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Dear AirBNB, No thank you for the XXX Freak Fest (dearairbnb.tumblr.com)
420 points by joshmn on March 16, 2014 | hide | past | favorite | 240 comments

Unfortunately, this is why there's hotel regulations. I think AirBnb is net-good, but it certainly is going to make a few people's lives miserable in the meantime. Hopefully AirBnb finds a way to mitigate these issues.

That being said, I guarantee you were violating your lease when you used AirBnb. And, you approved the person to stay in your house. If anyone should be mad, it's your neighbors and apartment owner -- they followed the rules. This is really unfortunate, but it's not all AirBnb's fault.

You are saying:

(a) This could never happen a hotel room.

(b) Since Airbnb is illegal in NYC, it's not Airbnb's fault someone is trusting them and their vetting system in NYC.*

Both seems false to me.

* Obviously it's not their "fault", but they should take responsibility, just like an insurance company / hotel chain would.

ADDITION: What's the purpose of Airbnb's vetting/trust system? Is it not the same as the purpose of hotel regulation? Should they not both serve a similar function?

No, it totally could happen in a hotel room. And I bet it does, constantly. But hotels are equipped for it, so there's fewer issues (no personal property damaged, better fire codes, credit card on file, not happening in a residential area, etc).

And I didn't say (b). Rather, I said AirBnb didn't force them to let strangers into their home; it was their decision. AirBnb approved the people, sure -- but so did the apartment owner.

EDIT: In response to your addition -- AirBnb doesn't verify they won't do something bad (they can't see the future). Rather, it means that AirBnb has verified they are who they said they are. So, AirBnb can now go to the police with that information.

I think Airbnb has the potential - and wants to - be as equipped as hotels are in most of those dimensions. That's why they reimbursed the person whose house was vandalized, and why they do keep banking info on file (IIRC).

It is true it was their decision, but they did it under a false impression. Who facilitated this impression? Who ultimately allows Airbnb to stay in NYC? Airbnb.

I agree Airbnb can go to the police, but in the meantime it doesn't seem unreasonable that they help the person out, just like it doesn't seem unreasonable that a hotel chain is helping out a local hotel when a prostitution ring is uncovered.

AirBnB requires credit card on file, doesn't it? And property gets damaged in hotels the same way, the only difference whose property it is - hotel owner's or appartment owner's. As for fire code, I don't see how it is even relevant.

FD sets max occupancy for confined spaces. This includes public access areas (eg, elevators).

So? It doesn't prevent people from ignoring those rules, and there's no fire inspector going through all rooms to check if there's no code violation. Again, the prevention here is impossible. Fining people that did it after the fact - easily, but that's not the problem here. If having "max occupancy set" were a problem, AirBnB would just said on the site "no more than 3 people and no wild sex parties" and problem solved, right?

It is legally relevant, whether you like it or not. There's a lot of bluster in the rest of your response. I sure as hell don't support the hotel lobby and I'm not a fan of "hotel taxes" either. But that's special interest politics and its quite removed from the broad structuring of risk that legitimate regulation facilitates. Fire-codes, health-codes, and fundamental liability for willful corporate malfeasance/negligence are not so easily dismissed.

Nobody is dismissing anything. OP has posted a story about his bad experience with AirBnB-approved people he let into his place, and the knee-jerk response was "that's why we have hotel regulations". No, that's not why - hotel regulations would not do anything to prevent the specific thing OP was complaining about.

That is a very common knee-jerk response which appears any time new and disruptive industry challenges one with entrenched regulation that had already captured the law and the regulatory agencies. Every time something wrong happens - and eventually something wrong always happens, nothing is perfect - we get a knee-jerk "that's why we need all that regulation". Never it is examined if the said regulation would actually prevent the said bad from happening (usually not) and whether the costs of this regulation is worse overall than the bad thing happening. This is so basic logic fallacy that it just boggles the mind how so many people insist so much on not seeing it.

Again, I'm affraid you're being incredibly naive.

What the OP reported was that a business fronted its way into a residential building (using AirBnB) to hold a commercial event in an un-sanctioned venue.

This is exactly why places like NYC have regulations of various types, of which a multitude are applicable.

It is incredibly inefficient economically to have consumers "due dilligence" every potentially manipulative market exchange with a limited liability c-corp. So, we can either ban limited liability c-corps outright (forcing liability onto biz owners) or we can allow them within a regulatory framework that forces "structured" liability onto them.

The idea that this is some kind of logical fallacy is hillarious. It is quite sound, and is in general acceptable trade-off. It allows capital concentration/formation which is required for MES projects, whist not allowing abuse of power driven by such scale variance.

in college, I once stated in a 2 bed hotel room with 16 people. hotel regulations do not prevent this any more than airbnb stated limits

in college, I once...

This could never happen a hotel room.

Hotels are staffed and better prepared to deal with such situations.

Also if a hotel room gets trashed, that's just a business expense. Most people don't have their bed bolted to the wall, and tend to have nicer furnishings and appliances, etc, than you'll find in a hotel. Ignore the value even: we're talking someone's property, someone's life. If a room, a floor, or even the entire hotel gets shut down due to destruction, it's inconvenient and an expense. If I get evicted, that's a crisis, at least for a time.

The "OMG! DISRUPTING!" crowd seem to hand-wave these situations away, as if destroying "evil" business models is far more important than the impact it has on individuals. If someone's life is ruined 1 out 1000 AirBnB rentals, that's too often.

> Most people don't have their bed bolted to the wall, and tend to have nicer furnishings and appliances, etc, than you'll find in a hotel

shouldn't you as an apartment owner think about that before signing up to airBnB?

If AirBnB would like to formally institute a policy of "haha, WTF were you thinking letting us send people from the internet to stay in your house?", then they should be wholly unsurprised when numerous government bodies shut down their business completely. Soon.

AirBNB's entire business model is based on people NOT thinking that.

Overwhelming majority of rental cases on AirBnB are ending very well. I just recently used AirBnB to stay a week in a 1br apartment owned by a nice family in a great location for 1/3 of the price I'd pay for more inferior hotel. I would never think of doing anything to harm my hosts. 99% people think the same. Of course, there's also 1% of the rest, but if you live your life worrying about the percentage of psychos in the population, you only will be hurting yourself.

Firstly, fairly sure it's way less likely than 1 in 1000 - ptmoee like 1 in 100,000, but even if it wasn't: really? If we take the decision to let our apartment when we 're away in the summer and something happens then, well,that's my shout. Everyone here is adult, and the platform's reasonably symmetrical in terms of contracting ability. No one forced the guy, although yeah, there's a clear case of fraud/ deception here. "One is too many" type stuff is just histrionic.

I agree that "one is too many" is unreasonable, if by "one" we mean "one person's house was violated". If we mean "one person's house was violated and AirBnB did nothing about it", then, no, I think that's fairly reasonable.

Either it happens often enough that AirBnB needs to be regulated or it's rare enough to chalk up to unpredictable freak events, in which case they ought to bend over backwards to spend the little bit of money to make people whole again.

Presumably AirBnB needs to do some verification, so they're not handing out cash to anyone who makes up a story. Any such verification system will have some rate of false positives.

The purpose of hotel regulations isn't to keep these things from happening. It's to keep these things confined to places equipped to deal with them, and zoned to keep it all away from residential places.

Not to mention that when this does happen in a hotel, no-one ends up evicted over it.

Everyone just high fives instead.

> What's the purpose of Airbnb's vetting/trust system? Is it not the same as the purpose of hotel regulation?

No they're not. Hotel regulations are actual regulations, enforced by the state. Airbnb's "vetting" system is just a marketing device, enforced by no one, and that you trust at your own expense, as these stories show.

You oversell the government. Government regulations is ultimately just a promise backed by reputation. Some agencies follow through, some don't.

Yeah but you can legally appeal to government regulations. What recourse do you have with Airbnb? Writing a blog post?

