To make a VERY long story a little less long:
We booked a “verified” guest to check in March 13, a local woman who said she was renting our 3 bedroom house for her and her teenage son for 31 days. She moved in her boyfriend, TWO teenage sons, and 3 dogs. On March 22 I receive a phone call. The man on the phone said “I believe you have an AirBnB and are hosting guest’s name, I was her last host, and I’m calling to warn you”. The short version: she rented his place for 4 months. After the first 31 days, her card was declined for the second month. She squatted for 3 more months! This is in Los Angeles and the tenants and squatter rights are very extreme, so it’s extremely hard to evict someone. In the 3 months that she squatted, she caused about $30,000 of damage. I don’t think this other host handled things properly and AirBnB is not giving him any coverage for damage, but he did report this to them multiple times. They did not cancel her account and she was able to rent again.
On to my part of the story: I immediately called AirBnB to find out if this is true. They of course couldn’t tell me who her previous host was or give legal advice, but they said I SHOULD cancel her reservation, refund her, and pay AirBnB the fee for cancelling. Upon further correspondence, I was transferred to Trust and Safety who said “do not worry, we will handle it”. Nothing happened. They cancelled her reservation and gave her a full refund, but she refused to leave. It took 4 days and many visits from LAPD to finally get her evicted (I immediately sought legal advice and hadn’t reached the 31 days for her to get tenant’s rights, so I was able to evict much sooner than the previous host). She caused damaged to our 90 year old hardwood floors by locking herself and her dogs inside for days, broke some furniture, ruined a mattress, and we had to have the locks changed of course. My sister and I (we own the house together) are still picking up the pieces, having to take time off work, and flying into Los Angeles to handle the matter. AirBnB is sending an insurance adjuster to meet us to get the damages covered, but we want compensation for flights and time missed from work.
This isn’t the usual case of having bad luck with a tenant. This was a tenant who has been previously reported to AirBnB but still allowed to remain in good standing on the site. Simple negligence by AirBnB allowed this to happen. I have no hope that they will take full responsibility and cough up all the money we have lost due to this issue, so I’m trying to get ahead and make the necessary steps to fight this.
Has anyone taken AirBnB to small claims court and have advice for us? Any and all advice is greatly appreciated!