These 5 Real-Life Airbnb Horror Stories Will Make You Think Twice Before Booking Your Next Rental



Host: Lisa N.
Age: 29

“As you might know, if you airbnb your place often, you might keep your key in a lockbox so that you don’t necessarily have to be around to greet your tenants. The couple who had requested my one-bedroom in Los Angeles was from the east coast — New Hampshire, Maine, some New England state. I don’t really remember. We had instructed them to get into the house via the lock box. We stored the key to the lock box underneath the Welcome mat. We gave them the directions, etc. They texted us that night to say they’d gotten in just fine. The next morning, I woke up, looked over at my bureau, and saw the key to the lock box sitting in a pile of stuff on top of my bureau. My first thought was, ‘Oh shit, they weren’t able to get in!’ Except… they WERE able to get in. I was immediately freaked, but my husband was out of town, and I didn’t feel comfortable confronting the tenants alone. So, I waited until they left (and until my husband returned), and we went to check out the house. Sure enough, the lock box was completely in tact, there wasn’t a key anywhere to be found, and the door seemed to be completely fine, but was definitely locked when they arrived. We still have no idea what happened, but we’ve changed the locks since.” — Airbnb Host, Story from 2014


Tenant: Erica S.
Age: 35

“I was staying in an airbnb in San Francisco, and the host was stopping by like twice a day. He had really strict regulations on how clean we needed to keep the house, so every time he needed to ‘stop by and grab something,’ we had to rush back and clean up everything, and then he’d pop in to get the most random shit. He was, generally, a bit of an anal person, which isn’t super conducive to being an airbnb host, but there you have it. Anyway, we finally checked out, and he texted me immediately saying the place was ‘passable’ in terms of cleanliness (the place was pristine, but okay). I thanked him. Twenty minutes later, he texted me back asking how the Chinese place we’d ordered from was… because he’d gone through our trash and found the takeout containers. Needless to say, I never responded to that text.”


Host: Marla W.
Age: 52

“I was an airbnb host, and I left my key in a specific spot so my tenants could let themselves in. I was renting to a man who had reserved for his sister and niece, which is a no-no, but I said yes. Trust me, I regretted it. About an hour after they checked in, a woman called me to say she’d locked herself out. I was an hour away. I came back to let her in, and it was very clear that she was on something. Which was not at all reassuring because she had a teenage daughter with her. I asked what was going on, and she apologized for having taken a pill before I arrived. Giving her the benefit of the doubt, I let her inside. And that’s when she laid everything on the table. She told me terrible stuff about her past, and the situation her and her daughter were in, which involved a convict ex-husband and father. And the worst part was, I had no idea whether she was compulsively lying or telling the truth. I felt awful, and simultaneously was just worried about my apartment because she kept saying someone was after her and she was scared he’d knock down the door of the airbnb (my door, that is) to find her. I was so alarmed. On the off chance it was true, I didn’t want to kick them out. But I also wasn’t allowed to be renting my place, and I didn’t really want to have to explain a knocked-down door to the landlord. So, I called the brother that had booked the reservation, explained everything, and said that I’d like them to leave within the next day or two, or as soon as they could possibly find alternate accommodations. I haven’t rented my place since.”


Host: Greg W.
Age: 31

“I was renting out my place in D.C., and I have a strict no pets policy because I’m wildly allergic. I made this clear to all of my tenants, and followed up about it whenever anyone checked in. About four months ago, I had a couple who checked in and said they were sad to have had to leave their dog at home. I apologized, but stressed that I was severely allergic to dogs, cats, etc. They checked out six days later, and when I came back into my place, I changed the sheets, and spent the night. I woke up in the middle of the night covered in hives. Sure enough, there was dog hair on the mattress. I don’t know what the hell they were trying to pull, but it nearly landed me in the hospital.”


Tenant: Nina T.
Age: 25

“I was renting an airbnb in Hawaii with my boyfriend for Valentine’s Day. We were staying for four nights and five days. It was a very old property, and at first, the hauntedness of it all seemed kind of romantic. We’d hold each other close when we heard the wind, or a creepy noise outside. It was all very precious. And then, on our second to last night there, just as the house creaks were starting to set in, we heard a knock at the door. I jumped out of my skin. My boyfriend was slightly calmer, but he was still freaked. I mean, we were on an island where we didn’t know anyone. I had no idea what to do. We ignored it, and the knock came again. And then, after the third time, we went to the door and opened it. It was the fucking airbnb host. At 11 PM. My level of terror wasn’t at all soothed. He said he’d texted us ahead of time to let us know he’d be coming by, but neither of us got any text and he smelled like he’d been drinking. The whole episode was pretty unsettling, and I was thankful we were checking out a day later.” Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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Maya Kachroo-Levine

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