You can sue AirBnB. You'd say it is expensive, but "legally appeal" is always a pretty expensive thing to do.

And, as far as I know, the regulatory agencies do not have actual legal obligation to consistently enforce their regulations - they have a very wide discretion, so if they want to ignore you, you don't have a lot of recourse. In fact, lately we have a lot of instances of executive powers modifying and plainly abandoning enforcing the laws they don't like. You don't have a lot of options in such case.

A reputation whose life is significantly longer and larger than air bnb.

Hopefully AirBnb finds a way to mitigate these issues.

Perhaps with rules? Of the type one might describe as "regulations"?

Imposing rules on your own users for the good of your other users is not at all the same thing as imposing rules on everyone for the good of those who paid for your reelection campaign.

What if those same rules were applied industry-wide for the good of users of AirBnb and other services?

At what point does it morph into a corrupt regulation?

Mutual agreement vs imposition

My initial thought is to draw the line at rules which are enforced by a group that uses violence to prevent other groups from offering alternative rules and/or is funded by taxation.

Like abolishing slavery?

Seriously, you're excluding the possibility of any legitimate government taking action in the public interest.

Yes, I'm excluding the possibility of any legitimate government.

Who do you imagine paid for hotel regulation?

I'll pretend that's an earnest question and give an earnest answer. Hotels paid for the hotel regulation.

Hotels paid to have costly and inconvenient regulations placed upon themselves? Why?

Perhaps a payout under the terms of


will mitigate the issue that this particular host encountered.

“Excluded Accommodation” means:

any condominium, townhouse, co-operative, apartment, or other unit within a multiple-dwelling structure, complex, or similar type development to the extent owned in whole or in part by anyone other than you

Since he mentioned a landlord, I'm doubtful that he owned his apartment.

Considering the host guarantee was put in place in response to a customer whose apartment was vandalised[1] this seems like a remarkable exception.

[1] http://www.cbsnews.com/news/airbnb-will-insure-up-to-1-milli...

AirBnB happily collects fees from illegal customers, but can't very well pay out insurance to them. That would be a dstectable violation of the law.

It's remarkable if the guarantee was an honest attempt to protect hosts, but makes a lot of sense as a cynical PR stunt designed to convince people to let AirBNB customers into their homes without the actual cost of protecting them.

I think the host in that case owned their appartment.

I don't think so; her post refers to AirBnB helping with the "monthly rent"


No, hotel regulations are there because hotel owners lobby the lawmakers to protect their business and exclude competition. Nothing in the hotel regulations could prevent somebody from inviting people in and having a wild sex party. Of course, eventually they'd be thrown out, and possibly billed for damages, but there's no way to prevent it upfront.

Maybe you should look up the rash of hotel fires before some of those regulations were put on the books. Or consider the fact that many of our homes are in apartment buildings and we didn't sign on to have an illegal hotel in the apartment next door.

What fires have to do with it? The OP didn't complain about fire. It complained about his guests inviting other people, having wild sex party and trashing the apartment. Tell me that never happened in hotels.

You make it sound like OP was running a crime syndicate there. He just let people stay in his place for a couple of nights. People do it all the time. I did it many times for my friends and was the beneficiary of the same many times. One time he trusted wrong people's recommendation and it didn't work out. It could as well happen to anybody - you could trust your best friend's friend and let him stay at your place and he could invite his pals and turn the place upside down. Nothing to do with fire codes.

Hotels have fire code and regulation to keep people from dying, not having sex.

I'm sure it happens in hotels all the time.

I don't want it happening next door to my apartment, with strangers inside my building

It's not just for the benefit of hotel owners. Cities typically charge huge taxes on hotel stays, so illicit hotels are dodging taxes. And there are actually some vestiges of regulations directed at protecting consumers from hotels that are firetraps, lack adequate ventilation, etc.

Well, you're right, that too. Though I'm not sure what this tax is for - i.e. what exactly is it except "these people do not live here, so they aren't our voters, so fleecing them a bit won't hurt"?

Yes, that's exactly what that kind of tax is for.

Go and tell that to OP's neighbors, who were not expecting an XXX fuck fest in their building, complete with random ejection of furniture into the street.

Yeah, around here (Copenhagen) the negative attitudes towards AirBnB are much more strongly driven by neighbors than by hotels. Coop associations are particularly active in tracking down people who're subletting "off the books", often driven by complaints being raised at the monthly association meetings. These come up for reasons ranging from specific ones like noisy parties in the floor above, to vague ones like "too many weird people I don't recognize coming and going".

I agree with what you say, with a limit.

The problem is what "verified" means.

It seems it only means that AirBnB only checked that the person is who they are and they have some credit card on file.

The problem is the way it appears conveys more trust than it should because verified appears in way that says "secure". I agree it's not what it says, but still, that's how it "appears". It sounds as if there's some sort of insurance.

Speaking of insurance, does AirBnB offer insurance (for a price or not) to its customers? Does the lack of regulations and the gray area prevent this?

Let's not forget in the end the victim is the OP. He's probably been careless, but he remains a victim.

Airbnb provides various means of "verification". You can verify a telephone number, an ID, Facebook profile (and even see how many friends the person has). Airbnb also provides references by friends and reviews by Airbnb members. Example:http://imgur.com/yQaSBdO Some of these verifications are optional, and as far as I know only a number, email and sometimes an ID are compulsory. The fundamental issue at hand is whether the OP is at fault for being too naive, not checking for proper verifications and simply choosing to trust the renter based on the info he/she provided. Personally, I don't think Airbnb is at fault. (did the OP even bother to talk to the renter over the phone?). I personally love using Airbnb and will continue to use it. What is continually a worry for me is is the lack of common sense people have when renting out their homes to complete strangers. What would have been the difference if this person was simply running an illegal bed & breakfast in his apartment and this happened? I feel sorry for the OP, but if you just choose to trust "strangers" and not take proper precautions and then expect Airbnb to have all the blame, then you're just kinda of a moron.

This happens all the time in hotels. Where do you think a good chunk of xxx movies are shot? I will answer this for you - HOTELS or any homes producers have access to before deadline. This wont be the first, second or last time either.

>That being said, I guarantee you were violating your lease when you used AirBnb

How can you guarantee that? Plenty of places let you sublet. Hell, in reasonable jurisdictions you can't legally prevent someone from subletting.

The fact that he's getting evicted is a pretty good clue. While it's possible to get evicted for a one time noise incident, it's highly unlikely. Violating the sublet terms on the other hand is a slam dunk. Also, I've never seen an NYC rental contract that allowed for subletting without the landlord's permission. Finally, in the very unsual circumstance that he had a lease that would allow for short term sublets, I'd think he would mention it.

So all and all the grandparent's guarantee is pretty solid. This guy isn't a victim, he's one of the co-conspirators, as are AirBnb. His landlord and neighbors are the victims.

I believe in NYC, while the lease may say they require permission to sublet, the law says otherwise. So long as they don't have any reasonable reason to restrict you it's permitted.

The law forbids a landlord from unreasonably refusing permission to sublet, which is quite a bit different from not requiring permission in the first place.

N.Y. RPP. LAW § 226-b : NY Code - Section 226-B: Right to sublease or assign - See more at: http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/nycode/RPP/7/226-b#sthash.y9ORKJ...

2. (a) A tenant renting a residence pursuant to an existing lease in a dwelling having four or more residential units shall have the right to sublease his premises subject to the written consent of the landlord in advance of the subletting. Such consent shall not be unreasonably withheld.

(b) The tenant shall inform the landlord of his intent to sublease by mailing a notice of such intent by certified mail, return receipt requested. Such request shall be accompanied by the following information: (i) the term of the sublease, (ii) the name of the proposed sublessee, (iii) the business and permanent home address of the proposed sublessee, (iv) the tenant's reason for subletting, (v) the tenant's address for the term of the sublease, (vi) the written consent of any cotenant or guarantor of the lease, and (vii) a copy of the proposed sublease, to which a copy of the tenant's lease shall be attached if available, acknowledged by the tenant and proposed subtenant as being a true copy of such sublease. ...

