Booking a vacation rental on Airbnb can seem extremely appealing, especially if you’re staring at some really intimidating hotel prices for a popular destination. Financial concerns can become particularly pressing, if you wait too long to plan your lodging. Travelers can easily find good deals on Airbnb, however some rentals can be more trouble than they’re worth. These properties are listed by citizen property owners who don’t always prioritize customer service or convenience when they’re trying to fill up a vacancy. Here are some major red flags to keep an eye out for as you browse Airbnb listings.
Host Account Age
Airbnb publishes the amount of time a host has been a member on their website. Airbnb itself was founded in 2008, so you can’t browse around, expecting to find too many hosts with extremely old accounts. However, accounts that have been created during the very same month should lead you to ask some questions about host reliability. Sure, this host could be totally fine, just completely new to the Airbnb process. But how badly do you want to test this theory?
While you’re shopping around for the right rental, use the Airbnb messaging feature to ask questions. Try to do this before you book a place – if time permits – so that you can get a good idea of how responsive a host might be when you’re actually staying at their place. If they take forever to respond, or don’t answer your questions at all, then you should consider giving another host your business.
Sketchy Payment Requests
Airbnb has created a closed system that allows you to communicate and pay hosts completely through their website. There is absolutely no legitimate reason for a host to speak with you outside of Airbnb’s messaging system or request payment through another platform, such as PayPal or wire transfer. Requests for outside payments are extremely likely to be a scam, and Airbnb won’t be able to intervene in transactions that aren’t conducted on their platform. According to Airbnb’s Online Safety webpage, “you can report people who ask you to do this by flagging the message.”
Exorbitant Security Deposits
Airbnb allows hosts to set security deposits ranging between $100 and $5000. Unless you’re expecting to Ritz Carlton experience at a particular vacation rental, then you should definitely steer clear of rentals that seem to have unusually high security deposits based on the type of property you’ll be renting.
Negative Reviews As A Host…Or A Guest
You can get a general idea about the quality of a host by looking at the reviews on their property listings. However, you can even see how these hosts behave as guests when they rent Airbnb properties from other hosts. You can see all of their reviews by going directly to a host’s profile and scrolling down to the “Reviews From Hosts” section. If their “Reviews from Guests” section is pretty sparse, then you can still get a general feel for their reliability based on their experiences as a guest.
Airbnb can be an excellent way to learn more about an area, meet locals, and snag a great deal on your lodging. However, make sure that you won’t get stuck with problematic hosts and properties first. Keep an eye out for these warning signs the next time you book an Airbnb rental!