Airbnb Guests Steal Firewood from Neighbours

When I bought my home in 2009, it was not beside a hotel. Now it is. The property adjacent to mine in a quiet, rural area sold a year ago to new owners who obviously bought it to run a full time hotel. Short-term rentals in the area are illegal, but the bylaws are enforced on a complaint basis and the fines are low. I find it very unpleasant to have new strangers arriving at the house beside me every 3 to 5 days. I don’t feel safe in my own home.

Although it’s in a rural setting, the houses are close. Airbnb guests and workers servicing the “hotel” have parked in my driveway blocking me in repeatedly in spite of “no parking” signs I installed after the parking problem started when the new owners showed up. The new owners’ realtor, building inspector, cable company, cleaning staff and guests have all parked in my driveway, parking me in and completely blocking the driveway.

Each time I have gone down and knocked on the door and asked them to move their vehicle. Each time, they rolled their eyes at me and indicated that this was a big inconvenience to them – but they did move their vehicles. I took photos of their vehicles and I was ready to have them towed. Although they always moved their vehicles, how many times a week should I be expected to go down and ask them to move?

If I need to get my car out to go to work, I don’t always have time to deal with an Airbnb vehicle blocking my driveway. Airbnb guests from next door have rung my doorbell early in the morning awakening me (I was thinking there must be some sort of dire emergency) to ask me where they might find a good swimming beach. Swell.

Even if I live beside a neighbour who I don’t like too much, I get used to them and I know who is there. Living beside an Airbnb hotel with a high turnover is much worse. Most guests are quiet and don’t cause any problems. But still – we don’t know who they are. This creates a sense of uneasiness and insecurity for the neighbours.

Some Airbnb guests are more problematic. With the average stay being 3-5 days and the Airbnb rented out solidly all year long, we were bound to get some problematic guests eventually. That happened the first two weekends in June 2018 when two separate groups of Airbnb guests were caught red-handed stealing firewood from a neighbouring house (not my house – I’ve had to install security cameras on my house to deter them).

The first group of thieves acted belligerently when confronted by a neighbour and absconded with the firewood anyway. The weekend of June 9th, the exact same scenario occurred: same neighbour caught the guests red-handed stealing firewood. He made them put it back this time and reported it to the police. The police won’t do anything; they have bigger fish to fry.

The neighbour who caught the firewood thieves and I have both filed complaints with Airbnb and with the municipality. We’ve requested that the municipality enforce their own bylaws. The municipality sent a representative right away to the door of the Airbnb. The owners happened to be present at the time, even though they are rarely present. I don’t know the outcome… likely a small fine and it carries on.

Airbnb has not replied at all to any complaints and the firewood thieves still have rave reviews about how wonderful they are on the Airbnb website. I’d feel slightly better if the firewood thieves had been called out and received bad reviews on the Airbnb website. There are no bad reviews on Airbnb. All reviews are positive. No one wants to risk giving a bad review because then they might get a bad review in return. That’s bad for business.

The review system doesn’t work because all reviews are positive. The picture of the BBQ shows my house to the left. The rocky garden in the background in that picture is my property. The owners do not tell the Airbnb guests this, so the guests are angry when I am out weeding my own garden. They have no qualms about trespassing. These guests got rave reviews. They could be staying beside you next week.

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4 Comments

  1. The airbnb “review” system is completely bogus. Any review less than 5 stars is considered bad and no one will give anything but glowing reviews. I too have problems with belligerent trespassers from the airbnb next door. Whatever happened to the days of respecting others and their property? this generation seems to have been raised by wolves.

  2. Thanks Sarah and BK. All good suggestions. I appreciate your responses.

    Unfortunately, I’m not much of a dog person.

    The house-cleaner for the airbnb next door has a little yappy dog which she brings to work and sometimes leaves inside her car for 4-5 hours at a time. It barks at me every time I step outside my door. One day I got so fed up with it that I found a Youtube video of a dog barking and played it loudly for an hour. Ironically, this generated a complaint to me from a neighbour who is my good friend. So I won’t be able to do that again. Funny that the actual dog barking didn’t bother anyone. But a recording of a dog barking has people up in arms. You can turn a recording off in an instant. There’s no turning off a real dog barking. Next time she leaves her dog in the car for 5 hours on a hot day, I will call the police. I don’t understand why anyone would bring their dog to work (with the exception of service dogs of course). Especially when working right beside other houses where the dog is not a familiar visitor.

    I’m in Canada, so an armed guard or “protected by Smith & Wesson” would be exceedingly strange. Regular people don’t generally walk around with guns here. Farmers, hunters, police and criminals have guns here. No one else does. Hand guns are illegal. I grew up on a farm in Ontario and we had a .22 and I’ve also seen and used a .22 at friends’ houses growing up. Mostly just target practice, but occasionally we shot ground hogs. Otherwise, I’ve never seen a gun (except in the movies and on TV). Canadians just don’t carry guns.

    The owner of the airbnb hotel beside me is in fact an RCMP officer. So he’ll have a gun. Lol! You’d think he might also have some interest in obeying the laws of the land. But he’s unapologetically flouting the law. Go figure.

    But lots of good suggestions in your responses. Thank you for the support.

  3. Regarding the photos of your house you should be able to get them to take these down. This might take a form letter from an attorney or grab something from Legal Zoom. Send to Airbnb.

    Addressing the bigger problem you can take several approaches.

    Find an attorney. Get your other neighbor(s) involved to share expenses and start keeping a log book of all incidents, police calls, safety violations, thefts, noise issues, and parking issues. Date, photo, and describe each incident and ask your neighbors to do the same. Logs like this are legally admissable in court. Get the attorney to start sending some letters of cease and desist.
    Search for other folks in your town that are in a similar predicament.
    Get an assessment on your property to see if the “hotel” next door has devalued your property.
    Find out your local trespassing laws and signage. Post appropriate signs with “no trespassing” or “private property” or if you’re up for it “protected by Smith & Wesson.”
    Hire (with your neighborhood) a security service to patrol the illegal parking. If your state allows security gards to be armed get one of those. If you sue for damages you might be able to recover this. Also have the security service take photos of guest cars and license plates consipicuously. Any services that block your driveway call and complain. Document and if it keeps happening get that attorney to send them a letter.
    Find your local state representative. Make an appointment and visit their office, in person, with your neighborhood group and make sure to tell your local news about the appointment; invite a news photographer and writer to go with you. Bring photos and your log books. Ask that the law be upheld and lobby for stricter sublet laws. Ask specifically that your Airbnb neighbor be stopped. Reps are incredibly responsive to visits, especially one made so public.
    Borrow a large unfriendly barking dog; or if you’re into it, get a large unfriendly barking dog; there are many rescue groups that you can foster a dog. Take the dog with you when confronting the guests, owner, or folks blocking your drive.

    Sadly getting this fixed will take a lot of work on your part.

  4. Keep calling the police any time your driveway is squatted by Airbnb “guests”, take pictures and document. Report owner to tax office and buy a pitbull; any attempt of trespassing, let the dog loose. Foul play demands foul play…..

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