(c) Within ten days after the mailing of such request, the landlord ...


5. Any sublet or assignment which does not comply with the provisions of this section shall constitute a substantial breach of lease or tenancy.

6. Any provision of a lease or rental agreement purporting to waive a provision of this section is null and void.

It's permitted provided you ask for permission. It seems unlikely that was the case here.

This guys story is an example of a reasonable reason to restrict. Tons of horror stories like this. I would not be surprised "Airbnb clauses" become standard in rental contracts AND maybe even condo and co-op bylaws, depending on how the owners vote, of course, which will vary by building, some allowing, some not, but it should be a conscious decision, not a silent issue kind of thing. The clauses will probably forbid Arbnb rentals. If Airbnb rentals are allowed, the landlord and/or condo/co-op association should get a cut of the money. Administrative costs, extra hassle, risk, insurance, and, yes, a share of the profits for enabling it.

Subletting for less than thirty days is always illegal.

Because he's in NYC, and it's illegal according to the "Illegal Hotel Law":


Even if there's nothing about subletting (which I doubt), you can't do illegal stuff without violating a lease.

"you can't do illegal stuff without violating a lease"

This is speculation and not true. Not to mention that the criminal code and the civil code are distinct bodies of law. In general, it would be more likely to be evicted for a "quality of life" violation (such as that citation) than for any ramdom infraction of the criminal code. Furthermore, to the extent relevant, a landlord usually reserves "the right, but not the oblication" to take action or not. And crap like this is more likely to warrant eviction than a mere legal infraction (which need not even be disclosed).

Is porn fest an illegal stuff? Of course there is property damage for which they are responsible, but other than that? I lived a long time in Prague, and there are porn fests once every few days in every block and nobody seems to worry.

I'd be more worried about lying in the contract, but that's just me. If I sub lease you a real-estate parcel for non-commercial use and then you charge money, that's you using my property for a (unauthorized) commercial transaction. Not to mention the provision of alcohol (commercially) which is seperately regulated. Etc.

Not only does this demonstrate lack of integrity in the direct relationship, it creates problems with thrid-party contracts and service providers. Ie, insurance claims etc. So, yeah I would be making you sign an open ended imdeniication for any breech such as this. And you're lawyers wouldn't like that.

Also, there is repuataional damage to my brand. Again, if you did this in breech of my contract, I would put you on the hook for this via the terms of the contract.

Of course, we might never sign a deal If I was this well protected and your intentions were not above board.

Yea, it is illegal. Even if you are allowed to sublet your apartment, renting it out for any period of time less than 29 days is classified as running a hotel, which you aren't allowed to do in an apartment.

Update: I am not entirely correct. It is only illegal if you are not present in the apartment at the time, so people renting out rooms in a multi-room apartment can do so legally, although they are likely still in violation of their lease.

Unless the poster was registered as a licensed BnB in the city of New York with a lease that allowed said usage, they were violating their lease and the law. Under NY law, it is illegal to sublet your apartment without you being physically present. It's to prevent, among other things, situations like this, which are an annoyance and a danger to the other occupants of the building.

Even if subletting were legal, I would imagine he would be responsible for anything that goes on in the unit. Disturbing the neighbors with an XXX party would be enough to evict on its own.

Violating the law doesn't automatically violate any random contracts you have entered into.

If the violation of the law is the purpose of the contract, then it's not a legal contract.


It isn't the purpose of the contract, that's a complete non-sequitur.

Have you ever read a subletting clause in a lease? They all require landlord approval of the new tenant.

Pretty sure that the law supersedes the lease. In NYC (possibly NY State), subletting is permitted unless the landlord can raise a reasonable objection within 30 days of being told you are subletting.

Which probably means you also have to let your landlord know so they have that opportunity.

Even then, I kind of suspect "a person I've never even met in person, have no personal access to his id, have not vetted his references, and I don't even know what he looks like for sure" probably gives a landlord plenty of reasonable grounds to object.

This explains it: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7408938

Basically, you can't just sublet. You still have to inform the landlord. And in the case of informing him that you are operating through Airbnb, illegal in NYC, an objection would be reasonable.

Maybe in NYC, but certainly not everywhere.

But this happened in NYC...

AirBNB is not legally compatible with New York City's housing/hotel laws. It very easily could be fine elsewhere, just not NYC.

What does the legality of AirBNB have to do with landlord approval of subletters?

If you lease is written on the back of a napkin, maybe, but most landlords use boilerplate leases, and every boilerplate lease has a sublet clause. It's one of the most important clauses in the lease; why bother with the rest of the terms if the lease simply delegates all authority to the renter?

A sublet clause, yes. Perhaps I misunderstood your original comment because it sounded like you were saying that landlords personally vet all subletters. My previous lease did not have such a clause.

What did your sublet clause say, if it didn't say you needed landlord approval for a subletter? Think about what a lease that doesn't require approval for subletters is really saying.

I needed approval from the landlord to start subletting, but no specific approval of the particular subletter.

Amusing Hacker News cognitive dissonance:

- "AirBNB is great! Will revolutionize the world! Stupid hotels just take your money for no reason! Regulations are only there because governments hate you and want to oppress you! By next week, 7 billion people will be using AirBNB to rent their homes to each other! And it's totally safe, because AirBNB stands behind each and every transaction!"

-- "Stupid poster, she should know that AirBNB is absolutely unsafe. She bore 100% of the risk and of course she should never have used this service. She was violating her lease and deserves everything that happened to her. Shooting is too good for her; hanging is too good for her. None of this is AirBNB's fault; they had literally nothing to do with the transaction and it's impossible to understand why the poster would ever have thought they did."

I am shocked to see everyone rallying against the victim because he may have violated his lease terms. If that is the excuse AirBNB have, they should not be doing business in the cities where their business model is not 100% compliant local laws.

How does the lease terms even matter in this incident? It's not like David vandalized her apartment because he figured the host is violating lease terms and he deserve this? Do you really think that David would have cancelled his XXX fest if the host's lease terms allowed subletting? This would have happened to him even if he was 100% compliant with lease terms and local law.

AirBNB should take responsibility for it and do the right thing. AirBNB should caution their hosts and customers about risks like these instead of lying them about 100% guarantee.

Moreover, it should be AirBNB's responsibility to ensure that every single listing and transaction is 100% compliant with the local laws. Ebay doesn't let me sell drugs or other illegal items. AirBNB should do business

I think that's a developer unconscious talking. "We have a bug here in AirBnB, here's a reproduction scenario". - "Oh, you see this small print in this manual? It says you couldn't do that. Therefore, not a developer's problem, ticket closed, PBKAC".

The other part of "blame the victim" is "the victim did X, and bad thing happened. I would never do X, therefore bad thing would never happen to me". Of course, nobody thinks it explicitly, but it's how the mind works - bad thing happens, the mind automatically thinks "omg, this is terrible, it could happen to me, I should worry" and then another part of the mind thinks "no, the bad thing happened because lease said don't do it, and she did it, so if I never do what lease says to not do, it won't happen to me, so I should not worry". And the mind is happy again.

>>> Ebay doesn't let me sell drugs or other illegal items.

Drugs yes, but you probably can sell tons of illegal (in some places) items on Ebay. Ebay has no possibility of tracking the local law in every locality, and a lot of things can be made illegal. For example, selling medals and order signs are illegal in many countries, still ebay has a lot of them for sale.

You've got it all wrong, hacker news is very consistent. Whatever the topic, everyone must argue against the OP.

Your comment reminds me of the sentiment of the whole Mt.Gox debacle. It is alarming that people tend to blame the victim of the situation, rather than the culprit. Instead of people blaming the victim/s, put forth a solution. I'm curious to what is going to come of this inquiry.

