All About Airbnb Lawsuits

Learn what Airbnb lawsuits are out there, and how to take action…

**Get a comprehensive guide to how Airbnb is handling the COVID-19 pandemic here**

If you’re experiencing issues with Airbnb, you’re not alone.

The company is one of the largest online marketplaces, arranging lodging in for millions of customers in the U.S. and around the world.

And when customers like you run into issues, you may be able to receive compensation.

There are several current claims and lawsuits against AirbnB. Most of these AirbnB lawsuits are class actions, which means you may be able to get in on the settlement. Or learn about how to make your own claim.

Take a look at this list of lawsuits against Airbnb to see if you might be affected.


Are lawsuits against Airbnb allowed?

It’s likely your Airbnb contract says you can’t sue Airbnb in any court except Small Claims Court, thanks to an arbitration clause.

Because suing through Small Claims Court can be time-consuming and complicated, we suggest consumer arbitration as a better solution.


What is a class action lawsuit? Can I file this type of lawsuit against Airbnb?

Class action lawsuits are designed to bring together a group of individuals with the same complaint.

If your Airbnb contract does not have an arbitration clause, then you are eligible to join a class action lawsuit.

However, if you see an arbitration clause in your contract, you may not be able to file or join an existing class action lawsuit.


As an Airbnb customer what are my options for lawsuits against Airbnb?

One option you have is to sue Airbnb in Small Claims Court. If your claim qualifies for Small Claims Court, you will be asked to attend a court hearing and pay legal fees to make your case.

Or, you can do everything from your home. Consumer Arbitration is the process laid out by Airbnb contracts in place of a lawsuit. It lets you argue your case before an independent arbitrator (like a judge) who can force them to fix the problem and to compensate you. We at FairShake help make this process easy and convenient.


Notable Lawsuits Against Airbnb:

Airbnb Class Action Lawsuit Over Missing Payments to Hosts

In November 2020, an Airbnb host filed a class action lawsuit against Airbnb for allegedly violating its contract with hosts when the company offered full refunds to guests during the COVID-19 pandemic.

From CNBC.com:

The lawsuit is notable as it comes after Farmer first tried to take legal action against Airbnb through arbitration court, as stated in Airbnb’s terms and services for hosts. To file his case in arbitration, Farmer worked with FairShake, a company that helps consumers file legal claims against companies. FairShake has been working with a number of Airbnb hosts to pursue legal action against the company since March. 

“Neither the guests nor the hosts were getting that money back,” said Teel Lidow, CEO of FairShake. “That’s what got us started putting together this arbitration campaign that eventually led to this class action.”

Farmer was able to file a public lawsuit against the company after Airbnb failed to pay the required legal fees for arbitration cases on time. A new California law allows plaintiffs to take their cases out of arbitration and to court if the company stalls payments beyond 30 days of receiving an invoice.

“Them not paying the arbitration was just another slap in the face,” Farmer said. “It’s shocking and disgraceful.”


Airbnb Class Action Lawsuit Over Alleged Racial Discrimination

Back in 2016, Airbnb was sued for alleged discrimination when an African-American man tried to book accommodations through Airbnb but was continuously rejected by hosts. He then went on to try and book accommodations using a fake account that described him as a white male and was accepted by hosts. This story from the American Association for Justice covers the case:

On May 17, Gregory Seldon, a Virginia resident, sued Airbnb in federal court, alleging racial discrimination in violation of Title II of the Civil Rights Act and 42 U.S.C. §1981. (Seldon v. Airbnb, Inc., 1:16-cv-00933 (D.D.C. May 17, 2017).) Seldon, a 25-year-old African-American man, had attempted to book a vacation rental in Philadelphia using the popular home-sharing company’s website but was repeatedly rejected by potential hosts. These same hosts accepted Seldon’s reservation request when he attempted to book their apartments under two fake Airbnb accounts he created that described him as a white male.

