Ever see those commercials on booking a hotel and it being an utter nightmare. The clever ad showing you how you could be kept awake by loud neighbors or gross people in the pool, then to show you the comforts of renting an entire house.
It all sounds great, and hey even I want to give it a try?
But should you?
I belong to a group on Facebook specifically for those who are going to or thinking about moving to France. I read a lot of people’s crazy stories with AirBnB, and while I don’t think it is the company itself that is the issue, I think it is the actual owner of these homes or just rude people taking advantage.
The story goes that an Au Pair was renting out an AirBnB house she found on the internet and verified through AirBnB. (Now remember false ads could be on AirBnb) She and the owner then decided that she would stay in the home for six months. Well, a few months in she discovered that the owner was not paying the housing tax-which is required in France. So the entire time the government assumed the house was not being rented.
Long story short the girl ended up getting slapped and was threatened to have the police called on her. Sounds pretty scary. I am assuming this girl is nineteen or in her early twenties but regardless of her age I would think this is overwhelming. You’re not only in another country but you’re being threatened while the potential of being homeless looms over your head.
So this re-asks the question, should you AirBnB?
With crazy stories about Uber all over the internet and stories like the one I just shared above are there reasons to worry?
I am not sure if this is enough reason to not use AirBnB. While it is a beautiful concept, right along the lines of a hostel, it can and probably will continue to be mistreated. But that is the risk we take everyday? Isn’t it?
You might still find people using houses that have been foreclosed on as rentals for AirBnb. You might have issues like what I described up above, or you might have a wonderful experience. So how do you know what you’re getting into?
Well, you are only as good as the internet allows you to be. As a consumer you rely on AirBnb to make sure that everything is up to snuff. I would suggest that you first educate yourself on “trust and safety” on the AirBnB site.
Another thing you have to keep in mind is that it is not a hotel. Pay close attention to what is included and make sure to pay closer attention to what is not being included.
Ask Questions! AirBnB has a built-in messaging system that gives you the option to message hosts for information.
Another thing to remember, which might have helped the Expat I mentioned above, is that AirBnB handles the payments. If the owner suddenly wants to change that then get out. Going back to the person above, she made a “side” deal with the owner, and changed her payments from AirBnb to the owner. Again, to make sure that you don’t end up evicted when you thought you made a deal for six months, keep your payments with AirBnB! (Repeat that one more time!)
When you’re out of the country-If the owner becomes hostile, first off make sure you know more about that language then how to order food or asking for directions. Have a good handle on the language, so if the police need to be involved you can stand your ground. And if things really hit the fan, make sure you know where your closest embassy is-and the number! Yes, things can escalate that far!
Another note, remember as with any traveling you take a lot of things at your own risk. There are, surprise, rotten people out there just looking to take advantage of someone. Educate yourself as much as possible, use a listing that you can trust, and remember keep your payments with AirBnB.
So, to answer the question, should you AirBnB? Well, the answer is yes. And why not? As long as you travel smart, use a debit card you created just for traveling and crossed all your t’s and dotted your i’s I see no reason why not. Getting ripped off is always going to be a looming threat-see Jillian Michaels latest issue with Italy and a Yacht.
At the end of the day it isn’t AirBnb’s fault, that is like saying Craigslist is at fault for some random person hurting others because they answered an ad. It all comes down the people involved, and while after looking at AirBnB a few times, it seems that they are committed to creating a safe environment. So don’t let a few things like a handful of bad experiences scare you away, save that for your cab ride!
Until next time, happy travels.