I upvoted because I found it interesting, not because I agree that it's AirBnB's fault nor because I think AirBnB's service is flawless.

I don't see how this is AirBnB's fault, at least to the degree that's implied.

You rented out your apartment to a stranger on the internet based upon what other strangers on the internet said about them. You almost certainly broke the terms of the lease in the process and probably deserved to be kicked out even if you hadn't had an "XXX freak fest" thrown.

Sure, AirBnB should try and figure out the damages, charge the accounts credit card(guarantee that won't work) and the pursue damages(good luck).

This is why people have renter's insurance(doubt you thought of it as you were probably trying to do this illegally anyway).

This is also why this industry is regulated, because when it's not humans get pwnt by their own stupidity combined with the malice of other humans.

At the end of the day for a lot of people AirBnB is a way to make easy money under the table, that's why there's little to no regulation; yeah that regulation comes with taxes/overhead, but it also comes with protection from the hazards of the business. It's pretty fucked logic to take such a huge risk with your property, give it zero protection, and then be not only surprised, but furious(with the site connecting you to the offender not the offender themself), when shit goes down. How dense can you be.

TL;DR- AirBnB pays for these situations anyway[0], this drama post is made by someone who took a huge risk in renting an apt without insurance, without a face-to-face, and probably not in accordance with his/her lease. The post will probably result in a faster payout, but the entitlement is slightly annoying considering the circumstances.


You expect renters insurance to pay out claims when you rent your apartment out to strangers on Airbnb? You must have excellent insurance.

You can buy insurance for absolutely anything you can think up (Mir space station hitting a target in the middle of the ocean). Of course it wouldn't be economical to build a custom insurance product for a one-night stay in an AirBnB, but the use case is general enough to probably justify an insurance product.

You are naive if you think an insurer is going to pay out for damages resulting from the formation of an illegal contract (between renter and subletter in this case), which is automatically void.

He never so much as implied that he was talking about this specific instance.

This might be old-fashioned, but I think that the very act of commenting in a thread carries an implication that you intend your comment to be relevant to that thread.

And it was tangentially relevant.

Doesn't matter. Even if such a general product existed it would be easy for an insurer to decline payout in an instance such as this. I'm guessing AirBNB will be reluctant to pay out here for similar reasons, unless it emerges that the party organized have a history of this sort of thing and AirBNB knew about prior complaints at the time they brokered the booking.

You certainly _can_ buy insurance that covers damages from per-night rentals of an apartment. But it's likely going to be more expensive than your standard renters insurance, which is unlikely to cover such.

On the one hand, this is not AirBnB's "fault", the guy should have known that if you rent your apartment out to strangers there's risk involved, and additional risks if you are violating your lease and/or state law by doing so.

On the other hand, AirBnB's business model depends on people not really recognizing these risks.

Hmm, I meant that in the context of a legitimate sublease, although the second half of that sentence does strongly imply I was referring to this stay as a valid use case. You'd get liability coverage from some plans at least.

Honestly, I think in the revision process I moved a sentence fragment astray.

There are absolutely tons of people more dense than the OP, tons. Vast parades of dense people. So it's a little bit unwarranted to really come down this hard on him.

On the other hand it is these vast parades of dense people who keep voting for less regulation as a whole. So I can appreciate the need to come down hard on them. But this guy doesn't seem like the guy honestly.

AirBNB is a business model used by millions, they take a huge or even really huge cut just for being the middle man. You expect a tiered amount of "XXX Freak Fests" rolling through your apartment.

Yep, I was a bit harsh I suppose.

Although, if this happened to someone and I heard about it by word of mouth,(or even through a less entitled post)I would immediately be sympathetic.

That said, the entire post is one long diatribe directed AT AirBnB as if it's their fault for not hand-combing literally every renter's reviews for validity.

He gambled and got burned, he's guaranteed up to a million USD so as far as I'm concerned, eat your loses and move on; don't blame the company that was both making you under the table money AND is about to pay you 90k in damages.

Is the money really under the table? Isn't that illegal, aren't there people putting a stop to that? Anyway, the part of the article that confused me was why he repeatedly said he can't look the doorman in the eye anymore. That can only be if you did something wrong.

Maybe everyone in this story is doing something wrong except the door guy.

Hey, sorry, my wording was a bit stupid there.

What I meant by under the table wasn't "without taxes", but rather "without your landlords consent/against the terms of your lease".

Sorry about that, the understood meaning of under the table is definitely "without paying taxes", so 100% my fault.

AirBnB does pay federal and local taxes, when the state gets on them to do so :).

AirBnB's business model _depends_ on all those 'dense' people not recognizing the risks of what they're doing, not recognizing the added risks of violating the terms of their lease or local laws to do so.


Tell me how regulation solves this? Why is it that this couldn't happen in a hotel? (Guarantee it does all the time)

There isn't any regulation that can fix people being jackasses. This isn't AirBNB's fault, and it isn't the OP's fault. It's the jackass who held the party fault. Could the OP have done things differently? Sure. It's likely the sublet wasn't entirely legal, and it's likely he could have renter's insurance. That being said, his insurance still probably shouldn't have to pay it. That is what AirBNB's cut should be covering. And I'm sure they will in fact cover it, as this is really bad publicity for them. The only reason for this post is to make that money get there faster.

1) hotels don't use keys. The dodgy hotel guest can be shut out with the stroke of a key at the reception desk computer.

2) when things go wrong, hotels have staff on hand to deal with the situation.

3) hotels have insurance for when things go badly wrong.

All of these things cost money, which is partly why hotels are more expensive than AirBnB. The author assumed a lot of risk when subletting through AirBnB and is now complaining when the risk went wrong. I have very little sympathy for him / her.

The people I do have sympathy for are fellow residents of the apartment block, who had a reasonable expectation that their building wouldn't be turned into the site of a free for all sex party. They didnt get any say in this, and didn't receive any compensation. That is unfair.


The reason this vertical hasn't been disrupted in this manner is the inherent liability of dealing with humans.

An institution like a hotel chain can both:

-React to a situation like this immediately instead of letting it play out.

-Take the losses in the event that damage occurs and the guests credentials were fake.


To an individual renting out less than 5 properties a loss like this is crippling.

Also agree that the real victims here are the fellow tenants +landlord, they won't be seeing any of that 90k+ or their shitty past tenant.

"3) hotels have insurance for when things go badly wrong"

Yes, and the reason they can buy insurance (or risk self-insuring) is that they have processes designed to limit the frequency and severity of these incidents.

I'm curious how much AirBnb pays for insurance. How much would you charge for an insurance policy if someone said they were going to let random strangers stay in their apartment, based on a few semi-anonymous comments on the internet?

The point of regulations is not always to prevent a bad thing from happening; the point is that when the bad thing does happen, it can be contained/handled more effectively, or that there are established and well-understood procedures for recovering from it.

Regulations which say that hotels should be hotels and apartments should not be hotels are as much about containing the effects of bad actors as anything else.

Of course it could happen in a hotel! I agree completely. One reason we regulate hotels differently from single family housing is that this sort of thing is more likely to happen in a hotel.

This is why there isn't a hotel right in the middle of my single family block in a relatively dense neighborhood in SF. If someone wants to open up a hotel, they have to go through the process of obtaining the proper licenses and permits. Then don't get to just create an account on a website and hit the "create hotel" button.

I love airbnb, have used it in the past, but I have a really hard time sympathizing with this or seeing it as AirBnB's fault. This is always a risk if you let people you don't know (or hell, even people you do know) into your home.

It kind of sounds like this person never even bothered to meet the people who were renting his apartment (I was always shocked when someone rented me their apartment without meeting me, personally).

Nothing airbnb can ever do will guarantee something like this won't happen to you. That's why you have to also do whatever you can to protect yourself. If you wouldn't be comfortable with the precautions you took had you found the renter on craigslist, you shouldn't be doing it.

