Real or Myth: 10 Unbelievable Airbnb Horror Stories

Welcome property managers, to a chilling exploration of the darker side of Airbnb. In this series, we delve into ten Airbnb horror stories that shed light on potential risks and challenges faced in the vacation rental industry.From haunted houses to unruly guests, these stories defy belief and showcase the unexpected perils that can lurk behind the allure of an Airbnb business. Brace yourself as we uncover the shocking, the bizarre, and the downright terrifying experiences of hosts who ventured into the unknown world of short-term rentals and how to prevent these situations.

Customer reviews and bad behaviors story cases

Peek behind the curtains and discover the unsettling truths hidden within the customer reviews and case studies of bad behavior on Airbnb. Join us as we dissect real-life instances where hosts and guests crossed boundaries, leaving a trail of dissatisfaction, discomfort, and sometimes even danger. From deceptive listings to disruptive parties, these stories shed light on the challenges faced by both hosts and guests in maintaining the integrity of the Airbnb experience. As we navigate through these cautionary tales, we’ll uncover valuable insights into how to run your Airbnb business safely and responsibly, ensuring your next guest remains a dream rather than a nightmare.

We should have known – New Year’s disaster

In the heart of London, Alex Jones experienced a nightmare scenario when Lisa Anderson booked his apartment for what seemed like innocent New Year’s celebrations. However, within hours of her arrival, chaos ensued as neighbors alerted Jones to a 100-strong party taking place in his apartment. The aftermath was devastating, with thousands of pounds worth of damage, including ripped floorboards, glitter-filled toilets, a bathtub filled with champagne, and a toppled television.

Property managers can proactively prevent such situations by implementing strict guest screening processes, including identity verification and stay purpose confirmation. Clear communication of house rules and expectations is crucial to ensure guests understand the consequences of rule violations. Utilizing property management systems with advanced security features can help monitor guest behavior and detect unauthorized gatherings, providing peace of mind for property owners and guests.

In case of a party or property damage, property managers should act swiftly, contacting local authorities if needed and thoroughly documenting damages for insurance purposes. Implementing security tools like noise-monitoring devices and smart locks can offer additional protection against unauthorized access and disturbances.

The case of Jones, facing $3,000 in cleaning, furniture replacement, and structural repair costs, emphasizes the importance of both preventive measures and preparedness to handle and recover from such incidents.

Turkey for Thanksgiving dinner

As the Thanksgiving festivities unfolded, what was meant to be a joyous occasion quickly spiraled into chaos. The group of guests, perhaps fueled by holiday spirits or other substances, engaged in reckless behavior that resulted in significant damage to the property. The scene that greeted the property manager after the guests departed was nothing short of alarming.

Upon inspection, it became evident that several items within the property had been destroyed or defaced. Furniture lay in disarray, with broken pieces scattered throughout the rooms. The most disturbing discovery, however, awaited in the backyard—a sight that no property manager should ever have to witness. Amidst the remnants of the Thanksgiving celebration, there were bloodstains, indicating a sacrifice of a turkey or some other unsettling activity.

The property manager was left to grapple with the aftermath of this shocking event, facing the daunting task of cleaning up the mess and repairing the damages. Beyond the financial costs of replacing furniture and restoring the property to its original state, there was also the emotional toll of dealing with such blatant disregard for the property and its surroundings.Adding insult to injury, the property manager incurred a hefty expense of $1,800 for furniture replacement and cleaning.

As a property manager, create a comprehensive house guide outlining rules and expectations for event hosting. Include guidelines on behavior, alcohol consumption, and access to different areas. Provide clear instructions for securing valuables and handling emergencies. Additionally, consider implementing security measures such as surveillance cameras or hiring security personnel for larger events. By establishing clear protocols and safeguards, property managers can mitigate the risk of property damage during gatherings.

Guest busts through the window after a double booking mishap

The scenario of guests taking matters into their own hands can quickly escalate beyond mere inconvenience to outright property damage and safety concerns. In a startling incident, a host inadvertently double-booked his property, leading to a chaotic confrontation upon the arrival of the second guest.

