Elevator Broken in Apartment Building

Need advice and opinion on an issue we are are facing as Guests. We booked a 5 night stay in Paris in a great 3 bedroom apartment for 6. This was not a cheap place, and we have no issue whatsoever with the apartment itself. We have 2 travelers with us who are older, one walks with a cane. For us, “Elevator in Building” was essential and the primary selling point. We would not even consider an apartment without one.

As soon as we arrived we find out that the elevator is broken. The person that checked us in was not the owner but the cleaning person, who was actually very concerned when she saw us. We immediately were disappointed and nervous, but just getting of a 9 hour flight we just rolled with it. The cleaning person and the able bodied of us lugged 1000lbs of luggage up six flights of European spiral staircase under the promise that the elevator would be fixed.

I then spoke the the “Assistant” of the listing agent who said she is working the issue and told her the issue and that the main issue was not convenience but a real safety issue concerning the older person who uses a cane to traverse up a narrow , spiral staircase, 6 floors. And really the biggest concern is going down the stairs. And keep in mind these are narrow stairs, not like U.S. stairs.

We went to dinner , and was informed that the elevator was fixed to our relief. We headed back and made it up to the apartment. We were relieved.

We start our day the next morning on a Saturday to find the elevator would only make it to the second floor, then it would not close. Our elderly guests were able to make it down, but it took 15 minutes and everyone was nervous about a fall.

I called to let them agent assistant know of the situation, and heard nothing back. But we went on with our day, and came back to a fully broken elevator. Now we are in trouble. I made some frantic calls an emails to the main lister and her assistant. I dont think the actual owner is involved at all. She informed us do to French law that no technician would be able to come out on the weekend and work, and it wouldn’t be fixed until Monday. I made it clear that we were in dire straights at this point. I didnt hear anything back for 3 hours or so, I couldnt contact the assistant or the listing agent, no one.

Finally she got back to us and offered to let us take another apartment, not nearly as nice as the one we were in but we were in a tough situation. At first we considered this as an option until we found out what she meant was she would let us rent it for a special price to “help us out”. What ?? Yes we would pay for the current apartment for the full 5 days AND for our trouble she would let us rent another place in Paris for the remainder of the stay!. So we would be paying for 2 apartments at the same time. I was floored. I told her that she should have offered to cancel the remaining days in the current place and offer to rent the other place for the remaining days. Or just offer to cancel altogether the remaining days.

Her argument is that the elevator is not her problem, and out of her control since it is not part of the apartment. So no offer of cancellation would be given. My argument is that the elevator was a selling point in the listing and its the first item in the list of amenities for a reason. And although its the buildings elevator, and not her fault, it is the ONLY reason why we considered this apartment. We would have never considered it unless they listed this as a selling point.

I couldn’t believe after informing them of the risk and situation they didn’t immediately offer to cancel. I would have. I wouldn’t be able to sleep as an owner knowing an old man could fall down my building stairs AFTER being informed of it. But it was truly a slap in the face when they offered to rent a second apartment from them as “help for our situation”. I didn’t know whether to laugh or be pissed at that offer.

I would like others opinion on this matter.

I think you have the right to a refund for this place and find somewhere else! Have you called Airbnb?
It’s not the host’s elevator but if they’ve listed it as an amenity they need to take some responsibility

VI understand that you are stressed but you’ve done quite some searching and effort to find this forum and join up, you could have been on and off the phone with Airbnb in that time! I strongly suggest that you contact them immediately, by phone, we have their phone numbers on a thread on here (sorry I’m on an iPad, I don’t know how to go back and forth).

TELL them that you need to be moved, at their cost, to comparable accommodation immediately and cease dealing with the listing agent. If you have not been using the Air message system, immediately put a BRIEF summary of the issues and times you have sought this be fixed in a message to the host. If there is anything available in your preferred arrondisement, Air will help you. None of us can.

BUT Be prepared to pack up and go to a hotel and wait for a refund. 3 bedroom apartments are a rarity in Paris and to be fair, the antique lifts are often broken. When you have mobility issue a large hotel with lift or ground floor flat is only way to go in Paris.


Gardenhost Thank you for your reply. We are currently in the apartment as we speak. Im debating on whether to contact Airbnb now, or wait until Monday to see if the elevator gets truly fixed. In the meantime the older gentleman in our party has to stay in the apartment as its to risky to walk down. Its like he is stranded. Ive only used Airbnb 3x as a guest and so im sort of a newbie, unsure of my recourse I can or should take especially while still currently in the apartment. Would we get kicked out in the street by the owner , then have to scramble to find new lodging and also figure out how to safely get our traveling companion down the stairs safely… its kind of a nightmare.

Emily thank you for your reply. And good advice. We are going to call or contact Airbnb now. I would have earlier We are all sort of disbelief and of all the things that can and do go wrong on vacation, the elevator was the last thing we thought we would have to deal with. Thats why we are reaching out here first to get Airbnb hosts perspective. And the elevator itself is actually modern, its just on the fritz.

