I am concerned that the person I'm renting from long term is going to try to get me kicked out. I have done nothing against Airbnb rules nor the house rules, but I anticipate that she may retaliate by lying to Airbnb such as saying she has an emergency and needs the property.
Apologies for the long post, but I want to cover energy angle.
I'll give the background, leading up to the most recent incident, all of which leads me to expect a passive-aggressive move against me. The end of the post after "So..." is the breakdown of what I see as my potential options.
First, here's why I'm concerned. I'm an expat who works remotely. I've lived a few years now in Airbnb properties with long-term stays. I have consistently high host reviews, almost all of which state my cleanliness (I like cleaning for myself as I am very private, and it also keeps a sense of normalcy in my life to have the same daily schedule, including self-care activities, no matter where I live). I have lived in this particular city for over a year, and this is my second long-term stay here. The stay ends in December, I'm half way through. I don't want to stay in this city, but I'm not prepared to leave until December, and I don't want the hassle of finding another property that meets all of of my specific needs and wants. I just want to enjoy peace and groundedness in my last three months as I have the past year and three months. Moving early is more effort than I want to expend, for a variety of reasons.
Here's the background with this host, which leads up to the current issue and cause for concern. Every time she needs or wants something, it always begins with a plea to my ethics. I'm very direct and honest, and such pleas set off red flags of passive-aggression. For instance, she didn't want me cleaning for myself when I asked in advance of moving in, she wanted the maid to come every week to disinfect for COVID -- I guessed that this is actually to have someone keep an eye on her property, but she denied that until later when I was sick and needed to isolate two different times. The first time she said okay but cleaning is for my benefit to replace toilet paper, etc., and she said the second time would be the last because she needed someone to keep any eye on the property (!). I still clean for myself, but there are a few things I don't like to do, so I only have an hour of cleaning a week rather than four, and she's been okay with that. (In fairness to her, after a couple months I told her I was out going to pay $2.50 for the cleaning rather than $10 as i only use an hour, but apparently it's part of her agreement with the building to pay a set amount each week, as she said she would pay the extra $7.50. So, she's not totally rigid.)
The day I moved in, two hours prior, she stopped responding to phone calls, text messages, and communications through the platform. I had a question I needed answered about a kitchen item, I already had one I'd bought for the previous stay and didn't want to haul it if I didn't need to. No answer. I needed to know something about the check-in. No answer. I arrived earlier than I anticipated (which was not too early for check-in) and didn't know if the person checking me in needed to be notified. No answer. I got checked in with no problems. Once in the unit, I needed the wi-fi code so I could work. No answer. Sent several messages about it to her phone and through the platform. No answer the next day. I finally found the wi-fi code and notified her. No answer. After that, she became available again whenever she needed to contact me, and has been available for the rare times I need anything (I'm very self-sufficient, I almost never need anything from a host).
A month or more after I moved in, I got a message from her that, due to these difficult financial times (the appeal to ethics and emotions), she needed to put the property up for sale, and would I be okay that she needed to show it. Althought I don't have to be, I've been very accommodating. I've sold my own home before, I know how important appearance is. I've tided for the photographers (twice as the first time they had to cancel through no fault of their own) and for two viewings. I only asked to be given 48 hours notice each time. The second viewing, there was no representative, and the people asked me questions, which is difficult for me as I'm only somewhat fluent in the language, but I didn't complain about it, I try to not be a jerk and complain about small things. After the second viewing, she offered to refund me $100 at the end of my stay, which I thought was very ethical. I told her thank you and I accepted. She did not send an offer through the platform, and I now have the feeling I will never see it. I'm letting it go. It's too petty to make a big deal out of, but the current concern is why I think I won't see it, should i make it to the end of the stay.
