Know the risks when renting accommodation on colocation platforms.
If you plan to book your business travel accommodation using Airbnb, HomeAway, and other online home-sharing platforms, there are some risks you should be aware of. Home-sharing software platforms connect homeowners with potential tenants. Renters will trust individual hosts with the certainty that they will abide by their local laws and provide the experience and property that they have represented in their online listing. You should keep in mind that Airbnb rentals are not subject to the same safety rules as hotels or motels – they follow the same local laws required for any home or privately owned property.
Although Airbnb has an identity verification process for both host and renter, its website specifically states that if a host wishes to verify the identity of a renter, they (the host) must also verify their own ID. Hosts do not need to be verified unless they want to verify a tenant. This creates a risk for the renter, as home-sharing companies do not require hosts to be verified. As a tenant, you won’t know if you’re dealing with a potentially dangerous person, such as a convicted felon, registered sex offender, thief or crook. While staying at a hotel, you can have reasonable confidence that the hotel business will have required identification from its employee and completed the necessary checks to hire an employee. This will not be the case with a host who has a listing on Airbnb.
You should be aware that bad experiences can happen regardless of the type of company you choose for your stay. However, with shared accommodation, you will not have the same procedure to follow as with a hotel. For example, these apartments or houses are not required to have fire extinguishers or signage to direct you to an exit or window security devices. It is the tenant’s responsibility to know how to contact emergency responders and how/where to evacuate in the event of a crisis. Additionally, hotel staff are readily available to access a wellness check-in room in the event of a medical emergency. A private guest cannot visit the property before the last day of the agreement, if at all. If the accommodation you rented online does not meet your expectations and your host does not accommodate you, you may have to find other arrangements at the last minute, which could significantly impact your travel plans and create unnecessary stress. Some of the situations that have happened with people staying at shared accommodations are: host cancels reservation, scams, unsafe conditions, property not as described, fake listings, and discrimination.
- Home sharing should be a secondary option given the availability of comparably priced hotels and motels.
- Investigate the safety of the neighborhood and surrounding environment.
- Identify the rating and review reviews from multiple past customers. It is only recommended to choose a property with a 5-star rating and Superhost status.
- Always communicate and book the rental through the web platform of the house sharing service. Never send money directly to a host or rental landlord.
- Understand the home-sharing company’s security camera policy. For example, for Airbnb rentals, the host must indicate in their listing, under Amenities, if they have security cameras. They are not permitted to place them in an area of the property where privacy is required, such as a bathroom or bedroom. Be sure to contact the host before your travel date if you have any questions.
- Stay in places that indicate in their listing (under Amenities) that the property has the following emergency equipment: smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, fire extinguisher and first aid kit. Upon arrival, complete a security check and ensure you know where all relevant emergency equipment and security information is located. If you don’t know where they are, be sure to contact your host. Many travelers bring their own carbon monoxide detectors and first aid kit to ensure their safety.
- Check cleanliness. There are no standards for hygiene and cleaning/sanitation procedures, potentially increasing the risk of illness.
- Students traveling abroad without a teacher must have the approval of BCN Risk Management.
- Shared rentals can only be approved for Level 1 and Level 2 travel advisories for foreign travelers.