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Can I be sued for posting a negative review about airbnb hosts?

(19 Posts)
dazedandconfused2016 Wed 07-Jun-17 03:14:57

I had a horrendous experience at my last airbnb accommodation, which was reminiscent of Fawlty Towers, where customers are treated like enemies.

I was accused of trying to sneak in a bloke overnight - he was my ex who I am still friends with and he wanted to use the loo before driving back to his own place nearby after we'd had a night out (both of us sober). I haven't had sex with him for 4 years and this was in a place where the room rate was the same for one or two people, so why would I bother trying to sneak him in?

In confronting us the owner was angry and out of control. Afterwards I spent the whole night locked in my room in silence, too scared to make a noise for fear of upsetting him again. As a solo woman traveller I felt extremely vulnerable and couldn't wait for daylight so I could get the hell out of the place, which was in an isolated rural location.

My ex told me not to bother leaving a review if I am worried about getting sued - as I'm sure they would have the resources - but I know they are going to undermine my reputation and I don't see why they should get away with their unpleasant behaviour.

I have written the review as neutrally and factually as possible and have hugely downplayed what happened. I'm just venting on here! grin

They have lots of glowing reviews from scores of happy customers, many of whom I'm convinced were too afraid to write anything else.

What do you think? Publish and be damned, or wait for their review first and just write a neutral response to it to be on the safe side?

Holiday1215 Wed 07-Jun-17 03:28:00

I don't think you will be sued for leaving a negative review, you wouldn't be sued for leaving a negative review for a shoddy product on eBay would you?

I think you should write a review that explains exactly what happened, if only to protect other travellers from going through such an unpleasant experience. AirBNB hosts should be expected to behave with the same kindness as any other hotel host. They aren't just selling a room, they are selling an experience and you should have felt welcomed, not threatened.

Millionsmom Wed 07-Jun-17 04:49:27

I left a negative- very honest - review after our experience in the US and nothing happened. It was never published. I think if the host gets a negative review, they can opt not to post it.

prh47bridge Wed 07-Jun-17 07:51:02

Any attempt to sue you for defamation would fail as long as your review is your honest opinion and is factually accurate.

Collaborate Wed 07-Jun-17 09:16:17

Put a review on Trip Advisor if AirBnB won't post it.

AdalindSchade Wed 07-Jun-17 09:18:15

You won't be sued. But you shouldn't have tried to bring someone into the property even for a few minutes. Airbnb host guarantee only covers people actually listed on the booking so if he had broken or stolen something in those few minutes the host would have been screwed. I'm sure the host didn't care if you were sleeping with him just that he wasn't on the booking. Not bringing in ransoms is a cardinal rule of Airbnb guests.

AdalindSchade Wed 07-Jun-17 09:19:14

I think if the host gets a negative review, they can opt not to post it

Not on Airbnb. I've heard of negative reviews not being posted and wonder if the hosts can appeal but reviews get posted automatically

AdalindSchade Wed 07-Jun-17 09:19:39


soupplate Wed 07-Jun-17 09:24:24

I think the host probably had a point even if he didn't go about putting it across particularly well. The ethos of AirBNB is that you are staying in someone's home, and they also have a right to feel safe and know who is on the premises. Coming up against an unknown man in your house in the middle of the night would concern most people.

Perhaps send host a personal message explaining what happened and how affected you were by his response.

dazedandconfused2016 Wed 07-Jun-17 12:09:13

Thanks to all who replied to me - it's very helpful to hear your experiences.

Any attempt to sue you for defamation would fail as long as your review is your honest opinion and factually accurate.

My account of what happened is only my word against theirs, isn’t it? In that I can’t prove an alleged sequence of events between me and them, as opposed to, say, a house undergoing building work, where it is obvious it can’t be disputed.

Is it the case that the complainant only has to show they have suffered a substantial financial loss to bring an action? And the burden of proof is on the defendant to prove their innocence.