Of course, airbnb will probably pull out from their own insurance on this for this person because the likely result of not doing so enough times for them is that more places make it clearer that it's largely illegal to do it and start enforcing more zealously.

While you're sort of correct, in my opinion AirBnB should be liable for something like this. It might make them take better steps to prevent it. You're not going to stop it 100% of the time, but there are plenty of horror stories here, and that's turned me off from ever trying it personally.

What does meeting the renter personally accomplish? You won't be able to tell that he is planning a XXX Freak Fest tomorrow. Even if you do, cancelling the reservation after meeting him might get you kicked out of AirBNB as a host.

It's certainly not a catch-all, but it can help. It strikes me as the very least you can do. And there are other measures you can take, like having a neighbour (or hell, if you're actually doing it legally, your super) keep an eye on things.

The point is simply that if you abdicate all effort to ensure your house is kept well to a corporation that barely knows either of you are people, you're more likely to get this stuff happening. No one makes anyone be an airbnb host.

And if you met a potential guest and thought they might be planning to host an orgy in your house as soon as you left, I'm gonna say you might want to risk getting kicked off airbnb rather than risk having your house trashed. That's just me, though.

AirBnB has an insurance policy to compensate for cases like this.

Color me cynical, but I don't have a lot of sympathy for the blogger. If you have a landlord (i.e. you don't personally own the building), and you aren't there to personally meet and be around the guests, then you are knowingly taking on the risk that the guests will be sketchy and that you will be evicted, even if you are allowed subleses (not to mention that you almost always aren't).

> AirBnB has an insurance policy to compensate for cases like this.

Not quite. AirBnb specifically excludes things you don't own. So, while they would be responsible for the original poster's stuff, any damage done to the apartment itself, paint, floors, appliances, walls, hallways, doors, bathroom, fixtures, any furnishings that were already in the apt, etc would not appear to be covered.


I imagine a lot of the people on AirBnb happen to list their room when actually they do not own the building (renters).

I wonder how many would still continue listing if they knew that AirBnbs insurance doesn't actually cover them.

Huh, their public-facing page is really misleading about that: https://www.airbnb.com/guarantee

The page continually uses the term "hosts", and emphasizes that you are covered up to $1,000,000 so should relax. It does also say that the guarantee is not insurance or a replacement for "homeowners or renters insurance". But to me that phrasing strongly implies that the AirBnB Host Guarantee covers both the kinds of hosts who might also have homeowners insurance, and the kinds of hosts who might also have renters insurance— just that it is not to be properly considered insurance in either case. Wording the page this way, and then excluding paying for damages to rented property in the legalese leads to results not in keeping with the expectation I got from this summary.

Plenty of people were using AirBnb before they had an insurance policy.

Even if you are allowed subleasing on your own lease, there are probably also minimum stay requirements by law to get out of being considered a hotel/b&b/whatever with taxes and insurance requirements.

I think it's pretty hard to use AirBnB without breaking some kind of law, unfortunately.

Of course never mind that some of the people doing this in bigger cities like SF are already illegally subletted themselves to someone who's probably paying a rent controlled price.

This is exact reason why AirBnB like services cannot succeed in India. You could be in jail, as the police here will never understand why you allowed someone into your house if you are not a hotel. The attitude of police here is that if anything goes wrong, the owner of the house or business is responsible.

To illustrate, in 2004, early days of e-commerce in India, someone put up a certain CD to be sold on e-Bay. The police just arrested the CEO of eBay India. When something goes wrong police here arrests biggest possible names either to show its working or extract maximum corruption money. Any wonder why Indian startups cannot go beyond providing services to foreign businesses for cheap? To be fair, many startups are innovating in India, but the point is the kind of challenges they have to deal with are just unknown to the more developed world.

eBay news link from 2004: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/2902203/India-throws-Ebay...

My two favorite bits are:

-- You sent an “XXX Freak Fest” into my home By which joshmn means "I invited an XXX Freak Fest into my home in exchange for money."

-- As such, I’m going to be evicted. Its subtle enough that you miss it the first time you read it until later when you get to 'my landlord is certainly going to make me move after an “XXX Freak Fest”'. Yup, joshmn has in fact not been evicted.

So, lets summarize. You went on a website, found a stranger, accepted money in exchange for your keys. Then they messed with your furniture. Now you want $87k. Oh, and you have trouble looking at people in the eyes.

I am checking with my attorney to see if there is any legal recourse I can take to recover the last five minutes of my life.

AirBNB has insurance for cases like this. It's not much different from getting a hotel room, would you say a hotel's management was stupid if this happened at their property?

> "You went on a website, found a stranger, accepted money in exchange for your keys. Then they messed with your furniture. Now you want $87k."

Try re-reading that phrase in the context of a standard long-term apartment lease. What's strange or stupid about that?

In a long term lease I'm personally meeting the renter, running a credit check, getting references from previous land lords and/or friend, an up front security deposit equal to 3 months rent, not furnishing the apartment and insuring the apartment against any additional damages.

A standard long-term apartment lease situation is considerably different.

Renting fully furnished homes is common in many countries. AirBNB charges upfront, keeps your CC data on file, has references from previews hosts, and allows landlords to collect a security deposit if wanted. Looks about the same to me.

This is obviously a bad situation. No one wants this to happen. (Except perhaps the FF participants) There have been plenty of bad situations at hotels as well, though.

I'm most interested in the final paragraph.

All because I trusted AirBNB that this individual was a “Verified” member with multiple positive reviews...

AirBnB has pioneered some of the workflow for establishing and communicating social proof. P2P requires trusted reputation.

If the story is as described, it appears AirBnB failed to provide a trustful counter-party. And it went very wrong as a result.

> There have been plenty of bad situations at hotels as well, though.

Sure, but hotels are regulated and licensed and zoned so they keep those bad situations away from residential areas.

> AirBnB has pioneered some of the workflow for establishing and communicating and social proof.

It's really an open question of whether "reputation economies" are workable at all. I continue to be disappointed by user ratings on services like Yelp. I wouldn't trust anything more substantive than a new restaurant pick to such ratings.

But with Yelp they don't verify you've actually eaten at a restaurant or visited a business so it is very much up in the air and their stance is we don't spend our time verifying or taking up false claims so you're stuck. I've experienced this first hand helping businesses with their social media. It sucks a lot.

The only way to have sure reviews is to have some kind of receipt verification or pass the payment through the service so that you know for sure this person is paying for this service which AirBnB does. So there is a big difference from AirBnB reviews and reviews on Yelp and other sites that let you post without real proof.

> Sure, but hotels are regulated and licensed and zoned so they keep those bad situations away from residential areas.

Is it any better that hotel guests might have to stay near this sort of behavior?

Yes. The reality is that if this happens in a hotel, the hotel immediately kicks the "XXX party" out, and will usually move the aggrieved neighbors to a different floor or (as has happened with me at hotels with loud parties) do that and refund the night's cost.

Is that required by hotel regulations?

To an extent, yes, and more importantly it's civilly enforceable, because neighboring guests can chargeback the room if they're not moved (or even they are), and will almost certainly win the dispute.

I think the "verified" thing just means they've provided a certain amount of id - as it does on most sites.

What's wrong with all of you?

A year ago it was a woman, under almost the same circumstances that had her apartment vandalized. You all rallied behind her.

Now since it seems its a man and and ranted online under pretty much the same circumstances, but different type of people, you say its not airBnBs fault?

that's truly disappointing.

There's a way to make your point without saying things like "all of you".

Very different circumstances. For one, the SF poster a year ago had contacted AirBnB and was reporting on their complete lack of assistance. This article seems to be saying that AirBnB is supposed to do the impossible -- vet people more thoroughly than reviews from their previous stays.

One, I would definitely evict and sue this blogger as well if I was the landlord.

Two, how the AirBNB user the blogger rented to is "Verified" with multiple positive reviews needs to be investigated. Whatever weakness they are exploiting in the AirBNB review system needs to be eliminated.

