Signs You Should Avoid an Airbnb Rental at All Costs

Shutterstock (edited)

One of the first things you learn in kindergarten is that not everyone knows how to share. These days, tech companies bet fortunes that we're capable of playing well with others, but if you've browsed Airbnb lately, it's clear that plenty of folks haven't even learned to make their bed, let alone qualify to rent it to another human.

Bad reviews are obviously the first warning sign, but putting your full faith in commenters is the Internet equivalent of putting all your eggs in one garbage disposal. Here are 12 more simple things to watch out for to make sure your Airbnb host isn't more in need of a babysitter than a house guest.

Flickr/Paul Gorman

The bed's not made in the photo

This is the number one red flag. If your host is too lazy to properly lay out a bedspread for the sole purpose of advertising their space, tidiness obviously isn't a high priority, and neither is your vacation/bachelor party/bed bugless future.
 

There are five photos of the same room

It's great to know that there's no mold in the shower, but if a photo gallery leans too heavily on one room, odds are the others aren't nearly as fungus-free.
 

The photos appear to have been taken on a '90s flip phone

Not everyone knows to take Airbnb up on their offer of free professional photos, but if the images are as grainy as rough sand, the sheets might be too.

William Wesen

There are no interior photos

This is an immediate clue that you're not dealing with a friendly human being of a host, but rather a shady landlord or opportunistic management company playing Scrooge McDuck by filling a swimming pool with money, $70 at a time.
 

The headline sounds like an invitation to a cult

If a host is inviting you to become a part of their family -- whether it's requiring shared meals, inviting you to play with their kids, or setting up group photos at Sears -- you might be headed to Manson country.
 

The room is repeatedly described as "cozy"

Hosts think they're sly by adopting apartment locator slang 101, but know that if something is “cozy” that means you'll definitely hear someone else having sex in the house. Or maybe in the room.

John Sullivan

The main photo is a completely random place

There's not much to learn from a bed of sunflowers or a motivational poster of a kitten or a stock photo of the Taj Mahal except that the place is definitely not a palace.
 

The renter joined yesterday

You might convince yourself that the steal of a price is worth the hassle of holding your host's hand, but it's not. You'll either be barraged with overbearing emails or left completely clueless, then feel like you're on a bad blind date that starts in someone's bedroom.
 

The word "semi-private" appears anywhere in the listing

There are no shades of privacy when renting someone's house: you either have it or you don't. Anyone who's qualifying the idea of privacy isn't going to give it to you.

Flickr/Simon Davidson

The walls in the photos are empty

There's nothing wrong with simple lodgings, but there's a fine line between minimalism and insane asylum.

The listing looks like it was written by a first-grader

It doesn't take a genius to write a description of a bedroom. If someone can't clearly convey information about their home, they probably aren't competent enough to prepare it for habitation. Alternatively, if a description reads like magical realism, don't expect to walk into a fantasy.

"Artist" becomes a descriptor

An artist's studio or basement or loft is code for storage shed or dungeon or freezing-cold cavern, all of which will be filled with half-finished art, spilled supplies, and the stench of unfulfilled dreams.

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Dan Gentile is a staff writer at Thrillist. Do you want to stay at his place? Let him check his calendar real quick. In the meantime, follow him to five-star reviews at @Dannosphere.