Do NOT Rent from Laurence in Paris
I don't do reviews on this site normally, but this is a cautionary tale of a negative experience I had with Airbnb and a specific host. I want to be clear. I know there are thousands of good hosts out there, but my experience with a specific host named Laurence and the policy of Airbnb made me want to share my experience so others can move with care . Although other than using a different site I don't know what I could have done differently. Here's what happened:
I am going to Paris for two months beginning in October. I began looking for an apartment LAST MAY and found a few that I queried. Eventually I had a contract (Non-binding as I now know) with a certain Laurence for an apartment in St. Germaine. I had to pay a full month's rent of several thousand dollars at the time of booking with the rest due one month before arrival. The point being, Laurence and Airbnb had my money for over four months. With less than THREE weeks left before my trip, Laurence wrote me that she needed her apartment and was canceling. She was very jaunty and wished me luck finding another place.
I immediately contacted Airbnb and although they were pleasant enough to deal with, there was no recourse available to me other than my refund. So much for a contractual obligation. Lesson learned folks.
Laurence wrote me and told me she was sorry for my "distressing situation." Sorry, Laurence. A distressing situation is sitting in traffic. This is unethical and should be illegal. To have thousands of dollars of mine for months and cancel at the last minute when I planned carefully is not acceptable. But Airbnb has no teeth to enforce agreements. They haven't even kicked her off the site! So that is what you should know before booking. The Airbnb rep that I dealt with was very upset and helpful. She arranged for me to get a credit towards the fees. But the policy itself is flawed. An agreement with a host, even if you have paid, is non-binding and people shoud know that.
Me? Anyone know of an apartment in Paris??? I leave October 15 and will stay until December 15. I may be sleeping near a bridge overlooking the Seine.
If anyone has had a similar experience, please comment on this blog. Or if you know of a great apartment!!!!