Airbnb: When Things Go Wrong

When Airbnb first began in 2008, little did anyone know just how much of an impact the organisation would have on the travel and tourism industry. Airbnb has created a new experience for travelers, opening up opportunities that previously did not exist when booking through traditional hotels.

How has Airbnb shaken up the travel industry?

Airbnb has contributed to more affordable accommodation options, something which traveling families have welcomed and applauded. For example, our family of five would not have been able to afford to travel around Europe if Airbnb did not exist. Most hotels do not accommodate for families larger than four without having to book more than one hotel room.


Airbnb, Paris

Our Airbnb Paris apartment 


Airbnb has enabled a more comfortable and personalised accommodation experience. Why spend money eating out for every meal when you can cook a meal in the comfort of your own accommodation? Want to check out later than you usually can through a hotel chain- ask your Airbnb host who may be flexible enough to allow you to stay a little longer.

Airbnb has created a bit of a storm amongst hotel chains that some are now changing their offerings to become more competitive.

Although there are many benefits to booking with Airbnb, sometimes things do not go to plan. Bookings can get cancelled, accidents can happen, or a property does not live up to one’s expectations.

I recently shared with you some tips when booking through Airbnb, both HERE and HERE.

In this installment of my Airbnb posts, I share with you 6 things that can go wrong with Airbnb, and what you can do to minimise the chances of these happening to your family, and what you can do if you find yourself in one of these situations.

Airbnb: 6 Scenarios To Be Prepared For


  1. Not reading the Airbnb listing properly, including the rules

The onus is on the traveller to read through the listing and the house rules properly prior to booking. We didn’t read the house rules for one of our listings and stupidly didn’t notice that there was a noise curfew in the afternoon. As a result, we annoyed the neighbours and we ended up checking out earlier and finding other accommodation. Were we compensated in any way? Normally Airbnb does not provide refunds in the case where the onus on the situation was on the traveller. However in our case, we were fortunate enough that Airbnb gave us a credit note to cover our financial loss.


Airbnb Croatia

One of the Croatian Airbnb apartments we stayed in


  1. Problems with Airbnb in Paris and New York

There are Airbnb listings for Parisian where the owner has purchased the property just to use it as a short-term holiday rental without classifying the property as a commercial property (this is required under French law). If the property is a residential property (ie. the owners actually live in the property) then they are allowed to rent out their properties to travellers but only for a certain number of days per year. There are other rules and regulations regarding Parisian properties which I won’t go into here.

City Hall inspectors are now visiting properties around Paris to check if the inhabitants are travellers or residents. These inspections have been mainly occurring in the Marais and Latin Quarter districts which are popular with tourists. Apparently, the inspectors are not evicting tourists or charging them fines, but are simply checking.

If this concerns you, then I would recommend asking the Parisian host for further information regarding their listing and its legal obligations. If they don’t answer your questions about their rental legality, then it’s up to you to decide whether you want to book the accommodation.

Before booking Airbnb accommodation in Paris, DO SOME RESEARCH to find the best area in Paris to stay in.

For more information about the situation in Paris, read HERE.

New York also has complex laws relating to short term rentals that you may need to consider when booking through Airbnb.


  1. You don’t like your Airbnb property

If you don’t like the property or it does not live up to your expectations, you can cancel your booking within 24 hours of checking in. However, whether or not you receive a refund depends on your Airbnb host’s refund policy. Some have strict policies which do not offer refunds. Others may offer a partial refund but only if you cancel up until a week before your visit.

If the property is not as described or does not look like it does in the listing photos, contact Airbnb immediately. An Airbnb representative will advise you of your options.

In either case, you are able to book other accommodation. We did the same after we were not happy with an apartment in Croatia- luckily we were able to book another property within several hours.


  1. You are injured while in the Airbnb property or you damage something in the property

I checked with Travel Insurance Direct and CoverMore here in Australia and yes their policies do cover stays in an Airbnb property. Person-to-person lodging such as through Airbnb is still considered accommodation by the travel insurance industry. Other travel insurers should have a similar policy, however please check with your travel insurer prior to booking.

Your personal belongings inside the Airbnb accommodation are covered by travel insurance however you need to show due diligence when looking after your items (as is the case if you stay in a hotel too).

If you are injured while inside the property- for example, breaking a leg after falling down stairs- your travel insurance will cover you.

Please also remember to contact your host and be honest about the situation. While in London, we accidentally damaged a vase. So we contacted our host and were honest about what happened. The host was thankful for our honesty and said not to worry as his insurance would cover it (and thankfully it was only a cheap vase that you could probably replace for less than $10).

If you are wanting to become an Airbnb host, then you would need to check with your home insurance provider to see if share accommodation is covered under your policy.


London apartment

Our first London Airbnb apartment


  1. Your Airbnb Host Cancels Your Booking

This happened to us with one of our London bookings, but luckily it was about 3 months before our trip. The host cancelled and we were immediately contacted by an Airbnb representative who helped us arrange another booking. We were fully refunded our money and were not charged the cleaning or administration fees (which is normally not refunded when a cancellation occurs).


  1. You encounter an Airbnb scammer

Sometimes, a host/scammer states that he/she has had trouble with the guest’s credit card, and could the guest please send the funds directly to their bank account.

The unsuspecting guest transfers the money, never to hear from the host again or the listing is removed.

Unfortunately, as the payment occurred outside of the parameters of Airbnb, the guest is not entitled to a refund via Airbnb. I would still strongly recommend you contact Airbnb to see if they could offer you some sort of compensation even if it is not a full refund.

I would also recommend contacting your travel insurer to see if your policy covers theft of this nature.

The moral of the story is: all payments should be made via Airbnb’s instructions so that your booking is covered by their guarantee. If a host asks you to do something else with the funds, contact Airbnb immediately to report them.


Some of these scenarios may never happen to you, while others require common sense when dealing with the situation.

Do your due diligence, purchase travel insurance before making any bookings and contact both Airbnb and your host if an issue arises.

Want a discount on your first Airbnb booking? Book via this LINK and you and I will both receive a $34AUD credit from Airbnb. 

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