The Reason You Should Always Take Photos Before Checking Out of an Airbnb

It could wind up saving you big time

November 1, 2023 3:06 pm
Don't fall victim to this scam
Don't fall victim to this scam.
Getty Images

They always say that, when vetting an Airbnb, you should start with the reviews. But what happens when a corrupt host finds a loophole? That, according to View From the Wing’s Gary Leff, is the premise of the latest scam to hit the rental platform. Per Leff, opportunistic hosts are attempting to extort guests for more money following the conclusion of their stay — but only after the guest has left a (presumably) positive review or the period to review has passed.

In one such instance, an unsuspecting Airbnb guest was slapped with an additional $500 cleaning fee (on top of the initial cleaning fee) for “extra” cleaning. The host claimed that the guest had smoked cigarettes in their home and even went so far as to put cigarette butts in a coffee cup and send the pictures to Airbnb. For their part, the guest claimed they are “not smokers and never have been smokers.”

“[Airbnb] has backed the host and their staged photos. I will not be paying $500 for something I did not and would not do. Has anyone dealt with this kinda thing before or have any advice?” the guest wrote. “Unfortunately, I had already left a positive review after checking out, and before receiving an email for reimbursement over 24 hours later. I have posted a review on my profile. But was unable to figure out how to undo my positive post.”

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Others were quick to share similar stories. “Host claimed we’d smoked weed in the property and asked for extra money for deep cleaning only minutes after we left a positive review,” one user offered. Another claimed that a host tried to extort additional money for purported damage to the counter tops six weeks after the end of their stay. Unfortunately, most of these cases have a propensity for devolving into guest-said, host-said situations but, in the latter case, the guests had taken videos and photos, which put an abrupt end to the host’s threats.

In fact, if the situation winds up requiring a mediator, the mediator will ask for photos from the guest. To that end, it would behoove you to to take photos upon arrival (of things like existing damage) as well as upon departure (to prove the property was sufficiently cleaned). In short, while it might feel unnatural, consider adding “take photos of the property” to your “How Not to Get Scammed on Airbnb” list prior to your next stay.

And, for an added layer of security, be sure to conduct all your communication and transactions directly on the real Airbnb site, never wire money to a host, familiarize yourself with Airbnb’s policies, vet hosts, read the reviews and don’t dismiss anything unsavory.


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