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Genuine or scam?

I need to tell someone this and ask for your your fabulous advice.
My little apartment is part of my house.
A guest came late, so I didn’t get to meet her.
She left early the next day, so I didn’t meet her then either.
She texted saying what an awful night she’d had due to the over whelming smell of mould and rising damp. She said she would have left then, but was too tired to do so. It was quite a diatribe about how dreadful it was , how dangerous mould can be etc etc That’s certainly true
I asked for specifics, to know just where was it coming from so I could deal with it.
She said she smelled it as soon as she entered the space, but not from where she thought it was.
Of course she wanted a refund and she didn’t plan to review me if I did so.
I refunded her because I’m not that hard up that I needed her $$
Have I found this overwhelming smell of mould and rising damp? Not at all!!
I can’t find that evidence anywhere and nor can anyone else!
I think she was scamming me.
The thing is- should I review her or let sleeping dogs lie?
I think I’ll chalk that one up to experience!!

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Some folks have sensitive noses and can smell something a mile away. Ask a relative or neighbor to go to the basement and sniff around to see if they can smell mold. It might also be a humidity issue. Try running a dehumidifier, that might help. Also check the vents and filters. We usually spray Lysol into the vents.

Thank you for your prompt reply- I agree re asking someone else and I have done so and will ask others too. It wasn’t a basement though, a ground floor space.
There were other smells that I suggested she detected, and perhaps confused with a mould smell, such a wood treatment that I’d applied to some bench tops


I would never have refunded a guest in this situation. It’s not about whether you need the money but whether she was entitled to one

As you know the minute she mentioned not leaving a review if you refunded she broke airbnb T&

Once you have someone else sense check if there is is a smell. Then leave an honest review marking her down do she can’t IB elsewhere.


I also had a guest leave early because she complained of wet/ dry mold smells.
It was interesting to observe just how she lived as she granted me permission to fix the breaker that she kept tripping in the unit. The place was a mess .days old dishes with a wet towel in the sink.
It was somewhat of a longer term with lease agreement. So she gave two weeks notice and vacated. I then found a great tenant for the remainder of her time. I’m not judging or second guessing anyone’s allergy problems but I’ve had three tenants between two different rentals that have the same complaints and live like slobs.

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You absolutely should always review every guest.

This is review extortion and all hosts are quite sorry you succumbed to it as that encourages the bad behavior.

I’d review her and I’d report her to Airbnb for violation of TOS.


This guest intended to scam you for a refund before she arrived. I’m so sorry you refunded her, and don’t understand why you did. By refunding, you let her know that scamming and extortion works.

You absolutely should leave a review, not only because you should always review guests and certainly warn others of bad guests, but you owe it to other hosts because you rewarded her scamming which told her it’s a viable strategy that she will no doubt try to employ with future hosts.


Once she said that, you were safe and didn’t need to refund her to avoid her review. If she had reviewed you, you could show Airbnb where she committed the review extortion and they would remove her review. It is the one time they reliably remove a review, when the guest threatens over a refund.

But, yes, it was a scam.


If the issue had been anything else (rodents, bugs, damage, dirt or visible mould) the guest could take photos. But a bad smell… it’s your word against theirs so Airbnb would probably side with the guest. Maybe your guest already knew that.

Yes, I agree with you, I should have sat on it for a while before acting. I have a repeat guest coming tomorrow and I’ll get him to give me an honest ‘smell review’. The refund hasn’t happened yet

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Yes I think you’re right. I got in touch with Airbnb Resolution and was told to leave a review and I could refund if I wanted to or not.
I forgot to mention here that I told the guest that I’d refund if I agreed with her complaint.
Then I thought, pay her and get her out of my hair.
I should have sat on it and considered the situation before acting!! Lesson learned.
Gosh! I appreciate this forum !!
Thank you all!!

Then don’t refund her. You don’t agree with her complaint, there is no mold smell. In addition, she tried to extort you.

Since Airbnb has given you the choice to refund or not, don’t refund and use the funds to buy groceries for a local food pantry. She doesn’t deserve the refund due to extortion and if you don’t need the funds, then pass it forward to someone in need.


Sometimes it’s difficult to decide if one is over reacting or actually ‘smelling a rat’, so to speak( and hopefully not literally!!) I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt as well, as being played is not a common thing for me, so far.
My guests have been great.
That’s why I’ve posted to the forum, requesting unvarnished opinions .
I got them!
I think the main lesson I’ve learnt is to wait a while. Also to trust my instincts and finally, write a review in an unemotional factual way ( I have yet to do this).
I have found Airbnb person to person assistance good, too.
Thank you !

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I agree it’s sometimes difficult to know. So yes, you need to give yourself time to think about how to respond.

Had she been one of your very first guests, you might very well have had reasonable doubts about you simply not smelling any mould because maybe you’re used to it, or your sense of smell isn’t that great.

But as I assume none of your other guests has ever mentioned such a thing, the complaint becomes suspicious, especially as it was characterized as “an overwhelming smell”. That’s pretty dramatic for something no one has ever mentioned before. Had she said “You know, it smells a bit mouldy in there, I’m not sure where it’s coming from. I have a particularly strong sense of smell, so maybe you aren’t aware of the issue”, it would have been more believable.

Spurious claims are often expressed dramatically- you see this in retaliation reviews all the time. A normal, non-scamming guest, might say “The place had some areas that are really in need of a deep cleaning and the overall cleanliness level left a lot to be desired”.

The scammer, retaliatory guest will say “The place was totally, revoltingly filthy” and go on with a long list of details about every hair and piece of fluff they supposedly found in every room in the house.

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You have nailed it- in every word Muddy.
Airbnb confirm I have not had a review like this in my 5 years of hosting and will take her review down if it’s offensive.
It also seems her payment has gone through to my account.
I’ve submitted my review of her.


Good outcome! Congrats.

You’ve all given me a lot to take on for the next time, should this happen again. I really really appreciate that you all took the time to read my query and give it your considered opinions and advice.
This forum is a wonderful support framework.
My sincere regards to you all

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