Thanks for chipping in.
The 1/5 illegal listing number was for LA in March 2022 reported by LATimes. Other places could have even higher rates (reported by other reputable sites). This forum doesn't allow links, please do a google search, and you'll find them. If I've known this, I would've been much more careful. Most importantly, Airbnb support is simply brushing this away, instead of dealing with the issue head on. They benefit from such listings if they are really 1/5 of the total.
(The particular listing was a repeat offense. No reviews on the listing, but one review on the host also claims illegal airbnb. The guards at the gate of the community didn't allow us in and guessed the apartment number, K 210, even before I told them anything. I later found out with help of the leasing office, that the lease for that unit shows no subleasing including Airbnb allowed.)
Anyhow, the point is, it's a much larger scale problem than we would've thought.
Here are some concrete suggestions and details:
For catching and preventing illegal listings:
1) Airbnb should actively confirm and chase down illegal listings, instead of leaving guests stranded. (Currently, even when we offered to provide evidence, Airbnb simply ignores it, forcing us to rebook on our own. It also refuses to admit that their process if faulty.)
2) Airbnb should actively detect fraud and illegal listings by monitoring messages and reviews. It's very easy to detect fraud from address mismatch, suspicious check in instructions, and past reviews etc.. (This particular listing agent is a repeat offender.)
3) Airbnb should do sampled manual checks on all its listings, to get a reasonable estimate of what percentage of the listings are illegal, and report back the process and the numbers. This transparency and oversight is necessary because of the huge conflict of interest with illegal listings and Airbnb.
Host side improvements:
4) Airbnb should fine confirmed illegal listing owners up to 10x the transaction price and use that to compensate impacted guests and fight against future violations. (If Airbnb wants to show more seriousness, then increase it from 10x to e.g. 100x. If Airbnb cannot get enough funds from the illegal listing owners, then it should find other ways to compensate affected guests.)
5) Airbnb should trace back all earlier earnings from those illegal listings, and distribute to all legitimate hosts in the affected areas, and use the fund to detect and catch future cases as early as possible.
Guest side improvements:
6) Airbnb should educate guests and Airbnb support personnels by clearly laying out the process to handle potentially illegal listings, what evidence is needed, what to expect, how long it will take to get it resolved, instead of ignoring the guests and misleading them to rebook on their own. (Currently multiple agents simply left us there, or said they'll be back in 24 hours, even though a dispute specialist said that there in fact is a proper process to handle rebooking from Airbnb side. Several Big Disconnects within Airbnb and between Airbnb and guests!)
7) Airbnb should compensate the impacted guests for lost time and money spent in rebooking and talking to Airbnb support due to illegal listings, and any increased fee incurred due to last minute booking or lack of inventory.