Airbnb Guest Booked Property to Commit Suicide

Setting: a major city in France. On Monday a prospective guest – let’s call him Laurence – requested to book a room in my apartment where I also living for one week starting on Tuesday. He had a blank profile – no photo – but wrote a brief message saying he was a young man coming to the city for a job interview and wanted to look around. I accepted the booking.

On Tuesday, there was no communication from Laurence. I took the initiative and contacted the mobile number given asking for his arrival time. There was an exchange of messages. I repeated several times that I would not leave the key with my neighbour. Because the guest would be arriving while I was at work, he would have to arrive after I’ve finished work, around 9:30. My policy is always to be in when people arrive, I’m not giving a stranger keys to my home when I’m not there.

The young man arrived. His name wasn’t Laurence – let’s call him Gilbert. I showed Gilbert around the flat. He settled into the room, had a shower, and went to bed. On Wednesday I was out early, returned for lunchtime, and saw Gilbert briefly. I left the apartment mid-afternoon, and returned around 8:30. I wasn’t sure if Gilbert was in his room or not.

On Thursday I left early and was out all day, returning home around 7:15. There was no sign of Gilbert having been in or out the apartment. On Friday I left early, returned at lunchtime, and noticed the shutters to the guest room which faces the street are still closed. I knocked  on the door to the guest room several times. After getting no response I entered to find a very dead Gilbert curled up under the duvet. His suitcase was opened but not unpacked. There was a bag next to it with quantities of medications, and blister packs opened. I didn’t look too closely because I didn’t want to touch anything. There were several empty beer bottles.

The remainder of Friday afternoon was spent dealing with the police. Eventually the body was removed and I spent that evening deep cleaning the flat. I’ve had to throw out the mattress (looked like blood had been vomited) as well as the bed linen. On Friday night, his parents called me, saying they had not heard anything from Gilbert since Wednesday, asking if he was alright.

“The police will call you Madam.”

“What do you mean the police will call me? I don’t understand…”

“The police will call you Madam.” That’s all I can say. I put the phone down and switched it off.

On Saturday, his parents flew into the city. The mother called me in tears. I agreed to meet and let them in the flat to see the room where their son died. On Sunday, I was back at the police station repeating myself: “When did I last see Gilbert? Did I hear anyone else come in or out the apartment on Wednesday night? Did he allow anyone into the apartment? Did I observe anything about his mood?” Anyway, I’m not suspected of anything, but this is still nerve racking and extremely unpleasant.

Until the autopsy is carried out on Monday, the cause of death can’t be determined. I guess he either chose my place to commit suicide, had some undiagnosed medical condition, or died accidentally. I’m continuing to host on Airbnb and I’ve changed the settings, so everyone has to request to book. I’ve made the house rules even more explicit and will copy and send to prospective guests who must read through and confirm them before I’ll accept the booking.

I’ve reiterated I have zero tolerance for alcohol/drug intoxication as well as stating I must be told about any underlying medical conditions such as diabetes or epilepsy which might cause an emergency. Guests should also give me emergency contact details. I’ve said that I will meet guests in the street outside the apartment and if their photo ID doesn’t match the name of the person who made the booking they won’t be allowed in the building, let alone given the keys to the apartment. You have to protect yourself in this day and age.

Posted in Airbnb Host Stories and tagged , , , , , .

9 Comments

  1. I had my guest overdose this past Thursday AM. I heard convulsing and yelled and opened the door and turned on the light hundreds of pills it looked like and 11 empty prescription bottles and he was foaming at the mouth I called 911 and now I got a room full of clothes and drugs.

    I’m waiting for Airbnb to respond…

  2. There was a recent murder suicide in the Airbnb near our property. It could have been our home this woman rented with her young child. I am still in shock. All I want to do is reach out to that poor owner. Aug 2019.

    • ‘Hosts whose interest in neighborhoods is monetization.’

      With due respect…
      If I was generating enough money from my regular business then I wouldn’t be hosting through airbnb. In July and August when regular business drops off it has been my main source of income. Like many people in the western world life has become increasingly difficult for me with precarious employment situation, rising costs of living and so on.
      I am engaged with the neighbourhood, know my neighbours regularly, visit and look out for an elderly neighbour across the road. airbnb clearly needs more regulation. It needs authorities in different jurisdictions to set up a common regulatory framework and there’s not much chance of that in todays world. I think the expression is putting the horse before the cart.

  3. You seem to have zero empathy. This is why I avoir airbnb. And your guests’ medical conditions is none of your business.

    • I knew the trolls would be out on this one. I’m asking if guests have medical conditions which might need EMERGENCY medical treatment. I think it is very much my business if strangers are coming into my home and if I’m aware of such things then I can better look out for someone.

  4. Just to add to this, it was his mother who had made the booking, not him, hence the difference in the names.
    I’ve changed the names and am not revealing the exact location where these events took place.
    Any activity you’re involved in, things can and do go wrong and I hope sharing this story can help others. I will continue hosting on airbnb and will protect myself with amended and very strict rules. Insist when guests arrive on seeing photo ID that must be the same as the person making the booking, ask that guests tell me if they have medical conditions such as epilepsy, diabetes and so on, install security cameras in the apartment so I can know who is entering and leaving. I checked again and my insurance covers me for this sort of ***t.

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