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Airbnb Horror Stories From A NYC Host’s Point Of View


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Valene Kiel



With the rise of the sharing economy, Airbnb has emerged as a popular platform for travelers seeking unique and affordable accommodations. The allure of hosting on Airbnb is evident – the opportunity to meet new people, earn extra income, and showcase your hospitality skills. However, behind the glossy facade and positive reviews, there lies a dark side that many hosts have experienced.


In this article, we will dive into the world of hosting on Airbnb from a New York City host’s point of view. We will explore the horror stories that hosts have encountered, shedding light on the less-mentioned aspects of being an Airbnb host. From nightmare guests to covert parties, unresolved issues to safety concerns, we will uncover the challenges and frustrations that hosts face on a regular basis.


It’s important to note that not all Airbnb experiences are negative. There are countless hosts who have had wonderful and rewarding experiences hosting guests from all corners of the globe. However, it’s equally important to acknowledge and discuss the darker side, giving potential and current hosts a complete picture of what they may encounter.


By sharing these stories and experiences, we aim to empower hosts by preparing them for the potential challenges they may face and offering insights into how to navigate and overcome these obstacles. Whether you are a seasoned host or considering dipping your toes into the world of hosting, this article will provide valuable knowledge and help you make informed decisions.


Now, let’s dive into the underbelly of hosting on Airbnb and discover the tales that will make you think twice before opening your doors to strangers.


The Attraction of Hosting on Airbnb

Hosting on Airbnb offers a myriad of attractions that draw people in. For starters, it provides an opportunity to monetize an extra space that you might have, whether it’s a spare bedroom, a cozy apartment, or even a unique property like a treehouse or a boat. With the rising cost of living, hosting on Airbnb can be a lucrative way to supplement your income.


Beyond the financial aspect, many hosts enjoy the social aspect of welcoming guests from around the world into their homes. It offers a chance to meet new people, learn about different cultures, and make connections that can last a lifetime. Some hosts even find joy in sharing their local knowledge and tips with guests, ensuring they have an unforgettable experience in their city.


Additionally, hosting on Airbnb provides a sense of autonomy and flexibility. You have the freedom to set your own rules, requirements, and rates. You can choose when to make your space available and have the option to block off dates that don’t fit your schedule. This level of control allows hosts to tailor their hosting experience to their own preferences.


Furthermore, Airbnb offers support and resources for hosts. The platform provides a user-friendly interface to manage bookings, communicate with guests, and handle payments. Hosts can also access a wealth of information and tips on how to optimize their listings, improve their hospitality skills, and resolve any issues that may arise.


Overall, hosting on Airbnb has undeniable appeals, including the potential for financial gain, the opportunity to connect with people from all walks of life, and the flexibility to create a hosting experience that aligns with your lifestyle. However, it’s important to be aware that these attractions come with their own set of challenges, as we will explore in the next section.


The Dark Side of Hosting on Airbnb

While hosting on Airbnb can be a rewarding experience, there is a dark side that many hosts have encountered. From nightmare guests to property damage, hosts often find themselves dealing with unexpected challenges that can take a toll on their mental and emotional well-being.


One of the main issues hosts face is the presence of disrespectful and destructive guests. Stories abound of guests leaving behind a trail of mess, treating the host’s property with disregard, and violating the house rules. From stained carpets and broken furniture to stolen items and even illegal activities, hosts have had to deal with the aftermath of guests’ careless behavior.


Another disturbing phenomenon that hosts have experienced is the emergence of covert parties. Some guests rent a property under false pretenses, only to turn it into a venue for loud parties and disruptive gatherings. These parties not only create an uncomfortable and unsafe environment for the host and other guests, but they can also lead to property damage and disturbances within the neighborhood.


Unresolved issues regarding payment and property damage also plague hosts on Airbnb. Despite clear policies and the presence of security deposits, hosts sometimes struggle to receive compensation for damages caused by guests. Unresponsive guests, complicated resolution processes, and the lack of Airbnb’s immediate support can leave hosts frustrated and financially burdened.


Furthermore, hosts often find themselves navigating the complex web of Airbnb’s policies and support system. The terms and conditions can feel overwhelming, and hosts may feel like they are at a disadvantage when it comes to handling disputes or seeking assistance. This lack of effective communication and support can further exacerbate the challenges faced by hosts.


Additionally, safety concerns are a significant issue for hosts. There have been instances of theft, property vandalism, and even threats towards hosts. This creates a sense of vulnerability and fear, as hosts are forced to question the security of their own homes and the well-being of themselves and their guests.