Lastly, I am sorry this happened... but the reality is...

this is the reason you shouldn't be using AirBNB. This could have turned out much worse to be perfectly frank.

A potentially interesting thread of discussion --

Who has ideas on how to handle customer service and public perception in an industry where the downside of a single bad event is the mix of horrific, intimate, and very newsworthy?

Even if the rate of AirBNB disasters was only 1 disaster for every 1 million successful rentals, you'd still get very sticky disaster stories coming out regularly. Similar to how the evening news covers all the murders and trauma in the world, potentially inflating our perception of how often it happens..

Any general thoughts on what's required to thrive if you're in an industry where things will go wrong even if you do best practices conservatively everywhere, and the "going wrong" scenario is both quite bad and quite public?

This exposes a big flaw in the entire premise of AirBnB.

AirBnB's core market is people renting out their homes when they aren't there. This problem is inherent to providing unsupervised hospitality. If no one is there to verify customers beyond meaningless internet reputations, no one is there to prevent your possessions from being destroyed. Fixing this problem quickly turns you into a business with employees, running a hotel.

Regulations are about more than just taxes.

you make liable the parties that did the damage. airbnb could take a bond from the renter (to cover damages, if any), or get something hard to forge such as an ID card of some sort, and recover the damage from them should it occur.

I would like the blogger to post a follow up on how AirBnB will respond. I've heard of multiple incidents of damage to the property, but have never read about the follow up. I suspect that a hush hush settlement was made.

Is there a kind of insurance that AirBnB sets up or is it completely on the renter's dime?

To be a little more helpful, they've partnered with Lloyd's of London to provide a nice insurance policy for all renters: https://www.airbnb.com/guarantee

But since this person is in violation of AirBnB's terms of service, he might have problems collecting on their insurance policy. Their TOS states[1]:

    ... you will not:

    ...offer, as a Host, any Accommodations that
    you do not yourself own or have permission to
    rent as a residential or other property...
Clearly he does not own the property or have his landlord's permission to rent it.

[1] https://www.airbnb.com/terms

This is one of the things about AirBnB that bothers me. They know it's not legal for him to rent it because of NYC's Illegal Hotels Act. I can't shake the persistent feeling that they know their business model relies on people breaking the law and they just don't care. That bugs me.

I poured myself a glass of wine and sat back to read these comments. This is exactly what I wanted to say myself. Facilitating breaking the law and the social compact of residential neighborhoods, that is their business model. It is because of this argument that I will be happy the day I see AirBnB go down in flames, though to be honest, I doubt I'll have that pleasure.

Edited to add: I would change "don't care" to "have consciously decided that limiting their business to places where it is legal, while feasible, would limit their profits and their relevancy in ways they do not want to do."

The buzz from the wine is wearing off, and I remembered that I do think the AirBnB model (but not modus operandi) has 2 legitimate purposes: 1) occasional subletting during occupant absence and 2) satisfying temporary demand.

Case 1) is essentially making vacation home exchange totally fungible. By definition (at least for most people), a vacation is infrequent and has significant cost, in part due to paying for 2 dwellings concurrently (the vacant home, and the vacation accommodation). AirBnB solves this by having a large market of people who may want to pay you for your empty home.

Examples of case 2) would be huge conventions and university graduations. These are cases where it would be inefficient to build hotels to satisfy peak demand, and sometimes it becomes impossible to find (conventional) lodging at any price. AirBnB solves this by providing elasticity in the form of non-conventional lodging only available during the peak.

In both cases, the difference with the current situation is that these cases are limited in time. I think AirBnB would be a good thing if it limited the rental of any property to a maximum of 1 month per year, with a limit of 4 guests per year. That would eliminate people running residential businesses, which is my main objection (and probably the company's whole profit and growth strategy). In other words, AirBnB would be a great but small niche player.

Since I'm just talking to myself here, I'll continue with another thought.

If I were in or interested in city government, here's what I would do: pass a city ordinance that A) limits residential short-term leasing (<30 days) to a maximum of 4 events with a maximum of 28 cumulative days (allows for vacations and special events, as detailed in my post above); and B) requires any company offering or brokering or representing such properties (such as AirBnB, VRBO, etc.) to enforce A) and report actual usage to the city for tax purposes.

To me, this is a sensible compromise to regulate the residential homestays enabled by the AirBnB model, to get the benefits of this model and limit the impacts on neighbors and the rental/real estate market. It will also eliminate the unfair "first-mover" advantage that AirBnB encourages (if you are the first in your neighborhood to buy or develop a one- multi-unit mini-hotal, you can fly under the radar and make a small fortune, essentially get a free property). Depending on the local conditions, the city could consider a vacation rental license that allows year-round short term rental--in which case the property can be listed on websites as long as it is described as such and the license must be listed in the ad. Occupancy and taxes must be reported to the city/local government as in the first case.

You might be talking to yourself, but I am reading. =) And I largely agree with everything you're saying. It's utterly incompatible with the growth-obsessive sort of business plan that AirBNB must follow, but it'd be a better thing for human beings.


tldr; Yes, there is insurance.

Actually, "sort of." There is insurance in the US (where the article was written), but not everywhere. If I visit the page about their "guarantee," I am redirected to the airbnb domain for my country, where that page does not exist. Strangely they even explain at https://www.airbnb.com/help/question/279 that the guarantee page will not be accessible if your computer is in a country where they do not offer the guarantee. This is bizarre, because what if I rented out my place, travelled to another country, and then want to read about my protections?

If you want to read the legalese, this page seems to work from anywhere: https://www.airbnb.com/terms/host_guarantee

Agreed, that is rather bizarre, especially considering the, "What Countries is this available in" section is quite difficult to miss.

there is insurance if you own the appartement,if you rent it,well,there is zip...and the op rents...

I'm amazed it has taken so long for something like this to happen. It's almost worse than MethBNB. Does it happen more frequently but AirBnB just quietly pays out? Or is my perception of how horrible 1% of the world is inaccurately calibrated?

Hack AirBnB accounts, until you find a nice renter who has a place with (presumably) nice stuff who will hand off keys to you without physically meeting, then clear it out, or destroy it like this, or something else. I'd be assuming that would happen 1:1000 rentals, but maybe that's paranoia.

Still, while I feel sorry for the renter here, I feel even worse for his landlord and neighbors, who should sue him, and get part of that $1mm.

That doesn't make any sense. Just choose a random house with valuable stuff in it, break in and clear it out? Getting past the door is the least of your problems, why go all that trouble with AirBNB? It doesn't make it less of a crime.

It gives you a window of time when you know the owners won't be home. Burglary is way safer (and legally less punished) than robbery.

Firstly, as others stated, you took a risk and likely violated your lease as well as NYC law.

With that said, this tidbit from your listing is a brilliant indicator of how you inevitably brought this issue onto yourself:

"You may host up to 50 people in the backyard or apartment, but please leave $80USD so I can pay a cleaning lady to clean the extra mess."

Did they pay the extra $80USD? You invited them to bring 50 people over, I am sorry for what happened, but I don't feel sorry for you...

After confirming this with a quick google, I'm having trouble not "blaming the victim" here. It's sometimes the case with ridiculous things happening to people, that there's "more to the story", and that certainly seems to be the case here.

The poster willfully assumed additional risk on top of the standard AirBNB risk, and it's that additional risk that bit him.

Telling someone you've never met that they can bring 50 people(!?!) into your apartment, and just assuming that things won't get out of hand, is... naive.

FYI: should be obvious from the title, but NSFW images in post

So these fucking strangers turned out to be literally fucking strangers.

The stress and fear that a large band of “XXX Freak Fest” individuals have my address and keys to my home is unreal

Do they not have locksmiths in NYC?

If David would have just invited him all this drama could have been avoided. Huge party foul, David.

Well I am sorry for the OP. But posts like this make it clear: I will not use AirBnB.

