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Airbnb is unlike a hotel experience. You may not know exactly what to expect when booking for the first time. Perhaps you have some concerns about staying in the home of a stranger. It is normal to wonder, is it safe to book and stay in an Airbnb?
While Airbnb does not feature the standard security you would experience in a hotel setting, they do have a great track record. Hundreds of thousands of people use Airbnb every year, and there have been minimal safety complaints. If you are concerned about safety when renting an Airbnb, there are a few tips you can follow to make sure you have found the safest accommodations for your trip.
Is Airbnb safe for travelers? The following are the best tips for making sure you have booked a safe and secure Airbnb:
- Check the host’s ratings and reviews
- Look for safety features
- Message the host ahead of time with any questions or concerns
- Use the Airbnb website to communicate and pay
- Perform your own safety check upon arrival
Several years ago, people would have had second thoughts about staying in the home of a complete stranger, rather than in a traditional hotel. Airbnb offers a more personal experience, and many people are drawn to this. However, safety may still be a concern from some people. If you follow the tips listed above, you can help put your mind at ease about your upcoming stay.
Check the Host’s Ratings and Reviews
Guests can only rate a host and provide reviews once they have actually spent time in that host’s Airbnb. This ensures that reviews are only posted about actual experiences and that reviews are an accurate depiction of what a property is really like. It is a good idea to read through a host’s reviews and check out their ratings before you book a property.
Look for indications that those who have previously rented the Airbnb found it to be safe. If there are red flags that indicate a property did not meet the level of safety you are looking for, you might want to consider booking a different Airbnb. Chances are, if the accommodations were not entirely safe, someone will have mentioned it in a review.
Once you have booked a property, it is a good idea to let a friend or family member know the address of your Airbnb and other details about your stay ahead of time. That way, someone will know where you can be located in case of an emergency. Of course, this is a great safety policy to have no matter where you are staying or what your accommodations may be.
Travelers Should Look for Safety Features
When you check out an Airbnb listing, look to see that it has safety features like smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. While these items may be commonplace in the United States, they may not be in other parts of the world. Take into consideration where you are traveling to and if standard safety measures are considered commonplace there.
If your booking does not have all the safety measures you desire, you may be able to enhance the safety of the Airbnb yourself. For instance, you could travel with your own carbon monoxide detector. If the Airbnb you will be staying in does not have one, you will still have your bases covered.
When you are checking for safety features, it is also a good time to look at information about the neighborhood you will be staying in. If there are not photos and other indications that show the property to be in a safe location, you might want to communicate with the host about the neighborhood. This brings us to our next tip.
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Put Your Mind at Ease by Messaging the Host Ahead of Time
If you have any questions regarding your Airbnb booking, specifically those involving safety, you can always message your host ahead of time. Ask your questions regarding the safety of the neighborhood, safety features within the house, and the general safety of the area you are to which you are traveling.
If you have a potential booking in mind, go ahead and message the host with any of your concerns. In this way, you can put your concerns to rest and your mind at ease. If you are not pleased with the answers to your questions, you can always choose to book somewhere else.
You can also message past guests who have stayed with a certain host. If you are feeling that you need more specific affirmation that a property is safe, you are likely to get honest feedback from prior guests. If someone has had a truly creepy experience, they are probably going to be willing to share that with you. Then you can make your own decision about the property.
Doing your homework is always a good idea. Specifically, if you are traveling to another part of the world, you may want to scan the news for local events that could present a dangerous situation for you. You can also ask your host about local events. If there is conflict in the area, or if the area is expecting severe weather, it may be best to choose a different destination or different travel dates.
Travelers Should Use the Airbnb Website to Communicate and Pay
You can protect your financial information by making sure to only communicate and pay through Airbnb. If you share your financial information through other channels, then you could be putting your financial security at risk and leaving yourself open to identity theft.
Airbnb is secure, and as long as you communicate and pay through their website or app, your financial information will be safe. If a host asks you to wire money or provide your credit card information, that should throw up a red flag. Never give out this information to a host or any other party.
Perform Your Own Safety Check upon Arrival
When you enter the Airbnb, walk through the rooms and do a general safety check. Make sure there are no obvious dangers or hazards. This is also a good time to look for where safety equipment is located within the home. Familiarize yourself with the property, and look for items like fire extinguishers and a first aid kit. If you cannot find these items, ask your host where they are.
If you are staying in the same home as your host, check to make sure the lock on the bedroom you are using is in good working order. It’s a good idea to lock the door while you are sleeping. Also, check window locks to make sure the room is totally secure. If you are staying in a stand-alone home, check all exterior locks on doors and windows to make sure they engage when you lock them.
What Are Some Ways a Host can Make Sure They also have Safe Experiences Renting Out their Airbnb?
As with guests, hosts can protect themselves by communicating exclusively through Airbnb. This way, all conversations are documented and accessible. Filling out the “House Rules” and “House Manual” can also protect the host.
For instance, if the host prefers his house to be a non-smoking area, he could list this in his rules. By listing expectations for behavior on the property, hosts can protect both themselves and their Airbnb. Finally, a host should make sure their property is insured to protect themselves in the event of property damage.
What Should a Host do if he is Uncomfortable with a Certain Guest/ Traveler?
If a host is uncomfortable accepting a reservation request, then he can deny it. This will not negatively impact the host’s ratings. If a host has already accepted a reservation request, but then feels uncomfortable hosting that guest, he can cancel the reservation. Cancellation penalties may apply.
Hosts can also flag messages that they feel are inappropriate. This will bring the messages to the attention of Airbnb. If a host needs to cancel a reservation because a guest made him feel uncomfortable, a history of flagged messages will highlight why he needed to do so.