Catastrophic Loss due to Professional Criminal "Guests" - airbnb Denying $60k+ Damage Claim! Help!


We hosted a fairly well-reviewed guest from Canada to checked in ridiculously late for our entire home. We had barely started hosting and were excited as every guest experience was extremely positive and rewarding (as airbnb advertises).

A few days into their reservation, we ask if they need anything, to which they say, “oh we’re stepping out for a bit - do what you need”. When we entered our house. We discovered the so-called “guest” had caused extensive damage in every room, and physically forced their way into our locked storage room and our garage.

We lost valuables, collectibles, cash, personal documents, travel documents. Imagine getting a home ready for airbnb, and securing all of your valuables into a storage room and hiding in the garage. That’s what we lost. (we were very naive…)

A police report was filed listing the larger, more valuable possessions (handbags, briefcases, DSLRs, lenses, documents, etc), so police could start an investigation while we continued inventorying losses.

A few weeks later, a local claims adjuster company came out after we had fixed the majority of the damages to initiate their claim process. They let us know that criminals had permeated throughout airbnb and so business was very good for them. :frowning:

During the claims process, airbnb and the claims specialist requested receipts of our lost possessions. We requested as long of an extension as possible (I think they normally give you a few days), since we had loss items that were purchased nearly two decades ago, and receipts may have been lost or stored away between homes in Asia, Pacific Northwest, South California, as well as storage units abroad, and businesses we own!

While sending updates to the claims adjuster, we receive an e-mail from airbnb stating that they were covering 4k of over 60k in damages and losses, and that we would have to accept the offer within 48 hours or get nothing. We assured them that we were will compiling receipts for stolen items and that we would need more time.

The next e-mail came after the 48 hours, which re-iterated the fact that their decision was final, and because we did not agree to the reimbursement amount, we were getting $0.00, and that their decision was final!

We tried re-opening a claim. Claim gets forwarded to same overseas agent.

Our question

What do we do? This has been an absolute disaster for us personally. We do not enjoy visiting our home. It feels like we’ve been violated. We had to change our mailbox locks because the “guests” had stolen our mail, and started filing credit card applications with our information! :frowning:

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I am horrified for you but not in the least bit suprised as this mirrors the experience I had on a much much smaller claim. (And I really do mean small, however the process was so unsatisfactory I immediately had doubts over the claim process for larger claims where the guest does not accept fault.)

I too was told I had to provide receipts and of course I did not have one so I sent an an estimate as the site suggests you can, only to be told it was unacceptable and only receipts would be accepted. Hmmm but 99% of my home possessions do not have receipts. So I was immediately worried and it put me off hosting in my home in case of breakages.

Your situation is far worse and I don’t know what to tell you as I had exactly the same thing with the ‘Case closed and we will not talk about it further’. I’ll be honest it really put me off; I’ve been to two Opens and generally drank the Koolaid but in that moment I realised how vulnerable we hosts are to dodgy guests and a lack of support from Airbnb. And it means I will be minimising my involvement in hosting as I feel it’s not worth the hassle.

I hope you have home insurance and that they knew you were doing Airbnb because that’s your only recourse now.

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That sounds horrible and I’m sorry its happened to you. I hope you have your own good house & contents insurance.

Your hosting nightmare is one I’ve often thought could happen to me; and if it did I always wondered if my home owner’s insurance would cover it if they found out I was a host. But I just bury my head in the sand and hope for the best.

My question is, do you have insurance that will cover this if Airbnb won’t?

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I am so sorry to hear this. I would try to make contact with any past people who brought their situation to the media. If they are willing to speak to you, then it will likely be a lot more help than going at it alone.

Do you have the identity of this individual? Is the American police or the Canadian police going to go after these guys? If possible I would want to pursue full charges. The guest may miracuously return some of the items if he thinks he will have a felony or jail time.

The Host Guarantee does have an Arbitration process, I am not surprised at your difficulty, seems very common.

I also agree that you need to notify your own Insurers.

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Hire a lawyer, it will pay for itself.


I have noticed lately that some of the guest where I had problems, also had great reviews. Unfortunately this same guest will turn around and give you the host horrible reviews and they know they can get away with it.
I am afraid that guest are not held to higher standards and are always right. Unfortunately we are going to see this more and more, and I am not shore where this all will lead to.

Agree absolutely!!! A great investment.

