How to Deal with Airbnb when Your Apartment Doesn’t Meet Your Expectations

In Nomad Life by Virginie0 Comments

Chris and I always book our apartment through Airbnb. Or most of them anyway! They make it so easy to be a digital nomad! In the past, it used to be awful to find a place to stay for three months at a time. Now, all you have to do is go on airbnb.com, spend a few hours looking at the property, contacting the owners and booking the one that seems like the best deal. No more nights in a hostel so you can look around the town/city you’re in, to try to find a place to stay when you’re not even sure there’s anything available.

Before you even jump on a plane, you know the bed where you’ll sleep for the next two or three months is there, waiting for you.

But what do you do, when you get to the apartment you carefully chose because it seemed to meet your requirements (budget, a table to work on, decent internet, etc.), but then you realize the actual apartment is nothing like the listing.

It happened to us in Bulgaria. We just arrived in a new country, after being on a bus and a train for 10 hours straight. I just wanted to sleep and discover this new place. Instead, we had to figure out how to get the hell out of there.

The apartment we rented claimed it had been renovated. Well, it had been half-renovated, and the pictures made it look a lot nicer than it was in real life. But on top of everything, it smelt awful and had mold in many places. We couldn’t stay there, not for three months.

We felt bad knowing that we needed to get a refund, because our host was really sweet and happened to be in a precarious situation. We didn’t want to put him through that, but we couldn’t stay there.

We slept there for the first night anyway and opened all the windows. Maybe it would be better the next morning.

It wasn’t.

So here’s what we did and recommend doing:

1.  Take Pictures (or Videos)

You’ll want to have some proof that what you’re saying is real. We didn’t wait very long before taking ours. Make sure you can clearly see what is wrong. Our apartment also said it was in a “quiet” neighborhood, but the construction trucks driving next to the building every ten minutes determined that was a lie. So I sat outside the apartment, trying to take a video where we could see and hear those trucks. We happened to be right next to a school, so a few people were a bit suspicious of my DSLR on my knees, pointed at the school, waiting for a truck to pass…

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2. Talk to your host

It’s important to let your host know that the apartment is not appropriate for you and that you’re probably going to end up leaving. That way, he won’t be taken by surprise if you get a refund and he looses hundreds of dollars.

3. Contact Airbnb (preferably by phone)

Call them at this number: 1-855-424-7262 (or any number you have in your reservation). That way, you can make sure that your case will be handled immediately. You won’t have to wait for anybody to reply to your email. Explain the situation to the person on the phone. You need a valid reason to contact them.

  • The listing is missing an amenity promised on the site in either the listing’s description, amenities, or photos.
  • The room type of the listing is not what was booked.
  • The number of bedrooms or bathrooms in the listing does not match what was booked.
  • The listing itself or the location of the listing is not what was booked.
  • The listing does not have clean bedding or towels available for all the guests included on the reservation, unless the host has clearly stated that linens are not provided or hasn’t marked essentials in their offered amenities.
  • The listing is unsanitary, unsafe, or hazardous to the health of your guests.
  • There is an animal in the listing which was not disclosed prior to booking.

Source: Airbnb

4. Search for a new place

While dealing with an Airbnb person on the phone or by email, you should start your search for a new place to stay. Hopefully, this won’t happen during high-season when everything is booked. We were lucky enough to be at the beginning of the low-season, so a lot of apartment were available.

5. Contact New Hosts

Make sure you message as many people as you can, even some that are higher than your price range. Why? Because if you’re staying for a long time, someone might give you a good deal. At this point, you’ll want it. Just make sure you don’t sound too desperate, otherwise people might not give you the best price. Even though every fiber of you wants to get out of that place, make sure the hosts you’re contacting don’t know that.
By messaging everyone, we found a place that was advertised for 900 euros a month, and the lady offered it to us for 500 euros a month. This is how much we were paying at our old ugly place, but the value was soooo much better!

6. Get Your Refund and Book the Next Place

You’ll feel such a weight get off your shoulders when you’ll click ‘Book’ on that other place that looks a lot better. Trust me! All you have to do now is pack your things and jump in a taxi or the metro and go to that new place, which is going to be your little slice of heaven when you think about the place where you almost ended up for the next three months.

In our case, the location is also so much better in our new apartment! We used to be in an old communist neighborhood with only grey buildings. Now, we’re downtown, surrounded by nightlife, restaurants, and beautiful Renaissance-style buildings. I love it!


After booking so many apartments with Airbnb, it was going to happen eventually. We were going to end up picking the wrong one. But thankfully, they were quick to react and get us a refund, so we’re not done booking through them!

Here are some tips to not make the same mistake we did
  • Make sure you can see all the rooms in the pictures.
  • Check if the apartment allows smokers and/or animals, to make sure the air quality is acceptable. (And double-check with the host)
  • Don’t trust the reviews. Trust your instinct. We’ve been in so many places that had only perfect 5-stars review, but it really wasn’t that perfect at all.
  • Double-check the neighborhood and make sure you really want to live there.
  • If a host is pushy and really wants you to stay at his place, he’s not going to tell you about the bad things about his place.

That’s it! Hope this helped!
May your next stay with Airbnb be enjoyable 🙂

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