Airbnb left me with a dead body, $50,000 in damages

There was a story that was aired on the local news the morning of July 28th, 2019. This story included vague details of a pool party that went wrong and the death of a Clay High School student by gunshot. Including only one side note was that it was an Airbnb listing.

There were many details that the story failed to capture. I am the homeowner of that Airbnb listing. I had listed the home on Airbnb just over a year ago as an entire house rental, private property with horses and country escape at around a $500/night booking fee.

Of the seven or eight bookings I had, it was a great experience, until it wasn’t. I had a one guest for a one-night booking the week prior to July 27th. This person had a verified Airbnb account that included one five-star review. They didn’t offer a lot of details about their stay but like every time before, the house was prepped, the key was left, and I was gone before they arrived.

I was notified by a neighbor around 1:30 AM that something seemed wrong with the amount of cars at my property and traffic in and out. I immediately called the police to assist in removing anyone from the property, as they were all trespassing and likely causing unspeakable damage to the home.

The shooting happened shortly after that, before the police even made it there, leaving one 18-year-old man dead in my driveway. This one guest rental was a 200-300 person party of underage people and dangerous criminals. There were Hennessy bottles thrown at my horses who were on the property during this time, luckily not causing any significant harm to them.

Upon further discovery, the actual verified guest has an extensive criminal background. There was blood throughout the entire home, over $20,000 in building damages and another $30,000 in personal property that was either stolen or ruined. Although the local police recommended bleach and water, I hired a hazmat crew to come and disinfect the home and clean the immense amount of bio waste that was covering my walls, floors and furniture.

People continued to return to the home in the days following so for the safety of my family I hired private security to protect the home and property. These people are and have been at war with each other. My home just happened to be the location that the battle was fought at.

I live with the reality every day that every single person who had access to my home can clearly tell it’s only a young woman and a five-year-old boy who live here. Of all the things damaged and all the pain this has caused, there is no greater fear than the idea that these monsters could come back and harm myself and my son.

My story isn’t about publicly shaming those who did this. My goal, however, is to shed light to the darker side of hosting for Airbnb and the complete lack of restitution that they have offered per their Host Guarantee and the lack of actual vetting they do to verify a guest. Almost three months, over 50 emails and communications, and they have decided to wash their hands of this due to the fact my personal homeowners insurance stepped up and covered just under $20,000 of the damages.

The process of their Host Guarantee is basically a death march to the point hosts rely on personal finances and their own homeowner’s insurance to begin the process of putting their lives back together. Although my insurance was amazing in the process, there is still $30,000 of personal property that was accounted for in detail as a loss.

The Host Guarantee specifically states (per their contractual agreement) that they will pay the difference of insurance claims. The most recent communication is that they took a if/then method stating that if my personal insurance has stepped up, then Airbnb is free and clear of any liability.

I hope to share my experience so those who are simply doing this to share the experience of their home, improve their homes for their families, or even just make some side cash on their primary residence know that if something does go wrong, Airbnb will not stand behind you.

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

10 Comments

  1. If this story lacks details, I apologize. It’s been a long and endless process healing from this and finding ways to cope with the new version of life that I now experience. I wanted to share a local news interview regarding this story that captures some of it all. I kept quiet for 12 weeks assuming @Airbnb would require an NDA with their Host Guarantee. It turns out they don’t stand behind that quite like they display for people that host through their site.

    If nothing else, I hope this story reaches the people it was intended for. I believed in two things when I decided to host through @Airbnb; that their verification process of guests meant something and if they failed miserably there, they would stand behind me as a host to make things right. Neither of those showed to be true in my situation. If they had put minimal effort into truly vetting the Government ID they had on file for this verified guest, it would have shown an extensive criminal record for this person.

    @Airbnb could have prevented a destructive house party, a destroyed sense of safety due to people who had access to this home, and most importantly a loss of human life.

