the tenants were still in the apartment,” the host wrote on the AirbnbHell site. “They immediately called the police on me and I was kicked out of my own apartment by a police team – complete shock.”
While these anecdotes may 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 is spending millions of dollars to limit the publicity of crimes and other incidents on its potentially reputation-damaging listings. And the platform recently launched “anti-party technology” in an effort to offset hosts’ frustrations with large, destructive gatherings.
These issues beg the question: is Airbnb itself the problem – or are the guests?
SILLY TWINE AND HARMFUL ODORS
In May this year, Airbnb launched a new “AirCover” protection plan for guests and hosts. It promises hosts quick refunds and up to $1 million in damage protection. And while many hosts consider this policy generous, it still has many gray areas.
Emily Muskin Rathner, a digital marketing professional living in Cleveland, started renting her home on Airbnb in August 2021. She says hosting has been a pleasant and profitable business overall, but a few guests have caused issues adults, in particular a family who rented the house this month of June.
“They left the house in a mess,” she said. “There was human excrement on our laundry. They sprayed Silly String everywhere. I don’t care about Silly String, but can you get it back? It left stains, oddly.
Muskin Rathner received reimbursement from Airbnb for most of his claims. But some damages, such as nail polish smeared on the bathroom tiles, were not eligible for reimbursement because she was unable to provide receipts for the cost of the tiles. And then there was the smell.
“It stank really, really. The air conditioning had been turned off for a week – in June.
RED PAPER EVERYWHERE
The early days of short-term vacation rentals offered hosts a simple proposition: rent your home and earn some extra cash. Yet as the industry has matured, it has faced regulatory efforts from local governments.
Cities like Denver and Portland, Oregon have cracked down on unlicensed short-term rentals, imposing fines on hosts and requiring expensive permits. These policies allow local governments to collect taxes and regulate problematic behavior, but they add an additional layer of complexity for hosts, many of whom have little experience in the hospitality industry.
Additionally, 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 made up of leaders of cities, towns, and villages, estimated that 82% of cities require hosts to pay taxes themselves, while only 5% require that the platform does so on behalf of the hosts.
Hosts now must not only act as customer service agents and full-time hospitality experts, but also navigate local regulations and master convoluted tax laws.
COMPETITION FROM MANAGEMENT COMPANIES
The romantic notion of cohabitation as a means for homeowners to pay their mortgages has given way to management companies that fit in and aim to maximize profits. And smaller 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 fell from 69% in 2015 to 39% in 2019. And data from the organization to aim nonprofit Inside Airbnb suggests that only 39.1% of properties in Los Angeles are run by single-property hosts.
These mega-hosts are capable of operating at scale, maximizing efficiency on everything from price adjustments to cleaning staff. Single-property hosts can’t keep up or don’t want to deal with the hassle and are squeezed out of the ecosystem.
This article was provided to The Associated Press by personal finance website NerdWallet. Sam Kemmis is a writer at NerdWallet. Email: [email protected].
NerdWallet: Unpopular review: Airbnb has become terrible https://bit.ly/nerdwallet-airbnb-terrible