The only cause she's ever had for genuine concern was when the rent was due for my second month. I had already transferred money to my account for the withdrawal, but Airbnb reported that they could not complete the transaction. Of course she was concerned. But the money was there. I also could not access my reservation from the platform, there was a problem with the online system, and I'd experienced the platform issue many times in the months leading up to this issue. She told me she hoped the issue was resolved the next day, I told her it was my goal to have it resolved that same day, and I was finally able to access my reservation, resubmit my payment, and it went through immediately. Since then, both subsequent payments have gone through. Otherwise, I give no cause for concern. There are many employees in the building, there are security cameras, all of which can attest that I never have guests, I live quietly, I keep the space very clean, and I am overall a conscientious guest. Because I live in Airbnbs and like the convenience of the platform as well as the variety of choices for places to live, I want to keep a good reputation and be in good graces with the company. So far I've had one mutually negative review, and have many excellent reviews.
Now the most recent event which has given me the greatest cause for concern. She emailed me that she'd gotten the power bill, that they always ask guests to be mindful of energy usage, that the bill had never been that high, and would I be willing to help them out with approximately $45 US.
I really thought about it and tried to consider it from several angles to be fair and balanced. I told her that there was nothing about energy usage in the rules, but that I did find some printed rules in the unit which said to turn off the AC in a room when not in a room, and I do that. I happen to spend a lot of time in the room, but I always make sure to keep the door closed to not make the AC unit work harder. I explained that many hosts have rules that state if a guest goes over a certain amount of usage that they will have to pay the extra, and that while I have empathy that she didn't anticipate this issue (she's not a new host btw), it is not my responsibility to protect her. I pointed out how accommodating I've been about showing the property even thought I didn't have to, and that she had offered the $100 refund, so that it was no longer an act of generosity on my part, but that things were in balance between us. In the spirit of being fair and balanced, I would offer her a compromise: with the exception of when I am sleeping, I would be willing to turn off the AC when the room was cool enough, and turn it back on when the room started to get too warm, rather than maintaing the temperature for my comfort and convenience. I ended the email with a question: Do you accept my offer of this compromise?
Her response: "Do whatever your consciousness tells you to do."
I made a direct and reasonable request, to which there are only three possible answers: yes, no, or counteroffer.
In my life experience, I got hit in her response with a passive-aggressive move, and in my experience with the host, I got hit with the usual appeal to ethics. Frankly, we have a business contract through Airbnb, and my morals are not included as under her influence or control. Because of the repeated passive-agressions, I reasonably anticipate that when the next power bill comes in, if not before, that she's going to attack. Because I have not broken any rules and do nothing that could be a reason to kick me out, I anticipate she's going to do something like lie to Airbnb and say she has a sick relative and they need to stay in the space, or that something happened to her home and she needs to live in the space, or something else that will get me kicked out so that she doesn't look like she's breaking the contract. She may have a small penalty, but she can use another platform to rent the space, and she's trying to sell the property anyway, right? This is how I'm trying to logically figure out her stance. If she does something like this, then I'll have to make the effort of packing and finding another space that fits all of my needs in very short order. But I'm also not going to bend over and spend money I dont owe just to keep her from doing this. I have been ethical, and I'm not going to take on a responsbility that is not mine just for her personal convenience and comfort. Perhaps I'm being self-biased, I try not to be, but I believe I show appropriate appreciation by paying my rent on time, keeping the space very clean, and following all of the rules, and I told her this in my response where I was trying to work out fairness and balance. I've never once complained to her about her behaviors, not even when she didn't respond at check-in. I've never struck out at her for any reason. The closest I've come to criticism was to say I won't take responsibility to protect her when she did not protect herself.
What can I do to protect myself in anticipation that she will lie to get me kicked out? It's my understanding that if the host makes a claim to get out of hosting the stay and it's within the rules, such as an emergency circumstance, then Airbnb will side with the host. Is there any possibility that by talking about it here, I've preemptively protected myself? Or am I just likely going to have to deal with the sudden inconvenience of having to move if that is her whim? I don't trust that if I tell her my concern, she will honor my concerns, but perhaps discussing this fear in messages with her via the platform will give me some protection? Or will Airbnb just not care? (She can of course keep the $100 she offered and it will equal the overage she would want me to pay for six months, but I have the feeling she's not going to view it like that, but instead go for revenge rather than balance, even though technically it's not balance if I didn't break a rule, only financial balance. Still, I could accept that, but I sense it won't be enough for her. Amd I'm not motivated to offer it as a compromise, but will be open to it if she does.) Any other suggestions I haven't considered?
