Airbnb Party Houses Are Out of Control

“I’m in hell. This is hell and I’m in it.”

That was the second to last complaint I left with Airbnb about the McMansion next door. The last one I just left a few minutes ago, at three o’clock in the morning on a Friday. I have to get to work in a few hours. I live in a residential area of Los Angeles. There’s a high school nearby, lots of homes and apartments, and it’s comfortably far from noisy areas and nightclubs. Within the past couple years, one of the properties right behind our apartment complex underwent construction, and when it was completed there was a massive open-plan mansion there. Just kind of wedged in among the other houses. It’s a quaint little neighborhood just off of Melrose.

Walled off, it’s like a fortress that you can’t see into, but you can certainly hear everything happening within. There’s a large pool area and a patio in the back, about ten or fifteen feet from the bedroom windows of every rear-facing apartment in our building, and you can hear the rushing of the swimming pool’s water feature with your windows closed. That’s actually quite nice… it’s like camping near a tiny, douchebag waterfall.

When there are guests staying there, you can hear the water feature and literally everything else, and that’s why I’m in hell. The property owner rents this property out at $600 a night. That attracts two types of clientele: people pooling their cash and looking for a place to party, and rich douchebags. The difference between the two groups is negligible. No matter who the guest is, it always results in some form of party, with shouting, blaring music, and general assholery until around four o’clock in the morning on any given night. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Saturday or a Tuesday.

These people paid $600 to party in a mansion in our back yard and – by god – they’re going to make the most of it. We can close all of our windows and crank up the volume if we want to watch a movie and it makes no difference; the noise carries so well and so aggressively that any music or shouting drowns us out in our own home. It’s like they’re bringing the party into our apartment, into our living room, into our laps, sitting right down and screaming in our faces.

To escape the noise, I’ve devised a lot of tactics, mostly involving a variety of white-noise devices and noise-cancelling headphones. What a future we live in. Several people in my apartment building have complained, either to the police or to Airbnb. It’s not like we were expecting much, but Airbnb somehow exceeded our expectations in not giving a single f#$k about us or our complaints. The police – I was told the last time I called – are generally putting up with too high a volume of calls to deal with noise complaints.

The property owner, who lives (I think) in France most of the year, is the kind of guy who charges $600 a night for strangers to party in his party mansion, so his capacity for caring about whether or not his neighbors sleep at night is buried away somewhere in the wretched cavity of his decomposing soul. One of our neighbors was talking about going to the local courthouse, but as of yet, nothing has materialized there.

I spent an hour one night just trying to make contact with the guests who were having the world’s loudest bachelorette party. Or maybe it was a birthday party. Or maybe I don’t give a f#$k what it was. All I really care about was the five hours of shrill screaming that started at 7:00 PM and somehow lasted throughout the entire night. I discovered that the wall surrounding the mansion is apparently very good at letting noise escape, but also very good at keeping noise out. I shouted, I pounded, I shouted some more. The front gate was locked, of course, and it wasn’t until the next day and I was speaking to a neighbor that I discovered the property owner had disconnected the front gate’s buzzer, so that if you buzz it for an hour in the middle of the night, no one inside the mansion can hear it. Ultimately, I wound up scaling one of the property’s walls in order to get the attention of the guests so they might be so kind as to shut up. Great times, all around.

The long and the short of the matter is, the poor suckers who live in my apartment complex – all of whom have jobs we need to be rested for, some of us having children who definitely do not manage well when they don’t sleep – are living within ten feet of a nightclub. A shitty, horrible nightclub. For me, the ordeal will be over on the 15th of December. That’s when I can move into a new place in a different part of town, where I’ll be able to sleep at night. My roommate is moving out on the 8th. For a moment we entertained the notion of sticking out the rest of the month, like normal people living in a normal apartment, but there’s nothing normal about this. There’s nothing normal at all about this. This is hell. I’m in hell.

Apartment Above Turned into Airbnb, Ruined Everything

This spring my landlord decided to terminate my upstairs neighbor’s contract and let out the flat on Airbnb. The reason was plausible: she wants to use the apartment when visiting from overseas and needs the flexibility. The apartment is being rented out on Airbnb now by a third party who manages about 15 other properties around our region (a big touristy region in the Alps which is very popular in summer).

