Airbnb can be a cost-effective option for travelers and a lucrative way for hosts to earn money. However, some people are concerned about its safety. Many wonder if staying in a hotel rather than an Airbnb in Colombia is safer. Additionally, homeowners may worry about their properties being damaged or stolen by guests. In this article, we will explore the safety of Airbnb in Colombia and answer the question: Is it safe to use Airbnb in Colombia?

It is worth noting that only 0.06% of trips booked through Airbnb worldwide have had safety issues. This works out to be 1 in 1,667 visits. Moreover, the average Airbnb listing hosts 50 guests per year.

We will discuss what you need to know about using Airbnb safely in Colombia.

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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 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 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.

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:

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.

For Airbnb guests:

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.

The Belmonte Penthouse

The Belmonte Penthouse

A luxurious paradise just a 9-minute walk away from Lleras Park

How Safe is Airbnb? Security Deposits

Many furnished apartment rentals in Colombia require a deposit when renting. 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.

Apartment buildings up the hills in El Poblado

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.

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Our reliable partner, a leading real estate company, offers a wide range of services:

  • Transfer funds to Colombia
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  • Sales agreement
  • Deed registration
  • Legal representation
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Medellin Guru’s Airbnb Series

Medellin Guru's guide to buying, selling and renting apartments and choosing a neighborhood

On the Medellin Guru website, we have a comprehensive and up-to-date guide to buying, selling, and renting apartments and choosing a neighborhood in Medellin found in several articles, including:

Buying and Selling Apartments

Renting Unfurnished Apartments:

Renting Furnished Apartments:

Choosing a Neighborhood in Medellin:

Also, we have several articles that can be used to help foreigners choose a neighborhood in Medellin:

The Bottom Line: How Safe is it 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.”

Also, keep in mind becoming an Airbnb host in Colombia is not for everyone. And you can see all five of the Airbnb in Colombia articles I have written for Medellin Guru.

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