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After staying one night in an Airbnb, my friend realised he left an item in the property (not expensive, cost of around €50).

I immediately contacted the Host over Airbnb messaging, she confirmed she had found the item and would post it out to me (I asked how much postage would cost and how to pay her). This was the last time I would hear back from the host.

Giving time for the busy postage period over Christmas, I tried to contact the host again around 20 days later but didn't get a reply. After another week, I contacted Airbnb support who said that the host had already responded that she would send the item out in the post.

After yet another couple of weeks waiting, I reached out to Airbnb again. This time, I spoke to someone who said they would try to reach out to the host. A couple of days had passed and they got back to me and said they were unable to reach the host and there was nothing they could do and that would be the end of it. Furthermore, they said I couldn't apply for a refund through their resolution centre as 60 days had passed since the trip.

I'm wondering from a legal perspective where responsibility lies (mostly as a thought exercise). My friend should have taken his property with him, but presumably the host can't just keep it, especially after reaching out to them?

As my contract was with Airbnb and the host works from them, is there any responsibility on their part, e.g. Could I hypothetically open a small claims case against them? Or would any small claims case be directly against the host themselves?

Looking for answers based in law or with real world examples. This is in Ireland / EU.

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My friend should have taken his property with him, but presumably the host can't just keep it, especially after reaching out to them?

Correct. However, the host does not have to do anything to facilitate its return i.e. they don’t have to post it to you. So long as they keep it for your friend to collect and don’t appropriate it for their own use, they are not breaking the law.

If they do appropriate it, that is called theft or its tort equivalent, conversion.

As my contract was with Airbnb and the host works from them, is there any responsibility on their part, e.g. Could I hypothetically open a small claims case against them? Or would any small claims case be directly against the host themselves?

This is not true.

You and the host each have a contract with Airbnb for the use of the platform. The contract for the accommodation is between you two and doesn’t involve Airbnb at all.

In any event, there is no contractural issue here.

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  • So without any way of reaching the host to try and resolve the issue, the only avenue to pursue would be to reach out to the police? (To be clear, I'm not actually planning reporting the host over 50 euro)?
    – TomSelleck
    Feb 21 at 21:51
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    @TomSelleck not the only option. You could go to the host physically and ask for the item back, if they refuse you could sue.
    – Dale M
    Feb 21 at 23:03

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