I bought my flat in August 2019. The previous owners had listed it on Airbnb before it was sold. The listing is still live on Airbnb and I’m hitting a brick wall trying to get it taken down. The previous owners say that, as far as they are concerned, they have delisted it and believe it is no longer their problem. Airbnb take weeks to reply, and just tell me not to let anyone in.
You are unlikely to be the only home owner to fear unwanted guests. Only Airbnb account holders can remove a property they have listed and there must be a fair few who forget to do so when selling up. You’d think, therefore, that Airbnb had a process for this situation.
Airbnb was mighty circumspect. It told me that its community support team is available 24/7 to help with such “isolated incidents”. “Where possible, we encourage parties to resolve private disputes directly with each other. Where it’s not possible, we forward communications from parties to hosts, so issues can be resolved,” said a spokesperson, seemingly cutting and pasting advice for guest and hosts which is irrelevant to your situation. After I contacted the press office, it did muster the energy to contact the hosts and get your home removed from its site.
SL of Sissinghurst has experienced similar indifference. She is an Airbnb host and accepted a Christmas booking which was cancelled by the guest. She agreed to waive her 50% cancellation fee as a goodwill gesture. “I asked Airbnb twice to confirm that I wouldn’t be penalised by accepting this and twice they promised that I wouldn’t be. However, the £1,590.60 booking cost was deducted from my latest rental payment,” she says. “Although every single person I’ve spoken to has admitted that it was a computer error, they maintain that I will not receive my money back until 24 hours after the check-in would have been, ie Christmas Day.”
This is an outrage. Since Airbnb does not pass rental payments on to hosts until after the rental period, you never even glimpsed the money it has now deducted. The company would only say that it refunded you “as soon as it was made aware” of your complaint, which just happens to have been after the press office realised you’d contacted the media.
It did not respond to questions about whether the system is routinely deducting the cost of cancelled stays from host accounts until the dates in question have been and gone.
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