Guests Often Make Unpleasant Discoveries at Short-Term Rentals

Short-term rentals can offer a lot of things that hotels can’t match – unique locations, flexibility, and personalized experiences. Guests will make a lot of new discoveries on their trip, but they may not always be positive.

Imagine booking a nice Airbnb for a few days while you’re out of town for your friend’s wedding. Sounds fun, right? Now imagine you arrive at the unit to find that the “two-bedroom house” you booked is actually a moldy basement that reeks of cigarette smoke. That’s exactly what happened to this Airbnb guest last year, forcing them to leave the location and pay for two different hotels.

From the outside, the house looked normal enough — just some overgrown hedges and peeling paint. On the inside, however, the property was awful. It was dark, dank, and musty. There was mold covering the walls and the shower, the linens were dirty and dingy, most of the kitchen appliances were broken, and surfaces were coated in grime.

« Most short-term rental stays go off without a hitch, but there’s always the possibility that they won’t. »

Most short-term rental stays go off without a hitch, but there’s always the possibility that they won’t. In order to identify the top inconveniences in short-term rentals, we conducted a study with the help of Wakefield Research, a globally respected market research firm based out of Washington DC.

Key Findings

According to the survey results, 53% of short-term renters have come across something unsavory at check-in, meaning it isn’t rare for someone to stumble upon some less than pleasant situations, whether it’s as simple as stained bedding, or as haunting as a hidden camera.

Unpleasant Discoveries

As mentioned previously, more than half of Americans surveyed claimed to have made an unpleasant discovery upon check-in. The top foul finding reported by short-term renters is stained bedding (27%). People also tend to find trash in unusual places (25%), like under the bed or in the closet. The third most common encounter is pests, such as bedbugs or roaches, crawling around the unit (21%).

Top Unpleasant Discoveries Made at Short-Term Rentals

While less common, people also find hair clogged in sink drains (17%), dirty dishes (12%), and hidden cameras (6%) in units.

When looking for a short-term rental, it’s always a good idea to read the reviews for different locations and hosts, and to tread lightly with rentals that have little to new review history. Landlords should also regularly and thoroughly clean their units, as well as respect their guests’ privacy.

Different Generations, Different Expectations

Younger travelers, who are probably on tighter budgets, are far more likely than their older, often more financially-stable, counterparts to experience disagreeable short-term rental situations. 60% of Millennials who have stayed in short-term rentals have made dirty discoveries upon checking in, compared to only 40% of Baby Boomers.

« 60% of Millennials who have stayed in short-term rentals have made dirty discoveries upon checking in, compared to only 40% of Baby Boomers. »

Millennials (32%) are nearly twice as likely as Boomers (17%) to have found stained bedding upon arrival. Millennials (25%) are also more likely than Boomers (14%) to have come upon critters, like bed bugs and roaches.

Even though “cheap rental” doesn’t always mean “bad rental,” one could conclude that inexpensive units are more likely be less accommodating. However, it’s also important to consider the kinds of experiences each generation is looking for.

Millennials are usually seeking somewhere to stay the night while visiting for an event or exploring a new location. Older generations, on the other hand, typically book short-term rentals for a relaxing vacation getaway or a formal business trip. Different reasons for staying in a vacation rental usually leads to discrepancies in budgets & the kinds of rentals one chooses.

Here are the top reasons people choose Airbnb.

The Pros vs. the Cons

Short-term rentals wouldn’t be all the rage right now if every stay was an unpleasant one. In fact, many people are leaving hotels behind and choosing short-term rentals like Airbnbs instead. Short-term rentals provide the comfort of a home away from home at spectacular prices.

Keep in mind that there are risks with anything, and the majority of short-term rental hosts and guests are beyond pleased with their experiences. With so many unique listings on the web, it’s very unlikely that short-term rentals’ popularity will cease to keep growing. Do your research and keep an eye out for any sketchy behavior. Looks can be deceiving, especially online. It’s certainly possible you could run into a fraudulent listing, so make sure to read reviews carefully and choose your rental wisely.

Methodological Notes

The iPropertyManagement Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research among 1,014 nationally representative U.S. adults, ages 18+, between December 28, 2017 and January 4, 2018, using an email invitation and an online survey. Quotas have been set to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the U.S. adult population 18 and older.

Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of the percentages expressing the results. For the interviews conducted in this particular survey, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 3.1 percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample.