Seven Airbnb nightmares
Drug fuelled orgies, thefts, guests refusing to leave, wild parties… Here are 7 times Airbnb users got more than they bargained for.
Airbnb is a hassle at the best of times, making users jump through more “validation” hoops than a mortgage broker then chat-up prospective hosts like a desperate virgin on Tinder, all for the privilege of paying £75 plus £12 service fee plus £15 cleaning fee to doss on a stained fold out couch in someone’s windowless kitchen. You can read about my own frustrations with Airbnb here.
But my travails are nothing compared to the nightmares experienced by some Airbnb users. Drug fuelled orgies, thefts, guests refusing to leave, wild parties, homes turned into meth dens and brothels, even rapes. Such extreme incidents are rare of course, but as most tenancy and mortgage agreements forbid the subletting of homes, fines and evictions are common.
Here are 7 times Airbnb users got more than they bargained for…
1. Airbnb used as a brothel
Airbnb has become popular with escort agencies as it’s cheaper and more discreet than renting a suite in a hotel. The agencies typically rent an Airbnb then cycle prostitutes and their clients through it (not on actual bikes – the prostitutes work in shifts). As you can imagine, soft furnishings take a pounding and there are dozens of horror stories about sticky couches or used condoms found behind the fridge.
Or in this instance, the apartment owner returns to find bags of pubic hair and a note from the police saying they’d caught prostitutes in flagrante delicto (latin for shagging) with the clients. Charming. It gets worse, however. Jessica Penzari rented her apartment to someone posing as a soldier on leave, but was alerted by the police that the alleged war hero was in fact an alleged whore ho and had been stabbed in the apartment by a client over a dispute over the price of a rub-n-tug. Nice. She returned to the apartment to find ten used condoms and a packet of baby wipes, which due to the lack of babies were probably used for wiping jizz off curtains (of both the beef and fabric variety).
2. The Airbnb Guests Who Wouldn’t Leave
Airbnb allows people to rent homes for long periods, with many hosts offering discounts for multi-week stays. But tenancy legislation can hold a few surprises which can be exploited by unscrupulous guests. To the chagrin of newsreaders who had to try and pronounce their names, Cory Tshogl used Airbnb to let her apartment to two brothers, Maksym and Denys Pashanin, for 44 days. But California’s impenetrable tenancy laws can be interpreted (by assholes such as the Pashanin brothers) to state that someone who rents for 30 days or longer is a tenant and has full tenancy rights, meaning that the host has to go through a lengthy and expensive eviction process to get rid of the unwanted guests.
In this case, the Pashanin brothers rented for 44 days but only paid for 30. They then claimed tenancy rights under the aforementioned 30 days law. So certain were they of their rights that they even threatened to sue Tshogl when she threatened to have the utilities cut off – utilities that she was paying for! In scenes worthy of a movie, they even avoided attempts to evict them by wearing disguises while entering and exiting the building.
It’s not the only time that the Pashanin brothers have unfairly exploited new technology to take stuff they had no right to – they also took advantage of Kickstarter to raise $40,000 for a computer game which has yet to materialise. Unbelievably, Kickstarter allowed the scamming brothers to raise money for ANOTHER computer game! Unsurprisingly, this fundraising was slightly less successful, and Kickstarter kyboshed their fundraising.
3. The “Overweight Orgy”
Comedian Ari Teman rented out his apartment to an apparently legit guest with a few good reviews on Airbnb. Little did he know that they were advertising his plush pad as the venue for a sex party for BBWs and admirers (that’s internet speak for really fat women and men who like to bone really fat women).
By chance, Ari returned just as the party was in full swing. Building management were already throwing people out. It wasn’t long before Ari was thrown out too, for breaching his tenancy agreement. He was homeless for a while due to being blacklisted by landlords and he claims the damage to his apartment came to $67,000. Airbnb settled for around a third of that sum.
