I’d like to share a recent video an incident involving the adjoining condo in my building and a rather unpleasant Airbnb guest. Our building has had numerous issues with Airbnb guests and it’s changed the sense of community we once had now that half the building is used by far-flung owners as income properties. We no longer know who is coming and going; it’s all unfamiliar faces with the very real threat of the unknown. We also share half our building with the Menno Simon College, so there are students actively in the building. I just wanted the share my horror story.
I rented a condo in Miami for a few days. After coming back from dinner one night, security asked us if we were residents. We explained that we had rented a unit through Airbnb. Security then explained to us that it was against HOA rules to rent for anything less than 90 days and all tenants needed a full background screening.
Security then told us we could not go back in at all. Even after we explained that our luggage and dog were in the unit, they refused. Eventually they did let us through just to grab everything and leave. After talking with the owner, he promised us a full refund. The next day he reneged on the offer.
I then called Airbnb, explained the story, and provided them a copy of the HOA bylaws. The best they would offer was a refund for the booking fees and nothing else. The owner kept listing that same unit immediately afterwards. I really thought Airbnb would be a company that does legitimate business. Not only are they enabling scams but they are ruining residential communities throughout the world.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have an Airbnb but not have to deal with the hassle hosting? Then follow along, dear reader, for I have much to tell you.
This all started in early September. Our landlord informed us and the two other tenants that he was selling the building. Surely this wouldn’t affect us much because our building wasn’t near anything important and had full, long-term occupancy. We were wrong.
December arrived, and my girlfriend and I had just returned from visiting family for Thanksgiving. Suddenly, our upstairs neighbor appeared at our door with a surprise letter from our new landlord. According to this letter, his lease was not going to be renewed. Our neighbor only received this letter because his lease was up in 45 days. We had to ask our new landlord if the same terms would apply to us come August, and sure enough, there would be no lease renewals under this new landlord.
After some basic Google searches we discovered that our new landlord owed 17 buildings in town. All of those buildings were dedicated Airbnbs. We are the last to leave this building, as well as this block. There used to be multiple apartment buildings up and down the street, but all that’s left is a Thai restaurant and an advertising agency. Every residential building is owned by the same man and each unit is rented out as an Airbnb. No one actually lives here any more.
So far we have had to deal with extremely loud guests in the Airbnbs above us, restrictions on our ability to receive mail, and our new landlord demanding we have cameras in the entryway because “the ATF raided the Thai place across the street” (an obvious lie). Two important packages have been returned to sender because the property manager the landlord hired doesn’t care that we still live here.
If you visit a new place, don’t rent from “Superhosts”. Nearly all of them are big time landlords who use Airbnb to destroy communities and drive up rent. Rent your spare room – that’s fine. Don’t buy property just to evict the current residents and convert to short term rentals. If you rent and don’t want this to happen to you, form a tenant union before it’s too late.
Here lies the problem. Airbnb Hell has only has two categories for posting: guest or host. Airbnb also only has two categories for complaints: guest or host. There needs to be a third option: neighbors of Airbnb. One by one, every time a long-term tenant moves out of my block, his home is taken over by estate agents running Airbnb units. In a year’s time they have gone from running one flat to six. On multiple occasions, I’ve had entire families in my stairwell sitting there when I get home, unable to get into the Airbnb unit. I’ve had people come down and knock on my door asking for help while I’m on business calls and Skype. There have been parties of 30+ people who have brought their own sound systems. The audible noise of people vomiting and urinating off of an unregulated balcony with no railings out back was particularly disturbing, as is the thought of a guest unknowingly tossing a cigarette butt down the 5-meter empty space beside the unit and causing a fire, or even worse someone falling down and killing himself.
The particular unit above me was listed with the intention of becoming a sort of youth hostel in a residential area. They list the property as ‘sleeps up to 12’ and ‘suitable for events’. It is an open plan unit with one official bedroom. What often happens is a large group books the unit for a big night out in London. The person with the key comes home first and passes out. All the mates come back later after the clubs close and ring every buzzer not knowing how to get in.
There’s something strange going on in unit to my left. The same three lads stay there every couple of weeks, always on a Monday or Tuesday. Once I could not sleep and went outside to view the properties from the street. I saw two people come along and throw rocks at that unit until they were let in. Turns out the host will hang out in the unit if there are no bookings with his mates and party it up. My neighbor who has a business above this property has complained to the host about weed wafting up while he has clients during office hours on weekdays. The host spat at him. He didn’t even bother to lie. I don’t care what recreational activities people take part in. I am as open minded as it comes. However, when my home life (or my neighbor’s business) is in serious detriment because of Airbnb, we have a problem. I don’t live in a warehouse space. I don’t live in a squat. I live in a contained flat that somehow I’ve been able to maintain for ten years and I’m very proud of that fact. The sharing economy can be great. Sometimes though, the sharing economy = the sharing of one’s sanity with strangers getting a good deal.