Who is really responsible for this senseless Airbnb theft?

Did Renata Lambert steal a TV from her rental apartment in Warsaw, Poland? Lambert says she didn’t, but her host insists she did. Now the two sides are locked in an Airbnb flight dispute that they think I can settle.

Lambert’s case raises questions that have no easy answer. How do you prove that a traveler has taken something from your rental? If you’re a guest, how do you prove it wasn’t you? And what is Airbnb’s role in mediating these conflicts?

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“I was wrongly accused by my host of taking a television from his rental,” she explains. “Airbnb took the host’s accusation at face value and passed judgment without hearing my side of the story. Airbnb charged my card on file for damages. How do I prove my innocence?

How to prove that an Airbnb theft has taken place?

You are probably wondering how, exactly, Is a host proves that a guest stole from them?

If an item goes missing, a host can file a claim against the security deposit. Airbnb will ask the host to contact the traveler directly. If the guest accepts responsibility, the deposit is paid to the host to cover the missing item. Otherwise, Airbnb makes the call.

Filing a claim on a deposit is easy. If you are a host, just go to the Resolution Center.

  • Choose the relevant reservation.
  • Under “select a reason”, select “request compensation for damages”.
  • Click “continue” to submit details of the damage and associated costs on the next page.

This is exactly what Andrzej, his host in Warsaw, did when he said he discovered a missing television, in particular a three-year-old LG 42-inch television “in perfect condition”. He had paid around $ 400 and he had the documents to prove it, he said.

Not having a clear picture of this Airbnb flight

And here’s where things went wrong. Lambert, who was still traveling in Europe, began receiving accusatory messages from the host and Airbnb’s trust and security team.

“I was getting emails, phone calls, and app messages – all about something I hadn’t done,” she says. “I felt helpless. Airbnb was unwilling to help me and went to court against me.

She claims her innocence.

“I didn’t take the host’s TV set,” she says. “Why would I have?”

Why, indeed, why would a tax preparer from Livermore, California want to steal an Airbnb in Poland? Can she even use a Polish TV, which runs on 220 volts and would require a transformer?

Lambert also had difficulty communicating as she did not always have access to the Internet. She was unable to reply to all Airbnb messages.

Her Airbnb theft trial was over before she knew it. Airbnb allowed the host to take $ 333 from their deposit – presumably they took some depreciation into account – and closed their case.

“We are doing our best to mediate these cases in a fair and reasonable manner,” an Airbnb representative told him in an email. “In our efforts to be objective, keeping in mind that we were not present when the reservation was made, we must take into account all available documentation and communication to make a decision in accordance with our policies and procedures. We regret that this decision affected you negatively, but we believe this is a fair resolution, all things considered. “

She is not yet ready to let go.

“How can I prove that I didn’t do something like this?” ” she asks.

It happened to me. Here is what I did.

I was once accused of stealing a vacation rental. In my case, it was a lovely Vrbo condominium in Oahu. Two elegant peacock statues decorated the master bedroom. One of them disappeared during our stay, according to the owner.

When she confronted me about the lost art, I told her the truth: I didn’t take them. How on earth would we get a large peacock statue on a plane to Phoenix? But I also admitted that I had guests – my parents and a friend (courtesy of the owner).

Not all travelers are honorable renters. Take the guests who checked into this Airbnb in Georgia and then looted the house. They removed a 60 inch TV, sets of sheets, large bottles of shower gel, and other toiletries and cleaning supplies that the host kept in a locked master closet to quickly turn the house between guests.

A quick online search for “TV stolen from an Airbnb” suggests it’s oddly common. The thieves move into a rental for a weekend, then walk away with everything that isn’t nailed down.

But Lambert didn’t fit the profile. It seems highly unlikely that an accountant from northern California who was traveling to Europe would remove aging electronics from an apartment in Warsaw. Not impossible, but highly, very unlikely.

Maybe Airbnb should have been a little more skeptical.

If you’re a guest, how do you prove you haven’t flown in an Airbnb?

How to prove that you are not responsible for an Airbnb flight? There are only a few ways.

  • Take “before” and “after” photos of the rental.
    I know, this is ridiculous. But I already recommend it for rental cars. Why not vacation rentals? I started to do this. If you are not taking a “before” photo, take at least one “after” photo that shows you cleaned the area well. Like a rental car, you never know what will happen to the rental between the time you leave and the time the owner arrives to inspect the work being done by the cleaning crew.
  • Have the owner review the surveillance footage.
    Many Vrbo and Airbnb units have outdoor cameras that monitor comings and goings. You can ask the landlord to check the pictures to see if you left the house with a TV or any other property. (On a related note, don’t fly an Airbnb. It’s an insanely stupid way to get rich. You’ll end up getting caught.)
  • Have a strong alibi.
    Certainly having a witness who can place you at the airport without the peacock statue or the 60 inch television would be helpful. But more precisely, a call to common sense could count for something. How on earth would you bring a huge decorative bird in flight? And more precisely, Why Would you like?

I should add that some of these strategies can work, but they can also fail dramatically. When I told the owner of my Hawaii Vrbo that if she had to deduct the cost of the peacock from my deposit, I was fine with it, she refused.

If the owner had decided differently – and if I had resisted – then the outcome might have been different. After all, these platforms are created for the host, not the guest. The site is much more likely to side with the owner.

If you haven’t flown an Airbnb, here’s how to avoid a false accusation.

What is Airbnb’s role in mediating these conflicts? Well, for Lambert, it apparently was about quickly siding with the host and crediting him $ 333. It’s supposed to give all parties a fair hearing and then decide what to do with a filing.

Reading between the lines, it seemed Lambert felt overwhelmed by the accusations and may not have responded quickly to all the messages. Airbnb quickly closed the case in favor of the host.

Two takeaways from this case: Take an accusation like this seriously and respond quickly. If things don’t go as planned, call one of the Airbnb executives whose names, numbers, and emails are posted on this site.

And it’s supposing this is a false accusation.

If you or any of your children have stolen something from a vacation rental, please acknowledge it and fix it.

So did she steal an Airbnb or not?

During my correspondence with Lambert, I came to believe that she hadn’t taken anything from her Airbnb. I understood why Airbnb would side with the host and that their actions were an honest mistake. I asked Airbnb to re-examine her case and provided her with the paper trail between herself, the host, and Airbnb.

Airbnb reviewed the file and refunded its deposit in full. This is a great result for an innocent customer, but a valuable lesson for the rest of us. Don’t ignore messages from Airbnb’s trust and security team and always – always! – take pictures of your vacation rental.

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