After staying in an Airbnb place you’re aways asked to review the apartment as well as the host, and the host in turn gets to review your performance as a renter. Did you leave the place in reasonably decent condition? Were you polite and considerate? Do you have a nice smile?
I never give hosts a bad review as a rule. If I don’t like a place I just won’t say anything. But a couple of renters have given me shitty reviews because I didn’t leave their places white-glove clean. In response to which I’ve always replied as follows: “Are you serious? I was raised by nice middle-class people with good hygiene and manners, and most of that rubbed off. I know I left your place in reasonably good condition. I’m not an animal, but if you want your apartment absolutely dead-bang spotless after a renter leaves, hire a housecleaner.”
I’ll never leave a place looking like a cyclone hit it. I always tidy up a bit — no sopping towels on the floor, no stogies in the ashtray, no broken cups or glasses. But it’s not my responsibility to leave the place looking like an IKEA showroom. It’s my responsibility to show respect by leaving things in reasonable order and by not trashing it, but no more than that.
I might leave a chewing-gum wrapper or an empty Coke bottle lying around but I’m not a private in the Marines, and when I leave a place I expect that the owner will bring in a professional to spruce it up, which is what I always do when I rent my place out. I think it’s definitely beyond the pale to read an Airbnb review that belittles me as some kind of uncouth person or, you know, makes me feel like Gomer Pyle being reamed out by Gunnery Sergeant Hartmann in Full Metal Jacket.
A couple of days ago I posted a short riff called “Stinky Bed,” which was about a bed in my Belgrade Airbnb rental that smelled like a homeless person had died in it. I naturally didn’t mention the address or the names of my hosts. But they read the piece, they told me, and to make amends insisted on giving me a refund. I said it wasn’t that big of a deal but they double-insisted, and so I said okay. I in turn pledged not to mention the stinky bed in my Airbnb review and to only say nice things in general. Which I did.
But this morning the renters suffered a seizure of some kind and turned around and gave me a bad review, saying I’d left the place in “terrible” condition. I texted them right back with the following: “Are you insane? Are you manic-depressive? The bed smelled like someone had taken a dump in it, but I promised not to mention this because I’m a nice guy and because I figured you’d fix the problem sooner or later, and then you turn around and trash me? I left the place looking used but not at all in ‘terrible’ condition. We had a deal and I gave you a nice review, and then you turn around and fuck me?”
Speaking as a frequent renter of my own place I always ask my cleaning person, Margarita, to come in and polish it up the day the sub-lesser leaves. I would naturally be upset if if I came home to find a chair leg broken or dog feces on the floor or gooey used condoms on the bedroom night table, but that’s only happened once or twice. Margarita usually tells me if a sub-lesser has been a pig (the offenders are always straight guys in their 20s and 30s, which is why I only rent to women and gay guys) but she takes care of everything before I come back. That’s the way to handle things.