How Airbnb Makes Horror Stories Go Away with Its Safety Team and Millions of Dollars

This post may contain affiliate links; please read our advertiser disclosure for more information.

Airbnb Makes Horror Stories Go Away

How Airbnb Makes Horror Stories Go Away

Airbnb can be a great way to experience a new city, especially if you are staying away from tourist areas. I have used Airbnb often myself, and have always had pleasant experiences. When the whole process works smoothly, and everything is as advertised, then Airbnb turns out to be a great option. But that’s not always the case.

While you can do your research and check out reviews, you are still trusting strangers, and that can sometimes take a dark turn. An article from Bloomberg describes what happens when horror stories surface and Airbnb’s safety team goes into action.

The information in the article comes from current and former Airbnb employees, who describe how the company tries to strike a balance between helping customers and hosts and keeping Airbnb’s popularity intact.

Airbnb reportedly spends around $50 million annually in payouts to hosts and guests. Airbnb says that money covers property damage claims, but Bloomberg says it also covers things like a $7 million settlement with a woman who rented a NYC apartment and was raped by a stranger who had duplicate keys. Keys were apparently left at a nearby bodega where guests would stop by to pick them up.

Airbnb says that fewer than 0.1% of stays result in a reported safety issue. But the platform has more than 200 million bookings a year. That means that there are up to 200,000 incidents that occur annually. Only the most serious problems are transferred to the internal safety team.

That team is made up of about 100 agents in major cities around the world. Some have emergency-services or military backgrounds. They are given autonomy to spend whatever it takes to make a victim feel supported. That includes things like “paying for flights, accommodation, food, counseling, health costs, and sexually transmitted disease testing for rape survivors.”

Some cases describe the internal safety team counseling guests to hide in wardrobes or running from secluded cabins after being assaulted by hosts. The cleanup also gets messy in some cases, and requires specialized help. “Agents have had to hire body-fluid crews to clean blood off carpets, arrange for contractors to cover bullet holes in walls, and deal with hosts who discover dismembered human remains.”

Former safety agents told Bloomberg that Airbnb “handles thousands of allegations of sexual assault every year,” many of those being rape cases. Yet only one case related to a sexual assault has reportedly been filed against Airbnb in U.S. courts. The main reason is that terms of service bar legal claims for injury or stress arising from a stay and require confidential arbitration in the event of a dispute.

Airbnb continues to make some improvements, but it still seems to be more focused on brushing real problems away, instead of making systemwide changes that can actually make a difference. And Airbnb can’t really dictate much about how hosts chose to live in their own homes. That might discourage them from listing on the platform. After all, Airbnb is supposed to be people renting out their own homes on the platform.

Based in NYC. Points/miles enthusiast for years and actively writing about it for the last two years at Danny the Deal Guru. I'm always looking out for deals. Making a few bucks is always nice, but the traveling is by far the best part of this business.

More Like This


Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


  1. My son just had a horrible experience. Twelve people flew in and were turned away at the house they rented months ago. They scrambled for hotel rooms in a tourist area on a weekend. Unbelievable.

  2. I have stayed in Airbnb’s a couple of times (group rentals with friends where hotel didn’t make sense), and it was obvious that the same key was used for all guests. It is crazy to me that Airbnb doesn’t require something stricter such as keypad locks where the code changes between guests.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


SoFi Money $50 Bonus!

Super easy bonus! Sign-up and deposit $500 or more and they'll pay you $50! That's it!
Grab Your $50 SoFi Bonus Now!

Webull - 2 Free Stocks!

Brokerage app Webull is offering 2 Free Stocks! Just open an account and fund with $100 to get your stocks valued up to $1600! Super easy!
Grab your 2 free stocks now!

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join thousands of MtM readers who are subscribed to receive a once daily email with all of our posts. Never miss out!

You have Successfully Subscribed!