P.S. Hosts, I respect you and your property. I've been a homeowner. I helped someone set up their airbnb and even hosted a guest for them. I have 25 years of customer service work experience at the lowest and highest levels. I get your challenges. I make sure to not be a demanding guest, I only want what is promised and contracted for, and to experience privacy and mutually respectful treatment. I appreciate any advice you can give me in this situation based on your experiences with airbnb, with guests, and with other hosts.
@Heidi588 You sound like a responsible, reasonable person. Some things, like wanting to have someone come clean, are pretty standard for a lot of long term rentals, as hosts have had some horror shows with guests when they didn't establish some way of coming in once every week or two, and found the place trashed after a couple of months. But you're obviously someone who likes a clean living space, so if I had a guest like that and saw the place was clean after the first couple times, I'd bow out and feel confident that you weren't a guest who makes a mess or damages things. However, if there's certain cleaning tasks you'd rather not do which take hour of the maid's time, I don't understand why you aren't willing to pay for that. Although there isn't an obligation to pay if the host didn't make the arrangement clear when you originally booked.
As far as the electric bill, before paying any extra, I'd ask to see the current bill, compared to the bill before you moved in, so you could see how much the difference is. I'm not sure how the electric bills work there, but here where I live, it is charged at a certain rate, but if you go over the base # of KWHs, the rate quadruples per KWH. On the entire bill. So just using a bit more than normal can result in a hugely higher bill.
I know you don't want to have to move, but if I were in your shoes, I would be looking for another place. It just seems like there have been a lot of issues between you and the host, and now you're feeling like she actually doesn't want you there anymore. I wouldn't want to stay in a situation like that for another 3 months myself.
As far as posting here giving you any sort of protection, no, this is just a discussion/question forum for hosts and guests- it's not monitored by Airbnb customer service at all.
I'm wondering if part of what you're experiencing as passive/aggressive is down to some cultural differences. For instance, I live in Mexico and it's very common for a tradesperson to tell you they'll be at your place to work at 9 the next morning and never show up and not bother to call. We would consider that disrespectful and a lie, but a lot of Mexicans seem to have the attitude that it's better to tell someone what they want to hear so they'll be pleased in the moment, rather than actually follow through on what they promised, or just say "I'm really busy the rest of this week, but if it's not urgent, I could come next Monday." So maybe her talk about "do what you feel is right" is because it's considered rude in her culture to just come out and say "This is how it has to work for me, and if that doesn't work for you, then you'd best move on."
@Sarah977, I really appreciate you responding.
Another way of saying passive-aggressive is manipulative, and based on the way she approaches things, I have a strong sense of covert (not overt) manipulation. I get the sense of her doing this when there is something to her benefit and definitely not to mine, yet to find a way to convince me that it is to my benefit, such as appealing to my ethics on a global level, like COVID or energy conservation or difficult financial times. It's an appeal to unity and mutual suffering, which is also a sales technique, not a service technique. My guard goes up just like it would in a used car parking lot.
I'm glad that you wrote, because it helped me more accurately identify things that are concerning me. First, the electricity bill has been approximately $45 a month since I've been here. Perhaps that's expensive for this country, but to me it doesn't seem that high. I acknowledge, though, that I've only lived in rentals and have never had to budget for electricity bills, I've never seen one. She said she sent me the bills in her message, but there was no attachment and I didn't push the issue. I definitely would if it were part of the agreement that I would pay overages.
