Airbnb ‘flat’ in Paris turned out to be one room with an 8pm curfew | Consumer affairs

We used Airbnb to book an apartment in Paris. An hour after the cancellation period expired, the host texted us to point out the flat was actually a room in a family home with pets and babies, and we couldn’t go in or out after 8pm. This critical information is only visible when you click “show more” under “About this place” and is buried deep down a 400-word paragraph. The host refused to refund the booking and Airbnb, which lists him as a “superhost”, told us that we were bound by his cancellation policy. We cannot even leave a review to warn others, because we decided not to stay there.
PM, London

It’s an established common-law principle that a particularly onerous and unusual contract term is not binding if it has not been adequately brought to the customer’s attention. Obviously, potential guests should carefully read all the information about a property before committing. I’ve studied the property listing and it is indicated near the top that it is a room in a shared flat, although this could have been made clearer.

However, the critical detail about the curfew is embedded towards the end of a wordy, poorly phrased description of facilities which you have to click through to view. The host details the local shops and the mattress specification before he gets around to mentioning that guests are incarcerated after 8pm. Since they’re not allowed to use the appealingly pictured kitchen, early supper and bedtime are the only nightlife options. This bizarre rule should be emblazoned at the top of the listing.

I pointed this out to Airbnb and delivered a mini lecture on contract law. It immediately U-turned. “We expect hosts to clearly indicate key information about listings, and have suspended the host while we investigate,” it says. It has now agreed to refund you.

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