“OUR apartment has been turned into what I can best describe as a junkie’s den.”
A Sydney woman, and first time Airbnb user, thought she was renting her flat to a mother whose sick baby needed treatment at a nearby hospital. It was a far cry from the sinister reality.
The guest’s name was Michelle, and her profile featured a beautiful photo with her son.
“Everything seemed to check out,” the host toldPedestrian. “We actually felt very happy to help her during what we thought must have been a very sad time for her, and left coffee, milk, muesli, towels on the bed and all of that to make her stay as enjoyable as possible.”
But sometimes, Airbnb goes horribly wrong.
The place was ransacked. Heroin residue stained the floor. Cigarette stubs were all over the apartment. Table lamps were kicked in. A crack pipe was left in a vase.
“Not only that, but there was all this random green liquid on a lot of walls and all over the floor and two towels covered in blood were left on the bathroom floor,” she said.
But while it’s every host’s worse nightmare, the chance of it happening it extremely low.
In fact, the company has hosted 100 million guests since it was founded in 2008 — and in past 12 months, only 0.00002 per cent of hosts claimed damages above $1000.
That’s an incredible statistic.
But what happens if your experience is the one in 41,000 that goes awry?
WE’RE FAMILIAR WITH AIRBNB HORROR STORIES
You might remember the guest who turned a Copenhagen apartment into a brothel while the owner was on holiday in Thailand.
What about the London couple who came home to find strangers having sex in their bed? There’s also the woman from Washington DC whose guests advertised her home on a “male-on-male massage service” website, and the $47,000 burglary caught on camera in San Francisco.
A drug-induced orgy, that caused $94,000 worth of damage to a family home in Calgary, was one of the worst.
Interestingly, it’s not just hosts who get burnt.
Manhattan lawyer Christian Pugaczewski is currently fighting Airbnb in court, after he was duped into shelling out almost $12,000 for a dingy apartment on New York’s East River.
Described as a “Comfortable Spatial Island Retreat”, the 38-year-old told the New York Post he was “horrified” when he found out it was actually a dilapidated flat in a drug-ridden building recently converted from public housing.
He’d booked it for three months, but he stayed just one night before moving — shelling out an additional $26,000 for a last-minute replacement.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU REPORT IT TO AIRBNB
Several people have complained the company is difficult to deal with when things go wrong.
“I called so many times to report what happened and asked to be put through to security but the call centre people just brushed me off, promising someone would call me,” the Sydney woman told Pedestrian.
And yet, it continues to grow at an exponential rate, with the number of guests almost doubling from year to year. The company says it’s because the community is built on trust.
“We have a zero tolerance for this sort of behaviour and we’ll work with police to make sure these folks are held accountable for their actions,” spokesman Dylan Smith told news.com.au.
“We were deeply concerned to learn about this incident and we’ve been working with the host to offer our assistance through our host guarantee.”
Once an issue is reported, the guest has 72 hours to make things right before the company steps in, and they offer a guarantee of up to $1 million.
“We know that every industry, and every city grapples with safety issues,” Mr Smith said. “And while no one has an absolutely perfect record that’s what we strive for.”