Airbnb banned me. How do I fix this?

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Sometimes the reason Airbnb bans you is obvious. It was for Maksym Bidnychenko, a Ukrainian national who fled war-time Russia, when he tried to book a stay in May.

“My account was blocked after I verified my identity and tried to request a reservation,” said Bidnychenko, a freelance artist from Lviv. “I tried to contact Airbnb support via Twitter. After a few hours, I received their default “We’re blocking you” email.

What went wrong? Bidnychenko had a phone number with a Russian area code. And by the start of the war, Airbnb had ceased operations in Russia, announcing that there was nowhere in the world for people in Russia to make new bookings. I asked Airbnb about their suspension and they lifted their ban.

Airbnb is more successful than ever. Then why is everyone so mad about it?

But sometimes the reasons behind Airbnb bans are a mystery. They were for Tamara Martin, a nurse from Bucyrus, Kan., who received an unexpected email from Airbnb saying her account was suspended.

“The explanation was that I was connected to someone who was banned,” she says. “No details. I’ve personally never had a problem with any rentals I’ve used.”

After I asked Airbnb about her suspension, her account was restored. But it wouldn’t tell me why it was removed “for privacy reasons” in the first place.

Airbnb is the largest vacation rental platform in the world with 6 million active listings and 54 million active bookers in 2019. Last year, Airbnb suspended more than 6,600 people from its platform for attempting to violate its party policies. Airbnb will not disclose the number of bans for reasons beyond parties.

I asked Airbnb how to make sure you don’t get banned.

Removals from the platform most often result from violations of community policies and standards, says Airbnb spokeswoman Ruthie Wabula. “We only take these types of actions when necessary to protect our community,” she said.

Airbnb’s Community Guidelines are a long read, so here’s a quick summary: Disrespect for the community, abuse of the rental, tampering with security devices, or access to personal property other than your own are all grounds for account termination. There are issues on the technical side that you can also lock.

“Often, for less serious issues that still violate our policies, our team will issue alerts, as well as guidance and training on how to better comply with that policy in the future,” says Wabula. “If the user continues to violate the policy despite the warnings, the issue may escalate to further action, including possible account removal.”

Airbnb addresses two major complaints: hidden fees and chores

There are other reasons Airbnb might terminate a guest’s account. This includes being convicted of a crime.

According to Airbnb, the distance depends on the seriousness of the crime. “Minor offenses” such as disorderly conduct or possession of marijuana “are not removable offenses.” Other crimes such as burglary, fraud, and vandalism may result in further review or removal. Cases such as murder, terrorism, rape, or child abuse can result in permanent removal.

The system is not always error-free. In September, a Pennsylvania councilman was suspended at large on possession and DUI charges dating back nine years. She was later reinstated after her tweet went viral.

Airbnb hires Inflection as one of the companies with which it conducts background checks on users. If it finds problems, the service might disable your account. These background checks are typically performed 10 days prior to guest check-in and when a host creates a listing. (This only applies to the United States and India.)

In 2019, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky pledged to verify all listings on Airbnb and has spoken in recent interviews about verifying all users on the platform listing his home.

The Airbnb CEO just listed a room in his house. It’s already fully booked.

Airbnb will go one step further and freeze the accounts of users associated with someone with a criminal record. People convicted of a crime could circumvent a ban by asking a friend or relative to make a reservation on their behalf.

Jannick Vielleuse, a physical therapist from Westford, Vt., reached out to me for help this spring after being banned from Airbnb. She had always played by the rules and consistently received high ratings from her hosts. It turned out that a friend of her husband’s had been convicted of his involvement in the January 6, 2021 uprising, and because Vielleuse and her husband’s friend had logged into an account with the same IP address, Airbnb connected them. When I asked Airbnb about canceling her account, her account was restored.

But how does Airbnb decide who’s too close? In emails to people who have been banned, Airbnb said it bases its ban on factors such as location and email address; Airbnb would not comment on exactly how it does this. If Airbnb thinks you’re connected to someone who’s blocked, it can also remove you. And beyond that, the company doesn’t offer any details.

“In accordance with our privacy policy, we cannot disclose any information about the account, location, or listing that triggered this action,” it tells users whose accounts are disabled.

How to reverse an Airbnb ban

Is there a way to appeal against a ban? Airbnb usually says.

“Users who are removed from the platform can usually respond to the removal email and raise an objection,” says Wabula. “Appeal reviews vary in time depending on the severity of the issue and the complexity of the case.”

That’s true up to a point. Many users have reported that appeals to Airbnb only result in another quick refusal without giving a reason. This is frustrating for users who spend time preparing a case they believe proves their innocence and suggests they would be responsible guests.

And if the answer is still no? Well, there are many Miscellaneous Ways to rent a home for your next vacation.

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