Airbnb is a world-leading lodging company with over 150 million people using their services as hosts and guests. They do not own the properties people rent for their vacations, but they facilitate between owners of the property, known as hosts, and the customers, known as guests.
When a dispute arises between a host and a guest, Airbnb allows the two parties to work out a solution together. If they fail to reach an agreement, they go through Airbnb Resolution Center (ARC).
Moreover, disputes that were not successfully resolved may end up in binding arbitration or courts. For this, they set country-specific dispute resolution processes.
This article is your guide to everything related to Airbnb’s dispute resolution. Keep reading if you are an Airbnb user! PS: If you are considering legal action (as we will discuss) later, you may obtain forms and assistance from here.
- The Process of Dispute Resolution: How Airbnb resolves disputes?
- Expected Costs of Airbnb Dispute Resolution
- Guest Refuses to Pay Claimed Damage: What Should You Do?
- Security Deposit: Should You Charge?
- Dispute Resolution Center: Expected Time to Resolve a Dispute on Airbnb
- Airbnb Insurance: Host Protection Insurance
- Suing Airbnb in Small Claims Courts
The Process of Dispute Resolution: How Airbnb resolves disputes?
Airbnb encourages amicable dispute resolution between guests and hosts through their message thread. Such disagreements can arise due to host damages, refund requests, payments or guest experience.
When the two parties fail to reach an agreement within 72 hours, one of them can request mediation by Airbnb.
Requesting Airbnb’s mediation takes place in the resolution center within 60 days of the reservation’s checkout date. The Airbnb customer service will review the communication and transactions history as well as any supporting documents then issue a decision.
Luckily, if the mediation decision is not satisfactory, you may appeal it. This process is region or country-specific. This means the process changes depending on where you live: USA, EEA (Plus Switzerland and UK), or China.
Here’s how Airbnb resolves disputes in:
Airbnb disputes the United States
1. Mandatory pre-arbitration dispute resolution:
Informal negotiation with Airbnb is a mandatory stage in which you are required to negotiate and discuss the dispute through their customer service at least 30 days before initiating the arbitration. US-based users are required to send a notice of the dispute to Airbnb by mail and receive a notice from Airbnb at their address.
If parties are unable to reach an agreement within 30 days, they proceed to the next stage. Both parties are allowed to seek relief in a small claims court instead of arbitration.
2. Binding Arbitration with AAA:
Parties can initiate arbitration with the American Arbitration Association. This can take place via the phone, video conference, by paper, or in person. When it comes to fees, you will pay your arbitration fees and the arbitrator’s fees as stated by the AAA consumer rules.
Airbnb might pay all the arbitration fees and expenses if the arbitrator determines your fees are excessive. The award of the arbitration is binding.
Airbnb disputes in the European Union, Switzerland, and UK
If you believe Airbnb mediation team mishandled your dispute, you can appeal it by contacting customer service. If the result is unfavorable, you might take your complaint to the European Commission’s online dispute resolution.
However, Airbnb clearly states that they are not committed nor obliged to use this ADR platform to resolve disputes.
EEA, Switzerland, and UK users have the right to file a claim against Airbnb in a court in your country or an Irish court.
Airbnb disputes in China
1. Transactions within China: Arbitrating with CIETAC
Chinese users of Airbnb China can submit disputes against Airbnb to the China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (CIETAC). Moreover, the tribunal must consist of three arbitrators and take place in Beijing. The arbitration award is binding and non-appealable.
2. Cross-border transactions: Arbitrating with SIAC
Disputes arising between Airbnb and Chinese citizens who use Airbnb services other than Airbnb China must be submitted to the Singapore International Arbitration Center (SIAC).
The sessions must take place in Singapore and three arbitrators must preside over them.
Detailed coverage on Arbitration and dispute resolution in China can be read in Online Dispute Resolution in China: The Ultimate Guide of ODR Platforms and E-Courts.
Expected Costs of Airbnb Dispute Resolution
US users arbitrating with AAA should expect to pay $200 in consumer case filing fees. Other fees including case management fees and the arbitrator’s compensation are paid by the business, Airbnb in this case.
Chinese users arbitrating with CIETAC should expect to pay at least $15 as a registration fee and a handling fee of at least $928.
Chinese users arbitrating with SIAC should expect to pay $1745 as a case filing fee, at least $2807 as administrative fees, and arbitrator’s fees of at least $4,618 for a single arbitrator excluding taxes.
Airbnb Guest Refuses to Pay Claimed Damage: What Should You Do?
In the instance where you suffered some property damage because of a guest’s stay, you request to have the damages compensated by the guest.
If all negotiations with the guest fail, and he/she refuses to pay after 72 hours, you must escalate the dispute to Airbnb through their resolution center.
