Guest damages apartment, customer service refuses to grant security deposit

Level 10
2,638 Views

Hello everyone,

 

I recently had a guest, who stayed for two days and left $494 of damages, but Airbnb customer service saw fit to award only $167. I want to share my story with the hosting community to warn you about what to expect from the Airbnb customer service and inform you about some steps I could have taken to avoid some of my losses. In addition, I would love to have some insight as to what I can do next to secure the rest of the damages to my property from Airbnb.

 

The day before the guest's check in, we agreed on doing their check out and walk through at 11:00 AM. On the day of the check out, I received a text from the guest at 7:32 AM that they have already left and the apartment keys are at the lobby. When I arrived at the unit I found the washing machine lid and the closet door in front broken. The washing machine door was broken in two different locations, the closet door was broken from the hinges, and the door itself was also cracked. I took photos of the damages.

 

I started a claim and of course the guest denied any involvement. She said the washing machine and the closet door were broken when they checked in. I escalated the case to Airbnb immediately.

 

Airbnb customer service took 3 days to reach out. I had another guest moving in before I received a response, so I already had the closet door repaired for $120 to keep up the appearances for the incoming guest. (This was my first mistake.) I received an invoice in e-mail from the contractor, as he didn't carry blank invoices with him like most contractors (second mistake).

 

I received a quote from a Bosch repair service ($374) and asked them to order the repalcement part, which required $167 downpayment.

 

I wrote back to the agent that the door was already repaired, so I couldn't provide any additional pictures of the door than I had already provided. I sent the invoices for the closet door repair, washing machine door replacement part, and the service quote.

 

Next time I heard back from the agents there was a plethora of demands and excessive details, that were not mentioned before. This was on a Friday, and the agent gave me 72 hours to produce these documents:

 

  1. A 'professional incident report'. Stated as-is with no explanation. I had no idea what this was.  I was told by Airbnb customer service on the phone that it could be an online form, a police report, or my impressions in writing. The next day, my assigned agent informed me that it was none of these. The agent wanted a written report from the handyman about the cause of the damages occured, as if he were a detective. I asked the handyman, and he said he doesn't offer such services.
  2. A new invoice for the closet. The agent asked for a new invoice and it was to include "labor per hour and worked hours, detailed list of the used materials and its costs, and worked area in square inches, signature and stamp." It was the weekend and I couldn't possibly produce this document.
  3. An invoice for the washing machine repair. Since the washing machine replacement part hadn't arrived, I was only billed for the replacement part at the time. So, I couldn't possibly provide an invoice for the full cost of repair in the next 72 hours.

 

At this point, I had already spent $287 for repairs and I would be charged an additional $207 when the Bosch service arrived.

 

The agent deemed broken hinges and a large crack on the door were deemed "wear and tear" and awarded $0 for the $120 repair. $167 in damages were awared for washing machine repairs, that has cost me $374. In total, I received $167 for $494 in damages that the guest left.

 

You've made this far and it means I haven't lost you in the details of my story, so thank you for reading! I realize my losses aren't devastating; it could have been much worse. By sharing my story I tried to describe the type of attitude Airbnb customer support has towards the host in a damage claim dispute.

 

If you choose to do a damage claim with Airbnb my advice is as follows:

  1. Do not get anything fixed before your case manager is satisfied with all pictures.
  2. Ask for detailed reports from whoever comes to inspect and remove damaged items from your property.
  3. Do not accept e-mailed invoices. Ask your invoices to be stamped and signed. Ask for the service company to include cost of labor per hour, hours worked, materials used and their costs, and area worked on in square inches.
  4. Make a full downpayment for the services you have requested, so you can send Airbnb the invoice, when they ask for them.
  5. Do not count on your security deposit or the 'One-Million Dollar Guarantee.' Take all steps you can take to prove and justify your repair payments.

 

If you have had a similar problem, I would love to hear from you what I can do to secure rest of my repair spending from the security deposit.

 

Best wishes,

Gulay

51 Replies

Re: Guest damages apartment, customer service refuses to grant security deposit

in
Fredericksburg, VA
Level 10

What I do before each guest arrives is take photos of my space with my cell phone. My phone is set up with Date and Time stamps on the photos. Or you could buy an inexpensive digital camera for the purpose (and write it off as an expense). Make sure you set it up to time stamp the photos.

In this day and age of digital photography, it's an extra 3 minutes to take pictures of the apartment as presented to my guest. That way there is zero room for doubt as to who caused what damages and when.

 

 

Re: Guest damages apartment, customer service refuses to grant security deposit

Level 10

Hi Stephanie,

 

Thank you for the insight. I started doing what you've suggested this week.

 

It think it still is an uphill battle for us hosts, however. There is only so much I can capture in photos and videos. Let's say a glass shelf in the fridge is broken –that's just one of the expensive things that wouldn't be captured in the pictures

 

Airbnb has the authority to accept or deny any evidence as they see fit. They could say the photos are invalid evidence or they cloud flat-out ignore them. There is no independent judge or any chance to appeal.

 

There is also the chance that they could dismiss any claim as wear and tear. Also, I know they significantly undercut the value of a broken item, saying it was 'used', although it would have served your home well for years to come. Then again, some compensation is better than no compensation.

 

Best,

Gulay

Re: Guest damages apartment, customer service refuses to grant security deposit

in
Terrigal, Australia
Level 10

Who are you kidding, get real

 

Re: Guest damages apartment, customer service refuses to grant security deposit

in
Huntington Beach, CA
Level 3

I have my cleaners taking photos before guest arrival and after check out. This is only way. And I ask them send those to me so date can be seen as evidence. 