Airbnb is a website that connects homeowners with people looking to rent temporary lodging, making it convenient for people to list, find, and rent vacation homes. With more than one million property listings in nearly 200 countries, Airbnb is popular among travelers and emphasizes the importance of its peer-to-peer model, requiring all users to create a profile and upload a photo. The company encourages its users to use a photo of themselves; this—along with the fact that users’ real names are revealed on the site—makes it easier for a host to identify a potential guest’s race. The site also operates on a ranking system: Both hosts and guests are allowed to leave reviews accessible to all Airbnb users.

Airbnb Sued for Alleged Discrimination in Israeli Settlements

According to CBS SF Bay Area, Airbnb was sued for allegedly discriminating against homes listed in Israeli settlements:

The lawsuit stems from a policy adopted by Airbnb back in November to bar listings from Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank area.

The policy is discriminatory, the suit alleges, because it applies only to the residents of the Israeli towns of Judea and Samaria and not to listings from any Arab or Palestinian towns in the region.

In a statement, Zell said, “Airbnb is eyeing the Israeli market to increase its offerings in the Middle East. It is inconceivable that Airbnb would at the same time alter its longstanding policy against complying with the anti-Semitic BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement by delisting Jewish/Israeli accommodations in Judea and Samaria, while continuing to permit Arab homeowners located literally across the road to participate in the Airbnb program. This lawsuit aims to put an end to this nefarious policy.”

Airbnb Sues New York City Over Regulatory Law

In 2019, Airbnb stayed true to its continuous strategy of suing cities that try to regulate short-term rentals and sued New York City. According to Vox, a federal judge ruled in Airbnb’s favor and blocked the City Council law from going into effect:

On January 3, a federal judge blocked a New York law that would have expanded the city’s ability to crack down on Airbnb and other short-term listing sites, the Wall Street Journal reported. The law, which the City Council passed unanimously in July and would have gone into effect in February, required Airbnb and similar websites to provide city officials with information on every short-term listing in the city, including hosts’ addresses and identities, in order to crack down on those that violate New York’s short-term rental laws.

Airbnb and another listing site, Homeaway, challenged the law, claiming in a joint lawsuit against the city that it violated hosts’ Fourth Amendment right against illegal searches. Judge Paul Engelmayer of the US District Court in Manhattan agreed — and his ruling is a decisive victory for Airbnb.

“The decision today is a huge win for Airbnb and its users, including the thousands of New Yorkers at risk of illegal surveillance who use Airbnb to help make ends meet,” an Airbnb spokesperson said in an emailed statement to Vox. “The court today recognized the fundamental importance of New Yorkers’ constitutional rights to privacy and the security of their own homes.”

Airbnb Sues Cities Over Collecting Occupancy Taxes

According to Wired, Airbnb has sued many cities for the way they are collecting taxes on short-term rentals. Airbnb argues that they are merely a marketplace and it is the host’s job to pay taxes. Wired covered the full story:

Airbnb is engaged in “a city-by-city, block-by-block guerrilla war” against local governments, says Ulrik Binzer, CEO of Host Compliance, which helps cities draft and enforce rules for short-term rentals, sometimes putting it at odds with hosting platforms. “They need to essentially fight every one of these battles like it is the most important battle they have.”

Founded in 2008 as an early champion of the sharing economy by allowing people to rent homes, apartments, and rooms to others, Airbnb has grown into a lodging colossus, offering more than 6 million places to stay in more than 191 countries. Its listings outnumber those of the top six hotel chains combined, helping the company reportedly generate more than $1 billion in revenue in the third quarter of 2018. It is valued by investors at $31 billion, making it the country’s second most valuable startup, after Uber. By comparison, Hilton and Marriott’s current market capitalizations are $25 billion and $43 billion, respectively. Earlier this month, Airbnb acquired last-minute hotel booking service HotelTonight, reportedly for more than $400 million

Check out our other Airbnb articles to learn more:

Even if you aren’t able to cash in on these listed lawsuits, your complaint may fit arbitration with Airbnb. We may be able to help you file a claim and get compensated – learn more here.

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