If you are a host potentially housing federal employees, you need to be aware of Airbnb’s tolerance of marijuana use by guests. Federal employees are randomly tested for drugs to maintain security clearances, which will terminate their employment if they fail. This includes marijuana as it is a Schedule I controlled substance.
Despite this, Airbnb policy cites that “many states” legalized marijuana, and therefore they allow its use by guests. As a host, you need to realize the potential for cross-contamination of guests, and your potential liability if you’re the cause. After over four years of solid five-star ratings and excellent guests, our number came up. We had the guest from hell.
The 21-year-old arrived on a “one-year break” from college, and claimed to have a job telecommuting and a full ride to a good school. When we showed her around the room, and the amenities, it was as if she wasn’t even listening.
A few weeks later she asked to turn the heat up at night. We had to point out that she had a heated bed. She often didn’t clean up after herself in the common area kitchen. Once, we asked her to remove dishes from the sink. She removed some and promptly added more. She routinely woke us up at 5:00 AM singing or talking loudly on the phone, and had to be reminded of the rules numerous times.
When her time was up on Airbnb, she asked to extend four months, and promised to follow the rules. One night at 4:00 AM, she woke us up yelling vulgarities. We texted her, “haha, quiet time please.” She later tried explaining it away as her watching and commenting on a documentary, as unbelievable as that was.
Two days later, in retaliation, she sent a text complaining of loud sex noises from our room, saying she had an interview to attend and asking us to keep it down. Then she texted that she needed to talk, setting up an appointment to meet in the kitchen. We set up a different time and she didn’t reply or show.
Later that night, she said that she needed to talk to us “about boundaries.” I texted her back the rules of the house, emphasizing the ones that she was breaking. She texted that she felt “uncomfortable” and made up a story about her catching us having sex in a common area within plain sight. We refused to give it credence and told her she had a week to leave.
Upon leaving, she demanded her money back for the rent, prior to room inspection, and sent harassing and threatening texts. We inspected the room and it reeked of marijuana. Servpro inspected it, found receipts for pot, spent vials, and paraphernalia. Their estimate was $1,500 to clean the room, contents, and high-touch common areas.
That night, her mom called and asks why we hadn’t returned her money. We told her the situation, and that she was liable to pay for cleaning to decontaminate. She wasn’t aware of her daughter smoking pot, and she wasn’t aware of the daughter’s promiscuity. We felt bad having to be the one to tell her.
Within a week, we got a call from Airbnb. The guest filed a complaint. We told our side of the story and sent pictures of solid evidence of pot use, spent containers, receipts, notes to herself with a daily schedule beginning with “smoke” at 6:00 AM. It didn’t matter. Airbnb removed our accounts, citing a violation of their safety policy and providing no other evidence. They refused to pay for the cleaning, saying that their policy does not prohibit marijuana use, although we explained that there were many federal facilities in the area, and workers are subjected to drug testing, including marijuana as it’s a Schedule I federally controlled substance.
The guest was using oils as well, and it was all over the place. Future guests, mostly professionals, could test positive on random drug tests and lose their security clearances and jobs by coming into contact with the residues in the room. Regardless, Airbnb refused to pay, and we were banned with no explanation other than the vague violation of the safety policy.
Other than the cleaning costs not being refunded, we were glad to be done with Airbnb, as it was an eye-opening experience. Reading other experiences of hosts here cemented this decision. Again, beware of Airbnb’s tolerance of federally illegal drug use by their guests, and let these hosts’ experiences here be a lesson to those thinking of doing business with Airbnb.