Airbnb describes itself as a “a trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodation around the world, online or from a mobile phone or tablet.” It can be said to have brought travelling into the 21st century, for the modern traveller, getting cheap accommodation is now as easy as ever. Admittedly, there are many pros for both the person renting out their home and the person looking for a home.
As a Airbnb host, you get additional income and as a guest, you get a cheap comfortable place to stay. However, both parties often fail to weigh up the risks of using Airbnb.
Risks to your personal possessions as an Airbnb host
It is important to note that while Airbnb states that it “verifies personal profiles”, it is nearly impossible for the site to accurately vet every single person that goes through their website. While hosts can write reviews for their guests and vice versa, it is hard to gauge the trustworthiness of a guest, particularly if they are first timer on the site.
In 2011, an Airbnb host wrote of her nightmare when she came back home to a ransacked home with many of her valuable belongings missing. Although Airbnb has tried to rectify the situation for new Airbnb hosts, by providing insurance of up to £50,000, that doesn’t negate the fact that you could still have your irreplaceable items stolen.
Risks to your property as an Airbnb host
If an Airbnb host rents out a room in their home where they also currently live, they will be open to the risks that come with living with a complete stranger. There is a significant risk to your home. There worst example of this is when your Airbnb guests, refuse to leave.
This actually happened in California, when the two brothers booked a condo as Airbnb guests for 44 days, paying for only 30 days and then refusing to leave or pay the rest of what they owed when the time came for them to leave.
Under California law, when a person rents a place for 30 days or longer, they can be regarded as being a legal tenant and the homeowner must go through a lengthy eviction process to get them out. This can sometimes take months and cost thousands of dollars.
The Airbnb host in this example eventually got his guests to leave by threatening to turn off the utilities.
Risk to your personal safety as an Airbnb guest
There have been several horror stories of Airbnb users who have gone to stay in an Airbnb while the host is present, only to be assaulted by their host.
Although these are usually written off as ‘isolated cases’, going to stay with someone you know nothing about is a large risk to take, especially if you are a lone traveller.
An example of this occurred in Los Angeles, where Airbnb guest, Leslie Lapayowker alleges she was sexually assaulted by Carlos Del Olmo when she stayed at his the studio apartment. Lapayowker alleges that Del Olmo made inappropriate comments, was taking drugs and demanded that she engage in sexual activity with him.
The risk of breaking the law
There are a number of legal issues that could arise out of using Airbnb. Usually, these issues arise because Airbnb users don’t familiarise themselves with their local property laws.
In certain cities, a service like Airbnb is likened to an ‘illegal hotel’ and Airbnb hosts are prosecuted for renting out their property. For example in New York it is illegal to rent out an entire apartment in the city for less than 30 days. First time offenders can be fined $1,000. While repeat offenders, can be fined up to $7,500.
Additionally, using Airbnb could cause your mortgage to be in default, if it states in your mortgage agreement that subletting is forbidden. Thus, those who are looking to rent out their home on Airbnb as a host should know what their local property laws say in relation to their Airbnb activities.
Additionaly, using Airbnb could cause your mortgage to be in default, if it states in your mortgage agreement that subletting is forbidden. Thus, those who are looking to rent out their home on Airbnb as a host should know what their local property laws say in relation to their Airbnb activities.
If you need legal advice about Airbnb or Property law you can speak to a Solicitor online on Talk2Solicitors.co.uk to get the legal advice that you need.