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I own a small commercial building that has some office space and a residential area on the 2nd and 3rd floors of the building. When I bought the building a few years ago, I decided to turn the top 2 floors into an Airbnb. The location was such that it seemed like it would be good for short-term rentals. I have had good success with it in the year or so — it’s been rented pretty reliably, especially on the weekends. And thankfully, up until now, I’ve only had fairly minor issues with bad guests.

(SEE ALSO: Hotels vs Airbnb (coronavirus edition))

My experiences with Airbnb as a guest

On the guest side of things, I’ve stayed with Airbnb maybe 5-10 times in different places around the world. Usually I prefer to use hotel points, so I use Airbnb when I’m in an area without any chain hotels or where points aren’t great value. Hard to beat a nighttime view of the Acropolis from your Airbnb’s back deck!

a city at night with a building in the background

(SEE ALSO: The best Airbnb in Athens Greece)

I’ve had pretty good luck, though I’ve certainly done my share of dumb things. There was one time where I booked an Airbnb in Barcelona and after the booking went through, my Airbnb host tried to charge me an additional $410. Having been a host now, I know that the pricing situation is fairly complicated, so I would be willing to entertain the idea that it wasn’t a scam, but in any case, we were able to cancel with no problem. I also had a situation where the host tried to charge me for damage that I felt was already there when we arrived. Again, I don’t know for sure one way or the other whether it was a scam or a misunderstanding, but in that case, Airbnb was able to resolve it and didn’t charge me anything.

What is the Airbnb Host Guarantee?

All hosts are supposed to be covered by the Airbnb Host Guarantee, which states that it may protect:

  • Damage to your place caused by guests
  • Damage to your belongings caused by guests
  • Damage caused by a guest’s assistance animal

Learn more by checking out the info on and by reading through the Airbnb host terms and conditions.

Party time – covered by the Airbnb Host Guarantee?

Recently, we had a guest book our place who had 0 reviews and lived in our same town. Those are both red flags that we might otherwise not have allowed him to stay, but we had our system configured in such a way that he was able to instantly book the rental.

(SEE ALSO: This Airbnb Rule Is Pretty Ridiculous)

When it was time for him to check out, our cleaner went by and found that he was still there. He eventually left, but the cleaner found a giant mess and damage when she entered. Here are a few examples of the damage / mess.

why you should get a Airbnb host guarantee a hand holding a wooden object Airbnb host guarantee a table with a piece of wood

Additionally, the place smelled like smoke and/or marijuana.

It was frustrating for sure, but I got a contractor to give me a bid on fixing it all up, and I counted on the Airbnb Host Guarantee to make me whole. The invoice came to a little over $2,000 when you took into account repairing and replacing the damaged items, having to pay the cleaner additional fees for her time and multiple trip charges (since they weren’t out at checkout time), etc.

The results – Airbnb was “pleased” to inform me that …

I filed the claim and was able to upload the pictures of the damage and the invoice from the contractor. I waited a few days and got an email back from Airbnb Host support referencing the Airbnb Host Guarantee

Hi Dan,

I’m pleased to inform you that after a full review of all relevant documentation and communication, we have determined that your request qualifies for reimbursement under our Host Guarantee program.

Based on the documentation available, the total we are able to provide for the damages you’ve reported is $83.60.

This breaks down as:

  • Picture frame: $45.60
  • Coffee table: $38

Since the amounts detailed in the invoice you provided do not match average market costs for these items, we decided to calculate their average costs using similar replacement options. We then applied depreciation accordingly.

Please know that the remaining claims are not eligible for payment under the Host Guarantee Terms and Conditions.

I’m glad that they are “pleased to inform” me that they will reimburse me $83 for $2,000 of damages. I couldn’t even get someone to COME TO MY HOUSE for $80!

At this point, there is apparently another Airbnb department that handles problems with cleaning. I’ve also filed a report with them and am waiting to hear back. Given my past experiences with host support, I am not holding my breath.

The Bottom Line

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. The previous “worst” experience I had with Airbnb was a lady who checked in and then wouldn’t check out. When we finally got a hold of her (after she was supposed to already be checked out), she asked if she could stay another day. We agreed, but then found out that we couldn’t automatically extend her via the Airbnb site because her check-out time had already passed. My co-host called Airbnb support and was told that we should just request the additional amount from the guest as an additional expense, which we did.

The guest never paid it, and when we escalated to Airbnb, they said “Oh sorry, her credit card on file is not valid, so there’s nothing we can do.” So basically she just got an extra day for free, and there was nothing that they could or would do about it. Good times …

Have you ever had any experiences like this with Airbnb? Let us know in the comments …

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