Imagine the shock and confusion when the second guest, expecting a warm welcome, instead finds the door locked and another guest already settled inside. Faced with this unexpected dilemma, the second guest made a questionable decision—to climb through the window to gain entry. This reckless act not only breached the boundaries of personal space but also posed potential safety risks and caused damage to the property.

The consequences of this impulsive action were significant, resulting in $800 worth of repairs for cleaning and structural damage. Beyond the financial implications, the incident highlights the importance of effective communication and proper management of bookings to prevent such mishaps.

To avoid similar situations, hosts must prioritize accurate booking management, utilizing reliable property management systems to track reservations and prevent double-bookings. Clear communication with guests regarding check-in procedures and expectations can also help mitigate misunderstandings and prevent guests from taking drastic measures.

In the event of a double-booking or other unforeseen circumstances, hosts should handle the situation calmly and professionally, offering alternative accommodations if necessary. Prompt resolution and transparent communication can help minimize the impact on guests and prevent further escalation of the situation.

The house that actually burned down

During a recent reservation, a group of guests organized a gathering that escalated into a dire situation: the house actually burned down! The fire caused chaos, leaving behind a complete mess — charred furniture, scorched walls, and irreplaceable losses both from the guests and from the property. A vacationing family faced a nightmarish scenario when a fire broke out in their Airbnb during a cozy dinner. In the panic, they left behind both memories and keys. The fire brigade, delayed by the absence of quick access, had to break in through a window, causing additional damage and costs. The property owner was left with a hefty bill of $5,700 for cleaning, furniture replacement, and structural repairs. 

To prevent such catastrophic events, property managers must prioritize fire safety measures and emergency preparedness. Utilizing smoke detectors and fire alarms can help detect and mitigate fire risks early on. Clear communication of emergency procedures and evacuation routes to guests is also essential. 

In the unfortunate event of a fire, property owners should immediately contact emergency services and ensure the safety of all guests. 

The Airbnb Nightmare in Melbourne

In Melbourne, host Sarah faced an unexpected nightmare after renting out her apartment for a short-term stay. Seeking to supplement her income, she welcomed a guest for what she believed would be a straightforward visit. However, upon returning to her apartment after the guest’s departure, Sarah was confronted with a scene of utter devastation.

The guest had misled Sarah about the nature of her stay, and the apartment had been transformed into what could only be described as a “junkie den.” Drug paraphernalia littered the rooms, accompanied by evidence of illicit activities and substances. Shockingly, valuable items were missing, expensive furnishings were damaged, and the apartment itself bore the scars of reckless behavior.

The financial toll of the damage surpassed Sarah’s worst fears, totaling over $10,000 AUD in repairs and replacements. This distressing experience serves as a stark reminder of the importance of thorough guest vetting and clear communication of expectations.

To prevent similar incidents, hosts should implement rigorous guest screening procedures, verifying identities and intentions before accepting bookings. Clear communication of house rules, including strict prohibitions against illegal activities and property damage, is paramount. Additionally, leveraging property management systems (PMS) with robust monitoring capabilities can help to avoid risky behavior.

In the unfortunate event of property damage, hosts should document the destruction meticulously for insurance purposes and pursue legal recourse if necessary. While such situations can be challenging, proactive measures and diligence can help hosts protect their properties and maintain the integrity of their Airbnb experiences.

The Unruly Party in Brisbane

In Brisbane, host Max rented out his spacious apartment for a birthday weekend celebration, hoping to earn extra income. However, the festivities quickly spiraled out of control.

Despite Max’s efforts to enforce quiet hours, the party continued with loud music, spilled drinks, and general chaos. By morning, the apartment was in disarray, with damaged furniture and scuffed walls.

The cleanup would be time-consuming and costly, leaving Max regretting his decision to host the party. This experience highlights the importance of responsible hosting and clear communication with guests.

To prevent similar incidents, hosts should establish strict policies on noise levels and guest behavior. Clear communication of house rules and expectations is essential. Using property management systems with noise-monitoring features can help detect disturbances early and allow hosts to address them promptly.

In case of property damage or unruly behavior, hosts should document the incident thoroughly and take appropriate action, such as contacting Airbnb support for assistance.

