Our Commitment to Trust & Safety

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Last month, the home of a San Francisco host named EJ was tragically vandalized by a guest. The damage was so bad that her life was turned upside down. When we learned of this our hearts sank. We felt paralyzed, and over the last four weeks, we have really screwed things up. Earlier this week, I wrote a blog post trying to explain the situation, but it didn’t reflect my true feelings. So here we go.There have been a lot of questions swirling around, and I would like to apologize and set the record straight in my own words. In the last few days we have had a crash course in crisis management. I hope this can be a valuable lesson to other businesses about what not to do in a time of crisis, and why you should always uphold your values and trust your instincts.

With regards to EJ, we let her down, and for that we are very sorry. We should have responded faster, communicated more sensitively, and taken more decisive action to make sure she felt safe and secure. But we weren’t prepared for the crisis and we dropped the ball. Now we’re dealing with the consequences. In working with the San Francisco Police Department, we are happy to say a suspect is now in custody. Even so, we realize that we have disappointed the community. To EJ, and all the other hosts who have had bad experiences, we know you deserve better from us.

We want to make it right. On August 15th, we will be implementing a $50,000 Airbnb Guarantee, protecting the property of hosts from damage by Airbnb guests who book reservations through our website. We will extend this program to EJ and any other hosts who may have reported such property damage while renting on Airbnb in the past.

We’ve built this company by listening to our community. Guided by your feedback, we have iterated to become safer and more secure. Our job’s not done yet; we’re still evolving. In the wake of these recent events, we’ve heard an uproar from people, both inside and outside our community. Know that we were closely listening.

 

Today we are launching a new safety section of the website (www.airbnb.com/safety) with the following offerings:

 

Airbnb Guarantee

Starting August 15th, when hosts book reservations through Airbnb their personal property will be covered for loss or damage due to vandalism or theft caused by an Airbnb guest up to $50,000 with our Airbnb Guarantee. Terms will apply to the program and may vary (e.g. by country). This program will also apply retroactively to any hosts who may have reported such property damage prior to August 1, 2011.

24-Hour Customer Hotline

Beginning next week, we will have operators and customer support staff ready to provide around the clock phone and email support for anything big or small.

2x Customer Support Team

Since last month we have more than doubled our Customer Support team from forty-two to eighty-eight people, and will be bringing on a 10-year veteran from eBay as our Director of Customer Support next week.

Dedicated Trust & Safety Department

Airbnb now has an in-house task force devoted to the manual review of suspicious activity. This team will also build new security features based on community feedback.

Contact the CEO

If you can’t get a hold of anyone or if you just want to contact me, email brian.chesky@airbnb.com.

We’ve also added several other safety-related features to strengthen the trust and confidence of our community:

 

Safety Tips

Suggestions for both guests and hosts on how to utilize our tools to better inform your decisions.

Verified Profiles

Our updated user profiles chronicle their public history on Airbnb, giving you more insight than ever about a potential host or guest. Along with standard social information, you’ll also see if a user has verified their phone number, connected to their Facebook account, and whether the majority of their reviews are positive or negative. And as always, you can read their reviews and references.

Customized trust settings

We now give hosts the ability to set custom trust parameters for bookings; those who don’t meet the specified requirements will be unable to make a reservation. Selections for Trust Settings include: verified phone numbers, profile descriptions, location information, with more coming soon.

Product suggestions poll

Have more ideas on improving safety? Now, you can submit and vote on the best ideas through our new product suggestions poll.

Many more product updates will be released in the coming days. In addition to these new features, there are safeguards already in place to protect the community. These include over 60 million Social Connections, private messaging to screen before booking, a secure reservation and payment system and transaction-based reviews. We also provide verified photographs, fraud detection algorithms, and flagging capabilities.These steps are just the beginning. Improving the safety and security of our system is ongoing. Although we do have these measures in place, no system is without some risk, so we remind you to be vigilant and discerning. As a member of the community, you have invaluable experience that we hope to draw upon to improve our system. If you have any constructive ideas or feedback, please share them with us at www.airbnb.com/safety.

What’s made us proud during this trying time is the response of our community. Emails of support to EJ poured in; many hosts offered her a place to stay in their homes. It’s been inspiring to see that Airbnb can really bring out the best in people. Like Airbnb, the world works on the idea that people are good, and we’re in this together.
 
When we first started Airbnb, I told my mom about our plans for the business and she said, “Are you crazy? I’d never do that.” But when I told my late grandfather he said, “Of course! Everyone used to stay in each others’ homes.” We’re bringing back this age-old idea with new technology. Now each day, you and the rest of the community are creating meaningful connections around the world.
 
Thank you for being part of Airbnb.Sincerely,

Brian Chesky
CEO, Co-founder
Airbnb
brian.chesky@airbnb.com

 

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  1. norman clegg

    Paul Graham did the REAL damage.His comments made the situation an unrecoverable disaster.

  2. Peggy Sigcha

    I agree with myTab…if you screwed up apologize. I respect the company more for it and is a stepping stone to help rebuilding the confidence that has been broken. My heart goes out to EJ. My home is my sanctuary. It would take a lot for me to open it up. I would be DEVASTED if someone vandalized it. I think that’s what AIRBNB needs to keep in mind when deaing with both parties. How can we protect both parties and still make this work? I think what AIRBNB does now would set a precident on what may come in the future. Hopefully this will deter vandals but nothing is guaranteed. Renters should also take the step to take care of themselves. Renter’s insurance is so cheap I don’t get why everyone doesn’t have it.

  3. Jim

    Perfect example of how a promising start-up can run into trouble because of inexperienced management. Facebook, Zynga, OpenTable, HomeAway, Google and even Groupon had adult supervision in place (i.e. been-there-done-that execs with pattern recognition) before they had $100M to go spend on growing the business. The real question is what other "uh-ohs" are still lurking at Airbnb.

  4. Jason

    Too much spin and lies. This seems like round 3 or 4 of the same crap designed to boost your VC fund raising and protect your corporate reputation. According to EJ’s latest blog, the SFPD has still not told her about any suspects that they have in custody, and she is the victim so most likely the first to be notified. Also, it seems all of your claims about coming to her aid were BS and spin. It seems like your corporate handling of this situation is comparable to that of a major airline when they lose something valuable or keep you waiting on the runway for 7 or 8 hours. It is now more clear than ever that had you guys not got caught, your insensitive handling of customer concerns would still be going on. As the phrase goes, "You can’t polish a turd", and you and your management team, my friend, are the turd !

  5. Jo Liss

    When I first read about your handling of EJ’s situation, I thought you’d messed up royally. Kudos to your about-face, both in actions and in honesty (by emailing this out to your customers). For me at least, this has restored a lot of trust.All the best to you guys — hope you make it big time with Airbnb.

  6. richard

    accountability in a word.How many folks on AirbnB actually OWN the property and are legally responsible for the "spaces" that are being offered for rent around the world ?Won’t their be some "surprised" property owners/landlords discovering "sublets within their rental agreements ?" This SCARES me personally……"I have a tenant and this tenant/renter goes on to ABnB and SUBLETS my property ????Where does MY legal responsibility as a landlord/ property owner lie ?This is a big ol’ can of legal worms and no thank you very much.Nice idea, but you can not begin to "insure" what you don’t own! …… oi vei !……the Tech bubble all over again.Insurance companies will toss this stuff out….wholesale.best….good try….but Very premature in structure.

  7. EmeryHarris

    So, you’ve changed your policies to prevent this happening again. What have you done for that poor EJ woman? A heart felt apology doesn’t make up for her loss, did you pay for the damages your customer caused? Did you offer tor reimburse her for the time she spent dealing with her identity being stolen by your customer? Did you offer to pay for her accommodations while she is too frightened to go back to her apartment? If you didn’t, then your apology is just words.

  8. Julie

    I have just started with airbnb as a host this year. To date it has been a good thing for me, as a landlord. I think what everyone is forgetting, is that this is a risk you take, when you rent out property. I am not just listed with airbnb, I list wherever I think bookings will be generated. The difference with airbnb is that thing where you can’t check them out beforehand. You can however cancel the booking if you get a bad vibe, as I did just yesterday. (mispelt surname is a dead giveaway!!) If you rent your property anywhere, anytime, you must have the appropriate insurances in place. I don’t think it is airbnb’s job to do that for you. We are all grown ups here and if you want to jump in for the fast buck or the cheap accomodation, without taking responsibility for your own safety this could happen to you. Nobody gets into my property without me physically seeing them. If anyone visits my property and does the wrong thing, they will have the full force of the law chasing them down (as my insurer requires) but as I am a world away from San Francisco, what can airbnb do? I think if this happened in Australia, nobody would be expecting so much of them, so far away. I can’t understand why a blogger wouldn’t know her story would go viral. The feelings EJ is experiencing are universal with such invasions of space and privacy. I wish her well and hope she is able to move on with her life and make a constructive and fruitful future for herself, but that can’t happen until she untangles herself from the internet web she has inadvertently woven for herself. I also wish airbnb well but I think it is time for you guys to face the fact that you need to make sure your hosts are up to speed on the basic legal requirments for renting out property within their State/Territory or country. Millions of people around the world rent property, these problems are common. What I am most shocked about here is the airbnb community members who are now crying like babies about how mad, bad and sad this is!! Try the grownup world of tripadvisor and see how far this crybaby attitude will get you. In Australia we have real estate blacklists, I think you should have this within airbnb so we know who has caused problems in the past. Reviews aren’t enough, the very bad ones need to be gathered in one place. It would also be a good place to study the patterns that emerge that are common to these bad guests/hosts. I have been in the business of sharing my real estate with others for many years and most people are normal everyday people who want to do the right thing, lets not lose this great concept which is airbnb because of some internet feeding frenzy of sharks and competitors.

