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Lawyer Explains How to Sue Airbnb

If you need to know how to sue Airbnb or need a lawyer to sue Airbnb, the law firm of Whitney, LLP in Towson, Maryland may be able to help.  Whitney, LLP’s attorneys have  successfully represented clients in claims against Airbnb, including recovering compensation, dealing with false guest complaints and having a property relisted after it was delisted by Airbnb in an alleged violation of Airbnb’s Terms of Service.

Airbnb has reportedly spent millions of dollars to address safety and customer service issues, with a focus on resolving claims quickly and efficiently. In some cases, this has resulted in the company offering settlements to guests and hosts who have encountered problems during their rental experiences.

Whitney, LLP represents clients in Airbnb cases throughout Maryland and in cases involving a connection to Maryland.

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Whitney LLP represents both Guests and Hosts in Airbnb Claims

Both Airbnb guests and hosts often have reason to need to know how to sue airbnb or need a lawyer to sue Airbnb.  Guests can face injury, safety hazards, poor conditions and other problems discussed further below, all for which Airbnb and/or the host may be held responsible. 

Hosts can have disputes with Airbnb relating to their property being delisted, poor guest behavior, false reviews or complaints, guests causing damage or stealing from the property, breach of contract, payments problems, Airbnb acting in bad faith, and other issues.

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Representing Hosts in Claims Against Airbnb

Claims brought by Airbnb hosts who want to know how to sue Airbnb can involve a variety of issues.  Hosts often rely on Airbnb for their income, and being treated unfairly or in bad faith can have serious financial consequences. 

Whitney, LLP can help hosts fight back against Airbnb, with situations including but not limited to:

Host Property Delisted without Good Cause

If Airbnb delists a host’s property from Airbnb or cancels pre-existing rentals without a good faith basis to do so, the host may have claims and be able to recover compensation against Airbnb.  Contracts include an inherent duty of good faith and fair dealing.  When a host property is delisted by Airbnb without a good reason to do so, such as fake bad reviews or other false information, hosts have rights and can fight back.  

Sometimes Airbnb’s customer service department does not accurately assess the facts of a situation or a guest complaint, and hosts can suffer as the result until the accurate facts are presented to Airbnb’s attorneys.  

Hosts Need Legal Help to Relist their Property after Delisting

If a property is unfairly delisted, a host will often want to get the property back on the platform so they can continue to make money.  Whitney, LLP has experience dealing with Airbnb’s attorneys and getting a host property relisted after it was delisted. 

Considering that Airbnb’s customer service department is likely overwhelmed, it is not surprising that taking legal action and accurately presenting the facts of a situation can help focus Airbnb’s attention on a matter to the extent it will reevaluate its decision.

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Removing Fake Airbnb Guest Reviews

Fake Airbnb guest reviews by an upset guest who wants to harm a host over a real or perceived slight can be a huge problem.  Fortunately, according to Airbnb’s Content Policy, which is incorporated into the Terms of Service, users are required to provide content that is “accurate, truthful, and not misleading.”

Users are expected to leave reviews that reflect their genuine experiences and opinions about a rental property, and to refrain from posting false, misleading, or defamatory information.  If a host can present evidence that a guest review is false, Airbnb may be able to be  persuaded to remove it, or, may be legally obligated to remove it if legal action is taken.

Guest Damaging Property or Stealing from a Host

Guests damaging or stealing from a host’s property is an ongoing concern that Airbnb hosts face. To address this issue and provide a sense of security to its hosts, Airbnb has established a $1 million Host Guarantee program. This policy is designed to cover property damage caused by guests up to $1 million, providing hosts with protection against potential financial losses resulting from guest misconduct.

The Host Guarantee program may cover various types of damages, such as vandalism, theft, and accidental damage to the host’s property or belongings. However, it is important to note that there are certain limitations and exclusions to this coverage. 

General Breach of Contract Claims

Hosts may allege that Airbnb has failed to fulfill its contractual obligations, such as not providing payment, charging excessive fees, not provisioning promised support or services, or improperly suspending or terminating their accounts.  Breach of contract claims by hosts against Airbnb can include a variety of issues, all based on the representations and agreements made by Airbnb in its Terms of Service.

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Representing Guests in Claims Against Airbnb and Airbnb Hosts

Airbnb has faced numerous claims and lawsuits arising out of allegations that unsafe and dangerous conditions contributed to a guest suffering harm.  When that happens, one question that arises is whether to hold the property host responsible, Airbnb responsible, and/or any other third party who was involved.

The facts of each situation require legal analysis to determine which party is responsible, to what extent, and how to create legal accountability on the responsible party.  Whitney, LLP can help Airbnb guests who need a lawyer to sue Airbnb or a host, and hold them responsible for an injury.

Bodily Injury from Intentional Harm

From assault to sexual assault to the worst case of murder, guests can unexpectedly be faced with traumatic situations when staying at an Airbnb property.   

In 2019, Airbnb faced a lawsuit filed by the family of a Florida woman who was murdered at a rental property booked through the platform. The lawsuit alleged that Airbnb failed to implement adequate safety measures that could have prevented the tragedy. The family sought damages and called for the company to improve its screening process for both hosts and guests to ensure a safer rental experience.

Harassment by Host

When a host harasses and threatens a guest, the guest can take legal action to stop the threats and hold the host legally accountable.  Harassment could occur over a bad review, a stalker situation or any other instance where a host behaves unprofessionally and makes a guest feel uncomfortable or unsafe. 

