Airbnb has backed down after being contacted by CBC about a Montreal woman who was charged $2,000 for damages to a rental property that she says her family didn’t cause.
Vanessa Angell rented the home in Grand Lake, N.S., for a week-long family holiday in August. It was occupied by Angell, her husband, their one-year-old son, her parents and her in-laws.
Around 45 minutes after checking out, they received a text from the owner asking about some damaged floorboards and water outside a basement bathroom.
The owner said his family has spilled water on the boards before and it had the same effect.
“Did water get spilled or did it just appear?” the owner texted. “I’d like to know before I start ripping up the floor boards looking for a leak.”
This photo shows the repair work underway in the basement of the home Vanessa Angell and her family rented through Airbnb. (Courtesy of Vanessa Angell)
Angell said nothing “out of the norm” happened during their stay, but she had noticed some bubbling on a couple of floorboards in the basement when they checked in.
“It was there the entire week, and it was there when we checked out,” she told CBC.
She also denied that any water was spilled.
Airbnb sides with owner
The situation escalated over the next week, with the owner demanding money to cover repairs and then finally saying he was going to file a claim with Airbnb.
“That seemed like the appropriate route to take,” Angell said. “We thought this is the way we should proceed.”
Within five days of the owner’s claim being filed, Angell received notice from Airbnb telling her she owed more than $5,000 for the cost of fixing the basement.
“They asked us for the total cost of his basement floor remodel, which was to tear up these laminate floors, bring up the padding, remove the drywall from the mouldings, dispose of the laminates and replace the floors,” Angell said.
Another angle of repairs underway in the basement of the Airbnb that Vanessa Angell rented. (Courtesy of Vanessa Angell)
A local contractor provided Angell’s family with an itemized list of the work to be done.
“We thought it was hilarious that it would come to this, that he’s trying to make us pay for his floors,” Angell said. “We thought it was crazy.”
Angell replied with a four-page letter to Airbnb’s ‘s Trust and Safety Department stating the damage was localized to one or two boards and that it was already present when they checked in.
She also provided a list of deficiencies with the house that they originally thought they would keep to themselves.
Airbnb replied to say Angell was instead on the hook for the $2,000 deductible on the owner’s household insurance.
The total would be charged to their credit card within 10 days if she didn’t pay immediately.
Get your insurance company involved, Angell learns
Angell said she now realizes she should have got her own homeowner’s insurance company involved immediately, a view that was echoed by the Insurance Bureau of Canada.
A spokesperson for the board told CBC that liability coverage is part of your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy.
So if anyone accuses you of damaging their property, contact your provider for advice.
“We would have been able to get them to inspect the property to figure out what exactly happened,” Angell said.
On Thursday, after being contacted by CBC about Angell’s case, Airbnb said it would get in touch with her.
In the end, the Airbnb told Angell it was dropping the $2,000 fee.