Airbnb has been rising as one of the fastest-growing tech companies in the home rental space. The service recently valuated themselves at a whopping $30 billion and boasts 2.3 million listings. Of course, when a company is that big, quality control is sometimes a little hard.
While most people prove themselves to be good and honest, there are a fair share homeowners who found themselves subject to an Airbnb horror story. From Identity theft to showing up to a home filled with human urine, these poor owners saw the worst side this popular service has to offer.
The First Ever AirbnB Scandal
It’s sad to say that it was only a matter of time. In 2011, a San Francisco-based blogger and event planner who identified herself only as “EJ” wrote that her apartment was ransacked by someone who rented her space on Airbnb. The suspect allegedly took her passport, cash, credit card and her grandmother’s jewelry which was hidden in a closet. She also reported her camera, iPod, laptop and external backup drive as missing. She worried about identity theft and had reason to suspect her birth certificate and social security card were photocopied.
Unfortunately, EJ had a really terrible experience dealing with the service after the crime was committed. Though police immediately began investigating and have since made arrests related to the case, EJ felt totally victimized. Eventually, the situation had to be addressed by Brian Chesky, Airbnb’s CEO because EJ refused to let the company skirt responsibility.
AirBnB Finally Admits They Screwed Up
At first, EJ took to her blog to discuss the events that occurred because Airbnb wasn’t very helpful in sorting them out. Her blog gained some major traction online which caused Airbnb’s CEO, Brian Chesky, to ask EJ to remove her post because of the “potentially negative impact it could have on his company’s growth and current round of funding” – something they probably should have thought about before they initially wrote her off. Eventually, Chesky wrote up a lengthy blog post admitting their wrong doing. “We have really screwed things up,” he said.
Chesky continued, “With regards to EJ, we let her down, and for that we are very sorry. We should have responded faster, communicated more sensitively, and taken more decisive action to make sure she felt safe and secure. But we weren’t prepared for the crisis and we dropped the ball. Now we’re dealing with the consequences.” The company has since added a $50,000 insurance policy that protects Airbnb hosts if their homes are vandalized.
A Canadian Orgy, 100 People Strong
What would you do if you came back to find your apartment was the site of a 100-person orgy? That’s exactly what happened to one couple in Alberta, Canada who rented out their apartment on Airbnb, and came back to find what cops described as a “drug-induced orgy.”
The couple’s house was so wrecked that there were puddles of urine everywhere, and the toilet had overflowed and was stopped up with condoms. The weirdest part was perhaps the fact that patrons of this alleged drug-fueled orgy party left chicken meat in the owner’s shoes.
The Worst House Trashing the Calgary Police Had Ever Seen
The damage was so bad that Sergeant Jim Leung of the Calgary police told The Guardian that, “In 27 years of policing, I’ve never seen somebody take a home and trash it as badly as they did.” Neighbors reported seeing a party bus and multiple cars pull up to the Airbnb property, and about 100 people funneled into the home. Police officers were later called because of a number of disturbances including a fight that broke out on the lawn.
Strangely enough, the damage wasn’t limited to a smashed table, dented walls, stopped up toilets and a causal puddle of urine here and there. Mayonnaise and barbecue sauce were smeared all over the walls. It was so bad that owners wished “the home was burnt down to ashes” because “it would have felt way better” than what they arrived home to. Airbnb ended up banning the person who rented the house from the service (you think?) and was working on reimbursing the family under the service’s $1 Million Host Guarantee, which covers property in the rare event of damages.
The Meth Party
People are not always who they seem on the Internet, and the last thing any Airbnb host wants is to be catfished by someone with a stolen identity. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened to Troy Dayton, who ended up renting out his Oakland home to a meth addict who had a stolen identity.
It wasn’t just the terrible feeling of being tricked that shook Dayton. The renters did thousands of dollars of bizarre damage; left the home littered with meth pipes and stole valuables. Dayton came home to find his personal information strewn about as if these renters were planning to steal his identity too. He believed these people were dangerous and feared for his life.
The Criminals Were Clearly Running an Identity Theft Operation in the Home
According to Dayton, the people he rented to brought friends into his home and they went through all of his belongings, stealing and shredding his clothes. He believes that the damage to the bathroom and closet doors is from both an ax and a human foot or head.
In addition to the apparent ax-wielding altercation, the tenants stole a computer, his birth certificate and small amounts of cash he left around the apartment. They took apart every single electronic device that had a light (they may have been paranoid about being monitored because of the meth or because they were running an identity theft operation). Dayton also found a sweater in the freezer and a cat the criminals had left behind which he eventually managed to give back to its original owner.
Airbnb Was Slow to Remedy the Situation
If you’re a tech company who’s helping users rent out their homes, you better vet the kind of people signing up to rent or at least make it easy to work with the homeowners when something terrible and unexpected happens. This wasn’t the case for Dayton, even when clear illegal activity was taking place.
The Airbnb landlord told TechCrunch that he had haphazard communications with the tech company after the meth addicts trashed his home and stole valuables. They ended up retracting their offer because there was a miscommunication on their team, and during this time, Dayton feared these people would come back and harm him. Eventually, they reached an agreement, and Troy decided to still use Airbnb but was stricter about the type of users he let into his home.
A Teen Held Hostage
You only have to be 18 years old to rent a listing from Airbnb, but that doesn’t mean you should. Young people are often naive and more vulnerable to Internet scams. This is what happened to Jacob Lopez, a 19-year-old who rented out an Airbnb apartment in Madrid, Spain.
