12 Airbnb Horror Stories That’ll Make You Think Twice

Updated: Mar. 25, 2024

Think you might want to become an Airbnb host? Or, maybe you're just using their services while traveling. Whether you're coming or going, it pays to do a little research before embarking on any new relationship—particularly when it involves your home, privacy or safety. Check out these 13 Airbnb horror stories that may influence your decision.

1 / 12

Couple Finds Camera in Their Apartment

Derek Starnes, on vacation with his wife, noticed a tiny hole in the smoke detector of his Florida Airbnb. After taking it down to investigate, the Indiana couple found a hidden camera and microphone (Here’s how you can check for cameras in an Airbnb). As in other Airbnb horror stories, they immediately called the authorities. The police arrested the homeowner and charged him with video voyeurism. Stay safe with these smart locks for Airbnb.

2 / 12
Dasha Petrenko/Shutterstock

An Airbnb Host with a Fake Identity

Marie Lisa Jose’s host confused her and her friend at a Budapest Airbnb. After all, the host’s profile picture showed a young blonde woman and the person shaking her hand was a man. “Oh, I like to play with my profile pictures,” he said. “You know, Leslie is a unisex name.” Alert, but over-fatigued from jet-setting through time zones, Ms Jose and her friend stayed. Tragically, as some Airbnb horror stories go, these women were intimidated and drugged before running for their lives. For a relaxing vacation on the water, check out these 51 Airbnb floating tiny homes.

3 / 12
Viacheslav Lopatin/Shutterstock

This Host Finds Apartment Vandalized and Burglarized

When EJ left town on business, she thought she left her apartment in good hands. Unlike other Airbnb horror stories, the guest sent EJ frequent texts thanking her for her hospitality and telling her how much he was enjoying his stay. When EJ returned, however, she found her place vandalized and valuables, including cash and heirloom jewelry, missing. “Something that cannot be replaced,” she said, “they stole my spirit.” Before renting your apartment through Airbnb, read these tips from experienced hosts.

4 / 12

Airbnb Host Attacks Couple in Their Sleep

Exhausted and stressed from work, Jaleesa Jackson and Chiedozie Uwandu thought vacationing on the opposite coast would put some space to relax between them and their medical careers. But, this Boston couples’ dream week quickly joined a long list of Airbnb horror stories when their criminally-minded host crashed through the window of their guest house in the middle of the night.

5 / 12

This New Year’s Eve Party Got Out of Hand

Although his contract specifically stated no parties, a man threw a doozy in this Ohio Airbnb. In fact, he advertised his New Year’s Eve extravaganza on the internet and charged $5 a person. This rockin’ eve turned into one of the largest Airbnb horror stories with over 250 guests. The host had to hide in his room to call the police. Here’s a collection of 10 tips for hosting a house party.

6 / 12

Mom Can’t Get Help for Son in Foreign Country

Airbnb horror stories happen around the globe. In Madrid, Spain, 19-year-old Jacob Lopez’ host locked him in his room while he sharpened knives to use as weapons against him. Lopez called his mother in Massachusetts for help. While the mother argued with Airbnb and Spanish authorities, her son was sexually assaulted.

If you’re traveling internationally, check out these 12 gorgeous Airbnb accommodations. The Madrid Marvel is heavenly.

7 / 12

Renters Illegally List Home on Airbnb

A Miami Beach homeowner was charged with almost half a million dollars in fines when his long-term tenant illegally listed the home on Airbnb. Drew Grewal had no idea what was happening until he received notice from the city of Miami Beach of violations of their short-term rental laws. Some Airbnb horror stories take time to resolve. Grewal spent three months rectifying this situation.

With close to 20 percent of American residential buildings governed by one of the more than 340,000 Homeowners’ Associations (HOAs), it’s no surprise that there are plenty of horror stories about these organizations, as well. Here are 10 of those horror stories for you to peruse.

8 / 12
Alexander Demyanenko/Shutterstock

House Sitter Lists Home on Airbnb

When a San Francisco couple left their home in the care of a house sitter, they never dreamed he’d list the home for rent on Airbnb. After all, wasn’t his pay enough? John and Ed discovered this devious plot only because the house sitter unknowingly rented the home to friends of theirs. Thankfully, as Airbnb horror stories go, this one turned out okay in the end.

9 / 12
Jan H Anderson/Shutterstock

Airbnb Guests Find Corpse in Garden

A group of friends got together and rented a home in Palaiseau, France for the weekend. This excursion turned out to be the most grisly of Airbnb horror stories when one of the friends found a corpse in the garden. The old woman was bent over as though weeding and covered in branches. This collection of weeding and watering tips will help you maintain a healthy garden.

10 / 12

An Airbnb Host was High When the Guest Arrived

To avoid the high cost of a hotel during a Chicago business trip, Pauline rented a bedroom from a woman through Airbnb. When she arrived, the host was experiencing what Pauline described as a “major chemical bender.” The host’s boyfriend scared Pauline enough that she locked herself in her room and secured alternative accommodations. Her quick thinking prevented this incident from having a tragic ending.

11 / 12
Daniel Korzeniewski/Shutterstock

When an Airbnb Guest Refuses to Leave

CoryTschogl never dreamed of joining the ranks of Airbnb horror stories. Nor did she realize that renting her Palm Beach condominium for longer than 30 days gave the renter squatters rights, according to California law. This San Francisco woman will spend $1,000s in attorney fees to get the matter settled.

Do these real-life Airbnb horror stories scare you? If you’re brave, check out these 10 real-life haunted houses.

12 / 12
dfh17sep013_161895581 change locks key unlocking exterior door lock

Make Sure You Have Your Host’s Contact Information

Jordan Altis arrived in London just in time for his host to go to work. But after the host left, Altis realized his ill-fitted key didn’t work in the lock. Not having his host’s contact information, Altis was forced to brave the elements until 10 p.m. that evening. Not the worst of Airbnb horror stories, but nonetheless inconvenient. We think Airbnb host should read this tutorial on how to install keyless locks.