It isn't worth the cost. Even if AirBnB pays the (no doubt depreciated) cost of the damage; I don't want my prized possessions trashed. (or worse).

Thank god there wasn't a fire!

my super is having me evicted by my landlord

I assume that your lease prohibits subleases without the consent of your landlord.

Even with a lease permitting subletting through AirBnB (something becoming more common) this might very well be cause for eviction.

You're basically operating a business when you rent out your home. Unless AirBNB has a large amount of assurances that you will be protected then you need to do your own due diligence and ensure that you have insurance, gather identification, and that what you are doing is legal. As far as I know, operating as a hotel without a license is not legal in NYC.

Just like walking a tightrope across two building in NYC is illegal without sufficient permits and people to ensure it's done safely and responsibly.

Your landlord might not evict you if you explain the situation and ensure them that there is no way this will happen again, you've learned your lesson.

If that doesn't work, sue the people who stayed in your place. If that doesn't work, sue AirBNB. They might both claim that acting as a hotel in NYC was illegal and you're screwed for taking that risk, if so, you've learned an expensive lesson.

What kind of contract does AirBNB make people renting sign? I would hope that it explicitly prohibits large gatherings, destroying personal property, and disturbing neighbors, if it doesn't, then it should.

Has AirBNB attempted to pass any laws in NYC (and other cities) that provide some type of protection for people renting out their places for a limited period of time? Would it really be that difficult to allow inspections of private residences? There could also be something that requires the home be used by the owner for X months out of the year or that there is a maximum of X separate renters during a year (which might be hard to enforce / prove).

Is there a minimum amount of time someone has to rent a residence before it can be considered a sublease? Maybe you should only do that until laws protecting you are passed.

That's a sad story. Clearly not a common occurrence (at least not common enough to be "oh another airbnb trashed my place" type response).

So what happens next will be interesting.

Presumably AirBnB's insurance will make the renter whole again.

Also presumably their ability to identify the person responsible will allow them to press charges against them, I suspect there are codes against charging cover charges for a sex party (I vaguely remember the controversy over the sex club in LA about this, something about indirect solicitation but that was like in the 70's so I'd really have to go back and dig it up.)

It seems like the 'TWINN' character was reasonably well connected in this community and perhaps if a great big hassle comes his way it will discourage others from that community in using AirBnB that way.

Definitely a wild story though.

I'm struggling to understand how this is AirBnB's fault? Do we expect them to detect when people are lying?

He mentioned that the positive reviews could be fake. So, it seems that Airbnb should be more rigorously vetting guests.

Or, if you want to commandeer someone's apartment for a XXX sex fest, you start off by AirBnb'ing legitimately a few times to get a positive rating.

Someone at AirBnB needs to read up on Sybil attacks :)

If you have an entire club of XXX sex fest freaks, you could likely easily get fake reviews by having your other club members sign up for AirBNB, all "stay" at each others places, and all leave positive reviews for each other.

The tough part is convincing one of them to get verified before destroying someone's apartment. It's pretty hard to walk away from the damages after giving up your payment info, a copy of your drivers license, and a link to an established (not newly created) social media profile on Facebook or LinkedIn, which are part of AirBNB's verification.

I'm surprised the blogger in question isn't asking for AirBNB's help finding David and suing him for damages directly. Wouldn't such actions be fraud?

That's what the 'verified' status would seem to imply.

And if I use AirBnB legitimately for a while, then decide to do this, then what? It's AirBnB's fault for matchmaking?

That seems similar to blaming Google Search, not the site itself, for returning a site that has ranked well for a long time, but has just now started serving malware.

Your point is fair, but IMO it would not be incorrect to blame both the site as well as Google Search, obviously for different reasons.

'Verified' should eventually mean verified, with no qualifiers. If it can't be guaranteed then it's better to say so.

edit: I see from jamesroseman's comment below that 'verified' only means that their ID is verified, not the reason they require the accommodation. (https://www.airbnb.com/help/question/450) If that's clear from the UI (and not just buried in a FAQ), it invalidates my point.

Or I hack a legitimate user's AirBnB account. Pretty much any one.

No. The verified status means that the person provided an "offline ID, online ID, profile photo, email address, and phone number.

It doesn't verify against people lying about their intentions.

I think I understand your point of view, it was my initial point of view as well. I thought, "well, you used a website that offers to connect you with people who want to use your home and you blame the website for the person who ruined your home instead of that actual person?".

The author here will probably pursue legal recourse against that individual as well. It's a two-part problem: 1.) The leaser may have violated the lease as laid out by the author by effectively ruining the home. 2.) AirBNB reported a leaser as 'verified', which is important because of the implication that the leaser won't do certain things like ruin your home during their stay.

Unfortunately per 2, this isn't actually what AirBNB claims to mean by "verified" [0]. It's unfortunate because of what happened, but you are indeed correct -- technically speaking AirBNB is not responsible here. It sucks, and it certainly means I won't be using AirBNB, but they've done their job of protecting themselves.

[0] https://www.airbnb.com/help/question/450

Whose responsibility is it, then?

The person who committed fraud to get the rental, then caused $87K in damages while in possession of the rental.

Fault is a complex matter, especially when you're talking legal fault, moderated by contracts.

(I don't know anything about AirBnB's terms of use, etc., but I would assume that they rid themselves of as much liability as possible.)

It just seems like blaming AirBnB here is akin to blaming Google Search because you found the renter there, or Craigslist, or...

That would be true if the only service AirBnB were marketing was search and publishing - like Craigslist. But they also advertise selection and insurance.

"...worldly possessions tossed in a pile into the common area, while a group of strangers form a pile to have their private areas tossed."

I would've gone with "...while a group of strangers have their piles tossed". It's cleaner(?).

All joking aside, this is why I refuse to participate in AirBnB. It's just not worth the non-negligible risk of very bad things happening. It's a great idea, yeah, and they've done super well, and a lot of people are exceedingly happy with it all. However, I'm not one of them, and I don't think these risks can be removed--having a stranger (or heck, even a friend!) stay in your house while you are not there is inherently risky no matter what regulations are in place.

I'm amazed the guy still has his listing online. It's here if anyone is interested:


update: And it's pulled.

This is fucked up.

87k of damages ... doesn't that seem a lot?

It does seem like an awful lot.

There are furniture boutiques in Manhattan where you could easily spend $87,000 outfitting your apartment, but then if you were spending that kind of money, why on earth would you put your place on Airbnb?

Maybe because if you spend $87k on furniture, then you might want to show it off.

Not to mention pay it off.

I would imagine most of that is rent you are liable for if you are evicted. At least $2k+ a month for x amount of months.

If they had decent furniture that could add up quickly as well, but $80k does seem like a lot unless they are including 'emotional' damages which at that point is hard to quantify.

Zillow estimates rent at that address as $6700/month, with the 2 bedroom condos in that building selling for over $2 million. Another listing at the same address was renting for $7950/month.

Wow, yeah that definitely makes up for it then. I didn't really look too much into how much.

Probably $4k-6k+ per month for a 7th Ave "luxury" studio with a back yard.

If they disassembled furniture, I'd guess there was also physical damage to the property. Also, the blogger is probably uncomfortable keeping stuff used in the sex fest.

Wait, if you're evicted you're liable for all the rent for the remainder of the lease?

Typically, you're responsible, if it's a lease, for the rent until the property is re-leased, with the assumption that the landlord makes all reasonable efforts to do so expediently.

The address in question is an extraordinarily expensive building. Also, if someone does something like clog a bathtub and leave it running, water damage or something similar can easily cause hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage to any building.

Hotels constantly deal with their rooms being a location for prostitution, drug dealing, porn films, and so on.

People who lend out their personal property are constantly lending it to people who are rude, lying, and destroy it -- often causing them great harm and psychological damages.

I'm not sure what part of this is AirBnB's problem. It's like blaming GMail for letting you meet that nice kid online who borrowed your car and then totaled it. Huh?