I think a lot of it is hosts are afraid to leave honest reviews and probably have an arrangement of “you give me a good review and I’ll leave you a good one too.” After an exchange or two like that, then the entitled guests feel they can get away with anything. OR, they made sure they were good guests a time or two to get set up to find a great place and rob them (under a fake ID), OR they did a phishing deal on people and stole their log-in and used that to steal. In the last week or two I’ve gotten 2 phishing emails for my log-in and my husband has gotten a fake one from Uber.

Agree with you!

There are going to be always unethical people; guest or host, question is how does one protect one self.

I worked in Travel Industry for a long time, and found that larger companies had a huge advantage over smaller “Mom and Pop” agencies, in having large financial resources to hire attorneys to study the pitfalls and draft accordingly agreements for customers to sign, to protect the company. Unfortunately most smaller agencies had not such resources, same as many Host presently.
I think the only way for most honest, legit and hard working Host here would be to have some sort of disclosure statement/agreement for the guest to sign.
I am not shore if that will be against the policy/contract with Airbnb do. I don’t know, but I do see a need of having some type of protection, something more than what we have presently.

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Please let us know the out come :blush:

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This is a hard story to read. My spouse was concerned about belongings in the house and being stored behind a locked door. We went round and round about what to leave behind. We finally settled on moving everything that we were emotionally attached to storage, offsite. It turns out there we only a few things that made the transition. It allows us to sleep easier at night.


I really want to support and encourage you to get this out. As my husband said, this does not represent the sharing economy and Airbnb needs to be called out on it. First, I recommend you go to Airbnb site on twitter and post it. They don’t like that and got back to me immediately when I called them out on not getting back to me on an insurance claim. No one has receipts on everything they own- that is ridiculous and an excuse to be capitalistic. This is both a personal a group issue. This could happen to any of us. Please keep us posted.


I just listened to CEO video and he says it’s about listening to is and being a community. Ok, that is good so hold him at his word.

This is why I stopped hosting on AirBNB.

When I read the host guarantee in detail and saw that it was “actual cash value” and required that I accept “binding arbitration” (see NY Times article on binding arbitration here:

I figured that I was not covered and my options were to either buy a very expensive insurance policy that would fully cover me as a bed & breakfast or leave. That full coverage insurance policy would have cost about 5x what I currently pay and made airbnb non-economic, so I left.

A while after I delisted, I started getting calls from someone at AirBNB who wanted to know why I quit. I told them that I didn’t trust their guarantee. They acted like I’d complained that the water was too dry. I guess I was right.

I know what I would do if I were in your shoes, but you would have to be willing to get political.


Yes I’ve recently asked Airbnb to explain how a bigger claim would work since my small one was a disaster. Airbnb keep trying to suggest it would work differently if I had the receipts … but who has receipts for everything they ever bought? It’s a flimsy policy full of holes.

I guess we have to start obsessing with keeping receipts of absolutely everything in our home. OMG :scream:!

It’s a crazy policy from AirBnB, on the other hand: What happens if an airline loses your luggage? Based on what will they pay for your losses? Isn’t this also based on receipts and maybe a standard payment, based on kilos, that is very little compared to the actual loss?

Most of the time it’s not the actual guest that cleaned out your place. It’s an organization of criminals who have obtained access to the guest account. Airbnb has to implement multi-factor authentication.

I’ve had a couple of cases where the guest accounts got hacked, reservation gets cancelled, and they actually showed up anyway. Seems like drug dealers setup these homes for their buyers so they could raid the place and find money for the actual drugs. MFA would’ve prevented most of this. Both times were from accounts with great reviews. They also target “instant bookings” which is why I’ve disabled that option. They will obtain your address/phone instantly. They basically get a few fake reviews from hosts and force the “thumbs up” and they’ll be able to instant book. If you see reviews mostly from the same city, it’s a red flag in most cases I’ve seen. This will be much less of an issue if Airbnb had implemented MFA and host/guests don’t click on phishing email links from fake Airbnb emails.

I think it’s perfectly fine to place cameras within your living areas of your own home. I have about 7 cameras around the premises and that definitely deters intruders from doing anything shady. Of course make sure you have a battery backed power surge protector on the modem, router, arlo station, etc. Obviously the intruders themselves could disable those devices but I think there’s a way to send your phone an alert if your internet goes down.

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Yes, it is a standard payment based on kilos, but I guess this is what IATA being the overseer is making airlines cough up. Which is reassuring to the traveller, I guess.

With Airbnb, I don’t think there is anyone to oversee what they are doing. It is still a very un-regulated market. While I like being an Airbnb host (in fact, I have three Airbnb guests staying in my small apartment tonight, which means I am just about full up) I have no doubt that this is a high-risk pastime.