Sexually Assaulted at Owner-Occupied Airbnb

Has anyone else been sexually accosted and verbally harassed in an Airbnb by their hosts? I am a single, professional executive female who travels domestically (US) and internationally extensively. I recently stayed in an owner-occupied Airbnb in Denver. This was my first time sharing a residence, though have been renting “entire place” Airbnbs for 5-6 years now.

In Denver, it’s now apparently illegal to short-term rent your space (it’s a felony) unless you – the owner – live inside the home as your primary residence. This made me a bit nervous, to share a residence with a stranger, as a single woman traveling alone, so I specifically looked for either woman-owned or couple-owned places. I found one owned by a male and female together. I was able to Google them based on their info on Airbnb and discovered the woman was an elected official in Denver, so felt even more comfortable renting a room there.

The first night I showed up, only the male owner and his male nephew were there. I arrived about 7:30 PM on a weeknight, only to find the owner seemingly very drunk (8-10 beer bottles on the kitchen counter). He showed me to my private room (note: in the listing, they do not say that they rent out up to three bedrooms at a time in their home, and all guests – so up to six – share one small bathroom) and when I came back downstairs to make some food in the shared kitchen, found the owner smoking pot (which is legal here in CO, and they do note in their listing that they are “420-friendly.”)

He began asking me about my kids, asked to see photos of my gay sons and said he’d like to “eat something as delicious as your boys sound.” Sadly, things got much worse from there. The female owner was out of town for the first half of my stay, and when I mentioned on my second day there that I needed to do a load of laundry (access to W/D is in their listing), I was told I “better hurry and get it done before [female owner] gets back home – she doesn’t like people in the basement and doesn’t like people using her things. Just do the laundry now and don’t tell her you did it.”

The female owner did return from her travels. I barely met her for a few minutes as I was not comfortable in the home, so was staying in my rented bedroom with the door locked most of the time (there were huge festivals and conventions in Denver that week, so nowhere else to move/rent).

One night when I knew the owners were out, I came downstairs to make some food and work on my laptop. The female owner came home while I was cooking, and had clearly been drinking. She continued to drink, began insulting me for being a single mother, asked why I had so many kids, how I got so many gay kids (implying I’d done something “wrong” to have this outcome), etc.

I was doing my best to exit the conversation and go back to my bedroom when the female owner got into my personal space, said “I’m going to kiss you now,” and before anything even registered, she grabbed my face with both her hands and kissed me full-on on the lips, then began crying. I made an escape to my room, very shaken.

I left their property less than 36 hours later for good (as soon as I could), but not before the male owner (fiance of the female owner) apologized for her behavior, asked if I’d sit and talk with her and said she had just begun trauma counseling – that was why she was blackout drunk, put her hands (and lips) on me and had said so many inappropriate, discriminatory things.

I did report them to Airbnb as soon as I left. They assigned a case manager to me, and I explained how traumatizing the whole experience is, as I am a sexual assault survivor from an incident with a work colleague in 2015. All Airbnb did was to refund my stay, say they’d look into it, and then cut off all communications with me. Both my attorney and I have repeatedly tried to reach Airbnb via email and phone and cannot get anyone to address my continued issues. It’s been two months now since the incident. If anyone has any advice based on similar experiences with Airbnb, please do share.

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5 Comments

  1. I was not touched or physically assaulted but innuendos arond the theme of sex relationships and why i want to stay in a rich northen european country when i come from poor country and such talk was the favorite of my male host.

    He lies on this profile in airbnb. He says he is a hardworking man living with his family, I pictured i wil be totally safe, with a family, IN THE MIDDLE OF NO-WHERE, IN DENMARK.

    The truth was so diferent. Theminute I stepped in, he tells me his wife just divorced him and she lives elsewhere with ‘new husband’. So now im totally alone with a 50+ year old male in the middle of no-where. His kids? Oh. t hey are all university students and dont live in the country side.

    Days 1-2 are ok. BUt when I started having phone calls with Danish friend of mine he became weird immediately asking me how come I have danish friends and me getting angry why he wants to know ”why” i have danish friends.

    Days that followed he ignored me 100%. On his description says he would be paid 30 kroner to transfer a guest to nearest supermarekt (4 km away but with woodland and no bus !! so one has to rely on HIM), and i used that offer every 3 days or so but after i started talking on phone with my danish friend (male) he stopped transfering meto supermarket and i faced the anxiety of staying out of food.