  9. richard

    50 thousand dollars (wowsa!) …. will get you through maybe one a single day in court and preparation.It is the "one bad apple thing".Sorry….so some poor souls child falls off an uninsured, un permitted "tree house" balcony in Spain or Toronto …. 50 thousand dollars won’t do you even a spit of good.Nice idea …. but not thought through at all.

  10. typical

    As usual the reaction to a rare event is blanket bureacracy instead of specialized sincere honest care. now the original victim loses and so does everyone else.

  11. typical

    As usual the reaction to a rare event is blanket bureacracy instead of specialized sincere honest care. now the original victim loses and so does everyone else.

  12. Mara Ponce

    I’m glad that there is now a safety net available to people who get screwed by their tenants, but I also want to come to AirBnB’s defense!! This site is a great concept and I have definitely had only positive experiences with it. More ways to weed out the tweakers, riff-raff and bad-apples is always a good idea. I personally am happy to do whatever I can to make the AirBnB community one that has standards. Whatever you need me and other users to do to prove our integrity as a group/community: I’m willing!!

  13. Bob

    Airbnb doesnt vet guests in any sense of the word and they won’t let you do it. I’ve been doing vacation rentals for 30 years and wouldn’t touch this with a 10-foot pole. The business model fails from my perspective.

  14. steve blank

    The PR debacle and scramble for getting it right are all signs of a young management team distracted by raising a $112Million round. The surprise is that with Sequoia and Greylock on the board this got as far as it did. Now that the round is closed my suggestion is that to get back to business the management team actually use their own product. Each exec should rent out their own house every month – and report back on the experience. Extra credit for convincing each investor to do the same.

  15. Gabe

    Three reasons why your company will fail unless major changes are made:1.) Your $50,000 guarantee is an empty promise. What are the processes to claim damages? How would you prevent fraud? Are you a licensed insurer? Appraiser?2.) Privacy. What is to stop some perverted tenant from setting up hidden cameras in his own home and taking videos of airbnb’ers in his shower/bedroom?3.) How can you actually verify and vet random people online? What’s to stop me from buying a pay-as-you go phone to get a verified number? Using a stolen credit card?From what I see, this company is a very glorified middleman that performs a matching service, but masquerades a facade of "security", which as many incidents have proven, is nonexistent. Also, incredibly scummy trying to suggest she erase her blogpost.

  16. Observer

    There are many problems with AirBnB and its $50,000 guarantee:1. In some areas its illegal to rent your home or apartment on a short term basis. In fact- this is the case in San Francisco where AirBnB is located. Despite the fact that AirBnB certainly has knowledge of this the company permits listings for apartments in San Francisco. If AirBnB was serious about the legality of its listings it would forbid listings in areas that have laws on the books preventing short term rentals.2. AirBnB’s terms of service require that hosts represent that they’re not violating the terms of a lease but given the fact that *most* apartment leases forbid subletting, it seems that AirBnB is giving a "wink-week" to hosts. If it was serious about security and the legitimacy of its listings it would require hosts to provide a copy of their leases. 3. The guarantee only covers "loss or damage due to vandalism or theft caused by an Airbnb guest." This excludes all sorts of liabilities, such as those that would arise out of injury of a guest, or an act committed by a guest against another individual while on a property rented via AirBnB. These are most likely the biggest liabilities so it’s curious that AirBnB is silent about them. 4. The guarantee *does not* cap the liability of hosts and it doesn’t even begin to cover the life destroying liabilities a host could face. Example- if a host violating the terms of his lease rents to a guest who burns down an apartment complex, resulting in significant damage to property and life, the host could easily be looking at lawsuits demanding millions of dollars in damages.5. AirBnB’s terms of service try to position it as a middleman operating a marketplace in a passive fashion- sort of like CraigsList- but its new security measures, including the guarantee, make it clear that AirBnB is not a passive onlooker in these rental transactions. It’s an active participant and when something goes horribly wrong you can bet your last dollar that harmed parties will increasingly seek damages from AirBnB because it has deeper pockets than its hosts.6. Bottom line- you can’t build a safe, trustworthy service by encouraging people to break the law and their contractual obligations to their landlords.

  17. richard

    "Hey. I’m Brian" ?sorry"Hey", You scare me personally Airbnb.Just too chancey of a proposition for myself.I may be old fashioned in saying this but when anyone starts out their introduction with; "Hey"I immediately get auto-pause control.."Hey is for Horses" , Brian …. not business peoples heydude ….. this is not a surfing competition … or is it ?) , it is real peoples life & property at risk and you start off with "HEY" ?I will start off with "Yikes!" to that.We are talking millions of (fiat) dollars and someone comes on saying; HEY ?.A firm 180 degree on this one.Hey … go take a hike.Hey … you wanna buy a watch ?Hey …. whats your sign ?Hey You Honor …. For starters I would drop the "hey" thing pronto and buy a dress shirt.Each to their own though heydude.Hey, I got to go now.Good luck with this one.

  18. rotero

    It’s too little too late. The damage is done. I’m sure your VC’s are really happy right now!

  19. acupulco joe

    Hey Brian,Guess being a startup golden boy for the VC’s and more worried about your potential valuation ahead of he human concern for your hosts really shows the true nature of your supposed "belief in the basic goodness" of humanity is really about your "belief in the holy grail of cashing in those stock options".

  20. richard

    "hosts" often INVITE "parasites"And then there is the "middleman" in the deal to boot !NO Thank you on this one.

  21. Cherry

    Agree with acapulco joe and many others here…. seriously, asking the victim to bring the story to an end??? This really shows your "belief in the basic goodness" of humanity (or is it the humanity of others you meant, not yours?). Crisis management won’t help on this one. I was a big fan of this network, but I will just find my place to stay some other way the next time (and tell my friends to do the same). Not to mention thinking about renting my place through airbnb. Good luck on the stock exchange.

  22. Ian

    My concern is this is now your second claim that the person who victimized EJ has been apprehended with your help by the San Francisco authorities. The first time your organization made the claim was(just one of many) out and out fabrications. I had every intention of becoming a member of the airbnb community until all of this came to light and it is unsettling to say the least when i see a management team act with such reckless and unabashed disregard for your clients. I know that as a single prospective customer i could never receive a response back but i would hope that that as a company you would do more than this flimsy article to win back the faith of your customers.

  23. Olga

    I think in addition to verifying someone’s phone number, you should also do a background check.. Otherwise it’s really not clear why you are charging a fee to connect two people, something that you can easily do for free on sites like craigslist.

  24. Jan Bader

    You wrote> Earlier this week, I wrote a blog post trying to explain the situation, > but it didn’t reflect my true feelings.Let me translate that for the audience. You lied. You either lied then or you are lying now. Maybe you lied on both occasions. I am sure you had your lesson in crisis management now. And I am sure you pay more to some crisis PR flack than you will ever pay to help EJ. And I am sure that your expensive crisis PR flack plotted a line of better lies which you are now supposed to utter to make sure your funding is not in danger. You lied about "helping the police". You lied about a suspect being in custody. You lied about "we should have responded faster". Dude, you ordered your employees to stopped responding when it became uncomfortable and seemed to affect your business, when EJ didn’t comply to take her blog posting down.You have the balls to talk about trust? You? You, a notorious liar? You suck.

  25. Jan Bader

    Oh, and I forgot, what does your mom say about your lies?

  26. gabi

    Athough I feel very sorry for the victim of this episode I also think she could have been more cautious about the rental situation. I have sublet my place few times via craiglis and never thought of living any valuable items in the flat, especially my credit card and ID. IWhat happened to EJ could have happened regardless Airbnb rental. In major cities like SF houses are broken into /vandalized very very frequently on a daily basis.

  27. peterman

    It is interesting to see that all the negative contributions are turned off (you cant add comments)!!! Is this a standard Airbnb policy!?Something is fishy and you need to fix it! Many more rumours running wild about other lawsuits. Come clean, Brian!!!

