Airbnb Film Shoots - Don't Allow Filming in Airbnbs

Hosting Horror Story #2 – Should You Allow Film Shoots In Your Airbnb?

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We see this question a lot: should you allow Airbnb film shoots in your listing? Is this a reason to turn down potential guests? We felt it would be best answered by this post we found on the Airbnb forums.

Don’t Allow Film Shoots In Your Airbnb!

I will never host another student film crew or any Airbnb film shoots again.

I’ve been solicited twice by student film crews. The last one I said yes to. The student producer obtained the necessary permits, insurance, etc. I met with her, the director, actors, and assistant director beforehand to show them the space. They also had a rehearsal here for a few hours (which I didn’t charge for). I charged more than double my usual AirBnB fee for 2 nights. I asked as many questions as I could think of: how loud, where would crew members be when not needed for the shoot (hanging around my apartment?) I checked in with my neighbors to let them know a student film crew would be there and got the approval from them. I felt very comfortable working with the producer and those I met. She was polite, willing to work with my noise constraints (not shooting late into the night, etc.), and promised they would leave everything exactly–better–than they found it. Voila! It seemed like a good fit. I’m an artist, I was excited to make some extra $ and have my place in a film.

Shoot Day

HOWEVER… On the first day of shooting, I was off site (at work). I got texts from my neighbors that someone had illegally parked in the neighbor’s driveway next door and left a note with a phone number in case it needed to be moved early in the morning. I texted the producer and she said she was sorry, the student couldn’t find parking because she got to our neighborhood late at night and it’s street parking only (explicitly stated in my AirBnB listing). I also got texts about excessive noise. The second day of shooting I stayed on site for half the day and was flabbergasted by what I saw. There was equipment EVERYWHERE. Every inch of my one bedroom apartment was covered with a person or a piece of heavy equipment. The crew were just doing their jobs, but they were loud–far louder and more disruptive than I anticipated or understood from my initial conversations with the producer. My neighbors were understandably incensed.

The Aftermath

The crew put my furniture back, but when they left my apartment was NOT in the same condition.  There were scratches in the paint on my built-in buffet, a huge scratch on the floor, marks all over the walls, muddy footprints covering on the bathroom floor, a stain on my brand new guest comforter, and some dents in the baseboards. My curtains (which they had my permission to take down during the shoot, as long as they were put back) were wadded in a ball on the bathroom floor andtotally wrinkled! There was a sticky spill on my antique furniture and a place where the paint had ripped right off the wall because of inappropriate tape. The crew offered to do some cleaning, but it was so late at that point and they were so loud I told them to forget it. I had to hire a company to deep clean my place and spent several hours working on it myself, besides taking the comforter to the dry cleaner, and the hours working with the painters to repair damage.

Airbnb Film Shoots- Never Again!

Worst of all, though, was the damage to my relationships with my neighbors which I have been actively trying to repair. (I made brownies, compensated them financially for the time and inconvenience of the noise, and wrote truly heartfelt apology notes. I felt awful). To honor my neighbors and give some time for the debacle to blow over (and get my apartment in order, repainted, etc.), I felt it was necessary to cancel my next 3 AirBnB stays. AirBnB helped them find alternate places to stay because of the extenuating circumstances, but it still dinged me as a host and I lost $900 of income.

I’ve been working with the guest to repair the damage to my apartment and things. I took pictures of all the damage around the apartment and emailed them to the producer. They have offered to pay me for damages, cleaning, etc. I can’t charge them for my lost income–I’m just chalking that up to an unfortunate learning experience for me. It’s been incredibly inconvenient and upsetting, but they have been doing their best to make things right with me.

Bad Review?

I left what I felt was a fair review to the producer, saying that my experience with her was positive, but warning other AirBnB hosts about the potential disruption of hosting a student film crew. She was quite upset that I damaged her reputation on AirBnB and asked that I email AirBnB and revoke the review because she had used her personal account to book the space. She said I’m one of 4 films she’s shot via AirBnB and that it’s the only negative experience a host has had. I’m not sure how to respond to her or if I can revoke my review. I do think it’s unfortunate that she used her personal account. She was a lovely person. It was the situation that didn’t go well.

The Takeaway

The takeaway from this horror story is that it is generally a bad idea to allow Airbnb film shoots through the platform. If you want to open up your home to commercial photography, we recommend advertising on other platforms that are better suited to filming locations. It is always a good idea to require that the production company have insurance verify their policy. It might even be advisable to have a written agreement in place with industry rules and reimbursement standards included.

About the Author Kevin Kelsey

Originally from Connecticut, Kevin moved to Los Angeles in 2013 and worked his way up to becoming an editor on award-winning reality TV shows. Kevin owns 4 short term rentals in Southern California and founded AirHost Academy to help other hosts improve their business.