    I started eating some of his food stack and noting on on paper and even sending it via airbnb to make it oficial that im forced to eat form his stack as he doesnt take me to downtown anymore.

    Im almost obese and cannot walk a lot. I tried to take one of his old wobbling bicycles and cycle to the supermarket 4 km away across woodland with speeding cars and no soul in sight, NO BUS LINES serving this area, except a dedicated school bus, and then when i tried to cycle soon enough i met a FREE ROAMING ROTWEILER who wanted to attack me. I headed back to the house. The bicycle was wobbling and he claimed he cannot fix it although all day he was busy DIY-ing his home and garden.

    Soon I bought a bicycle with 300 kroner super rusty but not wobbling from a nearby town. He assisted into transfering it to the house of his. Now he said, im free to go to supermarket anytime i want. But when I tried , being nearly obese and not used to cycling a lot, and seeing that roteweiler again that would chase me I headed back.

    SO now im without food and he started complaining for weird things. I go to kitchen often (!) I ”steal” his food (when I keep record of what i eat?) I am a ”thief” yet when i tell him to kick me out and inform airbnb he doesnt do that.

    Now there is a sense of hate and pressure which is wierd. I stay at the dirty old bedroom and only going to wc. Im afraid of him. He showed me he is a hunter and has 2 guns in his house.
    He invited me to a shooting club to which i went and paid my shooting experience 40 kroner but he claimed to everyone that the money i gave came from him and that he is feeding me. Then i noticed his male friends where looking at my body and smiling with sleazy way.

    I wanted to run into the forest there and escape from everything.

    I had already paid for almsot 2 months thinking this is a danish family with kids in country side and I wil have a cooling summer renting a room in their giant country home. The experience was him demeaning me all the time, presenting me obviously to his friends as something lesser than human, and keep refering to my home country when talking to ANYONE so he was clearly gossiping about me in horrible ways, as soon i saw ppl would look at my breast area, my legs and smile to me as if he told them something about me so that they have the right to stare at my body parts.

    I ask airbnb to leave and be refunded the remainer as i have no communication with host so i have no way to buy food anymore. Airbnb gave me to speak with a woman in my own language when I mentioned Im also afraid of the solo male owner who keeps guns in the house, accuses me of ‘stealing” and is advertising me to local villagers in dubious ways judging from how others there treat me/stare at me and smile only.

    Airbnb says the host denies to refund me and claims i stole money from his wallet !!!!!!!!!

    I frantically find a room in DBA which is a classifies site in Denmark and not in airbnb cause everything was super expensive. I found a room in a nearby town with the intention to stay permanently in Denmark. I had this discussion witht he airbnb freak owner so he propably also told airbnb i broke the law and discussed about permanent rental. So airbnb had no reasons to be on my side, but all reasons to be on his side, even when I said that i feel intense fear from him, i stay locked in my room, and he doesnt go to tsupermarket even when i offer 30 kroner that he wants fo rthe transfer there to shop for groceries. He left me in a state of horror fear and hunger intentionally and thats intented harassment.

    I leave the place and airbnb finally refunds me cause they saitd he host ‘agreed’ (so he could have kept the money if he wanted but after I left he saw no reason to harass me anymore or he didnt want a ”tourist from poor country” to claim that a DANE kept money she paid upfront via airbnb after he made it impossible for her to stay fully the dates she booked and paid). Lets not forget DANES – NICE PEOPLE / FOREIGNERS – BAD SLEAZY THIEVES!!!

    I had similar situation in the dba.dk room I found. Soon enough it was clear to my why the room was a mere 200 euro/month without deposit. The 76 year old owner kept telling me stories about how former female tenants had no taboos into sleeping and having sex with him. And how he treated each one with care and love…. I had paid 1 month. In about 20 days I was out of there. He didnt refund me the rest but thats ok. I was just glad im out of thee and out of Denmark.

  2. Yup, I have only ever once stayed in a room in someone’s house. The experience was pleasant but I definitely prefer to have a place to myself. I value my privacy and while on vacation I do not wish to interact with anyone if I do not want to.
    I hope you get this resolved. But what is it you and your lawyer are looking for since you already got a refund.

  3. When an Airbnb cut you off you cease to exist in their little world. Join the club because that as a host they did the same to me. Kicked me off without a second thought and it is impossible to get any response from them ever again.

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