Re: Guest damages apartment, customer service refuses to grant security deposit

in
SF, CA
Level 10

@Gulay0,

Thank you for sharing your story and your hard-won experience.

Having detailed advice like this will help other hosts know what they should do if something similar happens.

 

Re: Guest damages apartment, customer service refuses to grant security deposit

in
Chelsea, MA
Level 2

Hi Gulay and all other Airbnb hosts, 

Thank for quick response to my messages. We should stand together to protect our benefits. We should save case number, date, time, evidences, name of case manager/specialist and request Airbnb to have third team/department to look at the result if the case manager/specialist do not solve the case properly. Some worse case managers/specialists should be removed out of community. We even can hire lawyer to protect us.

Also, there are many websites out there that we can do our business like VRBO, booking.com and tripadvisor. We do not need to stick or comply with one website if they do not repect and treat us fairly

 

Re: Guest damages apartment, customer service refuses to grant security deposit

Level 10

Hi Chelsea,

 

I think we all should find out if all AirBnB hosts experience the same problem first. Like you've said, the problem may stem from individual case managers, who handle cases poorly. It is also possible that the upper management instructs all case managers to undervalue damages left by a guest.

 

This was the first time I had placed a damage claim –and hopefully the last. I still have little personal experience to judge how AirBnB handles damage claims. I want to keep listening to hosts who've had similar experiences, like you, and see if something is fishy about the situation.

 

As you've suggested, it is important for hosts like us to share their stories in detail, so we can make better decisions.

 

Best,

Gulay

Re: Guest damages apartment, customer service refuses to grant security deposit

in
Mountain View, CA
Level 10

Yes, I had this occurred in my place recently. I have no party and events house rule in my listing. And I told the guest who was a first AirBnb user that he had to read and agree all house rules. And his answer was yes before I approved his request. During two nights of his stay which he said three guests. He held a big party because there were more than 20 500 ml empty liquor bottles left in the house after they left. Just a few pictures to show the damage and trash. It took two people six hours to clean the entire three bedroom and two bath house and collected more than six full bags of trash. Airbnb only paid for damages of furniture with depreciated amount. So far, the extra cleaning fee is not considered for payment. Our damaged lamp is a pair and hard to find a matching one to pair the other one. But they only paid one with depreciated value.  I would suggest AirBnb enforce a penalty for violating important house rules, which may cause potential severe damages such as no party.Empty alcohol bottlesEmpty alcohol bottlesTrash everywhere on the floor and table surfacesTrash everywhere on the floor and table surfacesDamaged table lampDamaged table lampCollected trash and damaged furnitureCollected trash and damaged furnitureStained carpetStained carpetDisconnected the internet routerDisconnected the internet router

Re: Guest damages apartment, customer service refuses to grant security deposit

Level 10

Hey @Mike1034 ,

 

Thanks for sharing! I'm so sorry this happened to you. We understand very well what this situation feels like. On top of our home being trashed, Airbnb's non-chalance and support of the guest in any circumstance is hurtful. Being Airbnb hosts, it seems we just need to 'deal with it.' Enforcing the penalties you've mentioned and/or defending hosts' rights doesn't make Airbnb any money, so here we are thrown under the bus.

 

P.S. I used to live in Cupertino!

Re: Guest damages apartment, customer service refuses to grant security deposit

in
Como, CO
Level 10

 

AirBnB does not really offer a security deposit so if that is important to you then you need to list elsewhere.

David

Re: Guest damages apartment, customer service refuses to grant security deposit

Level 10

Hi David,

 

I believe you're mistaken. AirBnB does hold a security deposit on the host's behalf. You may contact customer support to confirm at your convenience.

 

It is important to me that my rights are protected, but I choose to fight for them, rather than let some guy named David from Como, CO tell me to forfeit them.

 

Thank you for sharing.

 

Gulay

Re: Guest damages apartment, customer service refuses to grant security deposit

in
Como, CO
Level 10
How does Airbnb handle security deposits?

If a host requires a security deposit, the guest doesn’t pay the deposit when they make the reservation. Instead, the guest will be charged if a host makes a claim on their security deposit. Learn how to add a security deposit

How it works

All security deposits are paid through Airbnb. A host can request some or all of the security deposit within 14 days of when the guest checks out or before a new guest checks in, whichever happens first.

Security deposits aren’t collected automatically. A host uses the Resolution Center to upload documentation of the damages (like photos or receipts), and request money from their guest to fix those damages. Hosts and guests can work out the details on their own, or they can choose to involve Airbnb. Learn more about collecting security deposits

Note: All payments, including security deposits, should always be made through Airbnb. Don’t ever exchange money with a host or guest outside of the Airbnb website. Learn more requests for offsite payments

David

Re: Guest damages apartment, customer service refuses to grant security deposit

Level 10

Right, so AirBnB does hold a security deposit on the host's behalf. I know the process, though thanks for sharing.

 

Are you making a point that I'm missing?

Re: Guest damages apartment, customer service refuses to grant security deposit

in
SF, CA
Level 10

@Gulay0,

He is trying to say that Airbnb is not holding any deposit at all.

Airbnb does not take any money from the guest ahead of time.

 

With a normal security deposit, the guest would hand money over either to the the host or to Airbnb. This does not happen when guests book with Airbnb.

 

If I make a reservation at an Airbnb listing that has a $1000 security deposit, Airbnb does *not* take $1000 of my money ahead of time. Airbnb is holding nothing.

 

That is the point David is trying to make.

 

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