I have been pointed to Airbnb on several occasions. Although the idea behind that website is really nice, I never actually made a reservation through Airbnb. Some times the offers are too good to be true and some times the responses you get from the hosts are not really building confidence. I almost always end up back on the good old booking.com and tripadvisor.com

My main concern with a booking through Airbnb is that you arrive at your destination and the whole booking seems to be a scam and then you are stuck in an unknown city with your only refuge being a 4 star expensive hotel since all other accommodation options at that time have no vacancies.

In the Dutch media there is a lot of attention to services like Airbnb. Rental agencies and banks seem to actively monitor Airbnb to find people not complying with their rental and mortgage agreements. A related question shows that legal issues apply in other places as well.

I really love initiatives like Airbnb, but I always seem to end up using conventional aggregators, where there is someone to blame if things go wrong.

  • 2
    No offense, but besides the title, this is really only voicing your concern, not a question.
    – MastaBaba
    Nov 9, 2012 at 10:51
  • 2
    You gave a perfect answer to my concern. Thanks!
    – user141
    Nov 9, 2012 at 11:25
  • My host sent me the keys of her apartment this week-end - I'm not due to visit for another 2 weeks. Kind of built my confidence...
    – Benjol
    Apr 22, 2013 at 13:50

1 Answer 1


The question of who is to blame is not obvious to answer, as it depends on what actually went wrong.

Looking at the concern you specifically voice, that is not likely to happen. Or rather, pretty much at most once per accommodation as after a host really messes up once, it's not likely the property will ever get another booking (assuming the person booking notifies airbnb of the host's practices). This is also why the peer review system is so extremely useful. So that, if you make a point of only booking peer-reviewed properties on airbnb, you're pretty much guaranteed the booking is legit.

True, you might get burnt once in a while, but this can also happen with more conventional booking engines. There, too, a property with no reviews could end up being a scam.

As far as legality is concerned, the issue is valid, but not relevant to you as a user. It is not up to you to make sure that the owner of the property is legally complying to whatever the relevant rules are. Again, a parallel with more conventional properties exist. Is it your responsibility to make sure, before you book, whether a hotel, say, confirms to the local fire and safety guidelines?

  • 1
    I usually trust reviews a lot too. However I figured there's a problem with that: apparently it happened on couchsurfing that some people did not give negative feedback in order not to have a negative feedback from the other, since it's usually disqualifying you for later surfs. There is a help team one can call that guarantees anonymous comments when the place is very bad, but for some minor problems that can matter to others, there may not be any comment. Anyway, I don't mean airbnb is bad, but people should still be careful.
    – Vince
    Nov 9, 2012 at 12:53
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    You most certainly have to be diligent. But, also, the parallel between couchsurfing and airbnb isn't perfect; because airbnb is commercial, the context is more professional and, because of that, reviews would tend to be more reliable and less tainted by personal gripes. Still, obviously, there's safety in numbers (of reviews).
    – MastaBaba
    Nov 10, 2012 at 7:44

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