Reshma Vansanwala and Jim Santi-Owen didn’t expect to ring in the New Year by finding out that their house had been trashed.
According to local news reports, the couple had rented out their Oakland, California, home on Airbnb to a man from Chicago who said he and his sister were visiting over New Year’s Eve.
The couple’s evening out was cut short when the next-door neighbour texted that there was a huge party at their house. The midwestern man they thought they were renting to turned out to be a teenager, and their home was swarmed with 50 kids and at least four police cars, the couple told local CBS affiliate KPIX5.
“Sofas were outside. The TV was in my bathroom. Objects…photos, memorabilia….I have pictures of my nieces that are on my fridge that were completely on the floor, trampled on and torn, with shoe prints all over…their cute, little faces,” Vasanwala told local news channel Kron4.
Airbnb covers up to $1 million in damages and is working with the hosts.
“We have zero tolerance for this kind of behaviour and if something goes wrong our team works quickly to make it right. We have banned these guests from Airbnb, and our Trust and Safety team has reached out to the hosts to work with her under our $1 Million Host Guarantee, which covers a host’s property in the rare event of damages,” an Airbnb spokesperson said.
With more than a million people staying in Airbnbs on New Year’s Eve, the spokesperson called problems like these “extremely rare” and reminded hosts that there are many features they can use:
“Our community is growing quickly because it is built on trust – it is the foundation of our business. We’ve developed a number of key features that help build this trust, including:
- Tools for guests and hosts to get to know each other before a reservation, including detailed profiles, authentic reviews and our messaging platform. We recommend that hosts use these tools to help ensure that the guest has a history of behaviour that they would feel comfortable with.
- Verified ID, which connects a person’s offline identification (like a driver’s licence or a passport) with the online profile they have created on Airbnb. Look to see if a guest has verified their ID and or feel free to deliver the keys in person.
- A global Trust and Safety team of more than 250 people that work in every time zone to help protect our community.
- Features to help give our hosts peace of mind like the $1 Million Host Guarantee, and Host Protection Insurance.”