Irresponsible Airbnb in Italy provides renters with no protection against rogue guests

 ROME – Italian authorities are under pressure from hotels to curb Airbnb rentals taking away their business but Airbnb also evidently provides no protection for renters when faced with a rogue guest who abuses his access to a private property, as a recent example showed.

 An Italian guest and his Hungarian wife booked a 10 day stay with his family at pets at a four bedroom house just 300 M from the beach at the fashionable resort of San Felice Circeo, arriving last Sunday,  unloaded his baggage and family members and put his car in the garage. The owner of the house left for Rome, 100 km away, but two hours later the guest declared himself unsatisfied, sending photos that purportedly showed ‘dirty walls, dirty floor, dirty sheets.’

The host was gobsmacked. The sheets were new and the house had been cleaned. What was worst was that the guest announced he had ‘left the keys in the front door’ of the house, in other words anyone such as thieves or squatters could walk in.

Normally when Italians rent seaside homes they pay a caparra or deposit but with Airbnb it is Airbnb that keeps all the money in advance and the host receives nothing until the day after the guest has moved in and declared himself satisfied.

 Without a caparra the renter is vulnerable to oafish and highly irresponsible behaviour of this kind by the guest from hell with evidently no redress provided by Airbnb. In this case the host was making a 200 km round trip in the summer heat incurring petrol expenses to return to the property after the Italian rogue left the property unsecured and received a full reimbursement from Airbbnb as a reward.

 The house had been blocked for the guest in advance for a high season rental and there was now no chance of finding a new renter at short notice. Airbnb’s claim that it selects its guests to ensure their reliability  is clearly nonsense.

 Airbnb press spokesman for Italy Simone Canziani told Italian Insider Tuesday he had raised the question of compensation for the host for the guest’s behaviour but could not say how long it would take for an outcome from Airbnb customer service due to the high volume of complaints in the summer.

 Mr Canziani said Tuesday he would try to provide the Insider with copies of the photos that the guest took claiming that the house was dirty. By Wednesday however the photos had not been made available.

Another flaw in Airbnb’s unfair system evidently is that it takes such photos at face value without giving hosts sight of the photos to comment on whether they were legitimate or fake. In this way an unscrupulous guest can stage alleged shortcomings in a property to get out of their contract after already moving in, leaving the well-meaning host who entrusted them with the property in good faith in the lurch.

Against this background the complaints of hotel owners calling for more curbs on Airbnb’s untramelled system appear fully justified.