Lopez said the apartment’s owner, who was transgender, held him hostage while he feared for his life. The New York Times reported on Lopez’s terrifying sexual assault, which the owner claimed was consensual and that Lopez was transphobic.
A Mother Left Helpless as Her Teen Is Assaulted
Lopez reports that his Airbnb host began “rattling knives around in the kitchen drawer” and ordered him to take off his pants. She threatened to have him sleep in the streets with all of his belongings, but what scared Lopez the most, was that he thought she was armed. Lopez later told his mother that he was sexually assaulted. “I was telling myself that I was going to have to kill her or she was going to kill me,” he said. The attacker eventually let the teenager leave after he said he was supposed to meet with friends who would go looking for him if he didn’t show up.
During the scary incident, Lopez’s mother was unable to help because Airbnb wouldn’t tell her the address of the apartment. Instead of contacting the police, employees gave her another number to call that didn’t work. The situation is currently being handled by the Madrid police.
This Incident Led to a Change in Airbnb Policy
Obviously, Lopez’s situation was terrifying and shouldn’t have happened. Airbnb spoke about the incident and how they planned to help in the future. Nick Papas, a spokesperson for the website told The Daily Mail, ‘While the issue of sexual assault is a global challenge – and different laws in different countries impact what a web platform can do to help – there is nothing more important to us than the safety of our community. The weekend that this occurred, over 800,000 people stayed on Airbnb around the world, and 70,000 were staying on Airbnb in Spain.” The company then admitted that they could “learn a lot from this incident” and “do better.” They vowed to clarify their policies so their team would always contact law enforcement in an emergency. Unfortunately, it’s a too little too late for the victim.
The Worst Airbnb Listing Ever
An apartment on East 27th Street in New York City was an Airbnb deal that was too good to be true. The listing boasted a cheap $35 a night stay; however, when something looks too good to be true, it probably is. $35 a night is unlikely to even get you a square foot of prime Manhattan real estate, which is why this listing turned out to be a total bust. It was discovered that 24 beds were crammed into just two bedrooms and the listing required a 30-night minimum stay. That’s 30 nights crammed with 12 other people in bunk beds.
The apartment allegedly netted $250,000 a year for the host David Jaffee. Not a bad side gig, but Airbnb eventually banned him from the site. Currently, he has been evicted from three separate apartments and is facing several lawsuits.
When the Owner Shows up Drunk
You’re not supposed to rent out your apartment on Airbnb if you’re going to be hanging out there the whole time. It’s supposed to be a room share for hosts who are going to be gone for a while. Apparently, whoever rented to Joseph Velardo and Robyn Finker wasn’t ever planning to actually leave during their weekend getaway.
The couple rented a home in Hampton Bays, New York, and in the middle of the night, the pair received drunk texts from the owner Tom who showed up drunk and let himself in. During the ordeal, Robyn hid upstairs and Joseph eventually convinced the host to leave. After being contacted by the media (and only after) Airbnb refunded the couple’s money and took the listing down.
The Airbnb Tenants Who Refused to Leave
Long-term rental owners in California, beware. There’s a loophole that some Airbnb renters have used to squat in apartments and extort money from their landlords. Cory Tschogl, a San Francisco native, rented her Palm Springs vacation home to two brothers for six weeks. This is pretty typical for summer rentals; however, when their vacation was coming to an end, the brothers refused to leave. The two brothers cited California’s tenant’s rights laws, which make eviction pretty darn difficult after 30 days unless the landlord pays a relocation fee.
Thankfully, after a bunch of publicity and some pretty good lawyers, the brothers packed up and left quietly after two months without any damages. Airbnb even picked up the legal fees.
It Cost This Host $1,700 to Get Rid of Her Tenants
Poonam Sandu wanted to make some extra money by renting out her spare bedroom on AirBnb. Unfortunately, she didn’t know this would cost her more than it was worth.
Sandhu booked a couple for a two-week stay via Airbnb. When their two weeks came to a close, they asked Sandhu if they could pay extra to stay a little bit longer. She agreed, but then the couple began arguing loudly and stopped paying their rent altogether. After 30 days of squatting in the apartment, they cited California’s tenant’s rights law and refused to leave without a $1,700 relocation fee. Since Sandhu moved the transaction off Airbnb, she had to pay the fee herself to get them to finally leave.
A private apartment in Stockholm was rented out on Airbnb, but little did the owners know that this apartment would become a brothel. The apartment’s owners were on a four-week vacation. They came home to a note from the police that read, “Your house has been a [brothel] for a month and we had to raid it. Sorry about that!” At least the police were kind about it! The pair ended up finding a bag full of condoms that were left behind by the former tenants.
Police had apparently been investigating the suspected prostitutes for a while. They broke into the Airbnb rental property and found the two prostitutes in bed with clients – caught in the act.
The Dog Bite
Mike Silverman had used Airbnb in the past and always had pretty pleasant stays across Alaska and South America. Unfortunately, his stay in Argentina would prove to be a little bit more trying. Silverman was attacked by a dog.
Silverman’s Airbnb listing didn’t say that the house had any pets, but one morning, he woke up to a massive surprise. He opened his eyes and saw a fully-grown Rottweiler staring back at him. He put his hand out to pet the dog and ended up receiving a six-inch gash when the dog bit down hard. He ended up having to rush to the hospital and pay for surgery in cash.