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Top 5 Airbnb Home-Rental Horror Stories

By Aditi Mukherji, JD | Last updated on

Airbnb, a home-sharing service, has struck start-up gold. However, the popular service has seen its share of home-rental horror stories, with some people renting out their beds to strangers... and coming home to disasters.

Here are the top five Airbnb nightmares, and the lessons we can learn from them:

  1. Store personal valuables elsewhere. In San Francisco, a woman found her home trashed and vandalized. The renters smashed a hole through her locked closet door, and took her passport, cash, credit card and grandmother's jewelry that she had hidden inside, ZDNet reports. Her birth certificate and social security card were photocopied. Also reportedly missing: her camera, iPod, laptop, and an external backup drive filled with photos and journals.
  2. Follow your gut. Though his gut told him the renters were off, a man in Oakland went through with the Airbnb deal -- and came home to a meth pipe disaster. In addition to valuables stolen, the thieves/drug addicts did thousands of dollars of bizarre damage to his rented home and left it littered with meth pipes. His birth certificate was also stolen, according to TechCrunch. Police later confirmed the renter was known to law enforcement, and may have been dangerous.
  3. Know what they're paying for. In Stockholm, two young women discovered their place was used as a temporary brothel, reports NBC News. They got a note from police informing them their place had been raided on Saturday catching "two call girls in flagrante delicto with clients."
  4. Know what you're paying for. When a San Jose man rented an apartment in Berlin via Airbnb, he allegedly got a knock on his door from the apartment's "real owner," who "had the paperwork to prove it." Thankfully, the real owner was nice enough to let him stay without compensation.
  5. Expect the unexpected. Laurie Segall, a reporter for, tested out Airbnb and had a mixed experience, reports CNN. She encountered a strange host and a flooded kitchen when she rented a loft in Berlin. Still, Segall said she would use Airbnb again.
  6. Bonus: Know the law. An Airbnb user in The Big Apple listed his place and accrued thousands of dollars in fines because it's against the law in New York City to sublet your apartment for less than 30 days.

Proceed with caution and carefully vet any potential subletters or homeowners. Remember, homeowner's and renter's insurance policies typically don't cover the damages caused by a houseguest, reports Slate.

Airbnb has a $50,000 guarantee that will cover loss or damages caused by guests -- which is nice, but not a whole lot in the grand scheme of potential damage.

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