Is Airbnb Safe?

With secure communication, reviews to vet listings and 24hr support, Airbnb works to keep guests and hosts safe.
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Written by Alisha McDarris
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If you're used to staying in hotels and suddenly you're presented with the option to rent an Airbnb on your next vacation, you may be wondering, “Is Airbnb safe?” "Is Airbnb protecting my information?” “Can I trust the Airbnb host?”

Here’s a breakdown on whether staying at an Airbnb is a safe option both in terms of privacy and personal safety — and what you can do to help protect yourself and those around you when you travel.

Is Airbnb safe for guests?

Airbnb is no longer a small, niche booking platform involving quirky stays in locals’ spare rooms (though that’s still an option, of course). Instead, it’s grown to a booking behemoth with an estimated 7.7 million active listings around the world in more than 100,000 cities and towns in more than 220 countries.

For context, Marriott, the largest hotel company in the world, has roughly 1.5 million rooms worldwide.

Given the nature of Airbnb — and how varied an Airbnb stay is versus a hotel stay — the vacation rental site goes to great lengths to outline its numerous safety guidelines in place to protect travelers. They include:

Digital safety

A secure payment and communication platform protects guests’ contact and payment information (you should always handle transactions within Airbnb's secure platform, rather than paying outside of Airbnb, such as with cash).

A host should never ask a guest to provide credit card information or do anything like ask for a wire transfer. It might seem simpler to exchange personal information and do things outside of the platform, but that’s not a good idea.

Other online security features include multifactor authentication when logging in from a new phone or computer, plus Airbnb will send account alerts when changes are made.

The platform also scores reservations for potential risk in real time in hopes of stopping fraud.

That said, Airbnb isn't completely foolproof. A 2021 research project at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the University of Colorado School of Public Affairs in Colorado Springs looked at public Airbnb guest complaints published to X (then known as Twitter) between 2015 and 2020, and found more than 28,000 complaints around scams and more than 7,700 complaints about unsafe conditions.

Safety from the actual homes

Airbnb has more than 5 million hosts and encourages each one to install and maintain smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. The company also works with local fire departments to have home safety workshops for hosts.

🤓Nerdy Tip

When searching for listings, use Airbnb's filter function to ensure your rental has smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Airbnb doesn't necessarily guarantee that all homes have every safety feature you might want. Airbnb does not necessarily inspect properties for other important safety features such as having at least two exits out of every room or whether appliances and heating systems are up to code.

Airbnb encourages travelers to do a safety check of the home when they arrive to make sure the safety equipment works and to find things like fire extinguishers and first aid kits.

And while some properties do offer them, not all Airbnbs include features that might keep you and your stuff safe, like, well, a safe. And while Airbnbs are far less likely than hotels to have 24/7 lobby staffing, Airbnb does offer a 24-hour safety line you can access through the app through Airbnb’s AirCover program, which launched in 2021.

Use of security cameras

Airbnb just updated its policy about security cameras in properties as part of the community standards that apply to hosts and guests.

Cameras and other surveillance devices are not allowed inside any Airbnb property. They used to be allowed in some indoor areas, but that is not the case anymore. The new rule is in effect as of April 30, 2024.

Doorbell cameras and noise decibel monitors are still allowed, as long as hosts tell potential guests about them and where they are located.

Safety from other people

Hosts and guests are run through regulatory, terrorist and sanctions watchlists, plus background checks of hosts are conducted in the U.S. Airbnb uses machine learning to analyze data with the intent to spot suspicious activity such as fraudulent listings.

Additionally, a global customer service team is available 24/7 to help with booking assistance, refunds, reimbursements, insurance and more.

The company’s 2023 winter release included a new feature for smart locks, allowing a unique code for each reservation.

Is Airbnb safe for hosts?

We’d like to think everyone renting an Airbnb is doing so for a quiet family vacation, but that isn’t always the case. Sometimes guests damage or even steal a host’s property.

