News Racism, lies and violence: Airbnb guests share their horror stories

Racism, lies and violence: Airbnb guests share their horror stories

shocked woman
Not all Airbnb guests are greeted by cosy accommodation and friendly hosts. Photo: Getty
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It was one of the United States’ founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin, who famously declared, “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days”.

But in the increasingly popular “sharing economy” of businesses such as accommodation website Airbnb, is letting people into your home any worse than entering the home of a stranger?

Host horror stories might not be as common as nightmare guest tales, but they exist.

An Airbnb host recently copped a $US5000 fine for rejecting a woman’s stay because of her race, while another is facing attempted murder charges for pushing a guest down a flight of stairs.

Melburnian Jordan Altis told The New Daily his week-long Airbnb stay in the inner-city London district of Shoreditch in June 2016 was more of a staged lock-out.

The 24-year-old praised the location of the apartment, but that’s where the commendations ended.

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Melbourne man Jordan Altis had a nightmare trip to London. Photo: Supplied

“If you are not interested in actually having a place to stay then this is the place for you,” Mr Altis said in his scathing online review.

Although given a key by his host upon arrival, he discovered the “poorly cut” key failed to open the door, leaving him and his friend stranded across the street until his ‘host’ returned home from work at 10pm.

Mr Altis and his friend weren’t given a towel until the third day of their stay, greasy pots littered the kitchen bench and the only internet available was a ‘hot spot’ via the host’s phone.

The host even had a party during their stay.

“He threw a party one night and there were strangers trampling down the stairs. Having 15 mates over…it was pretty un-ideal,” Mr Altis said.

Mr Altis said he complained to Airbnb and sought to cancel the booking, but the website’s administrators said the room was not refundable.

Airbnb gave him a $150 “good will” voucher to compensate for his stay.

“I’m so cautious now and if a place doesn’t have a ‘million’ good reviews, I’m not staying there,” he said.

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Expectation vs reality: How Mr Altis’s room was advertised (left) and how it actually appeared (right). Photo: Supplied

Mr Altis’s experience calls to mind the case of one host in California, who was fined thousands of dollars and ordered to take classes in Asian-American studies after rejecting a woman’s application to stay because of her racial background.

The Guardian reported the host, Tami Barker, initially agreed to 26-year-old law clerk Dyne Suh’s request to add two more guests to the booking at her California mountain cabin, but later reneged and sent a series of nasty messages to her guest.

“I wouldn’t rent to u if u were the last person on earth,” Ms Barker wrote. “One word says it all. Asian.”

Another host in the Netherlands is facing attempted murder charges after mobile phone footage captured a woman being pushed down a flight of stairs.

In the video, South African filmmaker Sibahle Steve Nkumbi falls face-first down a set of stairs after a confrontation with the Amsterdam-based host.

The video shows a man yelling, “out, out”, throwing bags and later Ms Nkumbi down the staircase.

Ms Nkumbi told local media she and her group were running an hour late to check out before the host became “very emotional” and referred to them as “you people”.

Airbnb official David King told Reuters the alleged incident was “appalling and unconscionable behaviour”.

“We will take the strongest actions we can against such abhorrent conduct, including banning people for life from our platform and assisting law enforcement with their investigation and potential prosecution,” Mr King said.

Since the company launched in 2009, Airbnb lists 800,000 properties in 34,000 cities across 90 different countries.

The online marketplace encourages people to rent out their properties or spare rooms to guests and takes three per cent commission of every booking from hosts and between six per cent and 12 per cent from guests.

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