Owner Discovers Home Rented Out Online When Guests Show Up. Airbnb Wouldn’t Remove Listing

Just because you own a home, and live there, doesn’t mean that it’s not also listed for rental on Airbnb. There are so many scams out there, including listing homes for rent that are not – in fact – for rent. People pay the scammer, show up at the front door. And do you think Airbnb takes swift action?

Natalie Siburt purchased her first home in Charlotte last month and, until recently, she’d been settling in nicely. But last Tuesday evening, she spotted a man dropping off luggage at her door. When Siburt approached him, he asked about checking in to the Airbnb located inside her condo…She had no idea her home had been listed on the popular short-term rental site by the previous homeowner’s tenant.

The person who lived there, as a tenant of the previous owner, was still renting out the place on Airbnb even though he did not live there, did not own it, and did not lease it. But hey, he knew the community and had photos! Plus he had some positive reviews from when he was leasing it and used it as an unauthorized short-term rental property.

The previous owner only discovered an Airbnb after checking on the property and finding “locks on closet doors and a note on the refrigerator that read, ‘Help yourself to whatever you want!'” The listing read “Welcome to our charming condominium in the heart of shopping, dining, and entertainment in the Carolinas. Suitable for practically any traveler.” It had over 25 reviews, and had a rating of 4.77 (out of 5).

Naturally the property owner didn’t want her home listed on Airbnb by someone else and since the listing was fraudulent she figured she could get Airbnb to take it down. Not so easy!

Terunuma initially began her efforts to get the listing taken down in April, reaching out to Airbnb more than 10 times, according to documents she showed the Observer. Siburt, the current homeowner, said she called Airbnb multiple times, providing details and documentation that she now owned the property.

“I said here’s the listing, this needs to be taken down,” Siburt told the Observer. “They then said that they’re just a platform and have nothing to do with it and that I’d have to contact the host directly.”

Siburt claims she was able to get in contact with the host but was told the listing couldn’t be taken down because she no longer had access to the Airbnb account. “I just don’t understand what’s in it for (Airbnb) to keep it up because that seems like a terrible client experience,” Siburt said. “I don’t know why a company would want that.” ‘VERY DISTURBING’ Siburt and Terunuma claimed their continued attempts to get the listing taken down were met with “canned responses” and few answers.

The actual homeowner was told to get in touch with the fraudulent host, who had been evicted from the property, to ask them to stop being a fraudulent host. Finally the listing did come down and then it got re-listed. But Airbnb did take it down when a newspaper asked, hey, why don’t you remove listings after they are reported to you as fraudulent?

According to Airbnb,

Issues like the experience reported are rare, and following investigation we have removed the listing from the platform…All hosts on Airbnb must certify that they have permission to list their space, and in the event a concern is reported to us we investigate and take appropriate action.

@nsibzzz #greenscreen #airbnb #airbnbexperience #airbnbnightmare #airbnbhost #airbnbbusiness #airbnbfinds #airbnbtips @airbnb @Axios Charlotte @cnbc @ugolord @jordanismylawyer ♬ original sound – nsibzzz

Normally if you stick to Airbnb Superhosts offering properties with numerous good reviews, you figure you’re safe. But just because a property has been rented in the past, doesn’t mean the listing isn’t a scam now.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. AirBNB, is likened to a Junk Yard Dog. I personally, avoid them, like the plague, due to previous experiences.

  2. According to Airbnb,
    “Issues like the experience reported are rare, and following investigation we have removed the listing from the platform…”

    Rare. Like the “47 Hertz customers have filed a lawsuit against the rental company that describes horror stories after they were allegedly falsely reported as having stolen its rental cars, and in some cases even jailed.”

    Rare. Like when “Hertz CEO Stephen Scherr admitted in April that “several hundred people” were impacted by the company’s errors.
    Some of the plaintiffs say they were using Hertz rentals to make a living driving for Uber or Lyft, or to transport their families. One plaintiff, Bianca DeLoach, described being swarmed by police with their guns drawn at a gas station in March 2021 while her children watched from inside the rental she’d paid for. The complaint says DeLoach spent nine nights in jail. Charges were dismissed months later.” That’s rare.

    Reference: CNN Business.

  3. I love Airbnb as they keep hotel rates from going even higher by cutting demand
    But as for the fools that either buy into this extortionate company to stay
    I salute and thank them.Not even for free would I stay in one
    Need a list of reasons? But for some they have no other choice so they do fill a need.
    Some don’t have high expectations or a need or desire for strict brand standards
    I would not want to recover from issues either which would be a nightmare.

  4. But the hosts PROMISE they are not lying! LOL
    Maybe they should make hosts double pinky swear?

  5. @Fauci you think 7% is high? LOL!! Everyone got spoiled by the low rates over the last 10 years. I bought my first home in 2002 at 7% and that was low! If you look at the history of mortgage rates, you will find that 7% is about normal.

  6. I’m wondering why she even communicated with AirBNB? I would have told anyone showing up at my door that I own the place, I didn’t list it for rent, the place isn’t for rent, they got screwed and closed the door on them. It’s not my problem. Go get a hotel room and complain to AirBNB. Those are the risks of getting an AirBNB.

  7. Why not sue? To have a property listed without permission is Fraud. The owner did their part by notifying Airbnb, now its time to extract compensation for giving the owners the run around.

  8. Correction: “Issues like this are RARELY reported” but happen dozens of times every day. We use algorhythms to patrol our website because its cheaper than hiring a qualified security team. Don’t expect anything to change absent litigation or regulation.”

  9. Airbnb is correct: as a platform they don’t have to take it down. There is no specific regulation about it, so there’s nothing that the owner can do other than going after the lister.

    The blogger is known for anti-regulations rants, so I don’t understand why he makes Airbnb the bad guys when they clearly aren’t. If he’s you implying that people are better off when companies are regulated, then he should say so. Shaming a company in some obscure blog like this one won’t change things one bit.

  10. This also happens on Booking.com. I booked a place in Amsterdam and got a WhatsApp message from host asking to pay. I reverse Googled the photos and it was an Airbnb listing that a scammer had cross-posted on Booking.com

  11. Same thing happened to me! Went to check in and it was occupants full time residence! Airbnb did nothing but refund my $ But I had to scramble to find accommodations, which cost me twice my budget!
    The third party posting the fraudulent listing blocked my communication and they’re still showing as a host on the site!

  12. @Fauci Regan presidency, i never new how people bought houses during these years.
    1980 13.74%
    1981 16.63%
    1982 16.04%
    1983 13.24%
    1984 13.88%
    1985 12.43%
    1986 10.19%
    1987 10.21%
    1988 10.34%

  13. Let a computer run the business and this is the result. And it will only get worse as the bad guys figure out even more diabolical tricks. WHEN will people learn? How many horror stories does it take to get their attention? Travel preparations today have to be double-checked every time, all of them, not just the Cheap-Charlie bunch like Abb. Wake up, world! There’s STILL no free lunch, never has been and never will be.

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