You booked your Airbnb weeks in advance, but when you show up, they have no record that you ever booked.
Now, you’re stranded in a city that you have never visited before, and all of the hotels are booked. You want to pull your hair in anger and helplessness.
Never allow the aforementioned situation to occur. Here, learn five of the warning signs you can look for to spot a fake Airbnb listing.
1. No photos of the interior of the house
If the listing shows photos of the street outside but not of the bedroom, you should avoid that listing.
You should be able to see pictures of how the interior of the house appears. If the listing showcases zero interior photos, the host wants to hide something. Ask the host why they never uploaded the photos.
Never book the listing if you cannot see the house interior pictures.
Furthermore, check if the photos appear authentic. Scammers might upload stolen images on their listings to convince guests that they are real.
The listing claims to deliver a luxury apartment. However, the photos show a chipped wall, dirty bedsheets, and uneven floors. The mismatch offers a clear sign that the host is a scammer.
Always check if Airbnb has verified the uploaded photos. Trust the verified photos over the description if the two don’t match.
Ask the host why the pictures and the description don’t match. Never book the listing if you find the answer dissatisfying.
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2. Negative reviews or no reviews
If a listing doesn’t show any reviews, stay away. You’ll never find an authentic listing without reviews.
Furthermore, if the listing shows a high number of negative reviews, don’t ignore them.
In addition, note if the positive reviews mention the accommodation or the location. If a guest praised the location yet not the accommodation, find out why.
Airbnb offers star ratings for features such as accuracy, check-in, and communication. If the listing scores poorly on the star ratings, then you can expect a below-average experience.
Hosts tend to list 2-3 accommodations on Airbnb. Read the reviews of not only the listing that you are looking to book, but their other listings as well.
If guests on other listings faced issues but the host never responded, find a different Airbnb.
3. No proof of legality of the listing
Cities and countries announce different regulations on Airbnb listings. Check if your booked listing complies with them.
In 2020, Los Angeles city officials prevented citizens from listing their primary residence as rental homes. The new rule never affected second homes and investment properties.
However, city officials estimated over 6,000 Airbnb listings never complied with the regulations. The number translates to 42% of active listings on every platform in Los Angeles.
Hosts must register their properties with city officials, yet, over 5,000 Airbnb listings lack a registration number in Los Angeles alone.
City officials hold the right to throw you out of illegal listings at any time. Imagine how you’ll feel stranded on a road at two in the morning.
Check the government regulations on Airbnb in the city or country you are planning to visit.
Find the city registration number or business license on the listing description. Ask the host if the description does not list the number.
If the host never registered their listing, book a different accommodation.
4. Suspiciously low prices
You are browsing through the Airbnb website and stop at a listing. You open the photos.
The screen shows king-sized beds and a plush leather sofa. You glance at the price.
The host offers the apartment at a price lower than half of the average rate. How could you pass up this offer? Maybe you should.
Think why the host offers such low rates. Prices that are so low might indicate the place lacks one or more features. It could also mean that the location isn’t as good as they want you to believe.
Next time a listing offers a five-bedroom penthouse for $100 per night in New York, ask the host why they offer the rate. Steer clear of the listing if the answer seems suspicious.
5. Unresponsive host
Never book a listing if the host has a history of not responding. In this case, you can expect that the host won’t help you if you solve any problems.
Furthermore, never communicate with the host outside of the Airbnb messaging system.
If you face any problems with the host, Airbnb will ask for the message conversations. It will help you immensely to have these records.
In addition, never pay a host through third-party payment methods. Airbnb offers refunds if a host scams you. However, this only applies if you paid through Airbnb. If you pay through a third-party, there is nothing they can do to help you.
Scammers sometimes tell you that they offer discounts if you pay them in cash, but you should never accept this offer.
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Ask the Host
Check for the signs to confirm the authenticity of the listing, and ask the host to clarify if you have any doubts. If the answer doesn’t satisfy you, reconsider your booking.
Insure Your Trip
While it’s true that Airbnb has vastly increased the amount and type of interesting travel accommodations around the world, there are still risks involved. The property you’re renting for your trip is a private residence, not a business.
While Airbnb can assist you if you end up with an unresponsive host, a property that doesn’t meet expectations, or – worse yet – a property that doesn’t even exist – it’s still best to always have travel insurance in place. If your flight is delayed or you must cancel your trip, your insurance can help you get reimbursed for your prepaid, nonrefundable bookings that are covered by the policy. Plus, it can provide financial protection against things like baggage loss, medical emergencies, and other travel situations we all hope to avoid.
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