I’ve been banned by Airbnb, but no one will tell me why

DEAR TRAVEL TROUBLESHOOTER: I recently received an email from Airbnb that it had removed my account from the platform.

Christopher Elliott, the Travel Troubleshooter 

“Removal means that your account will no longer be accessible, and you won’t be able to create another one,” it said. “We want to assure you that we reviewed your case thoroughly before reaching this conclusion. As such, we won’t be able to offer you additional support on this matter at this time.”

I don’t understand why I’m banned. I last booked with Airbnb in September for my husband and his friend in Las Vegas. Airbnb canceled the first booking for that trip because the host said she was no longer accepting guests.

Airbnb found me another accommodation at a hotel, and after two days of staying there, they realized that the listing wasn’t legitimate (someone had booked the hotel rooms months before then and posted them on Airbnb as rentals). I don’t see why I would get banned for that.

Airbnb has deactivated my account for no good reason. Can you help?

— Solange Reyner, Kirkland, Wash.

ANSWER: You should not get banned for any of this. Your host canceled your booking at the last minute, and another host had an illegitimate listing, neither of which was your fault.

So what’s going on here? Lately, many Airbnb bannings I’ve come across have happened because a background check turned up a criminal record. But you say neither you, nor your husband, nor his friend have any criminal record — so we can cross that off the list.

In its Terms of Service, Airbnb says it may terminate your account for violating its terms or policies, violating applicable laws, or if “we reasonably believe termination is necessary to protect Airbnb, its members, or third parties.” Also, if your account has been inactive for more than two years, Airbnb may pull the plug on your account without even letting you know.

There’s another wrinkle here. You’re a fellow journalist, and you’ve written about Airbnb in the past (nothing very critical). Is it possible that Airbnb didn’t like your articles? I don’t know, but the company could ban you all the same.

The two cancellations were a red flag of something happening during that Las Vegas rental — although I don’t know what.

When you rent a home or apartment through Airbnb, always look for a property with a positive rating and read the reviews carefully. I was just shopping for an Airbnb in Christchurch, New Zealand, and one of the reviews warned that the host had canceled at the last minute. If you see that, you might want to skip that property. And I am certain that the illegal rental you got in Vegas had no reviews — that’s also a problem.

If things start to go sideways with an Airbnb rental, contact the company right away, and if you’re unsure about the rules, ask. Whatever happened to your husband and friend, it sounds like an innocent mistake on their part. You can always reach out to one of the Airbnb executive contacts I publish on my consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org.

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