Troy Dayton is an Airbnb user that had a very similar situation as EJ. His house was trashed after putting it up for rent on Airbnb. However his house was littered with methamphetamine (meth) pipes. Below is Troy’s story:
Something very similar happened to me about 2 months ago.
In addition to valuables stolen, the thieves/addicts did thousands of dollars of bizarre damage to my rented home and left it littered with meth pipes. They were identity thieves, too and all my personal information was strewn about. Further investigation of my own led me to evidence that the people were not just thieves but were also dangerous. I too, feared for my own safety and would not stay at my house for some time.
I had a similar problem with haphazard communication from people at AirBnB. I gave them multiple opportunities to make me a happy customer to which they did but then retracted their offer after their was miscommunication among the team. Sometimes days went by without hearing from anyone, while I was fear-stricken, totally disoriented, and angry. It was almost the most absurd customer service crisis one could ever imagine. But I am one squeaky wheel, and we eventually found an agreeable solution that I was generally pleased with.
I have since both rented my place out and stayed in others? homes from airbnb.
Here?s what I learned: if you rent out your home, there is a limit to how much AIrbnb can do to protect you. It?s not their fault, but it is their fault that they up-play how much they protect you and downplay what people should do to protect themselves. At the end of the day you are renting to a stranger. You should check there ID?s and phone numbers to make sure they match. I would ask for a link to a social networking site like linkedin, FB, or couchsurfing if there are not credible testimonials on AirBnb. I would chat with them on the phone prior to agreeing to rent to them. Had I done these things, the people that ruined my house would have never made it in.
Also, go with your gut. My gut said something wasn?t right about the people that rented my place, but I didn?t know how to handle that gut feeling and wasn?t sure how airbnb would have treated me or them had I told them I didn?t want them to stay even after they booked it.
Here?s a way Airb?nb can turn this into another revenue stream: Most rental insurance won?t cover this because you are essentially subletting. If major theft and damage is as rare as Air bnb says it is, which I believe is true, then they should be able to get a great insurance policy tailored just for their customers that they can sell for an additional fee to the renters.
Also, as short-term renting like a hotel becomes more common and other websites move in on Airbnb they are going to need more value to justify their very high fees, perhaps insurance and background checks would be a great addition. Of course, if I was the insurance company, I?d require the owners of the property being rented to double check the ID?s of the people checking in to be sure that the background checks are actually for the people checking in.
At the end of the day, I think AirBnb is well-intentioned but I think they are struggling with such fast growth and the management and communication systems have not scaled as fast as their business. Some PR and customer service nightmares are to be expected. My understanding is that they are hiring as fast as they can?but having been a part of teams of 20 somethings that multiply by orders of magnitude in a few months I can attest to the mayhem that surrounds this process. I hope they make dealing with catastrophic problems like the ones EJ and I experienced a top priority.
Troy said the guests went through everything he owned. Meth pipes were left everywhere and there was damage to the bathroom and closet doors. They stole his computer, his cash, and any electronic device that was lying around.
Aside from stealing and breaking things, the renter and her friends vandalized Troy’s place. They mixed everything in his refrigerator with each other. They stole his clothes and shredded them. One of his sweaters was left in the freezer. They also stole his birth certificate and left behind evidence that they were running an identity theft operation. The renter and her friends also left behind a cat that they stole.
I then traded the cat for the return of my keys. The owner of the cat was a friend of the girl who rented the place?s boyfriend and had no idea about anything or how his cat wound up in a trashed apartment in Oakland.
There was a knife left behind with a man’s name written on it. The police said that person is a known dangerous person.
After the incident took place, Troy e-mailed the emergency e-mail contact: email@example.com:
From: Airbnb Community Support
Date: Fri, Apr 22, 2011 at 11:43 PM
Subject: Request received: Emergency Situation: tenants ruined my apartment and stole things
To: Troy Dayton
? Please respond above this line. ?
Thanks for contacting Airbnb community support!
Your request (#124683) has been received, and is being reviewed by our support staff. Please note that, due to an overwhelming number of inquiries, our responses may be delayed. Thank you for your patience.
If this is an absolute emergency, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and we?ll get back to you as quickly as possible.
The Airbnb Team
???- Forwarded message ???-
From: Troy Dayton
Subject: people ruined my apartment and stole stuff
please call me asap [phone number redacted]
Airbnb ended up giving him a month of free nights at Airbnb, but then they told him that he could only rent rooms at the same cost as his apartment. They allowed him 21 days free and up to $125 per night. They were also supposed to cancel future bookings at Troy’s home but forgot to do that.
Today Troy still uses Airbnb, but now he insists on seeing the proper identification.