AdalindShcade and Soupplate
Thanks for explaining this. I had mistakenly thought airbnb operated on the same principle as a hotel, where you pay for the room and can do what you like with it, within reason.

My ex had brought me to the property in his car as it was in the countryside and I didn’t have my own transport. So they met him earlier in the day and he waited in my room for me as I got ready, and he used the bathroom, which they knew about. I had not asked their permission then as it didn't occur to me it would be a problem, but why didn’t they tell us then that it was against the rules?

I’m probably not inclined to send them a note in private as I thought they were not very nice people, especially the husband. He was not there to deal with me when I checked out the next morning - it was the wife who dealt with me - a fact I had thought significant at the time but now realise may only have been because he was busy.

It was a good lesson - I will be staying in a hotel next time!

prh47bridge Wed 07-Jun-17 13:18:30

My account of what happened is only my word against theirs, isn’t it?

If your ex witnessed it he could give evidence on your behalf in the unlikely event they tried to sue you over this. If you avoid making factual statements and stick to, for example, saying that you found the host rude, you wouldn't need to prove anything.

And the burden of proof is on the defendant to prove their innocence

No. In civil cases the courts decide on the balance of probabilities. If you stick to stating your opinion you would not have to prove anything. It would be for the host to prove that you are not stating an honest opinion.

RebootYourEngine Wed 07-Jun-17 13:31:32

There was someone on here who was threatened with court for leaving a negative review on tripadvisor i think.

dazedandconfused2016 Wed 07-Jun-17 13:53:05

Thanks prh47bridge - this is very helpful information. My ex is advising me strongly not to publish a review. He thinks I should wait for their review to be published first after the 14-day waiting period and reply to that in the "feedback" section underneath their review.

My argument is that I might only get 50 words in which to defend myself, whereas by writing a review I will have 500 words to put my case.

In addition, there might be some other poor numpty like me who gets on the wrong side of them by accident rather than design. A simple apology from them for making me feel so frightened and uncomfortable would have sorted this problem out. In the same way that I apologised to them for my ignorance about the house rules.

Reboot - I have heard about people being threatened with legal action after posting on TripAdvisor too - I'm sure it's more common than we realise.

dazedandconfused2016 Wed 07-Jun-17 14:09:04

Sorry to dripfeed, but they were also half an hour late arriving at the property upon check-in. They had someone let us in for a cup of tea but who could not let me into the room as it was locked.

We were on a tight time schedule for an event we were due at and this half-hour delay made us late. I was stressed and regrettably made an unguarded comment about how I was not impressed within earshot of their friend.

So I guess it's my fault that this whole scenario blew up because, the wife told me upon check-out, I was "hostile" and had "upset their friend".

I have stayed previously with 3 other airbnb hosts who were all present at their properties at the agreed time to let me in or kept in touch with me if they were running late. And who I got on well with and who posted good reviews about me.

I felt these people were cavalier in their attitude towards their customers because a) they were not in the property when we arrived and b) didn't bother to let us know they would be late. I would not have dared to keep someone waiting half an hour without explanation.

AdalindSchade Wed 07-Jun-17 14:11:58

I think you're overthinking. Leave the review. They sound rubbish.

dazedandconfused2016 Wed 07-Jun-17 15:18:45

Adalind - 😅. I guess you're right.

Obviouspretzel Sat 10-Jun-17 20:38:43

You were completely in the wrong though. Airbnb is not a hotel and you disrespected your hosts by inviting in a man who they did not expect to be there. You wouldn't expect to come out of your bedroom and see some random bloke in there, whether you had seen him earlier or not.

Obviouspretzel Sat 10-Jun-17 20:39:32

If the host was intimidating or you weee unhappy with other things then by all means leave a bad review but in my view your behaviour was unacceptable as well.

InfiniteSheldon Sat 10-Jun-17 20:42:17

You were in the wrong, chalk it up to experience and move on. If you want to feel safe and have use of a 'hotel room' you really should pay for one.

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