Second, I looked through posts on this forum before posting. I noted that a lot of hosts have had concerns about guests running AC, and that they have to do things to protect themselves, such as smart meters (which would not be an option here) or putting something in the rules, as I've seen other hosts do in this country, so that they don't get hit with paying overages. I get that hosts have budgets, and after paying a mortgage and other expenses, there may be a fine line between not making any profit and having to pay out of pocket. Since she is an experienced host, I would think that she would know that one unthinking/uncaring group of guests could cost quite a lot if they ran the AC in all three bedrooms 24/7, and protect herself accordingly. I'm all for good relations and taking personal responsibility, but if I've acted within the rules and not irresponsibly, and if she's not set up means to protect herself after hosting for quite some time, then I don't think it's right that I should take on the responsbility to protect her for not planning for something like this. Had I known I may have to pay extra, I would have run the AC anyway and adjusted my budget accordingly. Also, I haven't blasted it even when I'm out just because I knew I wouldn't take a hit, I'm not a jerk like that.
She has no idea that I'm already extremely ethical, but she makes moral appeals in ways that are meant to induce guilt, and I'm not down with that. But if I felt it was ethically right to pay for the electricity, even though I don't like the manipulation, I would. Genuine ethics mean they don't always favor me.
Everything over the past three months gives me a strong feeling that where she is concerned, ethics are for other people to have when they think of her, that they don't apply to her when they're inconvenient for her (example not relevant to the contracted guest-host relationship), and that she's going to go overboard in being offended because I'm not thinking of her. I've dealt with so many people like this, I know the warning signs of the latter. Her response to me about my conscience rather than agreeing, disagreeing, or counteroffering shows me that she's fighting, and I'm not going to engage with that. What her consistent behavior reveals about her does not mean she'll do what I'm concerned she will, but the warning signs are there that a fight is on and that it's possisble she'll take such a step, so I need to be wise and try to prepare. Fortunately, she's not on site, I've never met her and probably never will, otherwise I suspect we would have locked horns much sooner.
You mentioned cultural differences -- thank you -- and I'm aware that there are some. I have really strong boundaries and don't do well with people who try to get around them, and I don't try to get around theirs to balance things out; maybe she would get along better with someone who does, but I just don't know how to play those kinds of games at all, in other cultures or in my own. I would make an awful politician, I'm too honest and direct. Maybe I should move to Germany, if only it were as cheap.
I took to heart what you said about living like this for three months. We rarely communicate, so things haven't been bad for three months, just several irritating moments that pass. I'm carrying this concern for now and it's a burden I don't want, hence I'm trying to work it out so that I can go back to focusing on daily life and enjoying this space. I don't like that she has power over me in this way, such that she can mess up my life at any given moment, even though I'm very much within the rules. And because it's a power issue, if I give in to her on this, then she will find other ways to try to use power to my disadvantage and her benefit. I've learned in life that changing my "No" may make things temporarily more comfortable, but only reinforce controlling and manipulative behaviors. I simply can't hand power over to her by handing over money and trust that she will stop there. I would end up with a far greater burden than what I have now. Perhaps it will end up with me moving because she pulls something like what I worry about, but things aren't bad enough for me to want to get out of the contract and make all the subsequent effort with Airbnb, let alone packing, moving, etc. Her being off site and mostly hands-off creates a nice cushion.
Thanks so much for your caring response, and your reflection of how I presented myself as a guest and as a person. I really do try to be reasonable and trustworthy, and fair. Apologies for the long response, but this is a complex and subtle problem I'm dealing with, and writing it all out within the space where it was presented helps me to process it.
@Heidi588 I have no idea what a average electric bill would be in Guatemala. One might think it would be similar to Mexico, but I know that's not necessarily true at all. Every country has it's own set-up. In Canada, the other country I'm quite familiar with, $45 would be unheard-of cheap. I think there's even a $30-$35 charge whether you use any electricity at all, like an account fee.
In Mexico, there is a govt. subsidy for those who don't use much electric, as those would be the middle-lower income people. But they figure if you use large amounts of electricity and want to live a first world life-style in a not first world country, with AC, a pool, a pressure pump (rather than gravity feed from a tank on the roof, which is traditional), then you can afford that lifestyle, so you aren't eligible for that govt. subsidy. That's why the bills can jump hugely if you go over a certain KWHs. And also why the people I know with AC usually put in solar power here.
