Lifestyle, Travel, Business Tips - Yaşam, Seyahat, İş Dünyası

Travel Tips: Airbnb Safety while Renting

How we were robbed in an Airbnb rental ! 

I was in Los Angeles for a two week trip in mid September 2016 with my family. I am a hotelier by profession, so I regularly always stay in internationally branded hotels wherever I go because I like the safety aspects and I know the brand standards of these hotel have safety as a top priority. That is usally why they are more expensive when compared to locally branded hotels. But during this trip, we were staying longer than our usual quick trips so we chose to stay at a luxurious residential apartment we rented through Airbnb. To note, this was our first time renting through Airbnb.


                                          
                                           This is how we spent our final 2 nights after the robbery ! 

We were very excited to have a whole apartment to ourselves with a kitchen so we wouldn't be dependent on restaurants all the time. We actually had a semi - ok stay, until our 10th night (we were staying a total of 12 nights). On our 10th night... we got robbed at 12:30 am while my mom was sleeping in the house and myself and my husband were out (hence our rental car was not in the parking lot) ! It was a horrible experience for all of us. We had a lot of our personal property stolen such as a Apple Laptop, iPad, portable speakers, designer handbag and sunglasses. But we are thankful that nothing physically happened to my mom or any one of us. So we really are thankful that we are physically safe. My mom woke up to noise thinking we had come home so she called my name to check if it was us, then the robbers fled the house. The LAPD later told us that if she hadn't woken up - they would have stolen all of our personal property in the house. They were only able to steal the things I've written above in about a 5 minute time period.

I am writing this today to share our experience with this robbery at our Airbnb rented apartment just so that you have my story in the back of your mind, so if you ever do rent through Airbnb or any other apartment rental website you have some tips that I wish I knew before booking my first apartment with Airbnb

I will not be sharing any details about the apartment address or location - just to be respectful to the host - who actually paid for our lost goods (just because the apartment was broken into with the passcode). It really doesn't matter - what is important here is the experience - which could happen to anyone at any location. I am in no way telling you not to book through Airbnb, I am just sharing my tips so you can have a much more mindful stay if you do chose to book through Airbnb.

Though, I want to add that I will not be booking any accomodations through Airbnb again. The reason being is that Airbnb was in no way helpful throughout our problems. I wrote an e-mail to them and called them asking them to resolve some of my issues with my host before I check out, stating that this was an emergency-  but they got back to me 4 days after my initial contact to them. I was back home in Istanbul when they replied. And their reply was a joke ! They told me that they were unable to get to me sooner because they were so busy with other cases, and that if this happens in the future to contact local authorities. It was clearly a generated message - because I had given them the information that the police (LAPD) had been called and that they came to the apartment the night of the robbery. So, I was dissappointed with Airbnb help to the guest. And this is another very important tip that I want to give you - if you have any such problem - know not to expect any help from Airbnb - they are only there to help the host in the case of lost or stolen property. You may have read online that they have a 1 million USD insurance policy - but I have learned that this isn't for the guest - it is for the host. Important fact you should know. 

I will be sticking to hotels just because I am a professional hotelier and I know that the safety precautions hotels have are much much better than any single managed apartment or house. 

My top 11  safety tips if you are renting an apartment/house through Airbnb

1. Ask the host as many questions as you have prior to booking. If you don't feel your questions are being answered - definitely move on to another place. Always use the Airbnb message center - Airbnb can read these messages or the police can use these as evidence. 

2. Ask your host if the door to the apt/house is a key lock or a digital lock. If it is a digital lock, there is the risk of more than one person knowing the pass code, and it is much easier to break into. As in our instance.

3. Ask the host if the building you are staying in has security cameras that work. 

4. Read all of the guest comments for the host and apt/house. Sometimes their are thousands, read them all.

5. Make a note of all local police numbers. You never think you may need it, but once you do - you need to hurry. We were in the states, so 911 is an obvious number - but in other countries it usually is a different number. For instance in Turkey where I live it is 155.

6. Make sure never to post your address or pinpoint your location on social media. (I didn't do this - but it's just a reminder.) The LAPD told us that burglars know which places are Airbnb and they pinpoint them. 

7. Buy travelers insurance. Airbnb does not cover any goods that are stolen from the guest. This is an important fact to know. We settled our loss with our host because we were robbed by someone who entered our apartment with the digital passcode - so it was obviously someone who knew the code. LAPD guessed that it could have either been an old guest who knew this apartment was Airbnb rental or someone from inside the management co who knew the passcode. 

8. If you are travelling with valueables, take a picture of them on your phone (with date & location) in the apt/house you have rented, so if you have any loss you can prove what you had with you. 

9. If you are robbed, immediately call the local police and have a police report written. Everyone (Airbnb, Host) is going to ask you for the police report once you let them know you were robbed. 

10. Once you've checked into your apt/house be aware of your surroundings - the neighborhood - neighbors, etc. And keep an open eye while staying. I met someone on the elevator the next day of our robbery who I had seen in the building before, she lived on the upper floor - I asked her if she had any experiences that week in the building. Her car was robbed in the building parking lot the same night we were robbed. I wouldn't have known this important information if I hadn't noticed her before - I would never have approached her to ask a question.

11. This may be difficult - but try not to leave expensive valueables in your apt/house while you are out and about in the city - try to have them with you. Or if you are going to leave them at home - definitely buy travelers insurance (No. 5). 

Please feel free to e-mail me at info@zeynepnili.com if you have any questions. If you do - I will update this blog post to better answer your questions. 

© Zeynep Nili

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