  28. Tatyana

    Wow, I’m surprised these protections weren’t in place to begin with, otherwise, what is the point of using the services of this company if they don’t have protections in place. You might as well post an ad on Craigslist and do your own background check or take your chances. Do they do criminal checks on the renters who use this service? What about urine tests….yeah, that’s the ticket! Also, this is a good lesson about keeping your valuables behind a piece of wood when renting out an apartment. In spite of that, I hope EJ gets 50,000 and then some. It sounds like they treated her like crap! I wish her well.

  29. Hello World

    UR policy stills says : "we do not formally screen or verify users."Any comment?

  30. Acapulco Man

    I don’t understand. If you dont care/bother to verify users why is it any different from Craigslist?? What are you charging the 10% for unlike Craigslist which is free??

  31. Ho Ho Ho

    I just posted a new listing on AirBNB.http://www.airbnb.com/rooms/189959In case you didn’t realize, it is the SF main office of AirBNB.It took me 5 minutes to do this! So easy that I didn’t even need my Staples ‘that was easy’ button!!Ho Ho Ho!!

  32. WooT

    Do a Google Search for AirBNB. The horror stories are on the first page of results. About time people know of this scam!

  33. Lisa

    Never heard of your company until this story hit the news … good to know so I can avoid it in the future.

  34. ZX

    UPDATE, Aug. 1: A second Airbnb victim has come forward, telling TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington that his Oakland apartment was rented three months ago by a drug addict with a stolen identity who "did thousands of dollars of bizarre damage to my rented home and left it littered with meth pipes." In an e-mail last Thursday, Airbnb said that another account – that of San Francisco blogger "EJ," who wrote about being vandalized by an Airbnb client in June – was "our first major incident in over 2 million nights."

  35. LosPer

    I would NEVER rent out my home to complete strangers, regardless of any guarantee or validated profile. I believe the value proposition here is fundamentally flawed…and is really only good for those who have open rental properties to offer.

  36. LosPer

    Oh, and Brian, you have to change that profile picture. It makes you look evil. And I’m not trolling. Good luck with your company.

  37. Nostradamus

    I agree with LosPer above. It is a creepy pic. Reminds me of a used car salesman.As for my prophecy: AirBNB will face a multi-million dollar class action lawsuit before December 2011.

  38. richard

    from USA Today: "and because of criticism that she courted disaster by opening her RENTED apartment to strangers. "While my heart certainly goes out to EJ’s situation, if I were her Landlord, she would presently be out looking for a New Rental Apartment.It is Not All Right to turn your rented apartment into a vacation rental.I doubt any property owner in their right minds would approve of this maneuver from a renting tenant.I would be furious myself.I wonder what her signed rental contract says ?Perhaps it is all right with her landlord, but I doubt it…..This appears to have major flaws from every perspective.If I misunderstood the article and she actually Owns the property that would be different.It seems to state that she herself is a Renter though……Bad behavior all around.

  39. AirBNB FanBoi

    Richard (post above)You have not a single word to say against AirBNB. Hmmm.. you don’t happen to work for them, do ya?? Just askin’

  40. richard

    Hello FanBoi,Well perhaps you might look at my recent post history.I have hardly been supportive of Airbnb, actually highly critical of them with more than several words.In my last post I pointed out what I thought might also be a relevant consideration.That is:EJ … as an apartment renter herself is not without her own flaws.What about the building owners well being ?What about the other apartment renters safety and well being ? Generally when you sign a lease on an apartment it states pretty clearly that you can not just rent / sub rent your apartment out …. no less to strangers.Airbnb has warts all over it.In fairness EJ appears to have taken some liberties with her landlords real estate and put others in harms way perhaps.That is Wrong of me to broach this part of the story ?Say it is a "secure" building …. and then give the entry key out to a complete stranger ?Yes ….. I think she erred and didn’t consider her neighbors well being.I don’t think Airbnb is long for this world as a business.

  41. BBMom

    I want to thank all of you who have been so completely supportive of the Airbnb burglary victim who the world has come to know as “EJ”. Why am I so thankful? Because she is my little sister.On December 17, 2008, I found my husband, former Houston Astros pitcher Dave Smith, at home, completely unresponsive. He had had a heart attack. Although paramedics were called and he was rushed to the hospital, my husband did not make it. I was suddenly a young widow, 38 years old, with four small children ages 11, 9, 5 and 13 months. What would I do? How could I handle this shock? How could I do this alone? I was a complete wreck, and my entire family came over to offer their support. My father said, “don’t worry. On Friday, everything will be better.” I asked, “what happens on Friday?” and he answered, “your sister will be here.”Boy was he right! EJ stopped everything she was doing. She booked a flight to come and be with my children and me. She stayed with me for 6 weeks, working late at night and very early in the morning so that she could help me throughout each difficult day. She woke up with the baby EVERY single morning. She bathed her, dressed her, fed her and took care of her. She planned the memorial service, wrote the obituary, wrote and printed the programs, put out “fires” all over the place, dealing with people and hungry press. She was there for my children and me and has continued to be a great source of support in my life.She regularly visits our two grandmothers and even treated one to the Prince concert a few years back! (Yes, my 93-year-old grandma loves Prince) She has made family a priority. My 7-year-old daughter adores her and calls her “Auntie Brownie” because each and every time she visits, she bakes brownies with her. She is smart, funny, cultured, worldly, and a very family oriented person.Although everyone is entitled to their opinion, it has been very frustrating for me to read some of the comments written about EJ and how she may be lying or greedy or just made up this whole story for attention. It is true, there are so many bad guys out there. People who want attention at the expense of someone else, people who are money hungry, vandals, liars and criminals. My sister is far from any of that. And when people like Paul Graham and Robert Scoble had the arrogance and nerve to speak out as they did and encourage so many out there to doubt her, I couldn’t stand it any longer. And so I wanted to take this opportunity to try and shed some light as to the type of person my sister EJ really is.I can personally attest to the fact that she has done NOTHING other than speak the truth from the beginning. I would not wish her situation on my worst enemy. I certainly do not wish it for her. Our family now is just doing whatever we can to keep her well as she deals with all of this. Please keep up the amazing support and thank you.

  42. postaramma

    beth and Gabe … are you familiar with the regulations regarding short-term rentals in San Francisco? Municipal Code Chapter 41A only applies to apartment buildings with 4 or more units. Unless some other regulation has been passed (and if you know of such a regulation, please speak up), the vacation rentals operating in single-family homes / houses or apartment buildings with 3 or fewer units are perfectly legal in San Francisco. In buildings with 4 or more units, the only people who can legally make a complaint about a vacation rental conversion are other long-term tenants within the same apartment building. http://www.municode.com/content/4201/14131/HTML/ch041a.htmlFrom the code: Section 41A.5 "(a) Unlawful Actions. It shall be unlawful for any owner to offer an apartment unit for rent for tourist or transient use."Section 41A.4 "(a) Apartment Unit. Room or rooms in any building, or portion thereof, which is designed, built, rented, leased, let or hired out to be occupied, or which is occupied as the home or residence of four or more households living independently of each other in dwelling units as defined in the San Francisco Housing Code…."Section 41A.4 "(c) Tourist or Transient Use. Use of an apartment unit for occupancy on less than a 30-day term of tenancy."

  43. Tom Shale

    Oops, there goes that big IPO and $1b valuation…last thing we need in NYC is some jerk-offs like this bunch ‘enabling’ thugs and crack whores to show up inside my building as ‘guests’. Fuck ‘em.

  44. Beezer

    Can I rent out someone’s toney/posh ‘flat’ to mix up some crystal meth this weekend? You got a problem with that?

  45. richard

    postaramma……well that Is pretty interesting and thank you.I guess the only protection a landlord / property owner would have is a "very specific" rental agreement when leasing an apartment to a tenant?Otherwise having a Vacation rental in any Rented apartment (by a tenant) within these bounds you described, is fine and legal.I honestly have no idea but am curious for sure and a bit confused.I have no idea about ‘insurance" implications ….. but generally if there is a WAY OUT ….. an insurance company is duty bound to pursue it.I think perhaps we are going to write a few more chapters in the Legal Code.I am by no means a Legal Brain but it is interesting stuff to consider as a property owner might……what are My responsibilities and protections and liabilities ?best….rh

  46. richard

    So seriously….I can lease out some property owners 3 unit flats ….. all three of them.Say for $3000.00 per flat per month.$9,000.00 per month times (X) 12= $108,000.00 investment per year.For Three flats in say San Francisco, Ca.(meanwhile the Landlord / owner is spending …. taxes and insurance and Maybe a mortgage on the property to boot (how much?) Anything Above those costs is My profit as an entrapenuer more or less ?I can open a 3 unit Casa de La Castro and I am all right?Plus I am risk free as a "business owner" somewhat legally it might seem.I mean ….it is MY spa, vacation rental BUT that fellow over there 9the property owner) Owns it…..talk to him…..not me…..he is responsible.Oi Vei!I am just running the sub rental part.If ever there were a legal headache waiting to happen, this might do it.

