How to Win an Airbnb Damages Dispute with a Host (as a Guest)

After 5 years on Airbnb and 25 positive experiences, I was bound to come across a host I didn’t get along with. That day came this past March, when upon leaving the studio I rented in Paris for one month, the host bombarded me with a series of nasty messages saying I left her apartment the “dirtiest” she’s ever seen.

Despite taking out all my trash before leaving, the host was pissed that she had to wash the sheets and towels and vacuum my hair from the floor. Now, I will say my hair is very long (waist-length) and so it does tend to pile up faster than the average person. But vacuuming and laundry are simply part of the job as an Airbnb host. I didn’t leave any sort of abnormal mess that would require extra or specialized cleaning. No spills, stains, broken items, nothing. I didn’t even cook while I was there.

In any case, I realized right away that this host had an abnormally high expectation of cleanliness for her departing guests, and no amount of reasoning would calm her.

I was notified by Airbnb that she wrote me a review the very next day. I knew it wouldn’t be good, and I had an important meeting that week, so I didn’t write a review of her apartment right away.

The Host’s Claim

The following day, I received a notification that the host made a claim on my security deposit for 100€. She wanted 80€ for a new sliding curtain, claiming I broke one of the 3 layers and 20€ for using “ALL the towels” in the apartment.

I was in shock.

After 5 years, no host has ever made a claim on my Airbnb deposit. I’ve never been accused of intentionally, nor accidentally, breaking something inside a host’s place. I’ve gotten constructive feedback, sure, but to go so far as to make a falsified claim on my deposit was a first for me.

In case it’s not obvious: no I did not break her sliding curtain (it was broken the day I arrived). And no, I did not use all her towels. I washed and folded two of them before leaving, and the other two could easily be washed in one load.

I began to frantically search for what to do in this scenario. To make matters worse, I had no photos or video of the apartment that I could use to exonerate myself. I have done this in the past as “insurance” but this particular day, I had an 8am flight, so I was rushing to leave and didn’t take any photos or video.

How to Handle an Airbnb Dispute

I’d like to be clear that this post is not intended to help tenants avoid paying for things they broke. My intention with this post is to help others who have been falsely accused of breaking something by a disgruntled host rightfully exonerate themselves.

If you did break something in your host’s place, then kindly offer to pay for it or just replace it while you’re there. The majority of (good) hosts will not expect you to pay for the item, as many are aware that things need to be replaced from time to time.

In my case, I truly wasn’t responsible for her stuck sliding curtain, nor the fact that she had to do laundry between guests.

The way Airbnb disputes work is either party can create a claim with the Airbnb Resolution Center. The other party must respond within 3 days, otherwise the claim is processed as reported. The host actually has 60 days to make a claim on a deposit, but the earlier this is done, the better chance the host has of winning. If the other party denies to pay the claim, the complainer can then elect to involve a mediator at Airbnb. The mediator’s decision is final and cannot be appealed.

Analyzing the Damage Claim

In my case, the host made a claim 2 days after I departed. Here is what the host submitted to Airbnb:

Airbnb Host Asking For More Money

Now, there are several red flags with this host’s claim that I’ll go over:

  1. She didn’t provide photos of the actual damage
  2. She included a “cleaning fee” with photos of the sheets and towels I used
  3. She did not include any receipts nor repair estimates or invoices
  4. She stated in a text message that her mother changed out the curtain immediately before my arrival
  5. She stated the sliding curtain was made by Ikea

Read over your host’s claim several times before responding. Read over their private messages to you and re-familiarize yourself with everything.

Responding to the Host

In my first response to the host’s claim, I wrote a very simple message. Airbnb also allows you include a private message to the Airbnb Resolution Center team, in which I went into more detail.

My Response to the Host's Initial Damage Report


As expected, the host involved Airbnb in the request shortly after. At that point, I called Airbnb and asked what to expect.

The customer service agent was very kind and told me not to worry. They reassured me that the host has to prove that I caused damage in order to be awarded the money. If I didn’t cause the damage, then I likely wouldn’t have to pay for it. They acknowledged that it doesn’t feel good to be accused of something you didn’t do and said things would likely work out for me.

Responding to the Airbnb Mediator

Late that night, I received a message from the Airbnb Resolution Center.

Airbnb Mediator Initial Email Asking For Details

As I mentioned, I had no photos of the apartment to support my case.

I knew I had to use my words to convince the Airbnb mediator that I was innocent.

From that point forward, I treated this situation just like a legal case brought against me. Even though I was the “defendant,” the burden of proof still lied with the “plaintiff” to prove my alleged wrongdoing.

I was lucky that my host made overly emotional falsified claims that gave me a lot to work with in my defense.

  • Lack of Photos: It helped me that the host included no photos of the actual damage to her apartment. Airbnb gave her time to submit photos, but in the meantime, I used this to my advantage to prove that the host just wanted to charge a cleaning fee and was making up damages in order to get it. If the claim were truly about damages, there would be detailed photos and it would be the only item on her list.
  • Cleaning Fee: The host’s addition of a cleaning fee on this claim did not help her case. According to Airbnb, you cannot charge a cleaning fee to a guest after they leave, unless it results in the damage to your property. Ordinary cleaning fees cannot be extracted from a security deposit. When she added a cleaning fee, it immediately lowers a host’s credibility for true damage to an apartment.
  • No Receipts: The host did not include an original receipt for her curtain, nor a repair estimate. You cannot simply make up a number to charge someone, even if you found the same product online.
  • The Mother’s Involvement: The host wrote text messages stating her mother changed out the curtains immediately before my arrival to clean them. It’s therefore reasonable to conclude that the mother did not properly reinstall the curtains, which explains why one did not work upon my arrival.
  • Ikea: If a product is made by Ikea, the world’s least durable product maker, it’s reasonable to conclude that the sliding curtain broke on its own, as a result of “wear and tear.” I wouldn’t voluntarily offer this information if I were the host, but she did.

Using the information the host gave me, I drafted a long response to the Airbnb mediator. Here is what I said:

My Airbnb Dispute Response

Looking back, I probably went a little overboard in my detailed response, but I really had no idea what to expect.

