Rachel Bassini had a horror story experience with Airbnb last month.
She rented her penthouse in New York’s East Village to a man she thought was travelling with his family, but returned home to find that it had been used for a wild party and the place was completely trashed.
There was human feces, used condoms and other disgusting things all over her bathroom and furniture.
(Skip straight to the photos.)
And then, Airbnb gave her some confusing information when she asked about being covered by Airbnb’s Host Guarantee.
Airbnb advertises that it will cover hosts for property damage up to a $US1 million, via a program called the Host Guarantee. But when Bassini contacted Airbnb about it after the incident, a representative discouraged her from filing a claim, telling her she wouldn’t be covered, she says.
The good news is that, after being contacted by Business Insider, the company did the right thing by her, and promised to cover the damages if Bassini sends in the necessary paperwork.
Airbnb sent us this statement:
Airbnb is built on a foundation of trust and respect and this conduct is unacceptable. We permanently banned the person who rented this space from using our site shortly after this incident occurred. Over 11 million guests have spent the night on Airbnb and problems don’t happen often, but when they do, we work hard to address them. We encourage hosts to submit documentation as quickly as possible so we can expedite our review, but we should have moved faster to ensure this case was properly evaluated. We’re working to reimburse the host for costs associated with this incident.
Here’s what happened:
A guy named “Jeffrey” booked her condo through Airbnb for Feb. 15. Bassini had rented her condo out a few other times when she traveled via Airbnb and had good experiences.
Jeffrey had no reviews on Airbnb “but his profile was of him and his wife and young daughter — seemingly harmless,” Bassini said. “Upon my return, I found feces covering the bathroom and couch, used condoms all over the bedroom, and chewed gum on the floors, walls, and couches, among other horrendous things.”
Then she discovered Instagram pictures and videos showing a massive party in her house, wall-to-wall people and booze.
Jeffrey also failed to return her keys, she says, including special elevator security keys to her building and penthouse. She calculated she was out about $US2,000.
Bassini called Airbnb on the phone Feb. 18 and was told the damages she experienced were not covered, she says.
“I had been informed by a customer service agent on the phone that the Host Guarantee only covered structural damage, not contents,” she said. But that’s not true. Airbnb does cover these kinds of damages, it tells Business Insider.
She then made a mistake of her own. She never filled out a claim.
“They told me, I think twice, to fill it out and I didn’t do so because I had been told I wouldn’t be covered,” she explains.
Thinking Airbnb wouldn’t reimburse her, she reached out to the guest directly, Jeffery, trying to get him to pay for the damages and return the keys. When messages to him via Airbnb began to bounce back, she contacted Airbnb again and was told that Jeffrey’s account was suspended, pending an investigation.
She asked again about the host guarantee and was told this time that she wasn’t covered because she failed to fill out the claim within 72 hours of the incident.
Airbnb then credited her $US100 and told her, “Unfortunately this case has been closed and no further payouts will be possible.”
After Business Insider began inquiring about Bassini’s situation, Airbnb reversed that decision, reopened her case and promised to cover damages if she submits the proper paperwork, including the cost of the keys.
Also, to its credit, the company apologized in writing, sending Bassini an email:
“I am very sorry for the initial confusion with respect to whether these damages were covered under the Host Guarantee. The founding principle on which that program was founded is grounded in the belief that hosts should have peace of mind when booking with Airbnb.”
Business Insider talked to “Jeffrey,” who doesn’t deny the party or the mess. He says he was contacted by Bassini and agreed to pay the cleaning bill.
He told us: “We had discussed that and she said she was going to hire cleaning services. I sent her an email asking her how does she want the payment to be sent for the cleaning services.” He says once he hears from Bassini about the bill, he expects to remit payment and “be done with it.”
The guest advertised to his friends that he was having a big party at Bassini's place. This is a flyer for the party that Bassini later found on Instagram. He didn't mention a party to her when booking the penthouse.
Bassini found dozens of photos and some videos on Instagram of the huge party at her house. Here's a few. Neighbours later complained to her that people were having sex in the hallways of the building.
When Bassini returned home, the place was trashed. That wooden wall is really a huge 10-foot mirror dragged into the room, scraping the floor. Note the upside-down side table, leg broken. Some of those things on the floor are condoms.
Most things in the house were unplugged and moved. A table in this room was damaged. Filth was left all over the bed.
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