  47. postaramma

    richard … I have no doubt that if someone is putting a rented apartment on AirBnB, without permission from his or her landlord, he or she is going to be in VERY HOT WATER, once his or her landlord finds out. Most likely such a person is violating the terms of the lease … many leases have clauses barring "undisclosed tenants" and what-not. And yes, if an AirBnB guest gets injured on the premises, I have no doubt that they will try to sue someone who is responsible for maintaining the property … could be the the host or most likely, it’s the landlord. Unless the landlord has purchased commercial insurance that specifically covers short-term / innkeeper / hotel types of rentals, it is very likely that the landlord’s insurance would NOT cover the claim from a short-term renter. Of course, the landlord will not have purchased the special commercial insurance if he / she has no idea that the short-term rentals are even happening. I don’t know … unless AirBnB offers has some built-in liability coverage to cover all of this? So richard … the info regarding the municipal code is referring to the idea of whether vacation rentals are "completely illegal" in San Francisco. "beth’ and "Gabe" had posted some verbiage to this effect. I simply wanted to nip that idea in the bud. No, vacation rentals are not completely illegal in San Francisco. If the building has 3 or fewer apartment units …then it’s perfectly legal , per the municipal code. So if you own the building, you call the shots, and you can freely operate a vacation rental … assuming you have a vacant place to rent out, of course. :) (You can’t kick out legal tenants.) If you are just renting the place, then you obviously need to get the okay from your landlord, and then your landlord would probably want to pay the extra $2000 to $4000 per year (per unit) for the commercial insurance.Note that the San Francisco Tax Assessors Office requires a 14% hotel tax plus 1% or 2% tourism (TID) fee, for rooms being rented for a stay of less than 30 days. From what I can tell, this would apply to all rooms being rented on AirBnB in San Francisco … except for very specific exceptions like rentals to airline crews, etc. You can read all about it online if you want to educate yourself on this topic. Normally the taxes are charged to the guest who is staying there … so it’s not a cost to the host … it just gets added on and becomes part of the price that the guest pays.As long as people are collecting and remitting the required taxes, short-term rentals are actually a boon to the city … an apartment that generates $30,000 of income per year also generates an additional $4500 in revenue for the city. This is $4500 that the City simply WOULD NOT HAVE, if the apartment had been rented out long-term, instead of a vacation rental. Or … if someone is renting it out long-term, AND meanwhile renting some of the rooms for short-term rentals, through AirBnB (and with permission from the landlord and not violating their lease, of course) …. then it’s a double win-win …. there’s income for the city, due to the hotel tax being charged on the short-term stays, and meanwhile the apartment is being used by a long-term renter.

  48. postaramma

    P.S. In case it wasn’t clear, when I wrote the words below, I was referring to buildings with three or fewer units. :)So if you own the building, you call the shots, and you can freely operate a vacation rental … assuming you have a vacant place to rent out, of course. :) (You can’t kick out legal tenants.)If you are just renting the place, then you obviously need to get the okay from your landlord, and then your landlord would probably want to pay the extra $2000 to $4000 per year (per unit) for the commercial insurance.

  49. ram

    good very nice

  50. Mohan Arun

    The kinda business that AirBNB is in, is not only about ‘staying in other peoples homes’ I think it is also about ‘a way to build relationships’ and ‘get to know people’ whom you would not otherwise get to know of. Incidents such as these are but a challenge to AirBNB and I see AirBNB recovered from this nicely by responding like a reasonable, sensible human being would. If I had home in SF, I would have given free accommodation for EJ for as long as she wanted.

  51. Av85

    Please help EJ in the best way possible…. Please colect IDENTIFICATION DOCUMENTS (Scaned copy) from both guest & host, do background check, and DON’T share it with them or anyone, keeping it in your safe custody.

  52. richard

    Ok…..so someone goes on their dream vacation and stays at an Airbnb space.They have a child.The child …..god forbid falls through a stairway that is not permitted by code and is not insurable under Any situation.Who is liable here?The building owner ?….Airbnb?…..Craigslist?….. the sub renter…..?WHO?I see lots of spaces for rent on Airbnb that could seriously easily injure a child.Stairways with NO Guardrails …..no ballusters and perhaps even being held together with twine.That RENTAL SPACE is NOT insured…..period.You can KILL a child like this…..so….WHO WHO WHO … is responsible?If someone falls off a stairway with no railing in place?Cool until it is NOT COOL.$50,000.00 doesn’t cover that at all.WHO?

  53. Gogo

    When airbnb started, they stated then that trust was their number one obstacle. So how did they manage this… They distracted us with beautiful PR with an heavy emphases on helping people in an authentic, meaningful way. I wanted it believe Airbnb’s story, their image, their testimonies because it’s an ideology that can become a reality when based on transparency. Transparency shows the truth and allows the consumer to act freely to support or not. Alas, the company’s truth prevails, but not because of their transparency and that’s very important to know.I’m really thankful that I stumbled across EJ’s blog. It was the missing piece I needed to complete my study of Airbnb.com. Thank you EJ for the courage to tell your story, thank you to the persons who helped spread it, and thank you to the inventors of the Internet. Their intentions enabled EJ to help us discover the truth!Until Brian states clearly what actions he is sorry for having done, he and the company should not earn our trust. They hid the truth from us for their personal gains. That’s not the intention of collaborative consumption where everyone wins, but instead good ole boys’ good ole fashion capitalism. And they’ll do it again and again as long as we continue to support them. Why not? They’ve gotten away with it from the beginning.A broad stroke apology is meaningless. We should hear what he’s sorry for doing. If he can’t state his actions and the company’s, then he doesn’t know what he did wrong, and if he doesn’t know what he did wrong…

  54. Av85

    Host who rent there space while they are out of town can use WeGoLook… to check on the status of there property during the rental period. (WeGoLook® is a unique online service that sends a real live person to look at something for you. We make a few basic observations and take a few digital photos, when you are unable to look for yourself…. http://www.wegolook.com/Default.aspx)

  55. Annie

    Hi there,My name is Annie, I’m an airbnb host in chicago. Last night, my home was surrounded by cops (see video) because the Chicago Police did not want ‘these’ people (white people of international and u.s. background) coming to this area, even with the development of a $10 million dollar college down the street. They stated that it would cause an international incident and they need to ‘protect’ them and any incident would cause embarrassment to the City of Chicago. It sounded as if we were back in the old south and they were telling me who i can and cannot bring to this area. When i blew the smoke back into their faces with regards to my rights, then then try to intimidate me stating that i am in violation of not have a business license to run a ‘hotel’. IF EVEN!If you review my recommendations, you will note that I have hosted individuals from all over the world and is having a fantastic time doing so in meeting people. However, from the moment that ‘white’ people of any nationality have come onto my block, the police have systematically pulled them over to the side to ask ‘why are they in this neighborhood’.Englewood is for the large part an interesting area and dangerous in some parts. Its not the best area in chicago (as i stated in the ad). But it isn’t the worst. I am a world traveller myself and have lived in 14 areas of the city and felt safely to post the ad on the site because of this reason. All black people are not enemies. In fact, the guest all stated they were surprised as how helpful the neighbors were in helping them find my location (even though I never met my neighbors!) since i’ve only been here 3 years. My grandmother was here for 60 years and never had an incident. There are parts of this community that is more dangerous than others, just the same as ANY community in Chicago. My guest only have ONE block to walk from the main bus stop in order to reach my house and yet, the cops have literally intimidated every last white person walking down the street to leave the area, although they have noted that the neighbors have been more than helpful. My block is not only the quietest of the blocks with a large track park across the street, but there has been a $10 million college built a few blocks away to increase visibility to the area as well as new businesses. In lieu of this, the Chicago Police racial profiles the guest even when they are going to a corner to get a burger!! My guest from France had an escort in broad daylight from his burger run! It was his first time in the states!Last night has got to be the boiling point of my experience. Because the cops has come to my home more than once stating that i’m endangering ‘these’ peoples lives by bringing them there, when i just as forcibly inform them of my awareness of the community since my family has lived in this house for over 60 years, they then gave me a citation to appear in court for not having a business license to run a ‘hotel’ which is NOT what i am. Last night – 10 Chicago Police bring home my 3 malaysian airbnb guest as they returned from touring chicago. SEE YOUTUBE VIDEO!http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3f0Q8PuvCrUFrom the way they surrounded my home scaring all of my guest, you would have thought that I was running a drug market! I have had individuals from Britain, Japan, Romanian, Italy, China, Malasia, parts of the U.S., Turkey, and so on… (see recommendations – over 20 listed)Currently i have to appear in court September 22. Im currently in search of any information that would be of assistance to say that I DO NOT need a business license to rent out my bed!Im also interested if there has been any other experiences such as mines since I’m new to this. I’m not that stupid to just take the cops word. If the internet can change the dynamics of nations, then these hillbilly cops should accept good change to this neighborhood. I’m nobody’s fool.