Airbnb’s Final Decision

I did not hear back from Nick even after the three days had passed. I submitted a support request, and finally Nick wrote back saying he had received my response, and was still waiting on photos and documents from the host.

I was frustrated by this, but let it go.

About a week later, I received an email saying Airbnb was closing the dispute.

Thankfully, I won!

Lessons Learned

I hope this post was helpful to you if you find yourself involved in an Airbnb dispute on either side. If you want to win a dispute, here is my advice.

Take photos of everything before you leave, and make a video too if you can. This will help you against any claims. Report any damage you notice the day you arrive. Don’t assume the host is aware of it, like I did! Most hosts will apologize for things not working, and attempt to replace them, but some will apparently try to charge you for them!

Of course, if you’re reading this article, it’s likely you’ve already found yourself in this predicament and it’s too late for that.

So, my best tip when dealing with an Airbnb damage dispute is to use the phrase “ordinary wear and tear” in your defense as a guest. Airbnb rightfully does not hold guests responsible for items that break in a host’s residence, provided they broke due to normal wear and tear.

In my response to Airbnb’s mediator, my goal was to:

  • Highlight my positive reviews on the platform
  • Point out other shortcomings of the apartment
  • Position myself as a flexible and easygoing traveler
  • Provide a reasonable explanation for the damage

I avoided making any extreme statements and made my words as non-emotional as possible.

For example, instead of saying “This apartment was the dirtiest I’ve ever rented,” it’s better to write, “The apartment was unusually dusty.” Instead of saying, “The host is a nasty person,” it’s better to say, “We didn’t get along but I am a polite and flexible traveler, used to interacting with different hosts and cultures.”

Being dramatic and overly emotional reduces your credibility.

Again, my wish for this article is not to provide an escape route for damaging guests, but there are scenarios where hosts try to maliciously extract money from guests and my hope is that this guide will help you avoid extortion from unethical hosts.


There are bad hosts and there are bad guests. I wish Airbnb rental expectations were standardized to avoid situations like this, but for now, it’s a free for all. I personally am left with a sour taste in my mouth after this experience and will think twice before using Airbnb again.

Have you won an Airbnb dispute against a host?

 

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66 Comments

  1. Hi! Thank you for this article. We have lost two appeals over damage to a garage door for $760 and we never used the garage. They took pictures of the damage and got an estimate. We sent pictures of our vehicle showing no scratches or damage which certainly would have been obvious if we would have done the damage. The host had already given us a raving review as we are very careful to take care of the property. Then turned around with this false accusation. A picture didn’t prove anything. Who knows how long it could have been this way. Anyway, we absolutely did not do it. And Airbnb says they will charge our card in two weeks. Any suggestions on how to stop them from ‘taking’ $760 from us? This was our first time to use Airbnb and last time.

    1. I’m sorry that happened. I would absolutely dispute the charge with my credit card company if I were you!

    2. Hi Garry – we are having this issue right now about a garage door. We think they are using different sites to make the same claim (vrbo, aribnb, booking). Did they start with a higher amount and come down based on repair or replacement? Is it managed by “stayshores”? I hope you get this resolved to your benefit. Best of luck.

  2. Your article really helped. Have just had an awful experience where the host didn’t clean the room and both me and my husband experience severe reactions to something in the room. The hosts didn’t care a when we left after 4 days said they wouldn’t refund us (we paid for 3 weeks). Used your advice with Airbnb and after 24hrs have had the case closed in our favour, 100% refund of the remaining days, 30% back for the first night, cleaning fee refunded and £85 voucher! So happy! Thanks for your help!

  3. This just happened to me so I will describe in detail how I handled it, what I learned, and what you should do if it happens to you. TLDR: Do NOT pay the host the requested amount for damages and if Airbnb charges the credit card you have on file dispute the charge with your credit card company.

    I live in the US and stayed at an Airbnb in Mexico. One night of our stay, while we were out eating dinner, the pump in the toilet tank broke and it caused water to continuously run from the tank which flooded the apartment. We were gone for about 2 hours during which time this happened. We had nothing to do with it, it was just a toilet part that happened to break while we were guests. It would have happened to anybody who was staying there, it just happened to be us at the time. After we alerted the host of the issue she falsely accused us of using too much toilet paper. She later changed her story when reporting the damage to Airbnb claiming that we manipulated the toilet tank, causing the flood to happen. It ended up being over $11,000 (!!!) worth of damages that the host requested us to pay. Airbnb provided a link for us to submit the payment as well as an opportunity to dispute the hosts claims. We obviously disputed it, and gave our account of what happened to Airbnb. About 90 days later Airbnb said that they reviewed the claim and dispute and found us responsible and asked us to pay the $11K as well as an opportunity to appeal the decision. We obviously appealed it and about 2 weeks later Airbnb came back and said we were still responsible and that the credit card on file would be charged $400 and they would be in contact with us about the rest of the charges. Once the $400 was charged to our credit card (btw – Airbnb would not allow us to remove the credit card from our account while this dispute was ongoing) we disputed the charge through our credit card company. Airbnb also gave us another 60 days to appeal the decision with them. We let that 60 days pass and then were able to remove the credit card from our account and delete our Airbnb account altogether. Our credit card company did an investigation and found in our favor, returning the $400 to our card permanently. The whole thing took nearly 6 months, but we got out of it without paying a dime to Airbnb.

    So, what’s behind all this on Airbnb’s end? They have a policy that covers hosts for damages by guests called Aircover which will repay hosts up to $3 Million for damages. Why then would they keep accusing us of the damages and asking us to pay? Well, reading Aircover policy’s fine print and connecting some dots I found out that Aircover is basically an insurance policy that will pay out to hosts only if the guest is responsible for the damages. If the host was responsible, they won’t pay for the damages. So, Airbnb keeps finding guests “responsible” so that they can get the insurance money for the host. They have a vested interested in keeping hosts happy because hosts make them a lot of money. A given host is renting out their property all the time, while a given guest might use Airbnb a few times a year. So why did they charge us $400? That’s the deductible for the insurance policy which they are trying to recover for the host.