Depending on whether you charge security deposits or are covered by Airbnb Host Guarantee, you should expect these three scenarios:
1. Involve Airbnb by escalating the dispute to them. The guest might accept the solutions put forward by Airbnb’s customer service.
2. If you charged the guest a security deposit, you can request to collect it within 14 days after the guest’s checkout.
3. If you didn’t charge a security deposit, but you are eligible for Airbnb Host Guarantee, you should submit a host guarantee payment request form in addition to damage evidence.
You have a maximum of 14 days to submit this request after the guest checks out or before the next guest checks in.
Airbnb Security Deposit: Should You Charge?
A host can charge a security deposit of $100 to $5000, which means guests have to deposit the required amount before checking in. But charging deposits may not be a 100% positive choice.
Depending on your priorities and experience, charging deposits can be a hit or miss. While security deposits indeed give a sense of security, they might be affecting your occupancy rate.
This is because many guests will avoid booking your place it.
If you are a super host who is enjoying a high occupancy rate and great reviews, charging security deposits might not affect you negatively. Conversely, it might be a great way to prevent disputes of refunds.
If you prioritize your occupancy rate and are relatively new to hosting, you may want to slow down before charging deposits. In the end, it all depends on your own choices and circumstances.
Airbnb Dispute Resolution Center: Expected Time to Resolve a Dispute
Guests are allowed a period of 72 hours (three days) to respond to your dispute during the amicable negotiation. After involving Airbnb, the time it takes to resolve the dispute varies depending on the severity of the claim, the evidence, and the means of contact.
Disputes involving large amounts of money take longer to resolve. Likewise, having conclusive proof accelerates the determination process.
Moreover, hosts on the Community Center find that calling Airbnb customer service speeds up the resolution process.
Airbnb Insurance: Host Protection Insurance
Unlike Airbnb Host Guarantee that covers damages to your property, the Host Protection Insurance protects you from liability to injury or property damage claims filed against you by hosts or other people staying in your home.
This insurance policy guarantees up to $1 million of protection, and you don’t need to do anything to benefit from this service.
All hosts who gave agreed to Airbnb terms of service and have created listings are automatically eligible for this insurance. This excludes hosts in China and Japan and hosts of experiences.
Damages and injuries including intentional crimes, loss of income, sexual assault, and others will not be covered by this insurance.
The insurance claim goes as follows:
1. Intake form completion: You should download the Insurance Program Intake Form, fill it, and submit it
2. Claim review by an insurance Adjuster: the adjuster will contact for details of the claim.
3. Claim investigation by the adjuster: the adjuster investigates and settles the claim in accordance with the terms of the Host Protection Insurance policy and applicable law.
Suing Airbnb in Small Claims Courts
While agreeing to Airbnb’s terms of service waves your jury trial and class-action lawsuits rights, you still have the to suing them in courts.
As long as your disputed amount equals or is less than $10,000 ($27,664 in Canada, £10,000 in England and Wales, £5000 is Scotland, €5000 in EU), you can file a suit in a small claims court.
Small claims courts are usually more affordable and faster than other courts. So you should expect to pay a minimal amount for filing the case and other administrative fees. You may also consider talking to a lawyer beforehand.
Winning a case gives you the ability to reimburse all the fees from Airbnb. Losing, however, does not require you to pay anything more.
The most common claims raised in small claims courts against Airbnb are refused refunds, uncompensated property damages, extra fees, and booking cancellation.
Therefore, if you believe you are a victim of one of these, you should consider using them. Here’s the full process:
1. Send a demand letter
A demand letter is a means of requesting money or property from the sued party, Airbnb in this case. It shows your intent to sue them if they don’t compensate you.
While this can be expressed via a text message or email, a letter is the best option. This demand letter should include your personal info, the amount of money you owe, reasons and evidence, payment details, and deadline. You should mail this to Airbnb.
2. Complete the plaintiff’s claim form
This might differ depending on the court where you are suing Airbnb. You can find the complaint form on the court’s website along with any other required forms.
You should fill the form and file it following the court’s rules. Filing fees must be paid when the claim form is filed.
3. Serve the lawsuit to Airbnb
This is where you let Airbnb know that you filed a lawsuit. This requires sending copies of the filed papers to them in any way you choose.
Going through Airbnb Community Center and other forums revealed that getting compensated by Airbnb or by the host is heavily dependent on how strong your evidence is.
The Airbnb Resolution Center offers a fast and easy way to resolve disputes yet it has no power to enforce its solution on either guests or hosts. Therefore, it might not be as effective as you would wish it to be.
The best way is to stay ahead of disputes by taking preventive measures such as having insurance, charging deposits, and being eligible for Airbnb Host Guarantee.
However, If you are unable to prevent disputes, you might consider arbitrating your claim with Airbnb or suing them in a small claims court.