The unexpected Guests in Barcelona

In a cautionary tale of trust and deception, Colin, an Airbnb host in Barcelona, learned a valuable lesson about screening guests. A seemingly innocuous request to pay cash instead of through the platform’s secure system should have raised red flags, but Colin proceeded with the booking nonetheless.

Upon the guests’ arrival, Colin’s suspicions were confirmed in the most shocking manner possible. The apartment had been transformed into a makeshift brothel, with evidence of illicit activities strewn about. Empty wine and champagne bottles littered the rooms, alongside used condoms and wrappers overflowing from the bin. It became apparent that the guests were high-profile escorts who had been using the property with their clients.

The financial implications of this discovery were staggering, with Colin estimating that the escorts had earned more than their two-night stay’s rental fee of £85 per night. Beyond the financial loss, Colin was left grappling with the violation of his property and the uncomfortable realization of its intended use.

To avoid similar occurrences, hosts should be cautious and carefully screen guests before accepting bookings. Using Airbnb’s messaging platform to communicate and verify details can help spot potential issues. Additionally, it’s crucial to clearly communicate house rules, including strict prohibitions against illegal activities.

In the event of discovering unauthorized activities or damage to the property, hosts should act swiftly. Contacting Airbnb support to report the incident and documenting the damages thoroughly for insurance purposes is crucial. While such situations can be challenging to navigate, taking proactive measures and seeking support from Airbnb can help hosts protect their properties and maintain the integrity of their hosting experiences.

The unauthorized Listing in Boston

In a bizarre twist of fate, a homeowner in Boston found themselves unwittingly thrust into the world of Airbnb hosting without ever signing up for it. This unsuspecting property owner stumbled upon their primary residence listed on Airbnb, despite never registering as a host or renting out their home.

The discovery was nothing short of shocking. Imagine returning home to find strangers waiting with suitcases, believing they had booked a stay at your property through Airbnb—a platform you never intended to use for hosting. It was a surreal and alarming experience, turning what should have been a sanctuary into a source of confusion and discomfort.

The implications of this unauthorized listing were profound. Not only was the homeowner’s privacy violated, but their property was also exposed to potential risks and liabilities associated with hosting strangers. The situation underscored the importance of safeguarding personal information and property rights in the digital age.

Homeowners should regularly monitor online platforms for unauthorized listings of their properties. Reporting any unauthorized listings to Airbnb and other relevant authorities is essential for protecting one’s privacy and property rights. Additionally, homeowners should consider implementing security measures, such as changing door lock codes and installing security cameras, to prevent unauthorized access to their homes.

In the event of discovering an unauthorized listing, homeowners should take immediate action to address the situation. Contacting Airbnb support and providing evidence of ownership can help expedite the removal of the listing and mitigate potential damages. While such incidents can be unsettling, swift action and proactive measures can help homeowners regain control of their properties and protect their privacy.

Breaking the law on so many different levels

During a conference in Toronto, a traveler rented an Airbnb for five days, expecting a comfortable stay. However, upon arrival, they discovered that the apartment was located on the 18th floor of a building that explicitly prohibited short-term rentals. Signs prohibiting Airbnb rentals were plastered everywhere, indicating the potential legal consequences of violating the building’s policies.

The situation became even more unsettling when the owner instructed the guest to use the freight elevator and enter through the back to avoid detection. Additionally, the guest was restricted from entering or leaving the building at certain times, adding to their anxiety and fear of being caught and evicted in a foreign country.

This experience left the guest feeling terrified and uncomfortable throughout their stay, unable to fully enjoy the amenities of the apartment or explore the city without fear of repercussions.

To avoid similar predicaments, travelers should thoroughly research Airbnb listings and verify that they comply with local regulations and building policies. If signs of non-compliance are evident, such as strict access restrictions or warnings about short-term rentals, travelers should proceed with caution or consider alternative accommodations to avoid potential legal issues.

In the event of encountering unauthorized or non-compliant Airbnb rentals, travelers should prioritize their safety and well-being. Reporting the issue to Airbnb and seeking assistance from local authorities can help address the situation and ensure a more secure and enjoyable travel experience. While it can be tempting to overlook such discrepancies, travelers should prioritize compliance with regulations and safety considerations to avoid potential legal and logistical complications during their stay.