    At the end of the day they can’t charge you if they don’t have definitive proof that you caused the damages. Which, in our case, they didn’t. Just keep denying, wait for all the appeal windows to close, then remove your credit card from your account. If they do charge you something on your credit card, dispute it through your credit card company and the burden of proof in their investigation is on Airbnb. In our case, Airbnb could not provide documentation that the charge was legitimate, so our credit card company found in our favor and returned the money to us.

    Do NOT fall for it and frankly, do NOT use Airbnb just in case something like this might happen to you. Hope this helps somebody out there.

    1. All very good tips, Jacob! Thank you for sharing your story! Happy it worked out for you in the end, even though it’s no doubt stressful while dealing with something like this.

  4. Thank you so much for this article! I followed your letter advise as much as it pertained to my situation after my initial refusal to pay was taken to AirBnB mediators and I won. My host was trying to claim over $700 in damage (they clearly just wanted a new very expensive microwave). Fortunately for me, their own photo evidence worked against them as well. But I know your calm and methodical approach to writing guide saved me too. I have subscribed as a thank you.

  5. How should one navigate the situation when faced with a seemingly unjustified claim on an Airbnb security deposit, particularly when there’s no prior history of such incidents, and the accusations appear to be falsified?

  6. I am going through a similar situation and have been intimidated, threatened and accused of untruthful accusations by the host. I am currently feeling no support from the resolution center. I too am hesitant to us Airbnb again. I’ve been using them for 10 years and I have great reviews and have never been in a situation like this. Thanks for this blog.

  7. If you deny host request for “extra cleaning” , and you win the case, could the host leave you negative feedback? Or can Airbnb delete negative feedback already posted at my profile?

    1. In my case, the host left negative feedback immediately after my departure. I believe that process is separate from the dispute. When I used Airbnb, they had a policy of never deleting negative feedback from anyone’s profile. I’m not sure if that has changed since I no longer use the platform!

  8. I am in the middle of an AirBNB dispute with a unscrupulous host (Aaron) in Oakridge Oregon. Finding myself in need of short notice lodging, I booked this rural home quite out of our way out of desperation. I was not expecting a luxury cottage, just something clean and comfortable to shower and sleep. On arrival, the almost $300 for 2 night place was a dirty dilapidated disaster. Not having the ability to login to AirBNB to contact the host, and no phone number provided, we made the best of what we had, washing the little shower and bedding needed to facilitate our stay. We went and purchased flyswatters, bathing supplies, and bottled water. I took many photos of the obvious filth, but not every square inch of the shanty. The place had paper taped over windows in place of curtains/blinds, some windows with no coverings, a refrigerator with a clapped out compressor, a fan which didn’t work, makeshift stairs and railing to a built out attic space, an empty bottle of booze in the room where my 12 year son was going to sleep, in other words no level or wear, filth, or disrepair would have stood out as unusual and in need of documentation.
    After the trip, I contacted the host and requested a refund of the cleaning fee which we had paid, as the place was obvious not cleaned prior to our arrival. The host did so, claimed he was unaware of the state of the property prior to our arrival, and asked me NOT to leave a review on AirBNB. I did leave an honest factual review at the end of the review period, specifically waiting so the host could not fabricate a retaliatory review. Once he received his review, he went ballistic and accused us of scratching a sofa in the attic space. He wanted $300 to replace the sofa. This was obviously a vindictive move made only after he received his review. He claimed to have ‘before’ photos of the sofa, yet had already told us he was unaware of the dirty state of the place prior to our arrival.
    AirBNB followed up with emails and an hour long phone discussion. What seems to be an clear case of vengeful extortion by the host has now been dragging on for a month with no resolution by AirBNB. I have never had a prior issue with a host or property, but this will certainly be my last use of the site if they take money from my credit card.
    Lesson learned, not everyone is a hospitality provider and or trustful. Your story and others posted send a clear message of renter beware.

  9. That you for sharing this post. It makes me, another guest, feel less alone in this claims process.

    A couple months ago, a group of 9 of us stayed at an Airbnb in Maine. The listing originally claimed that there were 10 beds, upon our arrival there were only 8 beds, 2 of which being pull out couches. The first night when we went to go to bed, the two pull out couches were severely broken. There were literal springs falling out of the beds. They were also dirty with cheeto handprints and no clean sheets in sight. Since it was late at night and it wasn’t an emergency, we did not want to bother the host we just shared beds. We sent photos of the couches and a message in the Airbnb chat the next morning. The host replied being incredibly apologetic and sent a repair person to look at the pull out couches. After the repair person was unable to fix the couches, the host sent a message stating that there was no way we could have broke the couches and apologized again.

    After checking out, we sent a request for a partial refund to the host. Seeing as two of the eight beds were unable to be used and there were not even the 10 total beds for our nine person party. The host then became incredibly accusatory, rude, and refused our refund. We then contacted Airbnb and they gave us a nearly $500USD partial refund.

    More than two weeks after checking out, the host sent two separate requests for $1000USD each for the two pull out couches, totaling $2000USD. We declined the requests as they were after the 14 days hosts are allowed to submit the request within. The host also used our photos we sent in the Airbnb chat to tell them about the broken beds in their claims. We contacted Airbnb and a number of individuals on their helpline also stated that it seemed like retaliation since we were given a partial refund. However, the “Claims Support Ambassador” dealing with this case is still reviewing it even though it was submitted after the 14 days and the host did not provide any photos of their own. We sent all of our photos and videos as well as screenshots of the Airbnb chat with the host where she said we could not have caused the damage. Although we did not break the couches and followed all of the appropriate steps, it seems as though they are siding with the host.

    I am incredibly concerned they are just going to charge our card and we aren’t going to be able to refute it. Honestly super stressed with this situation as it is just so much money and we literally left the Airbnb squeaky clean. Also, we were already awarded a partial refund for this exact problem but now the host has been able to request 4 times the amount back from us.

