What happens when you rent out your home to strangers, only to find they treat it as a party pad for an orgy?
A New Yorker inadvertently rented out his Manhattan apartment to a man who intended to host a ‘XXX Freak Fest’ orgy through Airbnb.
Comedian Ari Teman addressed a Tumblr post of his dealings with the man to Airbnb, which was later reported by Gawker.
The man, calling himself ‘David’, had responded to an ad Teman had left, saying he needed the space to house his visiting brother and sister-in-law who were down for the weekend for a wedding.
Teman briefly met the man to exchange keys before he headed out for dinner.
A person had done a house swap with two blokes who had a bucks’ party and invited hookers, and when they came back they found used condoms hidden in all sorts of weird places.
Unfortunately ‘David’ was unaware Teman was planning to return to his building after dinner to collect a bag he had left.
His well-timed return was brief, however fortuitous - as he was just in time to witness the alarming exclamation of “they’re shutting us down” by ‘David’ to others.
Alarm bells clanging, Teman seized the opportunity to make a dash into his apartment.
Inside, he discovered an Airbnb host’s worst nightmare: furniture had been overturned, dismantled or removed and filling the void was musical equipment, bags of condoms and booze.
A quick Google search by Teman on the phone number ‘David’ had provided for his Airbnb exchanges revealed a February Tweet advertising a ‘BBW Panty Raid Party’ in New York.
Upon further investigation, the account advertised a ‘XXX Freak Fest’ located at Tenman's own address, on the same night.
It turns out ‘David’ had much more in mind than a weekend away with visiting relatives.
Although ‘David’ denied he was planning a party, he answered the phone number connected to the advert for the party. Teman claims he found 'David' was a verified member of Airbnb, who had multiple positive reviews.
Teman, who said he will probably be evicted from his Manhattan apartment as a result of the incident, complained in the post to Airbnb that he has suffered over $US87,067 in losses from the incident.
“You just sent a porn sex fest into my apartment, and now I’ve got over $87,076 in losses," he said on Tumblr. "I had to call 911 and have these “XXX Freak Fest” people removed from my apartment, my super is having me evicted by my landlord, and I do not feel safe here anymore since hundreds of people got a text saying there’s an XXX sex fest in my apartment and continue showing up, according to the doormen who I’ll never be able to look in the face again.”
In what could have been a disastrous PR event for Airbnb, the company was quick to respond – 24 hours was all it took for the company to salvage the situation. A locksmith was sent, hotel plans were made, and compensation to the tune of $23, 817 was wired to Teman. Airbnb has also said they will continue to help him move on from the event.
Even so, it’s unlikely Teman will rent out his home through Airbnb again.
Although it's an extreme example, renting someone's home is not the same as renting a hotel room and guests should behave accordingly, Anna Musson, an expert on etiquette and founder of The Good Manners Company, said.
“It is so important to be a good guest," she said. “It is not the same as the way you would treat a hotel, it is much more personal as it is somebody else’s home.
“It reminds me of a situation where a person had done a house swap with two blokes who had a bucks’ party and invited hookers, and when they came back they found used condoms hidden in all sorts of weird places.
“I don’t know where you would go for that – surely your own home is the best place to do something like that, or the home of someone you don’t like.”
The Airbnb incident recalls Australia's own ‘house swap from hell’, when an English family and an Australian family’s differing expectations of cleanliness led to them ejecting each other from their respective homes.
House-swap organisations suggest more discussion needs to take place to establish boundaries before keys are handed over.
Although Airbnb chose to reimburse the comedian for his losses, an Australian host left in a similar situation cannot fall back on insurance to cover their losses should a guest leave their house in less than desirable condition.
As Fairfax Media reported early this year, house and contents insurance does not cover those who rent out their places to house sitters or swappers while they are away.
However, Consumer Affairs Victoria point out that holiday and short-stay accommodation of less than 60 days are not rental accommodation under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997.
A spokesperson said even if there is no written contract, there is a general legal requirement that the person using the property take proper care of it, which includes not damaging the premises.
"People who let their properties through sites such as Airbnb should carefully check the terms and conditions of the contract that the company stipulates, which may set out the visitor's duty to take care of the property," he said.
Gawker noted that investigation is key to avoiding nasty surprises. Had Teman done his homework before he agreed to rent out his place, his situation could have been avoided.
But it’s doubtful the 11 million guests Airbnb quote as having had ‘a safe and positive experience’ did just that.
“There is an enormous amount of goodwill here and I think people rely on that,” Musson agrees.
“Those people will second guess every guest now, and that is a real shame. We really do need to keep the trust.”