Lastly, the emotional toll of hosting cannot be overlooked. Dealing with difficult guests, constantly managing bookings, and the pressure to maintain high ratings can take a toll on hosts’ mental well-being. The stress and anxiety that come with hosting on Airbnb can affect both their personal lives and their ability to provide a positive hosting experience.


While these dark sides of hosting on Airbnb are not the norm, they are important to be aware of. By being prepared for the potential challenges and developing strategies for navigating them, hosts can mitigate the risks and create a more positive hosting experience.


Nightmare Guests: Stories of Disrespectful and Destructive Visitors

One of the most common challenges that hosts face on Airbnb is dealing with nightmare guests. These are individuals who show little respect for the host’s property, ignore house rules, and leave a trail of destruction in their wake.


Hosts have shared numerous stories of guests who treat their homes like party venues, causing extensive damage and disturbance. From wild parties that spiral out of control to unauthorized guests bringing in additional people without permission, these experiences leave hosts with the difficult task of cleaning up the mess and repairing the damage.


Some nightmare guests have also been known to disregard simple rules and guidelines set by the host. Whether it’s smoking in non-smoking areas, bringing in pets without prior approval, or being excessively loud and disruptive, these guests create a hostile environment for both the host and other guests.


Property damage is another issue that hosts have dealt with. Guests have been known to stain carpets, break furniture, and even intentionally vandalize the property. In extreme cases, hosts have found their homes in disarray, with valuable items stolen or irreparably damaged.


These disrespectful and destructive guests not only cause financial burdens for hosts, but also emotional distress and frustration. Hosts put in significant effort to create a welcoming and comfortable space, only to have it disrespected and damaged by unruly guests.


While Airbnb does have a review system that allows hosts to warn others about bad guests, it doesn’t guarantee that hosts will be completely spared from these nightmares. Hosts must remain vigilant, thoroughly vet potential guests, and be prepared to address any challenges that arise.


Despite the negative experiences, it’s important to remember that not all guests are like this. Many guests are considerate and respectful, treating the host’s property with care. However, hosts should be aware of the potential for nightmare guests and take necessary precautions to protect their homes and their own well-being.


Covert Parties: Witnessing Unruly Gatherings in Your Own Home

Imagine waking up in the middle of the night to the sound of loud music, strangers pouring into your home, and an out-of-control party unfolding before your eyes. Unfortunately, this nightmare scenario is a reality for some Airbnb hosts who have experienced covert parties organized by their guests.


Covert parties occur when guests book a property under false pretenses, often claiming to be a small group or a couple seeking a quiet getaway. However, once they arrive, they completely disregard the host’s rules and transform the space into a party venue.


These unruly gatherings not only disrupt the host’s peaceful home but can also lead to significant damage and disturbances within the neighborhood. From property damage caused by rowdy guests to noise complaints from neighbors, hosting a covert party can quickly turn into a nightmare for hosts.


Some hosts have shared stories of finding their homes left in complete disarray, with broken furniture, littered bottles, and even illegal substances. Others have had to deal with angry neighbors, who have been inconvenienced and disturbed by the noise and commotion emanating from the property.


Addressing a covert party can be challenging for hosts, as they must balance their duty to maintain a safe and peaceful environment with the need to confront unruly guests. In some cases, hosts have had to involve law enforcement to restore order and remove the disruptive guests from their property.


To prevent covert parties from happening, hosts can implement stricter guest screening procedures, clarify house rules, and communicate openly with guests about their expectations. Additionally, establishing a good relationship with neighbors and keeping in touch with them during guests’ stays can help minimize disturbances and address any concerns promptly.


It’s important for hosts to have a plan in place to address covert parties, including establishing clear consequences for violating house rules and understanding the steps they can take to protect themselves and their property.


While covert parties are not a common occurrence, hosts should be aware of the possibility and be prepared to handle such situations. Maintaining open lines of communication with guests and taking proactive measures can help hosts prevent covert parties and preserve the sanctity of their homes.


Unresolved Issues: Tales of Unpaid Damages and Property Destruction

One of the most frustrating and disheartening experiences for Airbnb hosts is dealing with unresolved issues, particularly when it comes to unpaid damages and property destruction caused by guests. Despite the platform’s policies and security deposit system, hosts often find themselves facing significant financial losses and struggling to receive compensation for the damage caused by guests.