Property damage, either intentional or accidental, can happen. Airbnb hosts are covered by Airbnb’s Host Guarantee, providing up to $3 million in property damage protection. There is also Host Protection Insurance up to $1 million, containing primary liability coverage for landlords and hosts.

Airbnb has experienced what experts have coined the “party house problem,” in which large properties morph into sites for raucous parties that sometimes get out of hand.

For example, a deadly shooting in 2019 at a Northern California Airbnb made national headlines. Stories such as those haven't been exactly encouraging for potential hosts to decide to list their own property on Airbnb.

But Airbnb made big strides in 2021 when it launched AirCover, a program designed to help guests and hosts in different ways.

AirCover for Guests is part of every booking and includes:

  • Protection and help finding a similar place or receiving a refund if a host cancels within 30 days of check-in.

  • Protection in case you have a confirmed reservation and can’t check in to the property for some reason. 

  • Help finding another place or a refund if the listing is inaccurate or something breaks and the host cannot resolve the issue. Think of it in situations like if the home’s listing says it has a pool and there isn’t one, not if a blender is broken. 

Remember to take photos or videos of any problems that might arise.

AirCover for Guests includes a lot, but it is not travel insurance. It won’t cover you if you have to cancel or delay the trip or have another situation that travel insurance would usually cover, like baggage damage or delay.

Airbnb offers a type of reservation insurance on the checkout page when making a reservation or you can buy your own travel insurance policy. It does not cover issues with an Airbnb stay, just the reservation itself.

Airbnb calls AirCover for Hosts “top-to-bottom protection for hosts” because it includes things like:

  • Guest identity verification.

  • Reservation screening.

  • $3 million in damage protection that includes regular belongings, art and valuables, autos, boats and damage by pets.

  • $1 million in liability insurance for the host.  

  • Income loss if the host has to cancel bookings because of damage a guest caused.

It will also reimburse for extra cleaning costs in some cases.

Guests and hosts have access to a 24-hour hotline within the Airbnb app to reach someone at any time.

At the end of 2022, Airbnb launched its proprietary reservation screening technology in the U.S. and Canada, which helps reduce the chance of disruptive parties.

The company used it to try to spot potential problems for New Year’s Eve parties at the end of 2023 by looking at one-, two- and three-night bookings during the holiday that might be prime party places and block those bookings from ever happening.

The technology is also in place at other times all around the world.

Quick tips for a safer Airbnb stay

While Airbnb is a safe option for accommodation when traveling, there are plenty of things you can do to further protect yourself as you explore.

  • Never give your personal contact information to a host or pay outside of the platform. Always pay and communicate through the Airbnb website or app. This will protect your personal information through Airbnb’s multilayered defense strategy.

  • Ask questions about listings before booking or arrival. This can help you get to know your host and clarify any questions you might have about the stay, location, check-in process, etc. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t book.

  • Send your itinerary to a trusted person. If you’re traveling solo and nervous about it, tell a friend or family member where and when you’re going and share the listing with them.

  • Check the reviews for information about the host and home. Former guests will often offer feedback based on their own recent experience, including in regards to health and safety, which can inform and bring peace of mind.

  • Bring disinfecting spray or wipes. Use them when you arrive if you’re worried about thorough cleaning of high-touch points.

  • Book an entire place or a completely private room. 

  • Book a stay with a flexible cancellation policy. If you decide not to travel, you can cancel without losing all of your investment as long as the cancellation meets the parameters in the policy.

  • Research local travel alerts and warnings to make sure things are OK in the places where you are going. 

The bottom line on Airbnb safety

How safe is Airbnb? Whether it’s your personal information or health that you want to protect, Airbnb is usually as safe as staying in a hotel and can even, at times, be safer.

There are secure messaging and payment platforms, and there's plenty of opportunity to connect with hosts, read reviews and contact Airbnb if plans change.

Of course, all forms of travel and lodging come with their own risks, so do thorough research and come prepared.


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