I own a house in a “regeneration” area of Dublin. Regeneration is a kind word; this street is clearly not suitable for unsuspecting elderly tourists. Think Little Red Riding Hood surrounded by wolves. I arrived last week from overseas to show the house to an estate agent to let it out. I was greeted on the doorstep by an elderly retired nurse from Canada who had booked it for four nights and paid about 400 euros. I’m not sure who was more surprised, this lady or me. I took pics of her reservation. It appeared the previous “tenant”, who I finally got to leave the month prior, had been using the house for Airbnb. Heaven knows how many bookings she took and how many other unfortunate tourists will have the same experience. The elderly lady took fright – actually she was in shock. I sat her down in the house – which was quite clearly unoccupied. I offered to get bedding so she could stay, but she was very anxious and no longer felt safe in Dublin. Eventually I dropped her back at the train station to return to the West of Ireland.
I contacted Airbnb. I got a call centre. Then I got a nonsense email. At this stage I went to the police and showed them the details of the reservation. This was a very unpleasant experience, which might have had an even more unpleasant outcome had I not turned up that day. If Airbnb does not already do it, they need to have hosts confirm they have permission to use the property. In circumstances where a property owner like me calls, they need to transfer callers immediately to a fraud/security department. They need to confirm to house owners immediately their properties have been removed from the site. They also seriously need to improve their interactions. In all future lettings I will include a clause in the contract to state subletting on Airbnb will nullify the lease and result in immediate expulsion from the property. I would recommend guests confirm that the host actually has the right to sublet on Airbnb.