  56. Caesar

    How are you going to handle this vandalism situation in another country? Laws and resources are way more different than here… Besides, people can play fraudulent activities as well… Please explain…

  57. Caesar

    Another point is the fact that some condominiums do not allow renting to different strangers several times. Some buildings have restrictions to whom you’re renting to…

  58. Caesar

    You said: "Your security deposits cover accidents and mishaps, like a little spilled wine or a broken glass, but on rare occasions that may not be enough. The Host Guarantee provides protection for damages caused by theft or vandalism of a guest." — how are you gonna prove the wine was spilled by the guest or not?

  59. Booyah

    It only gets better: http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2011/10/02/why-dividend-cash-outs-are-evil/. Looks like the CEO treats his people like he did EJ.

  60. Or-Tal Kiriati

    Am waiting to see this commitment in effect. Still waiting. Still hurt.

  61. Vivek Wagle

    Or-Tal – have you contacted us at support@airbnb.com?

  62. Or-Tal Kiriati

    yes I have. Numerous times. Been in touch with 4 reps so far. Less than satisfactory service. Being kind over the phone and offering no real solution is not really the kind of service nor responsibility I expect. Certainly following the above statement of commitment.

  63. armorbear

    Great synopsis of commenting and how to very well written and all that link love you just poured out, great post,

  64. Snuffy

    the exorbitant fees airbnb is charging raises the prices of these rentals. The lack of transparency in the fees charged is oh so wonderful too!

  65. Vivek Wagle

    Snuffy – our fees are laid out right here: http://www.airbnb.com/help/question/104

  66. Paris Disneyland tour London

    t I have hosted individuals from all over the world and is having a fantastic time doing so in meeting people.

  67. illegalvacationreltalssf

    For those that are stating that only units with more than four units are not allowed to rent illegal vacation rentals are incorrect. It goes with the zoning laws. I have had several shut down around me through the planning and zoning department for renting less than 30 days hotel/motel style renting. You cannot rent a less than 30 day hotel rental, which is what these are in a residential neighborhood. Period. Please call the SF Planning and Zoning department and they will set you straight. Stop giving people incorrect information. It is illegal if it is less than 30 day rental in a residential neighborhood. Period. And I guess Section 41A.5 & Section 41A.4 Aren’t laws? Please understand that you can’t rent an illegal vacation rental in San Francisco to a tourist or transient or less than 30 days in a residential neighborhood.

  68. illegalvacationreltalssf

    Oh and if you want to find out if the property you are renting is an illegal vacation rental renting a less than 30 day hotel type in a residential neighborhood, please see the map below…There is a legal reason they are called residential neighborhoods.http://www.sf-planning.org/index.aspx?page=1569

  69. Airbnb Clone

    Are you licensed to sell insurance or are you offering this through a legitimate insurance company?

  70. Giovanni R

    As a host on Airbnb with 10k annual revenue I would like to comment. Airbnb has the worst ever customer response. Dealing with one customer service agent to another you get nothing but frustrated and have to start all over. When I mean all over. You have to close your account and start a new. That requires canceling all pending guest reservation. Regardless of Airbnb profit loss. What a shame. I would stay away from Airbnb services and if you get a guy named Joey A. stay clear because he dose not acknowledge simple emails and dose not read his own company policies. Seem to be robotic plug and play email responses and never expect a phone call. Complete moron customer service support. – Best Wishes as stated from Joey A….and Bon joyage from Giovanni R – Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort Rental. Rater give my business elsewhere. Over all experience with AIRBNB …ONE STAR RATTING * Thanks for letting me comment.

  71. Vivek Wagle

    Giovanni, thank you for taking the time to leave your comments about your customer service experience. As a long time host with us, we truly value your feedback and hope you continue to host on our site. We want you to know your inquiry was investigated by our customer service management team. We are not able to remove the review left by the guest as its contents are within our review guidelines. You can find those guidelines here: https://www.airbnb.com/help/question/262. Please know you have the option to write a response to the review, which we can attach directly to the review on your profile. This way, other users will be able to see how you addressed the guest’s concerns. If you’d like to exercise this option, please contact our support desk and we’ll be happy to assist you with adding your response. https://www.airbnb.com/contact Thank you again for contacting us and we hope to hear from you soon.- Glorybelle L, Customer Service Manager

  72. Giovanni R

    <table cellspacing="0" cellpadding="0" border="0" ><tr><td valign="top" style="font: inherit;"><font face="arial" size="2">read the review</font><div style="font-family: arial; font-size: 10pt; ">two other companies are mentioned and guest checked out early</div><div style="font-family: arial; font-size: 10pt; ">besides account is now closed and can you please inform my gust that there reservations are canceled</div><div style="font-family: arial; font-size: 10pt; ">your customer service is the pits</div><div><font face="arial" size="2">ans will&nbsp;indefinably&nbsp;post bad reviews&nbsp;on&nbsp;you company AIRBNB</font></div><div style="font-family: arial; font-size: 10pt; "><br>—</div></td></tr></table>

  73. Giovanni R

    Is it Wagle or Glorybelle? Another robotic useless reply. Do you know what commercial content is. Read the review. Now read your guidelines.Advise Bozo the clown as training is your department is in need.Best Wishes, Giovanni R

  74. Vivek Wagle

    Hi Giovanni – Vivek here. I posted on behalf of Glorybelle, who wrote the response. Glorybelle and the entire Customer Service team has reviewed your case thoroughly and have ensured that everyone was dealt with fairly and promptly. We’re sorry you’re upset. However, please rest assured that we followed our clearly laid out policy at every step.

  75. Bruno Nery

    What about trust and safety for guests? What happens when they end up in public housing in San Francisco (i.e. SFHA’s Ping Yuen Project)?

  76. Vivek Wagle

    Hi Bruno – we have several protections in place for guests to ensure that they aren’t scammed or duped. That’s why we hold payment for 24 hours.

  77. brunonery

    It’s not only about the guests being scammed or duped, it’s about trusting that AirBnB won’t connive with someone who is benefiting from taxpayers’ money (by living in public housing) to make easy cash (by subletting it).

  78. Vivek Wagle

    Bruno, we operate in all corners of the world. Our hosts live in literally tens of thousands of cities, departments, provinces, and territories, all of which are subject to different rules and laws. Therefore, we must rely on our hosts to ensure they are complying with local laws and regulations. I can assure you that we’re not conniving with anyone! We want all our guests to have amazing experiences. It’s the only way we can build trust in our community.

  79. brunonery

    Vivek, the world is big – that’s a fact, not an excuse. And when this kind of thing happens in your backyard (as far as I remember, AirBnB’s HQ is in San Francisco) and you do nothing about it (to prevent it from happening again), I find it hard to believe in a true will to build a trustful community. AirBnB shouldn’t be only about "amazing experiences" – social responsibility has to be part of it.

  80. jany scott

    hey i can’t access the airbnb website – what’s going on? i am a host and i have some bookings – should i cancel them???please replythanksjany scott

  81. Vivek Wagle

    Hi Jany – our site has been up and down today, but we’ll be back online soon. If you are still having problems, please give us a call and we’ll fix you up right away.

  82. B

    I have been using Airbnb for a few weeks now and I am really on the fence with the risks now. Due to the way you are limited in communication, people fear of rules, the fact the site is often down which interferes with booking and communication, and the LACK of safety measures in verification of renters on Air bnb’s side I have been lead to serious issue. To now find these articles only makes it worse. I was entertaining a booking and had much trouble with communication … thinking it was internet I booked and attempted to contact via "verified" phone to no avail only to find out the phone number was no good. In addition this renter turned out to be schizophrenic. Since it is a share in my home we were subjected to a week of stress no sleep and the fear of this renter snapping. I contacted Air bnb day one and got BS responses. Today in trying to communicate with a possible booking the site was again down and I almost lost the booking due to Air bnb shortcomings and the customer service line NEVER answered. It was by luck I even located a number. I am finding it easier to make use of other online options to book, and less red tape in the interview process to better insure a stable renter. I am not seeing enough benefits in allowing Air bnb to simply handle my money and charge me for it when they don’t even minimally screen renters …

  83. CD

    Whatever happened to EJ from San Francisco? Were the criminals found? Please update, or did airbnb stop caring or try to brush that story under the rug?

  84. Vivek Wagle

    Hi CD – as we’re sure you’ll understand, we have to be very sensitive about divulging anything related to the incident for confidentiality reasons. We can assure you that we have done – and will continue to do – everything within our power to ensure a safe experience for all Airbnb users.

  85. Betty

    This page is a great method to connect to others. Congratulations on a job well achieved. I am anticipating your next

  86. Al

    I booked through Airbnb and the owner raised the price after I booked, I re-booked at the higher price and my reservations were confirmed. The owner again cancelled and raised the price. If I were to cancel there would be cancellation charges but when the owners cancel you are SOL. I WOULD NOT USE THIS SITE TO BOOK YOUR TRIP. YOU MAY FIND THAT YOU HAVE NO PLACE TO STAY.