Despite having an arrangement that the guests are supposed to arrive by 9:00 PM and be quiet by 10:00 PM, reality is totally different. Most of the guests completely ignore the arrival time and then because they must have major jet lag, stay up half the night crashing around the kitchen, walking up and down, and generally being a pain. Since the minimum stay is only three nights and they can use Instant Book. We get all the people that couldn’t give a toss about anyone else. I often get no more than two hours of sleep a night and have to scream and shout at them and bang on the walls.

Why?

Because we live in an old wooden chalet where you can hear everything. Life is hell. I hate Airbnb and the whole business it has morphed in to the past few years. It has nothing to do with the original idea. Where I live, everyone is getting on the bandwagon; homes are being bought up and rented out on Airbnb. They guests arrive at all hours, can’t figure out where they’re supposed to go, Walk into other people’s houses, leave their trash everywhere, and put out cigarettes in the garden. All these little things become so annoying over time. I wish someone would clamp down and regulate it more.

Hosting Companies Are Slowly Ruining Airbnb

I am neither a host nor guest although I have used Airbnb as a guest and had great experiences. I applied for a casual job as a cleaner for an Airbnb house. In applying I dealt with the owner. After weeks of delays and masses of emails the house was finally on the market.

It was only then that I realised it was managed by a hosting company and they were in another country, as was the owner. The house was just that; it was certainly not a home and to begin with only had the absolute minimum of fittings (cheap bedding, one towel per guest, no saucepans, cooking utensils, oven and dishwasher not working, no toaster, no microwave etc). Basically it was a two bedroom house with a queen bed in one room and a horrible single bunk in the second room. While it was advertised as suitable for five people, one would have to sleep on a thin foam mattress in the master bedroom and the other guest on the lounge in the living area near the TV.

This lounge was not a sofa bed, and was not long enough for an adult to stretch out his legs. There were no glasses (just plastic cups), one mug, plate, bowl per person and the same with cutlery. There were no pictures on the walls (just the hooks where pictures had been) no books, magazines, music, or DVDs. There was a large TV that has the minimum number of stations available, i.e. no cable or Netflix or something similar. There is internet and it is actually rather good.

People are being charged nearly $170 a night for this. I spent a lot of my own time cleaning the house before the first guests as it just had that dirt that tends to accumulate when someone lives there, especially when you remove most of the furniture. For some bizarre reason, it was heavily booked for the first few months. All short-term guests seemed happy enough. By this time I had convinced the owner to purchase a few necessities such as drinking glasses, extra bedding (winter was on the way), and saucepans. Some things I bought myself as I realised they were needed.

Once some longer term people stayed, they mentioned in their reviews things such as the fact there was no oven or dishwasher. The ‘host’, who pretends to be the owner, told big fat lies and said the previous guests had damaged the dishwasher; that’s why it didn’t work. A previous time they said a guest had broken the oven, when it has never worked. When other guests mentioned the lack of cooking facilities, the ‘host’ basically accused them of being too fussy. None of this “customer is always right” stuff.

When you look at the reviews the hosting companies give for each guest, it’s exactly the same wording for every one, so completely useless as a guide to other hosts. I used to give them a review of each group of guests as they left but now I don’t bother. There’s no point. This host (who uses a pseudonym to pretend he isn’t the owner) has never been to the house, just seen some very selective images sent by the owner. I am the one who deals with the guests. They have mostly been wonderful and grateful for the effort I have made to make sure the property is clean and as comfortable as possible.

When I consider that I originally thought Airbnb was a platform to have a local experience: have access to a home so that you could live, cook, maybe even have someone over for dinner and experience someone’s home. The host that runs this house has hundreds of properties yet still pretends guests are dealing directly with the owner. I need the work so I am still cleaning (and of course have become the contact person when things go wrong). I think places run by hosting companies should be marked as such. Some people might actually prefer it that way.

The problem is of course, once business takes over where communities once reigned, it all goes horribly wrong. eBay is the perfect example of that. Owners who share their homes with guests are mostly going to be proud of their place and treat the guests with respect. That has been my experience using Airbnb. Hosting companies just want to make money and do very little other than take bookings and money, and then take a really long time to pay.