  10. Hi Victoria
    Thank you for your post it gives us hope. Our appeal has been rejected. Now I am seeking legal action as we caused damage to kitchen bench top, however, this occurred from broken coffee pot handle as shown in correspondence. Then they want to claim AU$2000 for the cheapest bench top you can imagine, not even laminate, with 200 euro freight – for a bench top?? Now I have noticed the invoice sent for repairs is dated 5 months earlier than our arrival with a 10 day no validation. A total SCAM. Seeing what you have written will help me enormously. No photos, an outdated invoice/quote no acceptance of some responsibility for supplying broken pot which caused the damage etc. Then there is the insurance, why are we expected to pay AU$2k and they can claim insurance??? We will never use AirBNB again, if it is this easy to claim, they are taking the money from our credit card and we have no more say.

    1. Hi Gayle! I am really sorry this happened to you. I have also stopped using Airbnb due to these issues with hosts. They see it as a money-making scheme and have no desire to actually welcome people into their homes. It’s no longer a good platform.
      All the best!

  11. I am so grateful for this post, because I am not sure what to do in the situation that I am in however, I know that it doesn’t feel good to be accused of something that you didn’t do. It actually has made me question so many things I recently had the weirdest stay at an Airbnb, but try to be understanding of the fact that I am in someone’s home, so I’m going to be as respectful as possible as I always am I have a service animal which is permitted anywhere in the United States as long as I am there with my service animal she complained and said that it would cause her husband to have health problems and Airbnb. Let her know that I could stay however, after that, everything was kind of weird and even down to her perception of the review that she left about me. She has a white couch that in my opinion, even in the Airbnb photos show that it’s already stained. She also admitted to me that she had someone else paying for part of the couch. She said not the part that I had stained however, I had no point had anything on her couch that would have stained it, nor did any of my guess I am very conscious, and I always do a good job cleaning up after myself all of my reviews that I have had from the prior nine people have all said the same thing that I am very kind communicative, clean, and that they would love to help me back anytime and would recommend me that I am very kind communicative clean and that they would love to have me back anytime and would recommend me 100% another even stated that I was an exceptional guest another even stated that I was an exceptional guest Como allergy I don’t know yeah so this homeowner this particular time had so many horrible things to say and in the review about me she stated that I turned off her Wi-Fi when I found out that there were cameras however, I knew that there were cameras the whole time I just thought it was weird that she had a ring door camera that could see into the house and that is what I told the Airbnb However also on top of that she complained that there was so much dirt left in the home but it took her house cleaner, three extra hours, my husband and I always take pride in cleaning up before we leave and make the home look in great condition which we have a video of the only thing is that we are not going to pay to replace the things in her home that were not in good condition before we arrived . I’m going to write one of these letters to Airbnb and hope that with my photos and also other things to show the condition of the home that they will see that she is not telling the truth however, I’m so offended that she gets to leave up her reviews lies about me, turning off her Internet, when in all reality, something did happen, but I was in communication with her husband that she gave him the number to text directly and she with her husband that she gave him the number to text directly and she said on the review that I turned off her Internet intentionally when in all reality I was asking for assistance with the situation the whole time then she tried to charge me $300 before stains on her couch. that I turned off her Internet intentionally when in all reality I was asking for assistance with the situation the whole time then she tried to charge me $300 before stains on her couch what

  12. Very informative post. Thank you. I
    I am dealing with a claim from a host that claims that they “have received evidence that I smoked on the property’ and that the smell requires a deep clean and they want over a $150 for it. They also sent a picture of a stain on a duvet and claim I damaged it and have claimed a replacement value of 26$. Completely out of the blue since we dont smoke nor did we create any damage.
    I have only ever had one incident with a host in the past and i informed her immediately and offered to reimburse her – she declined saying there was no need!
    This sounds scammy to me and they have now gotten airbnb involved. My first such experience in a country i visited for the first time. sad

  13. Hello,

    I have read your post, and it’s quite strange what those hosts are doing. Currently, I am in a dispute with my host, and here’s the story from the beginning:

    While I was traveling in Dubai, I paid over $500 for a few days’ stay in an apartment that turned out to be in very poor condition. There was construction happening nearby, just 10 meters away from the apartment. Naturally, I disputed the situation, and I won the case because the pictures I’ve seen before booking, there was nothing about the ongoing process. The host contacted me at 10 PM, informing me that I had to vacate the apartment due to the outcome of the Airbnb investigation. However, I saw through his attempt to deceive me. He mentioned that he had a new guest arriving the following morning, so I had to leave the apartment by 11 AM. I complied and left the apartment as instructed.

    After 25 days, I received a dispute claiming damages against me. It was quite amusing because the host is accusing me of causing the damage (despite having a new guest after my check-out).

    Naturally, I disagreed with the dispute and I am awaiting the outcome. The host had charged me over $100 for a cleaning service (which was meant to cover 5-6 days, but due to my dispute, I only stayed for 2-3 days).

    The host is now claiming that I damaged:

    1. A stained towel
    2. A damaged laundry basket

    It’s quite comical, considering the host had a window of 3-5 hours before the arrival of the new guest, during which his team came to the apartment to hand over the keys. How is it possible for him to make this claim against me after 25 days, especially when there have been multiple guests after my check-out? It’s quite amusing, and I am determined to win against him. It’s all quite humorous, isn’t it? Kek

  14. Great info to share with guests.

    I’m a host. So, my experience has been a bit different.

    Prior to a guest’s arrival, I take a video of everything and I check out with them when they leave as I only take longer-term stays. I made the mistake of not doing that once when I was traveling for work and when I opened the door to the room, the stench was palpable. He left food in the garbage that had clearly been there for weeks, stacked up empty soda and water bottles all over the room (48 of them) and I found stiff socks under the bed – the frame of which he had broken. Yes. Stiff socks. I about lost it when I realized what he used them for. He left brown streaks on my towels and the sheets were yellowed. I had to throw them out. And the room was so smelly that I literally had to buy carbon pellets to absorb the odor, I used essential oils, and I aired the room out for SIX WEEKS, a time for which I could not rent the room. I lost so much money on that guy. Did I hound him for $$$s? No, I didn’t because he was a kind and caring person who just had a juvenile and disgusting personal hygiene habit.

    Another guest literally broke both of my refrigerators during the pandemic and I could not get replacements for 6 months. I had to buy two mini-fridges and stack them for use. And then pay for less expensive replacement refrigerators once they were available to order again (he broke a SMEG and I couldn’t afford another one).