A 2022 Newsweek article explains the situation of an Airbnb guest who claimed that their host threatened to send a private investigator after them due to a disagreement over a refund. The guest had requested a refund after finding undisclosed security cameras in the rental property, which made them uncomfortable. The host allegedly became aggressive, accused the guest of extortion, and threatened to involve a private investigator.

Dangerous Airbnb Property Conditions and Physical Safety Risks

Some Airbnb properties may have safety hazards such as loose railings, broken stairs, or faulty electrical wiring that could cause injury to guests. Hosts are expected to provide a safe and secure environment for their guests, but there have been instances where properties have not been properly maintained.  

Security Risks

Guests staying in Airbnb properties may be at risk of theft or break-ins, particularly if the property is located in an area with high crime rates. Hosts must provide adequate security measures such as deadbolts, secure locks, and security cameras to ensure the safety of their guests.

Fire Hazards

Airbnb properties may have fire hazards such as overloaded electrical sockets, improperly installed heating or cooling systems, or unattended candles. Hosts are expected to provide smoke detectors and fire extinguishers and ensure that their properties meet local fire safety regulations.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is a risk in properties with gas appliances or wood-burning fireplaces. Hosts are expected to provide CO detectors and ensure that their properties are free from this odorless and deadly gas.

When Airbnb guests are injured by an unsafe Airbnb rental property, guests can seek compensation against the responsible parties. 

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Airbnb Hidden Cameras

An Airbnb guest constantly face the potential presence of hidden or secret cameras. While not all hosts engage in this behavior, it is possible that a host or other party may install hidden cameras to monitor  and record their guests without their knowledge or consent. This is a violation of privacy and can cause discomfort and anxiety for guests. 

 Hosts are not allowed to install surveillance devices in private spaces such as bedrooms or bathrooms, and they are not allowed to record audio.  Guests who are secretly recorded may hold the host and/or Airbnb responsible and recover significant compensation, depending on the facts of the situation.

In Texas, a lawsuit seeking $1 million in damages was filed after an Airbnb host was accused of hiding a secret camera in a cabin bedroom in Texas. The guests discovered the hidden camera, which they claim was positioned to record the bed, and reported the incident to both Airbnb and local authorities. The host was arrested and charged with invasive visual recording, while the guests are suing for invasion of privacy, infliction of emotional distress, and violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

 It is important to immediately report hidden camera to law enforcement and take other steps to ensure that all evidence is preserved. Whitney, LLP can help guests who find hidden cameras. 

Airbnb’s Terms of Service Create Duties and Responsibilities

Airbnb’s Terms of Service (TOS) serve as a binding agreement between the platform, its hosts, and guests, outlining the rights, responsibilities, and expectations for all parties involved. The TOS ensures that users understand the rules and guidelines for using Airbnb, including listing requirements, booking procedures, and dispute resolution processes.

By agreeing to the TOS, hosts and guests commit to adhering to these policies, which helps to create a safe, transparent, and reliable rental experience for everyone. Airbnb, in turn, is responsible for enforcing these terms and taking appropriate actions in cases where hosts or guests violate the agreed-upon rules.

When the TOS are not followed, both Airbnb, hosts and guests can take action to enforce those terms.

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How to Sue Airbnb or Need a Lawyer to Sue Airbnb – Arbitration

Airbnb’s Terms of Service set forth arbitration through the American Arbitration Association as the method of resolution for most claims. Arbitration is a form of alternative dispute resolution in which the parties agree to have their dispute heard by a neutral third-party arbitrator, rather than going to court. The arbitrator reviews evidence and arguments from both parties and makes a decision that is usually binding on both sides. The arbitration process is often quicker and less formal than a lawsuit, and may be less expensive. 

Whitney, LLP has experience successfully representing clients in AAA arbitration, including prevailing in arbitration and settling claims after arbitration has begun. 

Recovery of Attorney’s fees in Airbnb AAA Arbitration

Airbnb’s Terms of Service allow for the recovery of attorney’s fees if a party is found to have brought or defended a claim in bad faith:

TOS 23.8 Modification of AAA Rules – Attorney’s Fees and Costs: Your arbitration fees and your share of arbitrator compensation shall be governed by the AAA Rules. Either party may make a request that the arbitrator award attorneys’ fees and costs upon proving that the other party has asserted a claim, cross-claim or defense that is groundless in fact or law, brought in bad faith or for the purpose of harassment, or is otherwise frivolous, as allowed by applicable law and the AAA Rules.  

Whitney, LLP has successfully helped clients recover compensation for their attorneys fees in a claim that alleged, in part, that Airbnb was defending a claim in bad faith.

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Daniel W. Whitney, Jr. and Daniel W. Whitney, Sr.

Legal Representation for Airbnb Claims – Whitney, LLP

The attorneys at Whitney, LLP provide representation to both hosts and guests in claims against Airbnb.  If you need to know how to sue Airbnb or need a lawyer to sue Airbnb, we have experience using Airbnb’s Terms of Service and bringing claims against Airbnb to help our clients accomplish their goals. 

Whitney, LLP represents clients throughout Maryland and in cases involving a connection to Maryland.

If you have been injured or suffered an economic loss involving Airbnb, or want to know if you have a claim, contact us for a free case evaluation.

Remember, you have legal rights.

Call us at 410 583 8000, or use our Quick Contact Form, to discuss your potential case.

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