Eek! There’s a mouse in my Airbnb. Can I get a refund?

Q: I rented an Airbnb in Houston for a summer internship. Half way through our 10 week stay, my husband and I saw a mouse. Then we discovered mouse holes in sealed food bags inside the pantry.

We left the rental and contacted the host. We asked him to set mouse traps and disinfect the unit. We told him that we would stay out of the unit for four days to give him time to do so.

He replied that no one else had reported a problem. I asked him again to set mousetraps, and he said the place was under Terminix contract and they would spray.

I escalated the issue to Airbnb. A rep said the host informed them that they had taken care of the issue. He told me that he did a walkthrough and everything was as before.

Airbnb told me that based on my evidence – I had no photo of the mouse – they couldn’t refund me any amount. If I cancel, I will not receive any refund.

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I asked if they wanted me to go back to the Airbnb to take better photos and set mousetraps. They said if I wanted support, that’s what I should do.

So I did. I caught two mice the first night of setting the glue traps. We also had bait boxes, so I imagine more mice ate that bait and died in the vents.

I sent photos to Airbnb. He did not answer. I called Airbnb. A rep promised a call back, but no one called back. I expect a lot more from Airbnb. Can you help me get a refund? —Kristal Bird, Austin, TX

A: Airbnb rentals must be free of mice and other pests. And your host and Airbnb should have taken your complaint seriously. Telling you the place was under contract with a pest control company is not the same as doing something about it.

Per Airbnb’s Terms and Conditions (found here at, a rental is “uninhabitable” if it contains pests. Airbnb’s policy is to remove the home from the listing until the host can prove it has been treated by a professional pest control company.

At the same time, Airbnb was right to require proof of rodent infestation. You presented it with pictures of mouse droppings and bags the mice had chewed on, but that wasn’t enough. You needed mice – and to your credit, you provided Airbnb with two.

Airbnb should have found alternative accommodations for you and paid for them while the home was being processed. I think you may have also made a strong case for moving to another rental for the duration of your stay.

I would have suggested escalating this matter to an Airbnb executive. I list the names, numbers, and email addresses of Airbnb officials on my consumer advocacy site at

I contacted Airbnb on your behalf. He apologized and refunded your remaining nights.

Christopher Elliott is the ombudsman for National Geographic Traveler magazine. You can read more travel tips on his blog, elliott.orgor email him at [email protected]

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