    How? Well, he placed boiling hot lentil soup he’d just made into glass containers then immediately into the refrigerator area of one fridge and the freezer area of my basement fridge (the overflow backup) and burned out both compressors. I thought it was common knowledge that you NEVER put hot food into a refrigerator or freezer. Always allow it to cool down to room temperature prior to placing it in the fridge. It was outrageous and ridiculous.

    Yet another guest decided she was chilly in early October so cranked the heat up to 90 – prior to it having been inspected or used up to that point – and snapped a belt in the HVAC system as it was overworking.

    One guest really liked my cats (great!) but so much so that he’d lock them in his room – where there was no litter box – and one of them had such urination urgency that he would pee on the carpet outside the door once he was finally able to get out. He still does, six months later. Awesome.

    My kitchen faucet was fine for 7 years. Until……my most recent guest. In the space of two weeks, she had the faucet dripping. All the time. I have no idea WTF she did to my kitchen faucet but now there is a permanent drip. Great.

    I’m sure hosts can be picky. Guests can be thoughtless, reckless, and expensive. I’ve never encountered as much stupidity, lack of common sense, and lack of decency as I have with some of the guests who have booked with me. Just dumb. People who don’t care and have a sense of entitlement that they don’t need to clean up after themselves. It’s shocking.

    As for your “normal wear and tear” position, that is pure crap. If you use things mindfully and with care, most items last for decades. And they need to – especially with the amount of stuff that we humans are just junking all over the planet. It’s pretty simple: PAY ATTENTION to what you are doing when you are doing it and focus on using an item or doing a task mindfully. Remember…..you are not booking at a hotel and your hosts are not large hotel chains. You are essentially staying in our private homes. Be respectful. Be mindful. Be eco-conscious. Be careful. Your hosts will thank you.

    1. Sure, your host will thank you… Your host can be actually be a bad person and just try to get an advantage on you. It happens to me twice. Airbnb is ridiculous on their policy, it can be the responsible for hosts to prove that they broke something. We’re paying for a service, we’re not their employees. Just obligate the host to make a video with the guest inside, (or obligate the guest to make a video with some specific and expensive things, like an online check-in uploading photos moments after arrival), so the host can’t use an old video when the apartment was brand new and all functional against you.

  15. Great blog post! I really enjoyed reading your tips on how to win an Airbnb dispute. Dealing with conflicts can be stressful, especially when it comes to accommodation during travel.

    The information you shared about understanding the Airbnb dispute resolution process and gathering evidence is invaluable. It’s crucial to stay calm, document the issues, and communicate effectively with the host or Airbnb support to resolve the dispute.

    I particularly found the advice on providing clear and concise evidence, such as photos and timestamps, very helpful. It’s important to present a strong case to support your claims and increase the chances of a favorable outcome.

    Your blog post provides practical and actionable tips that empower travelers to navigate potential disputes effectively. Thank you for sharing your insights and helping readers feel more confident in handling Airbnb conflicts.

    Keep up the excellent work, and I’m looking forward to more informative and useful content from you!

  16. I am being charged $2,400 for damages to an apartment in Philadelphia. We are a group of 3 older sisters (70,69, and 54) and 2 nieces. The charges are all bogus. I am so upset. They charged us with Marijuana use and property damage. One of the photos from the host was not our apartment. I have denied all claims.

    1. Hey. The same situation in Poland Warsaw. Host acused me of smoking Marihuana and tryed charge me 33eur for the service that cleaned the air after me. Ridiculous. Not me neither my partner smokes and we always leave the apartments clean.

  17. Happened to me as well. The host claimed damages that didn’t exist and the resolution center got involved. I pointed out the host provided false information and fabricated documents. The process took over a week, I was very stressed out and the case wasn’t resolved until I declined the payment twice. The host was compensated for the alleged damages by Airbnb, so they basically rewarded him for scamming.

    1. Hi Amanda, I am also in same situation where Host is asking for her window damage and huge bill of over 800$, though it was Switzerland which is great place with great people but you never know if some certain community is running AirBnb there to make profit out of it.. Is there a way we all can come up collectively to present our side where guests are being accused however they are not genuinely involved in false claim. These hosts are taking advantage of after guest gone claiming, rather checking those things before guest going or give us checklist to send pictures. i will wait for your reply and then we can discuss for contact and fight together for all such false host claims.
      Regards,

      1. It would be good to do this. I have suffered the same problem and air bnb have not come back with a resolution as yet. It is very stressful. I’m thinking of highlighting this problem with a consumer program and if they take it up perhaps their researchers will tap into this site.

    2. Hi Amanda,
      You declined payment and Airbnb paid? Will this be added to your credit history? I am in the same dead end, the host took pictures of things I didn’t even see in the apartment and is laying claims of $1500, they said my card will be charged on 4th December. I am prepared to decline the payment because I am not guilty. The host treated my family like shit and then falsely accuse us! I will never use Airbnb ever again!

      1. We are in the same boat being falsely accused of damage to garage which we didn’t even use for 760. Airbnb said they will be charging our credit card in two weeks. How did you decline payment?

  18. Well, I have never used AirBnB in my life. About a week ago, I opened an account because I found a property I wanted to stay at. I made reservations, which were accepted the following day. About 4 days later, I received an email from AirBnB stating they had canceled the reservation, refunded my money, and were closing my account due to a policy violation. I was dumbfounded because, as I said, I’ve never even had an account, let alone stay in a property. When I reached out, they stated rather vaguely it was due to some sort of alleged damages and refused to give me any more information, only that I would have to respond to emails from some claims department. Well, of course I don’t have any emails from a claims department. Why would I, considering I’ve never used AirBnB before? Maybe they are just bypassing hosts entirely and accusing people who open new accounts? AirBnB seems like a giant scam to me. I highly recommend everyone, including hosts, to stay as far away as possible.

  19. Hi Victoria,
    We were in a dispute for damages and “missing sheets’. We did not do any of it and because we have used Airbnbs frequently did not make a big deal out if shortcomings of this property. We have great reviews from all our hosts. The host of this property gave us a great review and then the dispute came. We felt confidant that the host would not win his claim after the great review but as we went through resolution process ( never seeing any pictures pronging we damaged it. ) Airbnb suspended account and canceled two upcoming trips. We have hired an attorney because we are so upset by this false claim and outcome. Any recommendations?

