Airbnb banned me. How do I solve this?

Remark

Sometimes the reason Airbnb bans you is obvious. It was for Maksym Bidnychenko, a Ukrainian national who fled Russia during the war, when he tried to book accommodation in May.

“My account was suspended after I confirmed my identity and tried to request a reservation,” says Bidnychenko, a freelance artist from Lviv. “I tried to contact Airbnb customer service via Twitter. After a few hours I received their standard ‘we’re blocking you’ email.”

What went wrong? Bidnychenko had a phone number with a Russian country code. And at the start of the war, Airbnb had suspended operations in Russia and announced that people in Russia would not be able to make new reservations anywhere in the world. I asked Airbnb about his suspension and it lifted his suspension.

Airbnb is more successful than ever. So why is everyone so mad about it?

But sometimes the reasons for being banned by Airbnb are a mystery. They were for Tamara Martin, a nurse from Bucyrus, Kan., who received an unexpected email from Airbnb saying her account had been suspended.

“The explanation was that I was associated with someone who was exiled,” she says. “No details. I’ve personally never had a problem with rentals I’ve used.

After I asked Airbnb about her suspension, her account was reinstated. But it wouldn’t tell me why she was removed in the first place, “for privacy reasons”.

Airbnb is the largest vacation rental platform in the world, with 6 million active listings and, in 2019, 54 million active bookers. Last year, Airbnb suspended more than 6,600 people from its platform for attempting to violate party policies. Airbnb does not disclose the number of bans for reasons beyond the parties.

I asked Airbnb how to make sure you don’t get banned.

Removals from the platform are usually due to violations of community policies and standards, Airbnb spokeswoman Ruthie Wabula said. “We only take these types of actions when necessary to protect our community,” she said.

Airbnb’s Community Policies have been a long read, so here they are in a nutshell: being disrespectful to the community, mishandling the rental, tampering with security devices, or accessing personal property other than your own are all grounds for terminating your account. There are issues on the technical side that can also get you banned.

“Often for minor issues that still represent violations of our policies, our team will issue warnings, as well as guidance and education on how to better comply with the given policies in the future,” says Wabula. “If the user continues to violate the policy despite the warnings, the problem may escalate to further action, including possible account deletion.”

Airbnb addresses two major complaints: hidden fees and chores

There are other reasons why Airbnb may terminate a guest’s account. These include conviction for a felony.

Airbnb says removal depends on the seriousness of the crime. “Minor crimes,” such as disorderly conduct or possession of marijuana, “are not excusable offenses.” Other crimes, such as burglary, fraud, and property damage, may result in further review or removal. Matters such as murder, terrorism, rape or child abuse can lead to permanent removal.

The system is not always error-free. In September, a Pennsylvania councilman was suspended at large for possession and driving while intoxicated nine years ago. She was later reinstated after her tweet went viral.

Airbnb contracts Inflection as one of the companies it uses to conduct user background checks. If problems are found, the service may disable your account. These background checks are usually done for guests 10 days before check-in and when a host creates a listing. (This is only in the United States and India.)

In 2019, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky pledged to verify all listings on Airbnb and has spoken in recent interviews about verifying all users on the platform about listing his own home.

The CEO of Airbnb just put a room in his home. It’s already fully booked.

Airbnb also goes one step further and freezes the accounts of users who are associated with someone with a criminal record. People convicted of a crime can get around a ban by asking a friend or family member to make a reservation on their behalf.

Jannick Vielleuse, a physical therapist from Westford, Vt., contacted me for help in the spring after being banned by Airbnb. She had always played by the rules and had consistently received high reviews from her hosts. It turns out that a friend of her husband’s was convicted of his involvement in the January 6, 2021 uprising, and because Vielleuse and her husband’s friend logged into an account from the same IP address, Airbnb connected them. When I asked Airbnb about her account termination, her account was reinstated.

But how does Airbnb determine who is too close? In emails to people who have been banned, Airbnb said it bases its ban on factors such as location and email address; Airbnb would not comment on exactly how it does this. If Airbnb thinks you’re connected to someone who’s been banned, it can also remove you. And beyond that, the company offers no details.

“In accordance with our privacy policy, we cannot disclose any information about the account, location or listing that triggered this action,” it tells users whose accounts have been disabled.

How to undo an Airbnb ban

Is there a possibility to appeal against a ban? Airbnb usually says.

“Users who have been removed from the platform can usually respond to the removal email and appeal,” says Wabula. “Appeal assessments vary over time depending on the severity of the problem and the complexity of the case.”

That’s true to an extent. Many users have reported that appeals to Airbnb result in another swift denial, with no reason given. That’s frustrating for users who spend time preparing a case that they believe proves their innocence and indicates that they would be responsible guests.

And if the answer is still no? Well, there are plenty other ways to rent a house for your next vacation.

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