Now if the author had made some extended argument that AirBnB was somehow guaranteeing his property's safety? Might make a little more sense. But AirBnB isn't an insurance company, or a private security service. The most I'd expect from them would be 1) solid identification on who the person is looking for the room, and 2) dependable (non-fake) reviews from previous experiences.

You have to remember that even people who are great borrowers-of-things will, on occasion, really screw the pooch. You can go for ten years being the pillar of the community and then lose it all on a month-long drug binge. It happens. So I don't think you're ever going to get rid of the occasional bad experience. It would be interesting to see if something evolves in this area, perhaps an insurance policy or city-wide micro-term security service.

Airbnb will almost certainly cover the damages: https://www.airbnb.com/guarantee.

He might not have as much luck getting them to pay his relocation costs, since I'm sure that renting out his apartment was against his lease anyway.

The real problem for this guy is going to be finding another landlord in Manhattan who will rent to him, unless he is extremely wealthy, of course.

If Zillow's estimates are at all accurate, the building at that address is full of $2M+ condos that rent for $6-8K/month. He mentions the doorman; he's probably pretty well off to afford living there.

> I enjoy a “Festival” as much as the next fellow, but this is a family building and some people don’t enjoy having their neighbor’s worldly possessions tossed in a pile into the common area, while a group of strangers form a pile to have their private areas tossed. As such, I’m going to be evicted. >

> You’re going to pay my moving expenses, because my landlord is certainly going to make me move after an “XXX Freak Fest” (and I can’t look these guys in the eye after this either).

In New York, it is illegal for you to rent out your apartment while you are gone. Besides that detail, how can the OP's landlord evict him, unless there was something in the lease saying such renting was not allowed? Can the OP post the relevant portion of his leasing agreement?

> In New York, it is illegal for you to rent out your apartment while you are gone.

Pretty sure that's the reason. Also NY state has laws requiring a minimum stay in a property that isn't zoned as a hotel.

In any case, if you break the law relating to your rental it's fairly easy for a landlord to terminate the lease.

Why did this become a blog post, and not a conversation with AirBnB's customer service and legal departments? Unnecessarily jumping that gap is what makes me seriously doubt the pure validity of his claims.

Firstly, it comes to mind that someone could easily orchestrate a series of incidents like this to impair Airbnb's potential, especially in a particular location. If they deny a payout, anyone who doesn't own their place will think again.

Secondly, admittedly Booking.com and so on don't "verify" a customer beyond email and credit card, but it's hard to imagine a hotel piping up like this for being referred a dodgy customer.

If I were a cynic, here's how I would read the upvoted comments: Regulations are bad when then they impair a YC company's ability to make money.

It's likely that by hosting anyone through AirBnB the OP was violating the terms of their lease agreement. So technically it's not who they hosted that's the problem, it's that they hosted anyone at all and that's the real reason for eviction. As for the damages to property AirBnB should help recover those losses from the person who rented the apartment.

How on earth did this incident cause $85k in damages? They just dumped a bunch of furniture out. Was it really expensive furniture?

A question I've been mulling about Airbnb since it started: who TF allows total strangers to stay at their home????

I always wondered about pre-approved AirBnBs, which based on the screenshot is what this one was. I usually don't pick them because I feel that if a host doesn't actively screen, that it's a very bad sign. And by actively screen I mean look at my facebook, twitter, etc.

AirBnB has a $1,000,000 insurance on every booking. Yes, what happened sucks, but the guy should raise noise if AirBnB refuses to cover his damages. For what it's worth, claiming your host insurance with AirBnB is part of doing business with them.

There's been a few other comments that point out that a condition of the insurance is that you must own the property, or have permission to rent it out, which author didn't. To the policy as it's written, this would be an uncovered claim.

For the amount he's demanding, I'm pretty sure they'll pass it on to their lawyers and let him twist in the wind. He doesn't have much of a case.

I sometimes wonder why this doesn't happen a lot more often...

Anyway, people seem to be much more trustworthy, which is why airbnb is still going strong. Until more legislations make it illegal to rent out apartments as quasi-hotels...

Wait, is it even legal to use AirBNB in NYC?

latest is this: http://www.thenewyorkworld.com/2013/10/24/airbnb/ ??

Although this is disturbing regardless, someone who puts a rented apartment (i.e., someone else's property) on AirBnB and then complains about abuse by others strikes me as extremely hypocritical.

87k seems like a lot of money in damages. If the poster is already living the rich life, why be greedy and AirBNB for even more cash? Greed is the root of all evil. I do not feel any sympathy.

To quote Nelson Muntz: "Haw haw!". Hey, I've got an idea, let's treat our home like a hotel room and rent it out to strangers... what could possibly go wrong?

> I am looking for a place for my brother and sister in law who visiting for a wedding this weekend. I just don’t have the space for them.

Shouldn't the writing style be a red flag ?

You shouldn't be using rented property on airbnb, the solution to this is owning the property and then checking up on the occupants and being the super yourself.

So you think you can make $710 renting your studio for two nights without any risk of this kind of thing happening? Wake up, man. No risk, no reward.

I'm constantly amazed that people will rent out their own homes to total strangers, and then blame Airbnb when things like this happen.

oh, I'm really sorry for stuffed animals. They probably thought stuffing was the last time they were abused.

This is like accusing craigslist of causing murder through its dating forum.

Any time you rent a place out you face this risk.

I don't doubt about the story, but has anyone find out what's the URL of the Airbnb place?

Wonder how the "million dollar" insurance policy will work out for this guy...

Got anything from airbnb yet? Very curious to know how is this going to end

lol!sorry but that's funny!Well, if I were a porn producer,it would be a cheap way to rent new locations to shoot porn flicks for sure!

whoa whoa ..it isn't AirBnB's fault, it is google's ! ..not wait, it is the fault of the interwebs ..ehe, so Gore ? Yep, that's it, Gore set the XXX Freak Fest to your place. Jeez !

Can someone explain why we should think this tumblr post has any credibility?

Because it contains ample verifiable evidence.

That's not actually a response. You are just restating the premise. And exercising your right to be snide.

What is the ample verifiable evidence in the post?

The tweet by the "BBW party promoter" is on twitter; you can view it there. The account has 5 years of history tweeting about sex parties.

The address of a residence is in the tweet. You can do a Google search and see the previous real estate listings for the residential condos/apartments at that address. You can look at it on Google Maps to see that it's a real address and not some kind of sex club.

The "porn star" profile of the party organizer that tweeted, screenshotted, is there on Xvideos; you can look it up and view it yourself.

The screenshots of the booking conversations through Airbnb are included as well, which Airbnb can confirm actually took place.

These are all evidence supporting the story, and all of these pieces of evidence can be verified by third parties. That's verifiable evidence, which is what I said.

"Restating the premise" means to restate the base of your argument. I argued the opposite, that the post does have credibility. Sorry that you felt I was being snide by disagreeing.

The tweet is verifiable. That a porn party took place at that residence seems likely.

There is no verification this occurred over airbnb. There is no verification that the tweets were by anyone other than the resident or owner and no verification that the tumblr post was written by the resident.

All of this, including the tweet, could be a pretty simple hoax.

And worse, it's from tumblr.

The premise you restated was the basic post itself: Hey! This shit happened to me.

I asked, why should we believe this.

You said, "Because shit happened to that guy!"

Until airbnb responds we have no reason to give this anecdote any credence.

And you were totally snide. Your apology is disingenuous. "Sorry you felt I was being snide" is not an apology. It is a faux apology.

And worse, it's from tumblr. That's an unqualified contention. What makes content hosted on tumblr less credible than what's on any other free blog site?

Most articles should receive a healthy dose of criticism, but on the whole, I really didn't see any suspect. The only basis for questioning is that AirBnB is the darling of the "OMG! DISRUPTING!" crowd, and thus any criticism against them must be a conspiracy from the evil industries.

> __pThrow


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