Warning over Airbnb loophole after 'suspect' guests leave underwear in home
- Credit: Submitted
A homeowner has been left counting the cost of an Airbnb scam after guests trashed her home and disabled security cameras before leaving the back door unlocked.
Sadie Brown, 53, “bent over backwards” for a last-minute booking last weekend.
The guests – a son and his mother – booked her property in Rosary Road for February 20.
Having accommodated the pair Ms Brown was shocked when five hours later the booking was cancelled over an alleged mould issue.
Ms Brown explained: “I was contacted by these people who said their original accommodation was dirty and asked if I could fit them in last minute.”
The London-based worker, who brought the property while she was living in Norwich, said the booking was for 10 days at a cost of £900.
The Mundesley-born host added: “I felt bad for the guests as they said their last booking as unacceptably dirty.
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“They also asked if they could bring a very well-trained dog. They made a point of saying they were house proud themselves so the dog would be no issue.”
The marketing executive for law firm Reed Smith added: “Then at 2pm I got a message saying they’d cancelled the booking.
“They’d showered and then left dirty underwear and used wet wipes in my house.
"They also emptied a handheld vacuum cleaner, tipped the contents out and shook it everywhere.
“I then realised as soon as they’d got to the property they disabled the home security cameras by disconnecting the broadband.
“Before they left they also unlocked the back door and left it unlocked.”
Given the complaint against Ms Brown she incurred an £80 fee off her next booking.
This was later withdrawn by Airbnb after the host proved she had more than 80 reviews from previous guests praising how tidy and clean the home was.
The home is rated 4.99 stars out of five courtesy of 85 guests.
She added: "I really feel let down by Airbnb on this one.
"They need to create better checks for verifying a guest as this is a bit of a loophole for people to create this mess. I never had any problems like this before.
"I will now not rent the house out unless there are reviews on Airbnb. I have already deleted another request straight away from someone who had just joined and was awaiting verification of their ID."
Ms Brown has family living in Norwich and has had to replace the locks on the house, as well as spending £100 to clean up the mess left by the guests.
"My 72-year-old mother spends five hours cleaning the house to get it ready for them," Ms Brown said.
"They are suspect guests, their behaviour is bizarre. I am not able to see the pictures of this alleged mould and Airbnb has not been able to confirm what it was.
"It was suggested there was mould in the top of the washing machine but I hardly ever use it as I work in London. What are they doing looking in the top of the washing machine anyway?"
Ms Brown added her Norwich home is well-insulated and appropriately ventilated.
She warned other hosts – particularly ahead of the busy summer tourist season – to take photos of every room before a guest stays as evidence.
"I don’t care about the money but I do think this is something where someone has worked out how to get access to houses without paying and other Airbnb hosts might need to take note of," Ms Brown continued.
"The Airbnb agent I spoke to was very helpful and kind but the staff have their hands tied by the policy of the company. This was unacceptable".
A spokeswoman for Airbnb said: "We require valid photographic evidence from guests to prove cleanliness concerns and this was provided.
"We also have strict policies governing the use of security devices in listings, and the host has been suspended while we investigate.”
Airbnb is an online marketplace company based in San Francisco having been founded in 2008 by roommates and former schoolmates Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia and Nathan Blecharczyk.
It connects people who want to rent out their homes with people who are looking for accommodations in specific areas.
What does Airbnb's policy state?
Airbnb's guest refund policy states a guest will be reimbursed the amount paid through the Airbnb Platform if they report a travel issue up to 24 hours after check-in.
The company's website states it will agree, at their discretion, to either reimburse the amount paid or help book reasonably comparable accommodation for any unused nights leftover.
It goes on to say the host may notify the company in writing or via telephone to provide evidence if they dispute the travel issue.
Guest refunds are automatically refunded if the host's cancellation policy permits it.
But the website states that even if it doesn't permit it, the guest may qualify for a refund under a Guest Refund Policy, or if there’s an extenuating circumstance.
If a guest cancels after check-in, Airbnb states they must vacate the space immediately and the terms of the cancellation policy still apply.