With the cold weather and hazardous conditions, you may be craving a weekend getaway to a beach-side home or little house on the lake. There’s nothing like staying in a real home when you want a cozy vacation, so you’ll probably turn to AirBnb. The hosts on AirBnb need to make an income, and in order to do that, they need to make their home as appealing as possible.
But you can’t always be certain what you see online will be what you get in real life. So is your AirBnb safe? Here are red flags to look for.
The price is too good to be true.
If the price is too good to be true, it probably is. Remember that in major cities, walking just two blocks can mean a drastic change in your surroundings. If most places in an area are priced at $200 a night but one is $80, it’s probably just around the corner on the wrong side of town.
It’s very far from other Airbnbs on the map.
Take a look at the map that shows where all the listings are in your desired area. A host might state his place is “just a couple of miles” from a nice area, but the map could clearly ping it at 10 miles from said area. The map can’t lie. If your host did, that’s something to worry about.
You’re instructed to leave neighbors alone.
A simple “Please keep noise to a minimum” is normal. But if your host goes out of his or her way to explain extensively that you are not to speak to any neighbors, something’s up. Perhaps the neighbors are troublesome characters, or perhaps the space is being illegally rented and doesn’t want you mentioning anything to others.
Half the property is off limits.
It’s normal for a host to request you don’t go into a couple areas of the house. But be wary of any house in which half the rooms are off limits. If those rules come with a long, paranoid rant about not touching those rooms, it’s possible your host has something to hide.
The host won’t share much about him/herself.
Hosts typically tell you a little about themselves in their profile—it’s their way of making you feel welcome. If you find a host who refuses to share any information about him or herself, move on. That property may not be theirs to rent, or this may all be a scam.
The host asks personal questions.
Traditionally, you don’t need to put much information about yourself other than what type of guest you are and a few fun facts about your personality (like favorite food or favorite places you’ve traveled). But your host doesn’t need to know things like what you do for a living, where you live, or how much money you make. Sometimes burglars set up fake hosting accounts so they can learn about people who will be leaving their homes vacant.
Don’t base your judgment on one or two disgruntled guests, but if the majority of the reviews state that the neighborhood or property feels unsafe, don’t stay there. No matter how great the photos look (remember those photos could be fake or photoshopped).
There are extensive locking instructions.
Naturally, your host will want you to lock up the property each time you leave. But if he repeats, in bold, things like “MAKE SURE NO WINDOW IS LEFT UNLOCKED OR OPENED” you might be looking at an unsafe neighborhood.
There are no photos of the surrounding area.
If a host lives in a nice neighborhood, they’ll want to show that off to attract guests. If a host leaves off any photos of the surrounding neighborhood, or even the back and front yard, they probably left those off intentionally.
You put a lot of trust in your host’s hands when you rent a home on Airbnb. But at the end of the day, the hosts are still just human beings and they haven’t gone through an extensive vetting process. You have to do your due diligence to make sure you stay in a safe area.