Airbnb May Not Be the Safest or Healthiest Option

May 17, 2016

Transition or travel can create the need for temporary housing, which is often accompanied by some level of anxiety or stress. On top of booking tickets, mapping out your schedule, and figuring out other intricate details of your trip, the last thing you want to have to worry about is your health. When researching for an accommodation company, it may seem logical to go with the cheapest option, but in the long run you could experience a horror story when staying with a company like Airbnb. Because of the undercurrent of possible risk when using Airbnb, you have to be knowledgeable about the chance of endangering your health.

Users of Airbnb are often involved with an illegal or unregulated transaction, unknowingly or not. In many states it is illegal to rent an apartment for less than 30 days. Usually only hotels may rent rooms for less than 30 days unless the owner is also occupying the unit, but a high percentage of Airbnbs across the country prove to ignore this rule. To add to the unregulated manor of the company, there is no process to confirm health and safety precautions. Unlike hotels and credible accommodation companies, Airbnb rentals do not require proof of safety standards. It only takes a few minutes to sign up and have a property listed; initial acceptance is based on self-reporting and the owner’s option on if things seem safe. The renter also has the option to upload pictures of the space, which are also not verified to be recent or true.

Because Airbnb has their back turned to any possible health and safety violations, here are some issues an Airbnb tenant may experience:

Cold and Flu Germs

When booking through Airbnb, there is no way to be sure that the previous tenant or owner wasn’t sick and infected all of the surfaces. Reputable accommodation services, unlike Airbnb, typically provide their own cleaning service to scrub, spray, and wipe down all surface areas. Bedding will be replaced and any dishes will be cleaned and put away. If you are still concerned about cold and flu germs, consider using a disinfectant wipe on your electronic surfaces such as your phone, television, or camera to further combat nasty germs floating around during flu season.

Poor Kitchen Hygiene

When staying in an Airbnb, it is highly possible that the owner left remnants of food and drinks in the kitchen, especially in their fridge. Apart from being unsanitary, this can be dangerous to those with serious food allergies. While staying in a temporary living space, you should never have to worry about opening the fridge to moldy food or a carton of spoiled milk. Credible accommodation services will ensure that all food has been thrown away and that the cabinets, drawers, dishwasher, and fridge are disinfected and safe for you. The refrigerator should be kept at the right temperature — at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, with the freezer at or below zero degrees Fahrenheit — so any food you may place within it stays edible.


Airbnb renters are not required to wash their bedding so tenants are at risk for any germs and allergens inhabiting the fabrics. Pillows and duvets that aren’t laundered regularly may harbor dust mites that can aggravate asthma, eczema and hay fever, according to a 2006 University of Worcester study. Legal accommodation services typically have restrictions regarding animals and smoking. Airbnb rentals may have undisclosed pets that a tenant may be allergic to. A renter may also have a bad habit of smoking which would make a stay miserable to those with asthma or those who cannot stand the smell of cigarette smoke.

Bed Bugs

According to the National Pest Management Association, one in five Americans has a bedbug infestation or knows someone that does. Airbnb renters may have different tenants from week to week who could be carrying the insects within their suitcases. Bedbugs can be easily transferred from luggage to the bed just from placing it on the bed or ground. As stated, Airbnb renters aren’t required to disinfect their bedding so bedbugs could be living within their mattresses. While traveling, the last thing you’d want to see is bloodstains, small black dots, or any other remnant of bedbugs, which are about the size of an apple seed. Professional accommodation services typically operate with credible pest control services so this horrible issue would never have to ruin a stay.

Faulty Fire or Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Because Airbnb listings are approved based on what the owner “claims” to be safe, lifesaving devices may not be operating correctly which can lead to devastating effects. In 2013, a Canadian woman visiting Taiwan died of carbon monoxide poisoning from a leaking water heater and a lack of proper ventilation in an Airbnb rental. It is essential for a renter to regularly maintenance their Carbon monoxide alarms. Regulated accommodation services ensure that any fuel burning appliances are working properly, heating systems are regularly inspected, dirty air filters on heating and cooling systems are replaced, and fire and carbon monoxide alarms are tested often and are located in the appropriate locations.

Lack of Mental and Physical Liability

Companies like Airbnb can be tempting because they are usually the least expensive, but you get what you pay for. The second you Google search “Bad Airbnb Stay” hundreds of hits come up with stories and articles about how someone was bit by a dog not listed on the apartment’s page or how a tenant was locked in the bathroom by the landlord. There is no way for Airbnb to claim responsibility in the event of your mental or physical health being compromised. If something goes amiss during your stay they will most likely refund your money but because they are barely regulated, they are not responsible for legalities or your health after an incident.

Mold and Moisture

According to Green and Healthy Homes, “Mold is a fungus that grows in warm, damp, humid conditions where there is little air movement. Mold spores are small airborne that can cause respiratory issues.” If water damage is not properly handled, mold will easily grow especially in areas like the bathroom, wet or damp basements, around leaky sinks, on windows, in or around air conditioners or under wallpaper or carpet. If mold is not effectively removed from an area, a list of side effects may occur such as coughing, wheezing, eye and skin irritation, asthma symptoms, and hypersensitivity pneumonitis. Credible accommodation services, unlike Airbnb, will ensure that moisture problems are handled by throwing away wet carpeting, mattresses, boxes, or other items that have been wet for more than two days, cleaning moldy areas, and performing regular building/HVAC inspections and maintenance as scheduled.
Credible accommodation companies, unlike Airbnb, take the stress out of these concerns and will not leave an issue unresolved. Matt Damico, a temporary housing specialist at Alternative Business Accommodations and IDEAL Furnished Housing explains, “We take pride in ensuring that our clients have the best stay in our luxury furnished apartments. Alternative Business Accommodations operates with our own cleaning staff so our spaces will always have the highest cleaning standards to keep our clients healthy and happy. In the unlikely event that something goes amiss during a stay like a rowdy neighbor or a broken pipe, our guests know they can call us and will have a live person for them to speak with immediately or dispatch a staff member to assist. Companies like Airbnb can’t promise these standards of high customer service and safety. We go through great lengths to promise our guests that they will have an enjoyable time while staying with Alternative Business Accommodations.” Companies that use their own cleaning service ensure that you will not have to worry about germy and unkempt living spaces. If an incident occurs they can dispatch a representative to resolve any issue instead of paying you off and disregarding your safety.
Illegal companies such as Airbnb are less expensive but when you go through a professional accommodation company you can have peace of mind knowing that you will be safe in a new city. Traveling can cause numerous worries and added stress. A professional furnished apartment company will alleviate some of this stress by taking care of concerns about comfort, security, and overall experience satisfaction. Until Airbnb regulates their requirements to become a renter, your safety is not guaranteed and there is no promise that you will remain healthy after your stay with them. You can travel in comfort knowing you won’t experience any dangers or unsanitary living spaces when staying with a legal accommodation business. When considering which furnished apartment company to stay with, don’t get blindsided by lower prices and keep your safety and happiness as a top priority.