However, as a comedian he did at least get some material out of it:
Aside from the illegal orgy destroying my apartment, it was a lovely weekend. #NewNYCslogan
— Ari Silver (Teman) (@AriSilver) March 17, 2014
Read this for the full story: http://nypost.com/2014/03/17/airbnb-renter-claims-he-returned-home-to-an-orgy/
4. Airbnb guest ransacks flat stealing cash and identity
Back in 2011, in the infancy of Airbnb, an unsuspecting woman known as EJ rented out her apartment to “DJ Pattrson”. Apparently fine with the fact that he not only considered himself a DJ, but also couldn’t spell his own name, EJ left him for a week. She returned to find a disaster of biblical proportions which she catalogued on her blog:
- DJ (and his pals) smashed into a locked closet to steal jewellery, cash, passport and various electronics
- They went through all her stuff and wore her clothes and shoes
- They found coupons for Bed Bath And Beyond and used them to get a discount online – while shopping with EJ’s mastercard (quite why they’re so keen to get a discount while using someone else’s money is never made clear)
- Her fireplace was used to burn lots of her belongings, but the chimney was closed, so ash covered every surface
- The entire flat was coated with powdered bleach
- Pots and pans were burnt out, everything stunk
- Wet towels were left on the floor (at this point I think EJ is being a little pedantic with her cataloguing)
You can read the full story here but be warned, she doesn’t half go on.
At the time of EJ vs DJ, Airbnb had little in place to protect hosts from misuse of the site. EJ’s case was Airbnb’s first real PR disaster, and led to new guarantees being put in place. Airbnb now provides hosts with a $1,000,000 guarantee in the event of guest damages to their property and will pay to rehouse guests or hosts if required.
5. The Airbnb Rapists
Airbnb puts measures in place to make it as safe as possible, but a system based on strangers sharing each other’s houses is open to exploitation by people with more nefarious intentions. There have been several reported incidents of sexual assault by both guests and hosts. Pablo Cesar Cordoba Riascos was jailed for 12 years in 2014 for raping two American tourists who were staying at his Barcelona Airbnb apartment.
One of the selling points of Airbnb is it encourages, almost forces, close relationships between hosts and guests – the hosts sharing their home space and showing the guest undiscovered gems in the city that only the locals know. But Pablo abused this forced intimacy to get his victims too drunk to repel his attacks. He also filmed his assault, and used the footage to attempt to blackmail his victims into silence. Investigators found a stash of footage revealing similar attacks on other young travellers, leading to a hefty prison sentence for him.
6. Airbnb Meth-heads
Airbnb is almost notorious in America for users of crystal meth (the highly addictive, highly destructive drug that inspired Breaking Bad and gave us those hypnotically captivating “before and after” mugshots) taking over Airbnb residences and trashing them, often in quite creative, drug-inspired ways.
Troy Dayton rented his Oakland home to a meth addict who used a stolen identity to bypass Airbnb’s user validation. On top of the identity they stole to rent his flat, they stole his identity too, smashing into a locked closet to steal his birth certificate. A side effect of methamphetamine is paranoia – Troy returned to his apartment to find every electronic item taken apart, a knife with a known criminal’s name smeared on the blade in Tip-Ex, his clothes shredded, and a jumper in the freezer. There were of course meth pipes everywhere. And they’d left a cat behind.
It’s worth reading the full account of Troy’s experience because he’s so hilariously chilled out about the whole escapade: http://techcrunch.com/2011/07/31/another-airbnb-victim-tells-his-story-there-were-meth-pipes-everywhere/
7. Airbnb Evictions
Most tenancy or mortgage agreements forbid the subletting of homes or spare rooms. Most Airbnb hosts do it anyway. Most of the time they get away with it. But when they don’t, it can result in fines or even eviction – sometimes when the guest is still at the residence.
A quick search of the site that catalogues bad Airbnb experiences, airbnbhell.com, reveals that eviction is one of the most common complaints. The legalities of subletting vary from place to place, with Airbnb being completely banned in some cities. So someone trying to make a bit of money from an unused spare room can not only be evicted due to subletting via Airbnb, they can face a fine running into thousands of pounds, and be blacklisted with landlord and credit databases.
This can come as a nasty shock to some people – such as this guy who was entirely unaware he was breaching his lease agreement.
Have you had a nightmare with Airbnb or a similar homestay site? Tell us about it:
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