  20. We stayed in Woodland Hills, Ca. We had forgotten a couple of items and called the host the same day to say we would come and pick them up, but he refused to hand them back to us and stated he had “trashed” them as he thought they were “abandoned”. I can only guess that he decided to keep them for himself. I contacted Airbnb for help, and soon after, the host texted me that it was “shady” for us to contact Airbnb, supposedly because he gave us a good deal. He proceeded to bully us on Airbnb chat, and called us garbage and other insults, and we never saw the items again. It was bedding and a lamp I carry around to write at night. Although I contacted Airbnb again, there was no resolution. He left us a horrible review and although I tried to reply to his review the same day it was published, the option was not available. He wrote that the room smelled like pee and other horrors, which are all untrue and probably a means to bully us to keep our items. We are left with no resources but perhaps contact Better business bureau. Suggestions are welcome.

    1. Yes much the same I made a request to refund after host charged a cleaning fee and a host of charges prior to our stay but upon entry , no instructions and the unit was cluttered with children’s toys and personal belongs it was like the host had just left the unit 5 minutes before we entered . After my refund request I was sent an email by Airbnb that a review was posted by the host and of course the lies came out , messy kitchen and not communicated clearly which I found hilarious as lucky I did send photos and videos of the unit before and after and still Airbnb have refused to remove the hosts lies which has now effected me and my 3 guests and that review is now on there profile even though I was the principal guest. Go figure

  21. Victoria thank you for sharing this information. When we are accused of something falsely and then charged for it in top of that for the hosts monetary gain, it’s so wrong in so many ways and hard to think straight out of the anger and disappointment. This was me, until tonight I decided to stop being angry and start making this into a project, en route I found your post! So I used your letter as a loose template and your wonderful advice to look deeper into the host, their reply’s and the evidence and found out that the invoices for the repair damage we were accuse of, were supplied by the hosts own personal construction company, a serious conflict of interest, which is critical to our rebuttal. Had I not read your clear and thoughtful blog I don’t know if I ever would have come out of the weeds and had a clear direction to follow. Ever thanks to you.

    1. Hey Vanessa,
      I suspect the same about our hosts in Portugal. How did you prove it was their construction company? Still waiting for airbnb answer. We received an accusation 5 days after we left. And on the day we left we received message from a friend of the host who took care of the house and she didn’t report any damage. Very unfair, we know we have not done that.
      Cheers
      Suzane

  22. Hello Victoria! Thank you for this article. I hope you can give me advice on my situation.

    During my AIRBNB stay my roommates were responsible for breaking a glass cup. That is all. However, the host is not only trying to charge us an insane amount for the cup without proving a receipt, but he is ALSO additionally making up and charging us hundreds of dollars for damages that we did not make. He did provide picture of said “damages” but they are not from us. I denied the request to pay that amount for all of those false damages and he got AIRBNB involved. The other guests and myself are willing to pay for the cup but I wonder that if we admit to only causing one damage then Airbnb will take the hosts side and charge us for all the damages we DIDNT make. I also only have one picture of uncleaned sheets, but not of anything else support my case. I am not sure what to do on this situation. Is it possible for Airbnb to allow only a certain amount to be paid for the damage or will they want to charge me for all?

    1. Hi Star,
      Unfortunately, I do not know how Airbnb will handle your situation. Perhaps another reader will chime in. Good luck!

  23. Thanks for the great article. Do you know where AirBnB in its terms and conditions explicitly talks about “ordinary wear-and-tear”? I haven’t found it.

  24. Thank you for the information. I am currently in one myself. 1st time and so awful to be wrongfully accused. He claims we broke the base of the toilet that was not leaking water nor damaged. I cleaned the house nicely just didn’t fix the beds as told on the manuel. He then goes to say we left the house a big mess!!. I was just in awww! Could not beleive it. I’m in dispute now. His pics do not show damage only where they removed it. Why I don’t know. Although the neighbor was not so friendly but hey I didn’t want to say anything bad so I left a good one for him. Just sad that we have to put one first in order to read theirs. Hope all goes well for me.

  25. Ramona, well done. Sometimes you have to go into every nit picky detail in order to win.
    I am so happy to be able to share here. I really connect with the comment from Victoria who says, she quit because of the stress. The stress of my French experiences on Airbnb led me to close my account yesterday. Being a member cost me in terms of health and well-being. The positive energy that should be going into the trip gets spent on resolving the issues with mean hosts. All I wanted from an Airbnb host was a very clean place to stay and, even with the Covid 19 crisis, it has been rarely the case that I found one. My reviews were excellent until I went to Bordeaux. I complained about a host refusing to heat the room. If one host leaves a bad comment then that can fuel other hosts with the ammunition they need to treat you badly too. It might seem paranoid to mention this, but there is a complicity between hosts here in France. For example in Bordeaux I complained that the host refused to heat the room, then in Lille, the host too, refused to heat the bedroom. The lies from the hosts in Bordeaux were what caused me the most stress. One host by the name of SVASTI said that I put serviettes down the toilet. I am 59 years old. He said he had to get a plumber in. I asked Airbnb did they have to pay for a plumber. They replied, no. He made no claim and thankfully Airbnb removed what he wrote. I honour and respected everyone’s home I went to, only to be treated so shabbily. Some of the homes look fine in the photos but in reality are Social lodgings in rundown areas. Some hosts are perverse people even the ones that obtain badges. The last host in Lille asked me, Why would anyone come to Lille with a swimsuit? She had been through my bag when I was out, and saw that there was a swimsuit in it. She then asked me, Would you like to come swimming with me tomorrow night. I replied no, as I only like swimming in the sea. She never went swimming. Another host stole my USB key just to annoy and I saw her take it off the desk and put it in her pocket and it later dawned on me when I was searching for it, that that was the key. I couldn’t prove it. I will never use the sight again. It is a pity because I had lovely airbnb experiences Germany and the Netherlands.

    1. So sorry to read this. There is the same complicity with hosts in the US. We just had a horrible experience in CA which I describe in this thread.