Hosts have shared stories of guests who have caused extensive damage to their property, whether it’s broken furniture, stained carpets, or walls in need of repair. While hosts can submit a claim through Airbnb’s resolution center and seek compensation from the security deposit, the process can be lengthy and complicated.


In some cases, hosts have found it challenging to prove the extent of the damage or to receive a response from the guest. This can lead to frustration and financial burden, particularly when repairs need to be made quickly to accommodate future bookings.


Even when hosts are successful in obtaining a resolution from Airbnb, there are instances where the compensation received does not fully cover the cost of repairs or replacement. This leaves hosts out of pocket and feeling frustrated by the lack of support from the platform.


Additionally, some hosts have encountered guests who dispute the damages, denying any responsibility or claiming that the damage was preexisting. This can create a back-and-forth battle between hosts and guests, further prolonging the resolution process.


To mitigate these issues, hosts can take proactive steps to protect themselves. It is important to thoroughly document the condition of the property before and after each stay, including photographs and detailed descriptions of any existing damages. Clear communication with guests about house rules, expectations, and the consequences of violating them can also help deter destructive behavior.


While unpaid damages and property destruction are certainly not the norm, hosts should be prepared for the possibility and understand the steps they can take to protect their interests. By being diligent, setting clear expectations, and leveraging the support and resources provided by Airbnb, hosts can navigate these challenges and minimize their impact on their hosting experience.


The Fine Print: Dealing with Airbnb’s Policies and Support

As an Airbnb host, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the platform’s policies and understand the support available to you. While Airbnb offers a user-friendly interface and a range of resources, hosts often find themselves navigating the complexities of the fine print when it comes to resolving issues and accessing support.


One of the key challenges hosts face is the resolution process for disputes and damage claims. Airbnb’s resolution center allows hosts to submit claims for unpaid damages or other issues caused by guests. However, the process can be lengthy and requires thorough documentation, including photographs, receipts, and clear descriptions of the damages.


Hosts may also find themselves in situations where they need to cancel a booking due to extenuating circumstances or unforeseen changes. However, hosts need to be aware of the cancellation policy they have set and the potential consequences, such as financial penalties or impact on their Superhost status.


Support from Airbnb can vary depending on the situation. While the platform provides resources, guidelines, and a dedicated support team, hosts have reported challenges in reaching a timely response or receiving satisfactory assistance. This can lead to frustration, particularly when urgent matters require immediate attention.


To navigate these challenges, hosts can take proactive steps to protect themselves and ensure a smooth resolution process. Familiarize yourself with Airbnb’s policies, including cancellation policies and the requirements for submitting claims. Ensure that you have proper documentation, clear house rules, and open communication with guests to address any issues that may arise during their stay.


It is also beneficial to join online communities and forums where hosts share their experiences and provide support and advice. These communities can offer valuable insights and help you navigate the intricacies of Airbnb’s policies and support system.


Ultimately, being proactive, staying informed, and fostering open communication with Airbnb and your guests is crucial in resolving issues and accessing the necessary support. While the platform’s policies and support may present challenges at times, hosts can take control of their hosting experience by being knowledgeable and prepared.


Safety Concerns: Instances of Theft, Vandalism, and Threats

While hosting on Airbnb can be a rewarding experience, safety concerns can arise and pose a significant challenge for hosts. Instances of theft, vandalism, and threats have been reported by hosts, highlighting the need for vigilance and precautionary measures.


One of the main safety concerns is theft. Hosts have experienced incidents where guests have stolen valuable items, such as electronics, jewelry, or even artwork. These acts of theft can lead to significant financial losses for hosts and create a sense of violation within their own homes.


Vandalism is another issue that hosts may encounter. Guests have been known to intentionally damage property, either out of frustration or as an act of disregard. From broken furniture to graffiti on walls, acts of vandalism can leave hosts feeling violated and burdened with the cost of repairs.


Hosts have also reported instances of threats and harassment. Some guests have engaged in aggressive or threatening behavior towards hosts or other guests, making the hosting experience not only uncomfortable but also potentially dangerous. Safety should always be a top priority, and hosts must take immediate action to protect themselves and their guests in such situations.


To address these safety concerns, hosts can implement various security measures. Installing security cameras in common areas or using smart locks to regulate access can provide a sense of security and deter potential criminal activities. It is also helpful to conduct thorough background checks on potential guests and consider their reviews and reputation before accepting bookings.


