With so many travelers opting to stay in residential-style lodging over the more traditional and more crowded hotel options, the popularity of Airbnb is on the rise. But is Airbnb safe?
So, too, are questions of safety.
The Important Questions: Is Airbnb Safe?
Short answer: Yes, experts tend to agree that staying in an Airbnb is typically safer than staying in a hotel. That said, planning ahead and doing research are two of your greatest strategies for having a safe and enjoyable experience from beginning to end.
When it comes to research, here are 10 questions to ask before you book your stay.
Understanding AirBnb: What Is It?
Airbnb is a popular online service that connects hosts who want to rent out their home (or part of their home) with travelers who need a place to stay and don’t want to stay in a hotel. The name “Airbnb” comes from three clever entrepreneurs who started an air mattress bed and breakfast in their loft and turned it into a multi-billion-dollar company.
The fact Airbnb continues to grow at an impressive rate points to its generally good reputation for safety and security. According to Airbnb, approximately 2 million people stay in an Airbnb every single night across 100,000 cities worldwide—and their safety processes make it possible.
In recent years, especially, Airbnb has tightened its restrictions and qualifications for hosts so that every possible precaution is taken to protect renters. It is in Airbnb’s best interest to create the safest experience possible for those who use the service.
Where is the Airbnb Rental Located?
Regardless of whether you choose to stay in a hotel or an Airbnb, it’s always good idea to research the location of your intended destination. Airbnb’s rentals may be a safe option generally speaking, but is airbnb safe in certain locations? Here are a few questions to research:
- What is the local crime rate?
- In what neighborhood is the Airbnb located?
- What is the location’s reputation?
Is the Airbnb Host Verified?
The Airbnb host profile is a helpful tool for renters to understand more about the property and the owner. You can glean quite a bit of information from what a host shares (or doesn’t share). If a host takes the time to create a helpful, communicative page, chances are greater than the Airbnb will be a safer bet.
As you look through profiles and rentals, you’ll notice that some hosts have a “verified identity” badge on their Airbnb profile. This demonstrates that the host has taken extra measures with Airbnb to verify who they are. Not every host is verified, so the “verified badge” adds a layer of credibility and security.
Additionally, the “super host” badge means customers highly recommend the host. Airbnb reserves its “super host” status for the very best hosts who consistently receive good ratings and reviews over time.
If you want to be as safe as possible, book an Airbnb with a super host.
Here is the basic information an Airbnb profile should contain. Any missing information in this regard should raise red flags.
- Government ID
- Phone number
- Email address
Are the Reviews For the Rental Generally Good or Bad?
Reading the reviews and checking the ratings for a specific Airbnb are two of the greatest ways you can ensure your safety for a specific rental. Hosts may exaggerate the quality of their rental, but renters will typically paint a more accurate picture. Look for patterns in the reviews. One negative comment or review may not be problematic, but multiple negative comments or reviews should signal a problem.
- Is the Airbnb clean?
- Do visitors have concerns about safety?
- Are there similar complaints about the same property?
When looking for a rental, try to locate a place with 50+ stays or a rating of 4.8 or higher. While these details do not necessarily ensure a perfect visit, they are hard metrics to reach without being a good rental.
What Are the House Rules?
Each Airbnb host has the option to upload a house manual as part of the online listing. This document is a useful piece of information that includes guidelines and rules that exist for the individual property. Violating these policies places the renter at risk of eviction and/or may result in the renter being held liable for damage to the property.
These house rules are useful for understanding how to stay safe during a visit. They are also beneficial for getting a better understanding of the home and property ahead of time.
How Responsive is the Host?
Airbnb has unique, built-in messaging capabilities on its marketplace platform that make it easy to talk directly to a host. Always use the built-in messaging system to talk to the host as this adds some accountability and protection during the exchange.
The host is less likely to take advantage or make dishonest claims on the Airbnb messaging platform that can easily be tracked by the Airbnb help team. (Any questions or concerns should be shared here.)
The messaging feature is especially helpful when trying to get a good feel about the place you are considering renting. Reach out and ask any question you have.
- How helpful is the host’s response?
- Do you get any bad feelings following your discussion?
Any red flags during your communication should raise red flags—generally speaking—about the rental.
While it isn’t a guarantee, a good rental is generally operated by a good communicator. When in doubt: trust your gut.
Will Anyone Else Be Staying on the Property?
Airbnb listings should always include information about who else is staying on the property or who might have access to it while you’re visiting, but here are three helpful questions to ask the host if there is any doubt:
- Will anyone else have access to the home during the stay? (This includes gardeners, roommates, or cleaning people, for example)
- Is the rental completely private?
- How is the rental secured?
If any of this information proves to be incorrect during your stay, contact Airbnb immediately.
Is the Property Clean?
Specifically in response to the pandemic, Airbnb now requires all hosts to follow an enhanced cleaning process. And it’s in the host’s best interest to keep the rental clean. But it’s a good idea to bring your own cleaning supplies if you are concerned at all about the cleanliness of the property.
Many travelers bring their own disinfecting wipes, for instance, and do a quick wipe-down on basic surface areas to cut down on germs.
You can find the CDC’s basic recommendations for house cleaning and disinfecting here.
What is the Airbnb Refund Policy?
No matter how much planning and research you do ahead of time, there is always a slight risk that the property won’t be everything you hoped it would be. In the event that the host hasn’t been forthright about the property or you didn’t receive what you were promised, you should know what’s covered.
Here are some basic reasons you may be eligible for a refund:
- The rental doesn’t match the description or photos
- The listed number of rooms or bathrooms is incorrect
- The rental doesn’t have clean towels or bedding for the number of guests included in the reservation (unless the host has clarified that bedding or towels will be unavailable)
- The rental is deemed to be unsafe or unsanitary
Ways to Make Your AirBnb Stay as Safe as Possible
No matter where you choose to stay for the night, it’s a good idea to take ownership of your safety as much as possible. When it comes to Airbnb safety, here are a few additional steps you can take to ensure your own security—
- Do a quick walkthrough of the entire property to understand access points or security risks.
- Double-check that windows and doors are locked.
- Locate the fire extinguisher.
- Verify the presence and workability of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
BONUS: Extra Advice on AirBnb
One of the most frequently asked questions about staying at an Airbnb involves payment. Because Airbnb charges fees to both the host and the renter for using the Airbnb marketplace, guests often wonder if they can safely avoid some of these fees by paying the host offline. Understandably, this would save both the host and the renter some money and could significantly cut down on travel costs. However, paying an Airbnb host offline is unwise and potentially unsafe. Airbnb’s insurance as well as any potential refunds only cover rentals made directly on the Airbnb website.
Your Safety Is Our Top Priority
So, is airbnb safe? Yes it can be! When it comes to safety, ONIT Home has you covered. Our team of professionals are here to answer all your questions and get you set up with an at home security system. To find out more, visit us online or give us a call at 1-833-433-0331 today to speak with one of our live representatives.
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