$50 Per Minute For Late Checkout And $2000 Per Extra Trash Bag, Airbnb’s Fees Can Be Insane

The idea of Airbnb is fantastic. It helps people monetize underutilized real estate, whether it’s an extra room in a home or time when they’re away. And it increases the supply of rental housing, which means more options for consumers and ultimately a lower price.

Home sharing is perfect for when you’re traveling with a large group, you need a kitchen and want living space, or when you’re traveling somewhere that isn’t well-served by hotels.

For good or ill, the platform has also allowed individuals to become mini-hoteliers and real estate moguls, and also serves as a new distribution platform for hotels to sell rooms as well.

But the original value proposition of convenience and value is undermined by ‘hosts’ (sellers) who try to impose rules and fines that aren’t even included in the listing people agree to, springing expectations on guests after they’ve already booked and can no longer cancel without forfeiting payment.

I’ve seen horror story after horror story, from requiring guests to mow the lawn to losing a day of their long weekend having to wait for plumbers. But I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything quite like the listing from Corpus Christi, Texas that includes a charge of $50 per minute for late check-out and $50 per minute for early check-in (something usually offered free, if a unit is available). The property owner likes $50 charges, adding that much if guests wear shoes in the house also.

@doveslayer89 #stitch with @tiaashley21 #greenscreen not all are that nice but some are just out to make a quick dollar. Be careful and read the rules and take pictures when you book in case they change them. @airbnb #airbnbhorrorstory ♬ original sound – Doveslayer89

@doveslayer89 Replying to @holistic_roots111 not fake at all #airbnbhorrorstory @airbnb ♬ Oh No – Kreepa

Guests are also only allowed to drink one bottle of wine or three beers per day. Violating that is $60. A missing kitchen knife? You might think it would be charged at replacement cost, maybe even plus a modest administrative fee. Nope. $500. I’m not even sure how you’d lose a knife, since while the property features a “well-appointed kitchen offers a gas range, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances,” it also says “kitchen prohibited.”

Noise costs $1,000 per instance. Guests have two trash bags per day and if cleaners need additional trash bags after the stay that is $2,000 per trash bag. Bringing guests onto the property – even those not staying the night – costs $50 per person.

And cameras:

“On one of the pictures, you actually see a camera in the cabinet…6 cameras around the house for security and safety only.” It does not specify whether these cameras are inside or outside the apartment.

Airbnb’s terms allow for security cameras so long as they are noted in the listing, not intentionally concealed, and not in “private spaces like bedrooms, bathrooms, or sleeping areas.”

When James explained the situation to Airbnb, he said the support representative “literally laughed.”

“She was like, ‘yeah, I would never stay here after she sent these rules,’” he recalled.

Airbnb says that they “would not enforce” some of these rules. They do not say which ones. How is a guest supposed to know ex ante? The original listing has been removed by the owner, and presumably replaced, in order to obscure which property this is. Nonetheless I’m reminded of Les Miserables:

Somehow some people actually think you should be tipping the owner of the Airbnb that you rent and pay cleaning fees to, and I don’t even know what to say to those people.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Some people don’t know how to run an Airbnb!!! We go overboard in providing our guests everything they could possibly want from extra towels to razors, toothpaste, and toothbrushes. This is why, we always get 5 stars. When guests look to book an Airbnb, they should look for SuperHost and read the rating. There are many wonderful Airbnb’s out there!!!

  2. I must be missing something. With all that has changed about Airbnb, why do people even stay their anymore. The host should also have a mandatory $500 fee for being stupid.

  3. This has to be a joke or a heavily modified listing. I understand charges for smoking and even late checkout but what is a fee for “kitchen prohibited” or “restroom prohibited”. Maybe the person is renting a room in their house and doesn’t want anyone to use those spaces but I assume almost all AirBNBs in 2023 are actual condos or houses that are rented out. These charges just don’t seem realistic.

  4. Despite some outright scams like places that don’t actually exist – which appear across multiple continents – the worst of these AirBnB stories seem to happen exclusively in the U.S. It’s following trends of hotels which basically make up punitive charges (resort fees/destination fees) to punish those who have the audacity of staying there.

  5. Been awhile since we got an anecdotal AirBnB hit piece. Was starting to get concerned…

  6. In context, some of the rules are more reasonable than they initially appear. For example, when reading the rule list, one may immediately balk (as James did) at the rule that guests cannot wear shoes in the house. However, the Airbnb owner notes that “in-house slippers” are provided for each guest.

    We don’t charge nor have this type of rules, but i have already replaced a couple remote controls. I have not charged my guests for them, but it cost more than just cost of control. Consider inconvenience to next guests or even booking cancellation depending on severity of situation.

    The rules are or should be just a means to prevent loss or damage.

  7. Just to add… how would they enforce alcohol consumption? If they have indoor cameras, that would be full stop for me.

  8. I have used Airbnb twice and had great experiences both times. I understand the concerns raised here and the platform needs to reign in the crazy or lose their value proposition. But somebody is using it. If you search and area on VRBO/Homeaway and the same area on Airbnb you quickly see that Airbnb is dominating the market. a VRBO listing will have 3 reviews and Airbnb 50. It’s not even close.

  9. If the fees aren’t disclosed they should be illegal. Hotels get away with a lot of “garbage” fees too. Yes there really are airbnb’s out there where you meet nice people and get lodging for a decent price. It’s up to the consumer to book the properties that make sense for them. I’ve had many good experiences and only one bad one, a place air conditioning wasn’t working in a summer Atlanta heat wave, but even then the owner and airbnb cooperated in getting me a better place.

  10. We’ve used AirBnB overseas many times–great experiences, beautiful locations and fair prices paid to wonderful and easy going property owners (we’ve always rented whole houses).

    And then a rash of fake properties began to appear….a houseboat in the Netherlands (nearly scammed us–just days prior to arrival), a home next to a vineyard in France and a location in London–none were real. Fortunately, we were able to figure out the scams prior and didn’t lose out on any money–but why should we act as amateur detectives just to book a vacation rental? We got tired of the stress and hassle of sorting through listings and shifted to staying strictly at reputable hotels. While we miss out on some of the convenience (and cost savings) of renting a whole home for the family, the peace-of-mind and certainty is worth it….AirBnB will have to do a much better job of policing its site/listings to win us back….

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