  87. Vivek Wagle

    Al – hosts are penalized if they cancel. If you contact Customer Service, they will resolve such situations for you immediately.

  88. Chris

    Wouldn’t this insurance policy invite fraud?

  89. John

    Has your mom used AirBnB yet?

  90. Pamela Day

    I am glad you are trusting your values and instincts. I hope it is authentic and not spin. I appreciate you transparency in the process. Best of luck.

  91. nick

    so what happened to EJ and her home? Did Airbnb take care of everything or what?

  92. SL

    Curious: I know you are calling this a "guarantee", but this looks and smells like an insurance policy. Are you licensed to sell insurance or are you offering this through a legitimate insurance company? Are your agents licensed as brokers? California has a lot of rules regarding this, and I’m sure other states do too. Does this "guarantee" comply with the California Insurance Code, or is this another poorly thought through idea?

  93. Amin!

    I second Chris’s statement. How will airbnb be able to confirm and verify that supposed damages to a property are legit and not a scam/fraud? The invite has now been sent to a lot of people that are going to claim everything as damages from a guest. And without a airbnb damages claim adjuster to verify, how will you prevent a flood of frauds claims?

  94. drew olanoff

    I’d still love to chat with you, share your story with our friends.

  95. Ramba

    Ramba Zamba whappa whappa hey!

  96. msfd

    Brian – well done.

  97. c______

    It was only a matter of time until something like this happened. How long until we hear a story about hidden cameras or such being found in someone’s place?The problem with verified profiles and customized trust settings is that very few customers have the incentive to rent to complete strangers/new members without any verification or references. This will, in turn, add another step that customers must perform before actually booking; in an industry like this, every step that you can streamline out before a transaction is made helps with customer acquisition. I just hope that this doesn’t hurt the longterm growth.On another note, the addition of an insurance and verified profiles increase the inherent cost (in time and effort) for every new customer, on both sides of the transaction. New hosts may not sign up for the program due to the fear of having their place ransacked, and the unwillingness to undergo the financial burden of opting into an adequate protection policy. New customers may also find it a burden to verify their credentials before they’re allowed to access new locales. While this may not affect those customers who are already ingrained into the Airbnb way, new customers will certainly have to jump through hoops to get off the ground. I just hope that Airbnb will be able to streamline these and continue its growth.

  98. Jacques Mattheij

    Hey Brian,That’s really good news (especially for EJ) and with this post you undoubtedly recapture a lot of what was lost in the last week. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

  99. guotime

    As an airbnb host and a big fan, I applaud and stand firmly behind airbnb. This is a great move and I wish the best to EJ, airbnb and all airbnb’s current and future users. Let’s all try to become good people, do not take advantage of situation and other people.

  100. Jordan

    People, get a grip. Of course this will add time and cost, but it will add a layer of safety and protection that didn’t exist before in your utopian world where everyone is good and no one does what was done to EJ. This was inevitable and the only surprising thing about it was that it took Brian & crew this long to apologize, give the mea culpa, and put this in place.

  101. John

    Now I will rent out my run down place so I can collect some property claim from airbnb? Good luck with that.

  102. Mary

    It makes sense what John said. I was contemplating to rent a place in NY. I will think twice or I will be liable to some property damage that I do not commit.

  103. jongos

    As someone who’s used similar free services for five years (both hosting and staying with people all over the planet), the only thing that bothered me about any of this was that as a customer who was paying you for stays, there didn’t seem to be much value you were offering if there was an incident.While I’ve already left AirBnb (very much because of how this played out last week) I wish you guys the best and think the new products are absolutely a step in the right direction. No doubt you’ll continue killing it! Cheers!

  104. c______

    Insurance is a tricky issue. If you look at startups like Getaround, the most solid part of their business model may be the leveraging of insurance provided by Berkshire Hathaway.

  105. derek

    What will prevent fraudulent claims? The fact that you are committing insurance fraud. If you really want to, you can do that without having to go through airbnb ya know. You are still going to have to file police reports and go through all the same hoops as you would if someone just broke into your home.

  106. DuncanChapple

    I think the key thing for me about this announcement isn’t the money but the attitude that airbnb is going more to help folk. In this case right here, the host has hot a solution for their problem. It certainly will produce more cost for airbnb, but I hope it’s a profitable business and that it will be able to reclaim some of those costs from hosts. I will also encourage hosts to produce better photos, so that ‘before’ and ‘after’ images can be used in support of hosts’ requests for help.

  107. ThomasIlk

    Everyone makes mistakes, its the lesson learned that is important.I hope it’s not too late.

  108. ben

    thats what happens when you hire hippsters and hippies. Airbnb is all flash and no substance. they were all out buying new skinny jeans

  109. Diane

    Will background checks be included? Without a owner’s ability to verify the background of a renter, how is this pro-active? All your actions are OK, but they are all reactive. Background checks, like the ones they do when you try to rent a new place, would be a very good way of rooting out the bad.

  110. Barbara Kerr

    I have been on the communications staff of organizations that have gone through several large and very public (national) crises. A key fact to remember is that there is ALWAYS work being done in the background that is not evident to the general public. Developing solutions to serious problems takes time to devise and implement and it is impossible to be completely transparent every step of the way. The fact that this much was done in the past few weeks is a testament to what must have been a pull-out-all-the-stops initiative by Airbnb. And as a note – I am neither a user nor a host of Airbnb, however my professional background includes the international vacation rental industry so I do understand the issues on all sides.

  111. singalongwithme

    Cheers to second chances, we all need them. #inevitable #startuplife

  112. ali

    I’m sure they will require police reports and extensive documentation to prevent fraud.

  113. Kelly

    Having used Air BnB a couple of times and hosted a lot through my partner’s account, I can say I’m really happy they’ve implemented this policy. I always used to take photos of the properties that I stayed in when I first arrived and again when I left, taking note of any damage or anything like that. I did the same sort of thing when I was renting out my boyfriend’s place. It’s just like renting. Like this poor woman said, 97% of people on Air BNB are great. I’m sorry it happened to her, I can’t imagine how she felt. But I am pleased that Air BNB has stepped up and is trying to sort it out.

  114. Kitt

    Very surprised you didn’t see this or worse coming and hadn’t planned for it in your business model AND in your PR response… Crime is just an unfortunate fact of life and not something to wait for and then make a plan to deal with it. I like your service- because I always rent with another person and would never be a host (sorry, but I take my safety and the safety of my belongings into my own hands and that means not opening myself up to the sort of thing that happened to EJ). I realize that doesn’t make me an ideal customer… but that’s not high on my list of concerns.

  115. Tapha Ngum

    Good job

  116. Jay

    Love the Ramba Zamba whappa whappa hey comment !!We should have more Ramba Zamba whappa whappa hey

  117. Joyce

    I am very happy to hear this. I tend to lean on the side of trusting others but have also felt scarred at times hosting. Being new to the site-both hosting and being a guest abroad-I have found the experience beautiful. I’m happy to hear the AirBnB is taking interst to protect hosts in the future. Thank you Airbnb….feeling more postive about the experience! And hope that EJ will continue in the spirit.

  118. Briarwood Julie

    Brian – I appreciate your candor as to what had to be a very stressful time for you and EJ. As you are in business longer, and as you continue to grow exponentially, the law of averages kind of catches up with you and these things inevitably happen. I had a crash course in crisis management after someone hacked into the web site of a charity I started and completely destroyed it. You think because you are out there doing "good" that you’re kind of immune to the bad stuff happening, but I learned the hard way that this is not always the case.I applaud the steps that you’re taking and will be taking. I do share some of the other commenters concerns about the $50,000 guarantee and its close similarity, at least at face value, to it being an insurance policy.What happened was unfortunate, and I am not minimizing the horror that the host went through and the stress everyone experienced. But – insurance really does not follow under the purview of airbnb. it’s the host’s responsibility to have insurance in place–homeowners or renters insurance. Not just to safeguard himself/herself again damage and loss, but also things like natural disasters, electrical fires, and the thousands of things that can go wrong when you own or rent a house . And if hosts can’t afford insurance to safeguard against damage or loss, I would respectfully say that you are playing Russian roulet with your home and its belongings without an insurance policy in place.

  119. Jenny Smith

    "Earlier this week, I wrote a blog post trying to explain the situation, but it didn’t reflect my true feelings."So you lied? Why read anymore.

  120. Frank

    Seems like a lot of fanboys and girls here.While I get that Brian says that he and the company are sorry, color me skeptical. If you want to come clean and admit your F*&K up, then do so – say that you mishandled the situation because you got bad advice or because you were worried about setting precedent more than you were about one sad customer or because you had a lapse in judgment and forgot that your business affects real people in real ways. This post strikes me as damage control and spin, not some sort of sincere awakening and taking of responsibility.