Typical Parker Luck

While solo traveling through Sweden, a tourist booked an Airbnb near Stockholm, expecting a cozy and affordable stay. However, upon arrival, the reality turned into a nightmare straight out of a horror movie.

The Airbnb, located in a quaint neighborhood, seemed less appealing than previous accommodations but was deemed acceptable for a short stay. However, as night fell, the guest encountered a terrifying ordeal. In the bedroom, situated below a low ceiling, the guest noticed a solitary spider on the ceiling. Brushing off the initial unease, they attempted to sleep, hoping the arachnid would remain solitary.

However, their hopes were shattered when they felt a crawling sensation on their skin. Upon switching on the light, they were horrified to discover a spider crawling on them. The nightmare intensified as they realized the entire ceiling was infested with spiders of various sizes, a sight too horrifying for someone with arachnophobia to bear.

Overwhelmed with fear, the guest abandoned their original sleeping quarters and sought refuge on the sofa downstairs. Unable to shake off the trauma, they cut short their stay and departed a day early, seeking solace away from the nightmare-inducing spiders.

To avoid similar experiences, travelers should thoroughly research Airbnb listings and read reviews from previous guests, paying close attention to any mentions of cleanliness and pest control. Additionally, communicating any specific phobias or concerns with hosts beforehand can help ensure a more comfortable and enjoyable stay. In the event of encountering unexpected horrors like an infestation, guests should prioritize their well-being and safety, seeking alternative accommodations if necessary and reporting the issue to Airbnb for appropriate action.

It could have been worse… 

In Amsterdam, a host encountered an unexpected and sticky situation after a guest’s departure, showcasing an extreme case of forgetfulness. While it’s not uncommon for guests to leave behind small items or leftovers, this guest took it to the next level with their bizarre and messy habit.

Upon returning home, the host noticed an unusual stickiness upon entering the house, initially dismissing it as spilled liquid. However, upon further investigation, they discovered a series of peculiar clues scattered throughout the apartment. The doorknob, sink, and various surfaces were coated in a thick, sticky substance, later identified as mustard.

As the host continued their investigation, they found evidence of the guest’s condiment obsession scattered around the apartment. Bottles of mustard and ketchup lay strewn across the kitchen, with traces of their contents smeared on countertops and furniture. Even the liquor cabinet was not spared, with bottles exhibiting signs of mustard contamination.

This strange and messy ordeal left the host bewildered and bemused, feeling like they were unraveling clues in a mystery novel. However, it also highlighted the importance of clear communication and setting boundaries with guests regarding cleanliness and proper behavior.

To prevent similar incidents in the future, hosts should establish clear house rules regarding food consumption and cleanliness. Communicating expectations with guests beforehand can help avoid misunderstandings and ensure a harmonious stay. Additionally, conducting thorough inspections after guests depart can help identify and address any potential issues promptly.

In the event of encountering unusual or excessive messes left behind by guests, hosts should maintain a sense of humor while addressing the situation. Communicating directly with guests about their responsibilities and potential damages can help prevent similar incidents in the future, ensuring a more pleasant hosting experience for all parties involved.

How to avoid being the main character in such Airbnb horror stories?

To steer clear of becoming the protagonist in Airbnb horror stories, hosts must prioritize proactive measures and prudent decision-making. 

Hostify recently hosted a webinar with RemoteLock, Stayfi and Minut about property management security measures and addressing guests’ bad behaviors. We shared anecdotes, including instances of fire incidents and property damages during gatherings, but most importantly highlighting the importance of implementing security tools to enhance safety at properties. By emphasizing the correlation between security measures and guest satisfaction, we underscored how proactive security measures contribute to positive guest experiences and, consequently, favorable reviews. 

So, let’s go deeper into these cases so every property manager can be prepared to deal with these situations!

With a PMS, hosts can automate the delivery of pre-arrival information, including check-in procedures, house rules, communications, booking management, and much more. Overall, by leveraging the capabilities of a comprehensive Property Management System, hosts can effectively mitigate risks, enhance guest experiences, and avoid finding themselves at the center of Airbnb horror stories.

Experience the benefits of Hostify today by booking your free demo and embarking on the path to success. So, what are you waiting for? Ask us for a free demo and start securing your properties!


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