Airbnb horror story: Guests trash Sydney apartment, turn it into a 'junkie den'
Sydney Morning Herald
Liam Mannix
04 September 2016

Drug users concocted a story about a sick child to get into a Sydney woman's Airbnb apartment – before they turned it into a "junkies' den", ransacking the house and causing more than $10,000 damage.

A mystery green liquid had been smeared on the walls, her towels were covered in blood, and she found a crack pipe in her vase.

And she says Airbnb were totally ignoring her claim until Fairfax became involved.

"Michelle" told Holly and her boyfriend she had a sick child in the Sydney Children's Hospital in Randwick and was looking for a nearby apartment to stay in for 10 days in August.

Police go through the apartment.

Holly, who asked Fairfax not to reveal her last name, was new to Airbnb and had decked out her new Rozelle apartment out with nice furniture and linen and had it professionally cleaned before Michelle arrived. They stayed at their mother's for the 10 days, hoping to use the Airbnb earnings to pay off a credit card bill.

After Michelle checked out, Holly came back to clean up.

It's best to let her describe what greeted her.

"Our beloved apartment had been turned into what I can best assume is a junkies' den.

"The place was  completely ransacked – and absolutely stank like chemicals. The smell we later found out from the police was either ice or heroin.

"Fruit had been thrown at all the walls leaving them covered and stinking. A crack pipe was left in our vase. Our smoke alarm was covered so they could smoke inside.

"Cigarettes all over the apartment. Ash all over our $2000 rug. Rubbish and debris literally everywhere. Used cigarettes all through our kitchenware and my cupboards. All our linen and towels stolen.

"There was random green liquid on a lot of walls and all over the floor. The whole floor was covered in a strange sticky substance. Two towels were left on the floor covered in blood.

"Every single drawer, box and shelf was ransacked. All our furniture was in a different place. Table lamps were kicked in, bedside lamps were stolen, cushions stolen, Bose speakers stolen, an external hard drive was stolen. The list is endless."

Holly estimates the total damage bill at north of $10,000. She is homeless as they try to find a place to live while the damage is repaired.

Airbnb were ignoring her claim before Fairfax got involved

After police forensic teams finished combing the place, she's now set about trying to fix everything. But she says Airbnb were ignoring her claim before Fairfax got involved, despite the San Francisco-based company's advertised host protection insurance.

"We made a report to Airbnb and heard not a word from them," Holly says. "I have called every day and been put through to a call centre who assures me that Airbnb security are 'looking into our claim'. They haven't asked me what happened - no apology, haven't organised cleaners, literally nothing.

"We want them to repay us for the cleaning and all the damages but we can't even speak to anyone who can help us. How can they let dangerous criminals into our home and not even bother to call and say sorry?"

try to resolve it directly with the tenant in the first instance

After Fairfax contacted Airbnb, a spokesman said any host complaining about a tenant was required to try to resolve it directly with the tenant in the first instance.

Airbnb would only consider a claim if that process did not work within four days. That process has now started with Holly – she has been directed to a form to list the damage done to her apartment. After that Airbnb will asses her claim.

A spokesman for the company said Airbnb would consider prosecuting the individual, who had since been banned from the site.

"We have a zero tolerance for this sort of behaviour and we'll work with police to make sure these guests are held accountable for their actions," a spokesman said.

spurred on by media attention

On Thursday night, spurred on by media attention, Airbnb agreed to transfer $2,200 to Holly to help with immediate clean-up, and to help her find accommodation.

The final insult for Holly?

After the forensics team finished in her apartment, her phone buzzed with a notification. It was Airbnb, reminding her to make sure she rated her house guests.

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