I don't have AC, or anything else that uses a lot of electric, so my bills here are about $7/month, which is so dirt cheap.
I didn't realize from your first post that you and the host have actually never met, I had the impression that some of these exchanges were in person. Hard to say if it were a face-to-face relationship if it would be worse or better. Some people don't come across the same way in writing as they do in person, which is why so many online communications, or text messages can be misconstrued. But sounds like you've had a lot of people experience, as well as guest/host experience, so you'd be the best judge of that.
I hear what you say as far as being a straightforward person- I'm much the same way myself. I hate skirting around something instead of just having clarity, yes, or no, or how can we make this work.
It's curious what you're saying about taking or giving up power and how someone will test one's weaknesses and take advantage. That's most often a lament you see from hosts here, rather than guests. A lot of new hosts think being a good host means letting entitled, demanding guests walk all over them, but those kinds of guests can never be pleased and will just take mile if you give them an inch. And after a host goes out of their way to accommodate them, they don't even appreciate it, and leave a review full of complaints. Hosts also complain about guest's not responding to their messages uless they want something from the host. Interesting to read about it being experienced from the other direction.
@Heidi588 If the host no longer wants you in her property, you don't need "protection." You need to pack your bags and get out.
You might have some legal rights if you happen to be in a jurisdiction that confers right-of-tenancy after a certain period. But it doesn't sound like you're in a country whose legal system you're prepared to navigate in an eviction dispute.
@Sarah977, yes, hosts can have bad boundaries and feel entitled just as guests can. The common denominator is that we're both human! But you're right, a host being entitled is definitely not the norm, however from what I know of her and the property, it's actually always made sense, and I never considered it from the perpective that you did, that normally guests act entitled and not the other way around.
@Andrew0, no packing just yet! She hasn't said she wants me to leave, I just have a funny feeling, much like hosts have about guests when red flags come up. My posting here is the same as hosts make -- "Something is up, I'm worried, what can I do to protect myself?" Nothing has happened that would justify my trying to get out of the contract and not paying the 30-day penalty, and likewise I've done nothing to justify her trying to get out of the contract. As far as I know, neither of us can say to Airbnb, "She's done nothing against the agreement terms or rules, I just don't like her, so I want out of it. Be on my side against her." We're not fighting on a playground, and Airbnb isn't a playground monitor. But some kids don't fight fair when the monitor isn't looking. If there's no way to protect myself from unfair fighting and it happens, then I'll deal with it.
@Helen3, I think maybe you overlooked the part that I'm not prepared to leave the city until December? And just because I don't like the host doesn't mean I can cancel the agreement, unless I'm willing to pay a 30-day penalty. It's not even remotely bad enough for that, it's not even bad enough to want to leave. We rarely communicate and she's not on site, so it's not like we're poking at each other all the time. It's a great property that meets many wants and needs, and I'm fortunate that we rarely communicate and I can live my life as the autonomous, independent adult that I am. I'm a responsible guest, I honor my commitments, and I don't try to screw over hosts just because the system can be played.
@Heidi588 Either host or guest can initiate booking alteration request to change the checkout date. If the host were to ask you to leave before your checkout date, she'd be obliged to refund you for the unused nights. Airbnb isn't going to override the host if she were to withdraw her consent to host you - they don't have the authority to force either party to complete the stay.
@Andrew0, this is the first practical answer I've gotten, thank you.
I have a follow-up question.
If I end the stay early, then I have to pay a 30-day penalty. She's done nothing against the terms of the agreement, and simply not liking her would not be cause to be free of the penalty.
What penalties does she face if she cancels early, and I have broken no rules and done nothing against the terms of the agreement? (I don't consider a bad review to be a penalty, especially since she intends for the unit to be under new ownership in January.)
If both parties agree to the booking alteration, there's no penalty to either party. There are various loopholes that can be used to cancel a booking in progress, such as the Extenuating Circumstances clause, but they can result in the listing 's calendar dates to be blocked.
