Hurricane Irma Evacuees Find No Escape With Airbnb

My wife, our two children, and I decided to evacuate our southwest Florida home in Lee County based on our governor’s mandatory evacuation. Our son had a good experience using Airbnb and had a pleasant stay at one of their listings. My wife and I decided to give them a try at the last minute instead of being housed in a hotel room with all of our important possessions (i.e. family photos, documents, jewelry, etc).

Based on Hurricane Irma’s path, we decided Louisiana would be the safest destination out of the storm’s way. We found one of a few places that were left available and based on the description of the listing, it sounded pleasant for the needs of our family and two vehicles.

Upon arrival we observed this home was in a bad neighborhood. We had to park on the city street (whereas the listing stated “parking on premises”). My wife an I proceeded to the locked gates (first sign of a bad neighborhood). With our two kids each in one vehicle parked on two different streets, we met with a much older gentlemen who was not the host; he stated he was 87 and had a brain tumor. This man had a foul smell to him and proceeded to show us the apartment.

Once we were inside we observed the same foul smell throughout the apartment. There were water stains on the ceiling and it was dirty inside. The old man proceeded to tell us that the health department had been trying to shut him down since Hurricane Katrina had flooded the building and the city had not been through his part of town to give them the proper permits to renovate the apartments. With our youngest son having had asthma, we knew we couldn’t stay there.

After the older gentleman showed us the place he went on to add that the place was used as a prison during Katrina and was a drug house prior to him owning the building. After having traveled 14 hours to get here, my wife and I got back in our cars and got out of there and out of that area of the city as fast as we could. Unfortunately we could not find another room that night since millions had evacuated florida; we ended up sleeping at a rest area on I-10. To be honest, that was a lot better than even thinking about staying at the Airbnb in New Orleans.

Beware and avoid places like this on Airbnb: false representation to be family friendly, parking on premises, all the way down to the host (who we never met). We don’t believe the reviews of this place prior to our reservation are credible. We have been in contact with Airbnb and they said a case manager will be in touch with us. We will also be contacting our Attorney General here in florida who stated that they will go after people who have taken advantage of its citizens during its state of emergency. The owner of the Airbnb was well aware of our family’s situation and was not honest with his accommodation in the listing. In fact my wife and I believe that the host does not exist. We just want a refund for services not rendered, nothing else. Let’s see if Airbnb stands up for its guests and refunds our money.

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