  121. Emmanuel

    Awsome well done :D

  122. patricia

    I have had a wonderful year as a host but have been concerned that 90% of my guests had no information available on them. I wrote airbnb about this but never heard back. With this information I went to look up the 8 upcoming visitors and found a bit more information than before but still mainly it is writing back and forth that I find out anything. Hopefully these things will be implemented more fully soon.

  123. candela

    "we part from the idea that people are good"… so do I Brian and it works 99 per cent of the times. The other one is because something is to be learned. And the ones that did the wrong, are still unevolved persons that don’t realize every bad deed comes back inevitabily, that its counter producent. Do right, receive right. This goes for the ones asking for fraud, some may be like this, but let’s hope those kind of people are not part of our community. I know I wouldn’t do such a thing, would you?

  124. 28Digits

    Imagime that… a company with a little integrity and the balls to say "Sorry, we screwed up!" Bravo Airbnb! BRAVO!

  125. Catherine

    It’s a bit late for an apology, far too late for me. I will not be continuing my account. EJ deserved far better treatment than she was given. She was the one in shock and was left alone to cope whilst lies and untruths abounded about the ‘help’ Airbnb offered her. Nice that you now know you screwed up but a shame it has taken over a month to say so.

  126. Evelyn

    Brian, I’m a host of airbnb and believe in your company. I have guests booked until December and some even inquiring about next year. Besides this horrible unfortunate incident, your bad PR solutions (including your post on EJ blog), I’m also surprise that airbnb hasn’t communicated with us. I’m finding out information about this situation via blogs and the internet. And for me to find this particular change I went through a few links.Please communicate don’t make us regret being part of airbnb. Evelyn

  127. scott

    Unfortunately, it’s tough to determine if this came from Brian, VC’s, spin maestros or other. Lesson to all…work from the head and HEART when dealing with issues.

  128. PatrikD

    Good move, AirBnB!You may also want to extend that $50K towards services dealing with recovery from identity theft, since that seems to be one of the major components in the two cases I’ve heard of so far.

  129. Sekiko Makino

    So how is EJ doing?

  130. JP

    Perhaps I missed it, but are they doing anything for EJ? I just read this story and it’s the only one I read. If they’re not making restitution to the person who was vandalized, this simply smells of PR and not genuine remorse. If they already have, then I apologize. If not, they need to do something.

  131. dannybuntu

    Nice move by AirBnb CEO. Any CEO who’s willing to admit mistakes and put out his email add to the public shows strength of character.

  132. JP

    Again – strength of character to what – provide assistance for future hosts but not take care of the one that they admit to making mistakes with and mishandling. I mean words are one thing, but strength of character can’t be defined by them – only by actions that correct their wrongs.

  133. Steve

    As a new renter (in two weeks) of a place in San Fran, and having my own place listed in Flagstaff, this comes as good news. A little late, but it seems pretty sincere. Hard to tell, but I guess we will know more in the coming months. I would hate to see one incident ruin a great concept.

  134. styl_kr

    airbnb should have had this system at its launch. not sure if what is done is enough, time will tell. if done correctly this PR nightmare should actually work in your favour.

  135. Aaron

    Why not offer/find a third party way to allow home owners to view a webcam set up in the common area of the home. Obviously the guest would need to be notified of the cam.

  136. Shaun Dakin

    This is well done, but should have been done weeks ago. This smells like something that you were forced to do by public opinion, elite tech opinion (Tech Crunch anyone), and your investors (who should have shut up).So, it is better than nothing, but, in my case, far too little too late.I still don’t see how AIRbnb is different. People have been renting rooms for centuries and the internet made it easy to do this a decade ago.If your trust and safety and $$$ $50k "guarantee " can become the secret sauce to increase trust that would be different.But, when I told my wife about the service she said, hell no, we are staying at a hotel !Regards,Shaun Dakin

  137. johnny

    ahhhh. the ol’ TLTL approach.

  138. MrItty

    I’ve never heard of this company before this "scandal". People are seriously stupid enough to just rent their home out to unkown people, because some website said "Hey, they’re okay!!"? Really? Who on earth thought this was a good idea? I mean, it sucks for this "EJ" that her stuff was destroyed, but I can’t muster up a lot of sympathy. What do you expect when you give a complete stranger access to your home while you’re gone?

  139. Aen Tan

    Nice copywriting.

  140. Takara Swoopes Bullock

    Live and learn. I was shocked when I first heard this story and was even more shocked that EJ was taken care of properly. Well done on admitting you should have done better and trying to fix it.

  141. iria00

    This "may" seem sincere, but it does not take away from the fact that, according to EJ, they wanted her to take down her blog post because they were afraid of it affecting their funding. That smacks of callousness and selfishness. Additionally, the company tried to imply this was a one time thing, and based on the Troy Dayton Post at TechCrunch, it is not. In fact, I’d be surprised if it hadn’t happened more than in those two cases.As far as MrItty goes, I suppose you’re one of those folks who like to blame rape victims, too?

  142. Corey McMahon

    Great response guys, knew you’d pull through.

  143. the_amy

    This is an awesome letter. My boyfriend and I used airbnb last year when we stayed in Oakland, CA. We ended up having a great time with our hosts and REALLY enjoyed our stay. It’s good to see that airbnb is working really hard to improve service and safety for both hosts and guests; I’d be thoroughly disappointed if a service as good as this were lost because of the recent incident.

  144. spartanized

    The world isn’t a safe place made of Nerf people. There’s bad shit everywhere. You can’t be safe all the time. Get over it and get on with life and enjoy it. You’re going to find out that 99.999% of the population is actually pretty cool.

  145. Ryan

    That photo of ‘Brian C.’ creeps me way out. Just sayin. Not trust inspiring.

  146. Sam

    To all those applauding Brian’s letter, perhaps you should read EJ’s latest post:http://ejroundtheworld.blogspot.com/2011/07/airbnb-nightmare-no-end-in-sight.html#comments

  147. Brady

    Great job Brian! Keep up the solid work. The new policies will go a long way.

  148. JulianArancia

    How dare you use the word "commitment". You had no "commitment" until the PR from this got too hot to handle.You treated this woman like crap. You left her to twist in the wind. You stonewalled her.You have no ethics. I won’t ever use your service.Here, you want us to believe you: have your CEO put HIS home up on the service and give him no more protections than EJ had. Seriously, do it. Show us. Show us you have a "safe" service.I predict you won’t. Because you know this is a bogus business model.I predict you’ll be out of business in 12 – 24 months. And your CEO and upper management will be living in big houses in the Caribbean (which BTW wouldn’t be offered on your service).

  149. Sophie

    I posted this comment over on the Airbnb facebook wall, primarily because I noticed a question I posted a couple months ago concerning safety had been removed.I just read the Commitment to safety email that was sent out to all users and it left me irritated– to say the least. I can’t even imagine what EJ has been going through, but as a user that is more interested in doing the renting, I have questions about my safety. When I was seriously considering a rental for my travel this past month, I raised questions (seeking concern, assurances, and maybe an "we’ll look into it") after getting a sketchy message from an owner, but was brusquely treated and my concerns brushed over– without a single ? being addressed. Other Airbnb users were more responsive than your staff and felt my concerns were valid and warranted a response, but nothing. Now to see that it was deleted altogether…… Why?I have the feeling that the questions I was asking then you had no answers for, and probably still do not because from this post it seems like the company is still trying to figure out what its doing. I am just glad I gave up trying to book something then and walked away from the site because I would not want to have to clean up a shitstorm on my own, as EJ has been doing. Hopefully, the kinks will be worked some before I consider using the site to rent. That and my own sound judgment in picking and choosing places/hosts might be enough to see me through.

  150. Vincent

    Every services or tool can be misused. Airbnb is a young company that has a lot to learn but I don’t see any wrong doing in their handling of the matter.Airbnb as other services has changed the way we do things. It proved to work well and provide great experiences to millions and demonize it for few bad episode is just wrong. It’s like judging the population of a country just because you met one bad person…Keep rolling Airbnb and thanks for your great service…

  151. Sophie

    @Vincent This very post is an acknowledgment in the wrong way in which they handled the manner. And there is no demonizing going on, but this is a for profit company and users, or customers, can choose to use or avoid the services of this company based on the quality of the product, services and customer service they provide. Many will be swayed by the handling of this issue, and this is something that Airbnb has recognized, otherwise they would not have bothered doing anything to change, nor acknowledge their screwup to the community.

