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. 

53 thoughts on “Airbnb: When Things Go Wrong”

  1. Great list you have here. I’ve never been a big fan of AirBNB mainly because I still prefer to stay in cheap hotels rather than someone else’s house BUT we used Airbnb during our recent holiday to Greece and it was fantastic! We were a family of 10 and we rented a 6br villa in an island which turned out to be the best holiday I’ve ever taken.

    After that, I’d probably consider airbnb more on my travels. Thanks to these tips of yours, I never really thought of these things myself. :p

    • Airbnb is great for large families or groups who would otherwise have to book several rooms in a hotel. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Brilliant tips for anyone using Airbnb- or thinking of becoming a host. Thanks for sharing your experiences. We have yet to use the service but are planning on doing so in the next few months so these will come in handy.. #mondayescapes

    • I am an Airbnb Host, and I can assure you that 99% of the properties are as described and accurately depicted in photos. I have been hosting since Dec. 2017, and I have hosted 43 times. My property is a dedicated Rental and I work extremely hard at making it special and comfortable for my guests. I provide coffee, creamer, snacks, bottled water, and toiletries. I love hosting!!

  3. Great tips – I’ve used AirBNB a few times now and it’s been mostly great, always fine, but these are really useful to bear in mind. I think it’s hard to beat when travelling with younger kids too. #MondayEscapes

  4. These are great tips! We have not used air BnB yet but have often found unusual accommodation online in Europe and the states and even the Cook Islands where we find houses being rented out etc instead of hotels. We will definitely be looking at it though for our next Europe trip in 2016 so I will save this. Thanks.

  5. I have used airbnb before with no problems but I think it’s a great idea to be aware of these potential problems and have the knowledge of the options available. Hopefully we will get to use airbnb again soon (after I pop out this Bub!). I need a holiday already!

  6. Thanks for your great tips on Air BnB Natalie. The scam about having trouble with the credit card and requesting payment into their bank account would be an easy one to fall for. We’ve been warned! 🙂

  7. I’m always a little bit dubious about using private facilities and paying prior to arrival for accommodation. I suppose this is why AirBNB is doing well as they have set up structure for issues.

    As with anything do your research before booking and paying.

    • Fortunately, the host does not receive the money from the booking until 24 hours after the guest has checked in, that way if there are issues beforehand or on arrival, there is some protection. Ideally it would be great not to have to actually make a full payment until arrival. Maybe one day such a process will become available?

      • I think the problem could then be people booking a stay, so it’s no longer available, then just don’t show up – host loses out as no one else could book in that time. Just a thought.

        • Good point- although I’m sure that if the guest did not show up that the host would still receive the money, hence why Airbnb makes guests pay upfront for the booking. The funds are sitting in Airbnb’s holding account and are not released until the check in time. If the guest doesn’t show, the host would still receive the funds.

  8. I just got back from holiday – using 3 different Air BNB properties in Queensland. It was a good experience. I’ve now used it 4 times. I only wish more places came with queen bed options. What’s with all the short double beds out there. Squishy. This has revolutionised the way my family travels. No more expensive hotels with one room and not kitchen. Love this way of travelling.

    • It’s tough being in one hotel room with a large family, especially when the kids are asleep and you have to keep quiet. I like staying up after the kids are in bed, relaxing with a glass of wine.

  9. I have never tried AirBnb, but I can imagine the convenience it provides for large families! Right now, my kids are still young enough for all of us to bunk in one hotel room, but I imagine when they are older, I would need to seriously consider booking apartments. I am bookmarking this.. Hope I remember to use your link when I do book my AirBnb stay to earn both of us some money! :p

    • Thanks! I miss the days when I could squeeze one of my kids in bed with us. They are older and very tall and so need their own beds.

  10. I’ve not tried Airbnb and am in two minds – I agree about not wanting to eat out everynight though and we’ve found renting a cottage or apartment works for us, just not through airbnb (yet). Having your booking cancelled isn’t just restricted to this type of holiday, we had this happen to us in the States and we only found out as we arrived to check in. Needless to say we weren’t happy, the hotelier offered to put us up in his family house which kinda spooked us too. At one point we thought we may need to take him up on that but thankfully we found somewhere else not that far away. #mondayescapes

    • I think that would be one of my worst travel nightmares- arriving somewhere but not having anywhere to sleep. I’ve been through it twice before as a solo traveller and it was scary, but with a family, no way. Thanks for stopping by!