In cases where safety issues arise, hosts should contact local law enforcement if immediate assistance is needed. Airbnb provides a Trust and Safety team that is available to assist hosts in addressing safety concerns, reporting incidents, and initiating necessary actions.


Creating clear house rules and communicating them to guests can also help set expectations and prevent potential safety issues. It is important for hosts to be transparent about community guidelines, noise restrictions, and any other relevant information that promotes a safe and peaceful environment.


While instances of theft, vandalism, and threats are not common, hosts must be prepared to handle such situations. Maintaining a focus on safety and vigilance can help hosts navigate these challenges and ensure a secure hosting experience for themselves and their guests.


Emotional Toll: Coping with Stress and Anxiety as a Host

Hosting on Airbnb can take a toll on a host’s emotional well-being, often leading to stress and anxiety. The challenges and uncertainties that come with being a host can create a significant burden, impacting both personal and professional aspects of life.


One of the main sources of stress for hosts is the constant pressure to maintain high standards and positive ratings. The fear of negative reviews or receiving lower ratings can create anxiety and instigate a constant need to please guests. This pressure to perform at a high level can lead to burnout and a disregard for one’s own well-being.


Additionally, dealing with difficult guests or resolving issues can be emotionally taxing. From dealing with disrespectful or destructive guests to addressing unpaid damages, hosts often find themselves in situations that require negotiation and conflict resolution skills. This constant need to handle challenging situations and maintain professionalism can lead to increased levels of stress and anxiety.


Furthermore, the unpredictability of hosting can create anxiety for hosts. The uncertainty of bookings, last-minute cancellations, or even the risk of unexpected incidents can add to the emotional strain. This uncertainty can impact a host’s financial stability and overall peace of mind.


Hosts may also experience anxiety related to the loss of control over their own space. Opening their homes to strangers can create a sense of vulnerability and discomfort. The fear of potential theft, damage, or even personal safety issues can contribute to heightened anxiety levels.


To cope with the emotional toll of hosting, it is important for hosts to prioritize self-care. Setting boundaries and taking breaks from hosting can help prevent burnout. Engaging in stress-relieving activities, such as meditation, exercise, or hobbies, can also provide relief and promote mental well-being.


Seeking support from other hosts or joining online communities can be beneficial, as it allows hosts to share experiences, seek advice, and gain support from others who understand the challenges they face. Additionally, connecting with friends, family, or a therapist can provide a valuable outlet to express emotions and receive guidance.


Taking time to reflect on the positive aspects of hosting can also help counterbalance the stress and anxiety. Focusing on the connections made with guests, the joy of sharing one’s space, and the financial rewards can remind hosts of the reasons they started hosting in the first place.


Ultimately, hosts must prioritize their mental and emotional well-being. By acknowledging and addressing the stress and anxiety that can come with hosting, hosts can create a healthier and more sustainable hosting experience.



Hosting on Airbnb can be a rewarding experience, providing the opportunity to meet new people, earn extra income, and showcase your hospitality skills. However, it’s crucial to acknowledge and prepare for the potential challenges and the dark side of hosting.


From nightmare guests and covert parties to unresolved issues and safety concerns, hosts may face unexpected hurdles that can take an emotional, financial, and even physical toll. It’s important to be aware of these potential pitfalls and take steps to protect yourself and your property.


Despite the challenges, many hosts continue to find joy in hosting, as it allows them to create unique experiences for guests and make a positive impact. By implementing stringent guest screening procedures, establishing clear house rules, and maintaining open communication with guests, hosts can mitigate risks and foster a more positive hosting experience.


Additionally, understanding Airbnb’s policies and support system, diligently documenting damages, and seeking appropriate resolution channels can help hosts navigate potential disputes and financial hardships. Joining online communities and seeking advice from other hosts can also provide valuable insights and support.


Lastly, hosts must prioritize their own well-being, both physically and emotionally. Taking breaks from hosting, practicing self-care, and seeking support from friends, family, or professionals can help manage stress and anxiety associated with hosting.


While there are challenges and risks involved, hosting on Airbnb can still be a fulfilling endeavor. By being aware of the potential pitfalls and arming yourself with the knowledge and resources to navigate them, you can create a hosting experience that is rewarding, safe, and sustainable.


So, whether you’re a seasoned host or considering entering the world of hosting, remember to balance optimism with preparedness. Embrace the opportunities, learn from others’ experiences, and create your own unique hosting journey, all while staying cognizant of the dark side that can lurk in the corners of the sharing economy.