  26. Hello, thank you for this insight. It gives me relief that I might not be charged. I recently stayed in a home that had lots of damages. I didn’t notice some of it because we were only there overnight and during the days were gone. The third day of our stay was more relaxing at the home and we went to open the doors of the entertainment stand and the bottom of it fell off leaving the doors hanging, my husbands and I fixed it, I took photos and notified the host as we were departing (that next morning). However, when this happened I got curious and started looking around because we already noticed the faucet was broken and there was a giant hole in a cupboard that was covered by cardboard and painted over. There were so many other damages, I took photos of EVERYTHING and when we left I notified the host. I told her that I appreciated her kindness and responsiveness however the condition of the home was another thing. She got super defensive, made up a bunch of excuses and got really rude with me, so I reported her to Airbnb. I paid over $550 to stay at her place for 4 nights. Anyway, a week goes by and Airbnb sided with me and gave me a small refund, not what I had asked for but it was enough to make me drop the case. Until 2 hours after their decision she decided to make a claim for $920, stating I broke things, that I literally brought to her attention and Airbnb. She even used the same photos that I submitted as proof for my case. With the addition of a bed frame being broke. I actually pulled the sheets off to see if the bed was nasty but never looked under it. So it was probably broken before, however I am very upset at the fact that they even let her submit a claim when she clearly did it out of retaliation for me winning my claim. This is super stressful, and what is worse, is this is the 1st time I have ever used Airbnb. She was a super host. She left a review saying “tried to report me for using duct tape on my cupboards”. Nothing about damages or anything. Furthermore, the day she “discovered” the damages, was a day I was still checked in. Unfortunately I don’t think I will EVER use Airbnb again. This has been stressful and traumatic.

      1. Dear Victoria, I totally understand. I spent hours trying to fix an issue where the host was bullying us and stole property from us, and it lead to nothing. The host left a horrid review about us and Airbnb did nothing to help us recover our items. At some point, you need to move on with your life and enjoy it.

  27. Victoria, thank you for this helpful post. I am currently going through a nightmare situation where a host has accused my guests of breaking a bed. We went away to a house in upstate New York for about 36 hours for my birthday weekend. According to my friend the bed was broken when we got there. I wish he would have told me, but I kind of understand him not wanting to burden me with it / as soon as we got there he and his partner were like, “the host is insane,” who apparently made a racist remark about the house cleaner. She also accused me of not following the closeout instructions because the dishtowels were “dirty” – is that not what dishtowels are for? Here’s also the kicker: she wanted me to Venmo her if I wanted “to avoid Airbnb.” Why on earth would I want to avoid a process? Where is the receipt for the bed? Have you contacted someone to try and repair it? Can you get a replacement part?

    Meanwhile this bed – which we did not do anything to! – is particleboard and not even solid wood. It is so clearly wear and tear and could probably be repaired for less than $100. I researched beds on West Elm that amount to $1K that have solid wood legs that you’d SERIOUSLY have to do a lot to damage. I cannot conceive that this bed cost a grand.

    I am so anxious over this bed and feel so lousy over being gaslit and spoken to by this manager. We had a great weekend and it was completely overshadowed by this incident.

  28. Hello, and thank you for your very informative post. We just dealt for the first time ever with a very nasty Airbnb host. I’m waiting for him to lodge a dispute about a broken toilet seat. It’s definitely stressful to come back from a vacation where you have had to compromise on an Airbnb site which did not meet your expectations and then to have nasty accusations from the host. I too am going to think twice about using this platform, and will look for places with a kitchenette which are run by a hotel chain. Thanks again.

  29. I just wanted to say thank you so much for posting this! I too was also recently accused of damages that were already there upon my arrival. Being an easygoing person, I also made the mistake of not taking pictures of everything when I checked in and out. I’m currently disputing with Airbnb, your article was really helpful in what to say. Fingers crossed I have a fair outcome.

    1. This is happening to me right now over a bed. Did everything get resolved for you? I am so stressed out!

  30. I am sure many people who are hosts do this, I am equally sure there are many guests who try to take advantage of a host’s property.

    The host often provides significant value to the guest in kitchenware, lounge accessories etc etc with the expectation they will be treated properly.

    My experience is that this does not happen and as a host, I have had items damaged through lack of care, taken from my property, and used recklessly.

    The items I provide in my house are for use within the house and not to be dragged around beaches which is what has happened to some of my items.

    Well done for not being taken advantage of but there are hosts out there who are not too happy about what guests do especially when they specifically ask that items should not be removed from the property.

  31. Hi Victoria,
    Thanks so much for this informative post! I too have a very similar situation thats happening to me at the moment. Its quite frustrating because the host falsely charged me $250 for “severe structural damage” that afternoon when we checked out in the morning. She did take a photo of the wooden post that supports one of the landings, of the staircase outside that had the “severe damage” that I supposedly made. It looked like a 3-4″ chip to the wooden post that most likely have been caused by something heavy and huge, like a dishwasher or an AC unit. We only carried 5 polyester bags individually up and down the stairs thats no bigger than a big back back. The whole place had shown normal wear and tear so I just thought it was such and didn’t really complain about it other than the clogged drain of the bathroom sink! Unfortunately for me, this is only my 2nd time renting out an airbnb and don’t have the ratings to put me in a more favorable light.

    Before all of this mess, I had originally wanted cancel this trip because one of my family members that was coming with just found out that she had to go to an important conference and couldn’t be there. And this whole trip was basically to celebrate her birthday… Mind you, I booked this trip a month in advance and tried calling her if i could cancel and get a full refund 2 weeks before the dated trip. But it turns out i could only get half b/c AIRBNB only gives half the refund after the 48 hrs you booked the trip…I misread it thinking it was 48hrs before the dated trip. I think it was worded such that a person could misunderstand…like me. Anyway, we ended up coming to this trip b/c we didn’t want to waste the money and came without her…and then this happened with the host.