  11. Awesome post!!
    It is great to know all this before booking an apartment with Airbnb.
    I always read very careful the rules. As for scams, I am always worried about them, good to know about that some people ask to send money to their account!

    Thank you so much for joining us on #MondayEscapes

  12. I have not taken into consideration all of the things you list in here. I have never stayed in Airbnb property but I believe everything in here should be taken into consideration if you decide to use the service. I also believe you need to have a good credit card for travel related purposes. If a service like this do not reimburse you for a service you did not receive, you can always try to recover form the credit card company.

  13. Finally someone who points out the potential problems of AirBnB. Thank you. Apart from the legal problems the system also takes much needed flats from the rental market. Especially in big cities like Berlin, London and Barcelona, because owners just get more money by renting short term.

  14. Very useful post! 🙂 I recently took a trip around Europe and used Airbnb almost the whole way (Prague, Vienna, Amsterdam). For Paris, it was a bit harder to find a place (it was either too expensive or not good enough), so we ended up in a hotel. Airbnb really cut down the expenses for my trip and I actually had a more comfortable stay. I had more space, I was able to cook meals, I even did my laundry. 🙂 Now, I recently fixed up one of my own apartments for Airbnb use (I actually have my first guest there right now) — your list is very useful to me now as a host and as a traveler. Will keep all these things in mind, so I can travel safely and also host well. Thanks for the list! Will look at your other Airbnb posts.

  15. I love this post! It is always easy to rave about things when it all goes right, but it is when things did not go as planned that we can tell the good from the bad. Your article gives me more confidence to deal with AirBnB. I have used quite a few similar platforms over the years, from stayz to flipkey, to airbnb, and wrote just last month about the importance of communicating with the host before finalising a booking – that’s so important! Here’s my post ( and I’d love your feedback too about how to choose an apartment on these platforms ????

  16. I’ve stayed in Airbnb apartments many times, and overall had a good experience. It’s great for people on a budget or are looking to get a more “local” experience. Never heard of the scam, although I can see how people who aren’t familiar with how Airbnb works would fall for it. Glad your family had a great time in Europe!

  17. Thanks for the tips! I had my first Airbnb experience recently and were very fortunate in that it was fantastic! We had a really great host, and the accommodations were as expected. At the time when we booked it, there were no reviews on the place or the host so we were a bit nervous (but most other places were booked up already so we went with it), but I’m really glad that it turned out well!

    • Its wonderful when that happens Bryna! We booked a place that had no reviews either and were so nervous, but it ended up being one of the best places that we stayed in. We hope to return there again someday! Thanks for stopping by.

  18. Good to read. We’ve used airbnb twice now, in Florida and our home town in the UK (we moved in to local accommodation prior to moving overseas). We’re about to use it again for Cape Town. My biggest issue with airbnb is the reviews policy. I’m terrified of saying anything even vaguely negative in case they write something bad about you! But then it makes you worry how honest the other reviews are…

    • That’s true Clara. I say, be honest- the host needs to know if they have not done something right. But I agree, I don’t think they are all honest.

  19. We enjoy staying at Airbnb properties and have had a good experience overall. But there’s this one time in Andorra…

    #7 Your host never shows up to give you the key.

    To his credit, when he was unable to meet us he asked his uncle to do it. Said uncle forgot. We had no problem getting a refund (and a whole lot of apologies from the host!) but that put us in the unenviable position of having to book a hotel. Nice hotel, though.

  20. We use AirBnB quite a bit. I always contact the host and ask a few questions before I book. I want to know how responsive they are. If they don’t answer you before you book, or you have trouble communicating (language can sometimes be an issue)- it’s not going to get better after you book or after you arrive. You want someone that is responsive and helpful. We have also found there are huge difference is expectations internationally. Someone in Bulgaria tried to tell us a unit had a full kitchen because it has a microwave with a hot plate on the top of it on the drainage board for a utility type sink! Not my idea of a kitchen. If you can’t see it in the pictures and it’s important to you- don’t book it!

    • Elizabeth you make some very valid points, especially about expectations differing internationally. Very important to do your research to avoid this. Thanks for stopping by.


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