It shouldn't have to come to a question of penalties. You're far better off having am honest discussion and agreeing on a resolution that's mutually agreeable. Perhaps the host is not as bothered as you suspect. Or, at the most, she would be willing to give you a few more days or weeks so you have time to make alternate arrangements.
Just to wrap up the story, and feel free to pop some popcorn...
My instinct was correct that she wanted a separation from me, but it's not as drastic as kicking me out.
Yesterday I received an email from the condo office that she had contacted them and asked them to schedule with me another showing. I replied that for such things, I needed her to communicate with me through the Airbnb platform. (I didn't say it to them, but I always want a record on the platform for my protection.)
In less than half an hour, she sent me a message. She said that she is out of the country (I already knew her regular residence was in another country), that she has a hard time getting internet service (that's a new one), and WhatsApp is easier. (Excuses when she's been caught out is not new behavior.) She also gave me the information for the showing.
When I initially made my reservation, she wanted me to use WhatsApp, and I informed her then that I don't use it and, with the exception of traveling for check-in, I keep all my communications with hosts on the platform. So I reminded her of that.
I confirmed the appointment and mentioned that the last time someone came to view the condo, they showed up alone and were not accompanied by office staff as promised, that they asked me personal questions about my time in this city (just chit-chat, but intrusive), and so I asked for a guarantee that it would not happen again going forward.
Once again, it was a direct, reasonable request that required one of three answers: yes, no, or a countersolution.
Once again, she sidestepped. She responded that going forward, only two people could accompany.
I responded that her answer wasn't a clear response to my request, so I would take the initiative to set a clear boundary: if a prospective buyer arrived unaccompanied, I would politely but firmly deny them entry unless they were escorted by someone from the office.
She replied as she has in the past, "You know my English isn't that good!" And so she repeated in English and in Spanish that only two people could accompany them.
I responded that the problem was the same in two languages -- she was saying who could accompany prospective buyers, not that they would.
She gave a vague response, "Así es!" This could be interpreted as, "Yes, ma'am!" as well as the general meaning of, "That's right!" or "So it is!" Either way, it was an oblique acknowledgement, but she didn't say anything that meant, "I am in agreement with the boundary you set."
She refused to give me the win (because, as in the OP, she is passively fighting with me). But realistically, if she doesn't comply, she may screw herself out of a sale that (she acts like) she's desperate for, because I'm not not ever playing hostess or real estate agent for her again. I wouldnt be surprised if she tests the boundary, but it's to her own detriment.
I'm pretty sure she's not this way intentionally, so I don't hate her, I just dont take it on as my problem, either.
That's the end of this story. There's no need to add on if other irritations arise, as I'm sure they will, because that would be petty and is irrelevant to the purpose of the thread, which was my fear that she might try to kick me out without merit. I learned I can comfortably predict the pattern of her moves and countermoves, and she's not going to try to wield any great power. There are still such abundant positives in this stay that having nothing to do with her personally that I get far more win than loss. And while I don't actively seek out adversity, it's good for me to sharpen my skils in maintaining my equanimity in spite of irritations and little assaults on my boundaries, as such challenges come up in life -- especially in travel.
@Heidi588 I'm sorry I missed this until now, but I just wanted to say I have the same reaction to the kind of passive-aggression that leads someone to say, "Do whatever your consciousness [sic} tells you to do."
The conclusion you reached in your most recent post is what I thought might happen as I read along - i.e., that she wouldn't kick you out or end your reservation but would simply press a little harder on the passive-aggressive pedal. I've known many people like her, and the m.o. is much more about an endless onslaught of subtle attacks than it is about taking any kind of decisive or overt action.
I think you're safe for that reason and for the fact that she wants to sell the place and has a known and reliable guest in place rather than someone she doesn't know at all who might be unavailable when the place needs to be shown.
I'm like you about the letter of the law, too, and would not have agreed to pay the electric bill for the same reason. She'll never see it the way we see it, though, and will attempt to get some kind of petty revenge. Don't forget though that she will not say anything direct or even do anything so overt as mention it outright in a review or end your reservation over it.
You should be okay until December.