  152. SCrabtree

    EXCELLENT WORK!! Makes sense: Hotels have insurance, too. What stood out for me most tho is "Customized trust settings". Might be revolutionary in and of itself, since that is a very real factor that can match between hosts and guests: "lifestyle type" for lack of a better term (ie shaggy vs put together). Keep up the great work, and I’m not stopping using AirBnB anytime soon. (PLEASE change your iPhone/iPad app to the blue-on-white logo tho! :)

  153. Lizzy C

    $50,000 guarantee is great for personal property damages, but what if a guest is injured while at an Airbnb property? I would strongly suggest requiring hosts to have liability insurance coverage and offering up options through this either internally through Airbnb or through third party insurance companies. I am both a landlord and Airbnb user. I’ve been an Airbnb guest but I’m also a "guest host" who often house-sits for a friend who is an Airbnb host. I understand both sides of the Airbnb experience quite well.My concern is this: If a guest gets hurt (falls down the stairs for example, or if there is a fire and a guest is hurt, or if there is a break-in and a guest is hurt, etc.) the owner of that property is often responsible for the medical costs and other expenses of the person/people injured. This is a standard for many homeowner insurance policies.Many Airbnb hosts may not have the right kind of liability insurance or their existing home owner’s policy may not cover any personal injuries for renting out their property. This is leaving hosts open and vulnerable to lawsuits, could leave their landlords open to lawsuits (if the host is renting, not owning), and could leave Airbnb vulnerable to lawsuits. It also leaves everyone open to frivolous "personal injury" lawsuits by opportunists.As a landlord I carry "landlord’s insurance" that goes above standard homeowners insurance. It is a way to protect me from personal injury lawsuits, and specifically covers "renters" not just friends staying with me. I’m sure there is some sort of insurance packages already out there for "bed and breakfast" insurance or other short-term rental insurance.I have worried about this with Airbnb. And frankly, it’s only a matter of time before something like EJ’s break-in, but where someone’s health and welfare, not just property, is at stake.I would strongly suggest Airbnb address the personal liability insurance issue before, rather than after, there’s an incident. It could be very tragic, and very expensive for both hosts and Airbnb.Many thanks for keeping Airbnb an enjoyable and safe experience,

  154. JeffD

    I recommend that the host take a photo of the guests when they arrive. The guest photos can then be sent to AirBNB and scanned against a "bad guest" list.I also recommennd AirBNB send out thumb printing kits like those used at a financial instituotion to its hosts and inform guests that all guests will be asked to provide thumbprints which can be used for internal or law enfiorcement investigations. Obtaining the thumbprint would be necessary in order to prosecute the guest amd for the host to obtain insurance protection from AirBNB..

  155. Angelinvestor8

    Very nice note, and very heart-felt Brian. You admitted the slowness in response, and your company is already implementing measures to prevent something like this from happening again.

  156. Julian M

    How does one go about verifying their telephone number? I’m trying to do this but there appears to be no way to do it.

  157. beth

    So what will you do for people like me, who live in neighborhoods where rentals like yours are completely ILLEGAL? Neighbors are renting their rooms and houses through airbnb ILLEGALLY. Vacationers are noisy, inconsiderate, messy and rude. They wake us up, keep us awake, take our parking, leave trash around and destroy the tranquil neighborhood feeling we formerly enjoyed. Airbnb rentals are illegal in many areas, either by law or CC&Rs. They are also illegal in many other places you advertise, like Paris. I have a hot news flash: airbnb has many more problems than felonious renters — it has illegal landlords, and growing hostility from neighbors. Let’s see some new features to ensure that every rental is legal, every landlord has a business livense, and no rental violates either local laws or CC&Rs!

  158. Lauren

    I can feel the foundation of Airbnb shifting for the better. Transparency and accountability is the only solution. We all make mistakes. It’s a sign of growth when we admit them and make steps towards repairing our foundations.And in terms of the red tape that has always loomed over DIY ventures of any kind, I say "it’s time is nearly passed." Soon we can open our homes to strangers-about-to-be-friends, with no red tape in sight. I’m holding onto that vision. Much love and support to the entire community as we see how this unfolds.

  159. Mark in Florida

    The more I read, the less comfortable I become. Any time I’ve had a conversation with AirBnB staff, I’ve found them to be unresponsive to my needs and defensive of their myopic bureaucratic style. This "apology" and the comments that follow leave me unsettled, and less enthusiastic about accepting guests through AirBnB. Licenced, and inspected by the State, County, and Local governments, we’ve been in business for over seven years. We operate within the law. AirBnB leaves me with the impression that they couldn’t care less… That State and Local regulations are merely a suggestion, and that working outside of the law is de rigueur. Hats off to you AirBnb… you’ve really screwed the pooch this time!

  160. dennisyu

    Airbnb’s note to EJ and the press was that she is out of luck– too bad. This note from the Airbnb founder is conciliatory, but I want to know if they are going to do something for EJ or if this is a PR crisis management tactic to save a billion dollar valuation.

  161. myTab

    Good for you – you crapped out, screwed up, fixed it, apologized and let everyone know. Took a while to get there but then again, it’s never too late to apologize. Anyone who reads this and posts cynical comments is an extremely bored person. See it for the factual information it is and not to make another mountain out a molehill. Good for you AirBnB. Now go forth and multiply :)

  162. Mike

    I THINK THIS WHOLE IDEA IS A DISASTER WAITING TO HAPPEN.

  163. Nonya

    It’s been 3 years being a host on AIRBNB and i gotta say, i love it. I learned a few lessons in the process. When i first read that story about the vandel part, i was a bit nervous myself. But I learned there are ways to reduce risk, one being to offer more than one ‘spot’. The more guests in the house, the more crazy people are less like to ‘try’ something. 1) Crazies prey on the ‘weak’…those they feel are alone. 2) I don’t accept local people. To me, they should stay with family and friends they have in the city. If your family don’t want you to stay there, why should I? What are their real reasons for coming to your home. Any begger can get $13 to rent a space (then case your place and rob you). So no locals. 3) Any and allll business have risks. This is a business regardless. This is not AIRBNB’s business….this is YOUR business that you have a mediator such as AIRBNB. Those who complain about licensing and taxes….thats on you. To me its your job to find out what the laws are. If they are not feasible in your area, then you don’t use airbnb. Go ahead and use craigslist (like thats a good idea…NOT). I got 2 tickets from the police. They targetted me for bringing white people in the area so they claimed im running a hotel even gave me a ticket for advertising on the internet (craziness).

    Most people on airbnb initially host because they need the money….badly. I’m sure we all entertained the thought of opening a business, even a storefront at one time or another. But even then, you have risk. Strangers come into stores ALL THE TIME. So what do you do? lock yourself in your room cause the big world is scary? No. Reduce the risk. Get creative. I certainly did. I added more rooms to reduce the risk of having a nut job rent and i’m alone. Never never ever rent your house completely to any guests….i don’t care how much money they offer. I had guests who kept the shower on AFTER leaving the shower and running water on the floor because they just didnt knw how it worked even tho i showed them 3 times! I had guests who thought they turned the gas off on the stove. These are things that people just don’t know sometimes. So there should always be someone there, or let your guests ‘believe’ that someone will be there even if you are not. Finally CHANGE YOUR NAME and internet profile picture! Omg….i can’t believe how many people put full photos of their face on their profiles or the full numbers of the address on the pictures. In an areas where the laws are a bit trickey (like new york, california and whatever other state that will try to follow new yorks ban)….don’t give the police any ammo! By putting your name and face on your profile is saying, ‘hey police, i’m right here committing an illegal act of running a unlicensed bnb!’. Especially if you live in an apartment.

    I’m not promoting illegal activity. I’m just saying, be smart. Alcohol was illegal at one time….until it was not. There is nothing illegal about renting your rooms out. During the great depression of the 20s….it was the only way that most people survived. But not that its gone digital and hotels are mad cause it take money away from them, now higher ups want to ‘deem it illegal’. Just be smart. Reduce your own risk. Don’t blame airbnb . They are just here to help you with your transaction. I love airbnb. My 100 year old home is almost fully renovated. very very happy with my guests and had a great time doing it. So quit your complaining….run your own life.

  164. 正規 バッグ 品質

    Hi, I log on to your blog on a regular basis. Your
    story-telling style is witty, keep doing what you’re
    doing!

  165. Lisa Casino-Schuetz

    What a human interest story. Well written and heartfelt. We need more of that in this crazy automated world.

  166. Bill

    Dear Airbnb management – I tis extraordinarily difficult to communicate directly with anyone in authority at this company through this website, so I am using this space for lack of an alternative. My family has been both a client and home provoder for Airbnb so we are supporters (vacation and short-term rentals, both ways). I am writing from Rome, where of my first 15 (!) airbnb inquiries, more than half generated no response from the owners at all; the responses I did receive mostly stated that the places were not available for the requested dates, though the online calendar said otherwise; and two of the affirmative replies were from professional expat real estate agents who used ‘bait and switch’techniques to post multiple (mostly unavailable) listinggs as the same ‘”ówners.”" – who would then suggest other rental properties not listed on Airbnb. Only two of the 15 proved genuine – real people with real apartments or rooms that were actually available for rent. Something is wrong here that should be fixed before or ir Airbnb goes public.