Emphasise that one guest is literally trapped in the apartment and that u don’t want to be forced to call emergency services. Stop being so nice. I’ve done 7th floor spiral staircase in Paris, no lift, and it’s not for the faint hearted! Trust me they will move you. My sister was a host in Paris and I know of lots of people moved, at Air’s cost to new accommodation. It’s actually in their policies.

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I think you are totally in your right to ask for another apartment without having to pay double (How ridiculous !). Your host should take the full responsibility AND costs. Phone AirBnB, they will probably solve it for you.

In the future, do take more care of what you book. In case there would be a fire, you probably won’t be allowed to use the elevator anyway and having to come down from the 7th floor could put your family members in danger. And yes, in older buildings the emergency stairs can be horrible.

(And I don’t think it is impossible to get an elevator fixed over the weekend.)

Call AirBNB right now and tell them your situation. If under “amenities” in the listing, it’s listed a life in the building - and you’ve checked-in and the lift isn’t working then the listing is not as described. Get them to sort this out.

I often travel with my mother who is young-ish but not overly mobile because she has had two hip replacements and degenerative discs in her back. I too would have looked for accommodation either on the ground floor or with a lift, and if the lift was out, I would have not stayed there. I would have complained to AirBNB at first instance.

Having worked for a company with a French subsidiary, it is a load of bulldust that it is illegal for an elevator technician to work over the weekend.

As a host, the lift in our building did clonk out over a week ago because there was an electrical fault and the motor fused. We didn’t (and still don’t) have a date for repair. I messaged our guests to let them know and offered them the ability to cancel or receive a discount. Our guest was young, fit and took the discount (50%). I also updated our listing.

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I agree @Ryanc Call Airbnb now. Explain that you have tried to work with the owner to resolve but you have older/infirm people in your party and the owner suggested moving you to another property and you having to pay twice. Ridiculous.

Ask Airbnb to help find you a suitable comparable property.

I agree with the others here that you should call Airbnb as soon as possible and get moved to a more suitable accommodation.

For the future, I recommend that when you book if there is something that is crucial to you, mention the importance when you book. I know that as an American it’s difficult to imagine elevators not working, but if you’re traveling with someone with mobility issues it’s a good idea to ask the host for the date of the most recent inspection of the elevator.

@EllenN It wouldn’t strike me in a million years to check when a lift had been serviced when travelling. The owner/manager should have notified the guest that it wasn’t working.


@Helsi, don’t you ask when the lift has been serviced? I always ask when they had the electrical system checked for the last time. If the water was certified recently as suitable for drinking, and if they serve me breakfast when their last medical checkup was. One can never be safe enough! LOL :laughing: :wink:

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In case people don’t know, they also go out in hotels and based on the reviews I’ve read on Trip Advisor this past week the hotels don’t do anything about it other than get it fixed whenever they can.

A hotel would probably relocate you to the ground floor though

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If they had one open… but the whole hotel wouldn’t be able to move to the ground floor.

Yeah, my post is just based on reading reviews. People complain about elevators, air conditioners, heaters, hot water, water pressure, the breakfast offerings, the airport shuttle, the TV channel selection, the cleanliness…you think we hate reviews, hotels must really hate them.


Good point but hopefully the whole hotel isn’t unable to use the stairs… no doubt most people would try it on though for a discount or a freebie!

Thanks for all the responses, we opened a case with AirBnb. Have not heard anything back yet.

In my case I originally thought my host was going to offer us the other apartment they manage, not as as nice as this one but at least they were trying. Or offer to cancel the remaining stay. That would have been a really nice gesture, similar to what a hotel would offer on terms of moving to the ground floor. If a hotel couldn’t move us they would have offered to cancel.

In my case my host actual offer was was to actually rent both places, and no offer of cancellation on the original. This was absurd and in my eyes pretty damn greedy , taking advantage of a bad situation.

Wow, @Ryanc… you have every right to be upset about this. Since the host is absolutely useless (and something they should be grilled on in their review of the place, and to Air), then your absolute best resort is calling AirBnB. I’d demand nothing less than a full refund of the remainder of your trip for days not used, and it’s shameful that the host isn’t offering a partial refund for the days you’ve already stayed due to the inconvenience incurred by your guest who can’t use the stairs very well. As to the rest of your stay, hopefully AirBnB can find alternate accommodations or the refund will allow for a hotel stay that has an elevator. I’m really sorry you’ve had this experience.

My own personal contingency plan as a host goes something like this happens (say, if my AC conks out) is to offer three choices:

  1. If they want to relocate elsewhere, I’d offer full cancelation of remaining days, and even a free night of what they’ve already stayed to apologize for the inconvenience.
  2. If the unit can get fixed in short order and they have a long booking, free nights until the problem is fully fixed.
  3. I have my personal vacation home that’s a considerable upgrade–I’d offer it to them as a substitute and keep the booking, expecting no higher rate from them. They can check it out beforehand to see if they’d like it, and if not, cooperate with them to achieve option 1.

I feel bad you’re going through this! Makes me wish you were in my neck of the woods since if you were, I’d be offering up my place to y’all.