It is no secret that Airbnb can save you money as a guest and put money in your pocket as a host. But some people still have reservations about the whole thing. The big question? How Safe is Airbnb in Colombia?
Isn’t it safer as a traveler to Colombia to stay in a hotel rather than some random person’s home, you might ask? And as a homeowner, how do I know guests are not going to completely trash your property or run off with everything but the doorknobs?
In other words: just how safe is Airbnb in Colombia? And Is it safe to use Airbnb in Colombia?
Here is an important statistic – 0.06 percent of trips on Airbnb worldwide have a safety related issue. That is 1 in 1,667 trips. And the average listing on Airbnb hosts 50 guest per year.
In this article we look at what you need to know about the safety of Airbnb in Colombia.
About the Author
My name is Daniel Rusteen and I am a location-independent digital nomad having lived in 50+ cities exclusively sleeping in Airbnbs (1,500+ nights) while remotely managing Airbnb properties and helping Airbnb hosts to be successful.
I come from the days before the Airbnb you know today. I started working at Airbnb in 2013. I remember countless conversations with residents of San Francisco, the headquarters of Airbnb, who had no idea about the company even when it was valued at over $10 billion and 7 years old.
In the eight years that have passed since I first heard of Airbnb, I’ve become one of the world’s best at everything Airbnb:
- Worked at Airbnb from 2013-2016
- Wrote a best-selling book on Airbnb
- Founded an Airbnb property management company
- Slept over 1,500 nights in Airbnb properties, as a guest
- Am an Airbnb Superhost
- Creator of a popular Airbnb blog for Airbnb hosts
How Safe is Airbnb? Can You Trust People?
Unfortunately, not everyone in the world can be trusted. Once we accept and acknowledge this reality it becomes a question of filtering through the ones we can trust.
Airbnb ID verification – Airbnb has a process to help confirm the identity of users. It connects a user with things like their Facebook profile, phone number, email address and government-issued ID, and even uses photo recognition software to check that their Airbnb profile photo and official ID (such as passport photo) are of the same person. While it is not foolproof, verification does help keep the community safer.
Also, Airbnb hosts can select to only host guests who are verified (as long as the host has verified themselves). Guests can also check that hosts have the “Verified” badge (a green tick) next to their profile.
Airbnb Review system – Airbnb hosts and guests both get reviewed on the Airbnb platform. And the chances are that if someone has a hundred glowing reviews it is with good reason.
If they have negative reviews be sure to read them and try to judge whether they truly reflect the person’s character or are just one-off outliers (or the Airbnb host was having a bad day!)
Hosts, in particular, rely on good reviews for their own business, so the system is very effective at keeping people accountable.
If you are an Airbnb host in Colombia, we recommend that you look at the reviews of potential future guests. And if you are a guest, we highly recommend looking at the reviews of hosts.
Airbnb Trust & Safety team – As a company, Airbnb dedicates a lot of resources to trust and safety. A team of over 500 staff are available 24/7 to respond to any issues experienced by either guests or hosts, before, during, or after the reservation.
Part of their job is also keeping the Airbnb community free of illegal activity (like money laundering, illicit substances, and prostitution) and high-risk guests.
What you can do as an Airbnb host: check for the “Verified” stamp and read the reviews before booking / accepting someone. Airbnb hosts can also vet guests by asking them questions to find out more about who they are and why they are visiting the area. Most guests are forthcoming with this information, but the few that are not should raise red flags.
How Safe is Airbnb? What About Theft and Damages
For Airbnb hosts:
Let’s say you have vetted your guests as best you can and yet something still goes wrong.
Many countries are now covered by Airbnb’s own Host Protection Insurance which protects against liability claims up to the value of $1 million. This is a huge commitment from Airbnb, but it does have caveats. Hosts can rest easier knowing Host Protection exists — but they should always, always have their own insurance as well.
A common concern is that personal belongings will not be as safe at an Airbnb as at a hotel, and that hosts may not be insured if something goes wrong. While it is true that hotels take security measures including in-room safes, a lot of people fail to realize that they also tend to wash their hands of any liability. Here is an example of a hotel security policy from a Sheraton hotel (bold parts added for emphasis):
The hotel is not responsible for loss, damage for theft of cash, jewelry or other valuables left unattended in guest rooms, safe deposit boxes are available for the safekeeping of these items. The hotel’s liability regarding items in the safe deposit box is limited to the equivalent of the rate of a one night stay.
Such hotel policies are not all that comforting. Either way, if you are traveling it is always best to have your own insurance as well.
What you can do: If you are an Airbnb host in Colombia, make sure you have vacation rental insurance coverage on your property and its contents. Keep valuable and irreplaceable items locked up in a secure area or take them off-site. If you are a guest, be covered by your own travel insurance as much as possible.
How Safe is Airbnb? Security Deposits
Many furnished apartment rentals in Colombia require a deposit when renting. When Medellin Guru surveyed Medellín furnished apartment pricing in December 2019, we found that over 60 percent of the apartments in Medellín we surveyed required a security deposit. The security deposit charges ranged from $100 to $500 and averaged $215.
With Airbnb, two days before your stay begins, an authorization hold for the security deposit amount will be placed on your payment method. You won’t be charged, but the hold means that you won’t be able to access these funds until the hold is released. For example, if you’re paying with a credit card with a total credit limit of $5,000, and there’s a security deposit of $500, your credit card limit would then be $4,500 until the hold is released.