  2. The fact that some of you are trying to shame the host is unreal. The point of the story is that the airbnb host guarantee is bullshit. I’ve experienced it myself and i’ve been a superhost for 5 years

  3. This is certainly a cautionary tale. One thing that stands out though is the Indtant Booking for 2 guest. This is a huge red flag and is just the beginning of a hosts vetting process. It is much more than simply accepting a booking with vague information. I would have cancelled within several hours of questions, more questions and even more questions after the questions.

    Unfortunately ABB doesn’t train hosts. It’s just a website with tools many hosts don’t know how to use.

  4. How about some basic details on this post! I can see why the news story might be incomplete. Maybe a link to the news report? (no report found via google). What kind of verifications were included on the user acct of the guest with one review? (gov ID, face book, email, credit card?) What was the text of that review?

    I see so many red flags as a landlord and super host on airbnb for 4yrs.
    1.)A host needs to ask/require answers to a couple questions from guest before allowing a booking! Airbnb recommends this and has a place for selecting it during listing creation.

    2.)Look at a request and see if your questions are answered in a clear honest manner! Typical questions are … what are your travel plans and who will be traveling with your group?

    3.)Don’t be using a lock box to rent! What are you thinking when you rent to an unknown person and just go away and leave your animals on site! Would you rent a monthly rental like this too? OMG … Yes you have responsibility as a landlord to confirm the renter is a good match and respectful renter for your property! Maybe a younger local person for a 1 night rental could be a bit suspicious?

    4.) I am just wandering how you got any money for a claim of damages caused by someone you actually just gave your keys to without knowing them, or even meeting them to check them in as a tenant. How can your justify leaving horses on site with no training, or at least to see some experience for guests around animals? That is a hazard in itself!

    It is just not that hard to research or get an experienced landlord/listing consultant to help you with a new business. It is not that hard to just search and read about tips on listings and renting. How can newbies just expect any company, especially a website/listing service to deal with onsite problems or claims when they have not even verified that you are the owner of listed property… that they never inspect,or verify the owner background to weed out repeat fraudulent uses or other items like an insurance company would do!

    So the big secrete is out! Email is not really a good verification … other than that a random person might have a computer/phone. Airbnb will not cover damages or even assist with collections of damages from its users even when they are documented repairs/fee costs agreed to upon damages on the hosts online contract. All they do is invoice, sending a message to ask a user to pay! Yet airbnb holds the damage deposit and has access to every guests credit card. The one exception is when you get in the media as was this situation. I would bet that local news had a call from airbnb before the host. This host probably lost an opportunity to leverage airbnb into some damage payments by not taking action…. and networking with her own local news and trying to push the story up to a bigger news area.

    The real issue here is if an adult has the right to give away all rights on these onsite terms, even when they are giving away rights of animals, children, or a neighbors privacy/risk exposure. When is the gov going to step in (as they do for long term rentals) and regulate the industry? Yes .. this is more of a problem with old laws that do not cover new technology.

    I feel the current “unregulated information internet” well only get better if it is allowed to evolve into a “value based internet”. I fell it will get much worse before people might notice that an alternative is or was available. This new verifiable, certifiable, even currency level encrypted protocol would be magnitudes (100s to 1000s time better) better than anything from the past. That is still hard to comprehend since we have never experienced it! It would be a replacement of our old dysfunctional institutions with new automated institutions using blockchain technology. This is what we need to make the shared economy work and integrate it with a new type of perfect government that has laterally no corruption or dysfunction.
    This block chain technology would also allow individuals to own their identity, unlike the current facebook and Google situation where you give your rights away for a “free service” not knowing you are giving most privacy rights away needed to exist in democracy and promote prosperity!

  5. Are you saying that you leave the home you live in to rent it out to total strangers, you don’t meet them, you don’t have at least a camera to monitor the front door, and you leave your animals behind unattended with these total strangers? Were you so blinded with greed from the extra income that you lost all your common sense?

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