Saturday, July 30, 2011

Renting out your house? Think twice....

You may have heard about Airbnb, the startup that allows people to rent out their homes while they are away on vacation.
In a horror story that is now going viral online and causing a black eye for Airbnb, a woman rented out her San Francisco Bay area apartment through the Airbnb service. Her apartment was rented out by a mysterious "Dj Pattrson" for a timeframe when she would be away. The renters who were supposedly checked out through the Airbnb service methodically destroyed her apartment and stole all her valuable belongings over the period of a week.

Here is a snippet from the woman's blog detailing the damage caused:

"They smashed a hole through a locked closet door, and found the passport, cash, credit card and grandmother’s jewelry I had hidden inside. They took my camera, my iPod, an old laptop, and my external backup drive filled with photos, journals… my entire life. They found my birth certificate and social security card, which I believe they photocopied – using the printer/copier I kindly left out for my guests’ use. They rifled through all my drawers, wore my shoes and clothes, and left my clothing crumpled up in a pile of wet, mildewing towels on the closet floor. They found my coupons for Bed Bath & Beyond and used the discount, along with my Mastercard, to shop online. Despite the heat wave, they used my fireplace and multiple Duraflame logs to reduce mounds of stuff (my stuff??) to ash – including, I believe, the missing set of guest sheets I left carefully folded for their comfort. Yet they were stupid and careless enough to leave the flue closed; dirty gray ash now covered every surface inside."

That's not all....

"The kitchen was a disaster – the sink piled high with filthy dishes, pots and pans burnt out and ruined. Comet Cleanser was dumped everywhere; the kitchen counters, wood furniture, my gorgeous new bed frame, my desk, my printer… all were doused in powdered bleach. The death-like smell emanating from the bathroom was frightening (and still is) and the bathroom sink was caked with a crusty yellow substance. Various pairs of my gloves were strewn about – leather, dishwashing and otherwise – I imagine in a weak attempt to cover up fingerprints. Whoever these people were, they were living large and having one hell of a time for an entire week inside my home, unwatched, unchecked, free to do whatever destruction they wished. And damn, did they do a lot of it."

While all this was happening, the "renters" were sending her soothing emails saying how they loved her apartment.

She deserves an apology and reimbursement from Airbnb for her damages caused by relying on their service to properly vet potential renters. Until that time, I would warn others to not use the Airbnb service.

Read the full story here.

Posted by Carl Burnham at 11:39 PM
Categories: Travel News
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