As long as no property damage occurs during your stay, Airbnb will initiate a release of the $500 hold placed on your card 14 days after your checkout, or before the next guest checks in. Your bank may take 3-12 business days to process the release of funds.
Be careful of renting furnished apartments in Colombia not thought Airbnb. Many of these require a security deposit in cash and we have heard from many expats that had difficultly getting their deposit back. Airbnb acts as a third party holding the security deposit, so this is more secure than paying a cash deposit to a real estate agency in Colombia for renting furnished apartments.
How Safe is Airbnb? Protection from Fires and Gas Leaks
Airbnb is putting in a lot of effort into making safety features a standard for properties — especially smoke and CO detectors. While it is difficult for them to police these features or verify that they are installed, they do make sure it is in the Aribnb host’s interest to have them.
Firstly, potential guests can check the list of safety features in a home before booking and therefore avoid properties that do not have them. A second incentive for hosts is that CO and smoke detectors are mandatory features for getting “Business Travel Ready” status.
From a guest point of view this already makes Airbnb safer and more progressive than the hotel industry. In the U.S. alone more than 500 people die each year from carbon monoxide poisoning.
According to the book The Airbnb Story by Leigh Gallagher, there were 68 incidents of carbon monoxide poisoning in US hotels between 1989 and 2004, resulting in 27 deaths and 772 people accidentally poisoned. Disturbingly, only 13 US states legally require the installation of CO detectors in hotels and motels.
Hotel fires are no less common: from 2009-2013, hotels averaged 3,520 fires per year resulting in 9 deaths.
What you can do: If you are an Airbnb host, it is definitely in your interest to have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors installed. After all, you not only want more bookings to your property but you want to keep it and the people inside it safe from any potential harm.
Also, from a business perspective, it is likely Airbnb gives a boost to listings with more safety features as a risk mitigation strategy.
As a guest, you can check the safety features of any Airbnb property before you book. Other safety features like fire extinguishers and first aid kits can also be listed in the property description.
- Smoke detector
- Carbon monoxide detector
- First Aid kit
- Fire Extinguisher
- Before I discuss how you can encourage Airbnb guests in Colombia to complete profiles, I rank each profile section in order of importance. The numbers inside the parenthesis refers to the section of the profile as identified above.
Medellin Guru’s Airbnb Series
Medellin Guru now has a series of several articles about Airbnb in Colombia:
- 9 Strategies to Find Killer Deals on Airbnb in Colombia
- 15 Things to Know Before Investing to Become an Airbnb Host in Colombia
- 10 Airbnb Best Practices for Airbnb Hosting in Colombia
- 9 Tips to Attract Long-Term Airbnb Guests in Colombia
- 7 Strategies for Airbnb Slow Season in Colombia
- How to Identify Problem Airbnb Guests in Colombia Before They Book
- 15 Ways to Increase Your Airbnb Search Rank In Colombia
- How Safe is Airbnb in Colombia? Is it Safe to Use Airbnb in Colombia?
- Airbnb Travel Itinerary for Your Airbnb Guests in Colombia
- How to Get Started on Airbnb in Colombia: A Guide
Are You Looking to Buy a Property for Airbnb Hosting in Colombia?
Medellin Guru partnered with RE/MAX Coffee Realty to offer real estate services to foreigners and Colombians interested in buying and selling properties in Medellín and Colombia.
Several Medellin Guru readers have asked about real estate and advice about buying and selling properties for Airbnb hosting. So, we partnered with RE/MAX Coffee Realty to offer reliable real estate services to readers.
We decided to partner with RE/MAX Coffee Realty for services for buying and selling real estate for several reasons:
- RE/MAX is the largest real estate company in the world and is a well-known brand for foreigners.
- RE/MAX is one of the largest real estate companies in Colombia with 35 offices in four cities (Medellín, Bogotá, Cali and Barranquilla). So, RE/MAX can offer real estate services to readers in several locations in Colombia.
- In Colombia, RE/MAX has over 350 real estate agents including more than 70 agents in Medellín. Also, RE/MAX has agents that are bilingual and speak both English and Spanish.
- RE/MAX ensures properties are not overpriced by performing a study of market property prices known as an ACM (Análisis Comparativo del Mercado).
To use this real estate partner service from RE/MAX, just click on the button below.
Fill out a very short form and RE/MAX offers a free consultation to provide information about the local market, current pricing information and tips for buying or selling properties.
The Bottom Line: How Safe is Airbnb in Colombia? Is it Safe to Use Airbnb in Colombia?
Airbnb horror stories do exist. Some guests are mistreated by hosts, some hosts have to endure nightmare guests. But let’s be real here: humankind is far from perfect. You can be mugged in the safest city in the world or have an ugly experience at a world-class hotel, because nowhere and nothing in the world is 100 percent safe.
It may seem harsh to put it like that, but that is the reality. It is beyond our control. What we can do is make decisions that mitigate the risks and give us the best safety and security possible.
Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia talks about how trust is the foundation of the platform, and how, out of over 100 million nights hosted through Airbnb “less than a fraction of a percent have been problematic.” When trust works out right, says Gebbia, “it can be absolutely magical.”
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