    I don’t know, I think the host has a chip on her shoulder because I tried to cancel but came anyway and then supposedly to get back at me, is accusing me of “severely damaging” her property! 0_0

    1. Honestly, some hosts on Airbnb are really nasty. Their properties are falling apart or they installed cheap fixtures, and then they want to blame you for a random section that’s deteriorating because of their cheapness! I wish you the best of luck. Just keep saying “wear and tear” when you speak with the Airbnb mediator and I have full confidence that they will not hold you liable! I personally have quit using Airbnb after the experience I detailed above.

      1. It is so accurate what you write. Some hosts are just after the money, the ones here in France gave me the absolute minimum. I did not complain about the last host in Lille because she has SuperHost status. Airbnb stays in France turn into disputes nearly every time with the exception of one or two. The notion of hospitality is gone. Like you say it is GREED. It is upsetting and bad memories of these Hosts play on one’s mind.

  32. I just recently bought my friend an Airbnb gift card. The second I did so, I noticed I typed his email address wrong. Jamie not Jaime. Stupid autocorrect. Anyway I instantly notified Airbnb who without even trying to help and ignoring my questions only sent me a link to send to Jaime. Then had to send another link because apparently I was supposed to know not to click on the link. Anyway by the time Jaime gets the link the gift card has been “redeemed”. That was 5/3, it is now 5/14 and I am getting no where with Airbnb. Just this morning a message from the person I thought would help me “at this point it’s possible the unintended recipient might have redeemed the gift card” with a link to Airbnb’s gift card help page. I am at my wits end and ready to scream. They will not give me direct answers, they don’t reply to my questions. It’s been a week and half and they tell me that the person I accidentally sent it to, must’ve (because they can’t look it up?) redeemed the gift card. I made them aware mere moments after the mistake, enough time to cancel the gift card, change the recipient, whatever. Instead they let it happen, and they let enough time pass that they feel they can just tell me I’m screwed.

    1. Ah I’m so sorry about that Devin! I agree, they are a terrible company. I’ve completely stopped using Airbnb since I wrote this article a few years ago. For what happened above and other reasons. Airbnb has also driven up rental costs for locals. When I need a long-term place, I use Extended Stay America. Best of luck with your situation!

      1. Hi Victoria – stumbled on your post due to a recent experience with an awful Airbnb host who accused us of leaving her home dirty and damaged. Neither were true of course and it’s especially upsetting because we gave the hosts the benefit of the doubt for things like a bug problem. That said, it’s reassuring (though disheartening) to see that others have been through this too. Do you have a recommendation for alt vacation rental sites you’ve turned to since your Airbnb debacles? Thanks!

        1. Hi Nadia,
          I started using Extended Stay America for long-term national trips. Abroad I haven’t found a good solution. I’ve quit traveling long-term like I used to, so now I just book hotels for short term stays! Unfortunately, you’re going to have the same problem if you get a bad host using another platform like VRBO or Morning Croissant. It’s a he-said/she-said situation. For what it’s worth, Airbnb did not make me pay for the fake damages the host accused me of!

          1. May I suggest for stays in France – Gites de France. Gites are really well serviced and usually very clean. Not sure if they work in Paris though. Check out their properties on-line. Gites are usually for family but they often have places for couples.

  33. Thank you for this incredibly helpful post. Me and my partner were on our way back from a weekend away in an airbnb in Paris and a message from the host appeared in our account accusing us of stealing the host’s xbox. The host in question was incredibly threatening in all her messages to us, accepted no suggestions from us to check the CCTV for people entering the flat that day after we checked out (it was a self-check in/ check out system) and eventually demanded €2000 from us which she claimed was to make up for the loss of jewellery, hard drives, cheque books and a tablet, as well as the xbox which she originally claimed had been stolen. She sent photos of the flat which we had made sure was pristine before we left looking ransacked, with drawers tipped over the bed and floor. The whole episode was incredibly anxiety inducing for me and my partner, but I found your post and the step-by-step way in which you have written it told us what to expect next which was so so helpful in a process in which we are totally unfamiliar with. At present we have just sent the email to the airbnb mediator with lots of supporting evidence and will now wait and see what the outcome of this horrible case is. Not sure if a scam or if another person genuinely broke into their flat, although it is a very secure building… Either way, your post has been a godsend to us. Thank you, sincerely, for writing it!

    1. Hello Naomi,

      It does not surprise me to read about your Airbnb expérience in Paris. Just until recently I used Airbnb a lot in France and know that there are hosts especially in Paris, that will use guests to make false claims. There are lots of scams. But I am surprised that this host didn’t take a security deposit to cover those claims?

  34. Hey there! Informative post. Thanks for that. We recently stayed in the Middle East for 4 days. The price per night was approx. 120 USD. (Pricey by our standards). Everything seem to have gone well. We adjusted to many of the apartment’s short comings. The AC simply never worked properly. The bread toaster sparked and my wife jumped out scared. The water in the tap was dirty green until we let out 5-6litres out everytime! But we adjusted somehow even though the price we paid was high. But to our shock,
    the host simply sent us the payment link to pay for damages. 500 Dirhams!! And for what: it seems one week , yeah 1 week after we checked out she found out that her wall had a crack!! And she said it was a damage done by us. How ridiculous can this get? Even with all my might I couldn’t have caused a big sound on the wall, forget a crack. I’m not superman and my wife is not Wonder Woman. then she also sent a photo an artwork that has crack below its surface? But this is the kind of world we live in. The house is luxury and the owner seems to be rich given that the house is walking distance from downtown. Plus she own two other flats in the same premises. But she still wants to fleece us? She simply says these damages (cracks on the walls and the surface below the artwork) were not there before we arrived. But strangely she says they were there 1 week after we left.

    1. It’s unfortunate but Airbnb hosts have gotten greedy. What used to be a community platform has turned into a money-sucking pit. I’m sorry you’re dealing with a nasty host, I wish I could say they are an exception, but the more I use Airbnb, the more I realize they are actually starting to be the norm!! Good luck with your situation.

  35. Thank you for this information! My family and I have used AirB and B several times and have no issues. But it’s always wise to be careful and you pointed out several things to be aware of. So, thank you again and I love reading about your adventures!

    1. Hi Ramona! I was really surprised at the host’s reaction, too. I have used Airbnb plenty of times with no issue. Yes, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Glad you enjoy reading! :)

      Best,
      Victoria

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