Jekyll and Hyde Guest - a cautionary tale.

in
Taunton, United Kingdom
Level 4
1,755 Views

We have been part of the Airbnb Community for some years now, letting whole apartments and now just rooms in our own home. So we are not rookies, or so we thought...

 

From the get go we agreed we would only host people with five star feedback, but we got a last minute cancellation, which was quickly requested by another Airbnb member. We seriously dropped the ball, as we saw he had been a member for a year or so, but had no reviews yet, so we thought he must be ok. We assumed if there had been issues with this guest in the past, he would have been reported or black listed or that Airbnb would have excluded him.

This doesn't happen, anyone anywhere can join, no questions asked, nobody is excluded. So basically any ol' Dahmer, Shipman, or Bundy is welcome here. Airbnb doesn't even reveal their surname, so their identity is protected. I understand the need for privacy, on both sides, but I think a last name shouldn't be hidden, it allows people to hide who they are, should they want to or in our case need to...

 

Our new guest said he was a professional, busy working locally, and would be out for most of the time. We accepted his booking, I and all our family and friends (including other guests) wish to god we hadn't. Initially he was very complimentary, he talked a lot, about his business, and family, and checked in, We noted no luggage, weird but not alarming.  As usual we are welcoming and always point out house rules on arrival. Where to locate the kitchen, and pointed out the coffee and tea stuff. We also informed the guest we had other people staying, we asked him what time he would like breakfast, and left him to settle in.

 

BOOM, everyone in the house was aware he starting watching TV loudly, he didn't make any adjustments to his surroundings, and obviously didn't care if he disturbed us or other guests. We had to ask repeatedly for him to turn it down, as it was past midnight, people wanted to sleep. When we woke the following morning he had sent us aggressive messages that the internet was buffering his shows, so he couldn't watch the TV, that it was unacceptable and demanded we fix it. NOW!. He sent the message at 2.30am

 

Things deteriorated from there, he didn't go to work, he only left his room for deliveries, or takeaways which he ate in his room. The TV was always playing, mainly sports. Other guests commented what was wrong with him? I really had no answers I could give them, by the fourth night of disturbed sleep,  I looked at our guest on Google, and saw his name made many appearances in court. What we discovered in just a few seconds would have been invaluable if we had the basic information about our guest like his surname, before accepting this booking. 

 

A long, painful, threatening and dangerous experience later we have learnt a valuable lesson, but there is nothing to stop this individual basically abusing another host, and another...Airbnb have been helpful and attentive to our worries, but in answer to our fears they suggest we leave the individual negative feedback. As they were not offering witness protection we will decline to put ourselves in further danger of retaliation.

 

We love sharing our home, and providing the best possible experience for our guests. We take the responsibility of hosting very seriously, and to our credit have lots of 5 star reviews resulting in many repeat guests, and have made some wonderful friends world wide. We travel and are guests ourselves, it's an unbeatable opportunity to experience life as a local, but when this rose coloured world goes wrong it can be catastrophic...

 

We have all read recent Airbnb horror stories, and thought that sort of thing could not happen on our doorstep... Our recent nightmare showed me it can, we were lucky this time, no-one got hurt, it just cost us a lot of money to fix. There are some very predatory guests out there, that can turn from Jekyll to Hyde.

So treat this as a cautionary tale to keep your guard up, be careful who you welcome into your home. Put precautions in place, enjoy being part of the global Airbnb community, but to the big boss of Airbnb, you have a responsibility to improve checks on guests and hosts and protect your community. 

 

We would ask Airbnb to change the current system so that the surname of a potential guest is shown, so that we could at least do a little research ourselves before accepting the booking. 

 

 

31 Replies

Re: Jekyll and Hyde Guest - a cautionary tale.

in
New South Wales, Australia
Level 10

@Neil-and-Debs0 I am glad you are safe and Airbnb supported you. It is such a pity ABB does not provide stronger ID verification system for hosts to protect themselves 

Re: Jekyll and Hyde Guest - a cautionary tale.

in
Taunton, United Kingdom
Level 4

Thank you for reply, maybe the powers that be will take note.

Re: Jekyll and Hyde Guest - a cautionary tale.

in
Cleveland Heights, OH
Level 2

Security is lacking for host protections. I have started demanding full names and addresses of all members of a guests group. I ask right up front so as to discourage anyone not above board. My friend who is also a host takes this one step further and asks for a scanned copy of the member guests drivers license. If anyone has a problem with this then send them to any Hotel chain and see how far they get there?. We all have a right to know who is in our property.  How do Hotels have better protections than we Hosts do?

When you ask for more verification explain why and how you as a host have come to this decision. Protect yourself and your property!

I had a very awkward situation arise and took my concerns up with Airbnb. I am not happy with their take on it. So it made me step it up for my own safety.

1. When adults travel with children:  I request that all minors be in the company of their legal guardian!

2. When a guests names changes or addresses are fake or not up to date? How can I check who they are? This is the case MOST of the time. People move a LOT. Again, I ask for updates.

 

I had an older male guest traveling with a very young woman. They broke several rules which I discovered AFTER the fact.  I discovered that this woman may not been here against her will. Very heavy drinking was evident as I discovered beer containers hidden in several "off limits" rooms in my house. I found a private journal hidden under a mattress. This journal was a "treatment" log that detailed this young woman's situation with this man. It was not pretty. It went into the trash ASAP. WHO was this man? A sex offender? Who was this woman? Was she in trouble? Was this a cry for help?Too late now they are gone. Airbnb took my complaint but nothing came back to me about it.

 

3. As a result of this experience I now ask for LEGAL names of all members in a party.

 

4. We also need more accurate PHOTO profile images. How do I know that this Joe/Jane Blow at my door is the same mug image in the "bar shot grouping"  which is out of focus? This needs to be fixed!

Powers that B are too SLOW at change!

 

Sex trafficking is real folks! It is in every city, everywhere. Airbnb could set a GOLDEN standard here and implement a better ID system. It just so happens that Airbnb provides willingly or not a perfect untrackable travel underground. Think about it.

 

 City Municipalities are already getting frustrated with IDs and who is in their neighborhood. My city now REQUIRES all guests names, addresses and dates for properties that have absentee hosts. Not a bad idea!

Re: Jekyll and Hyde Guest - a cautionary tale.

in
Mountain View, CA
Level 10

@Susan1730  In your situation, you are able to handle all of them you mentioned. But for many hosts who manage multiple listings, hosts who have full time job, and co-hosts who manage more than 10-50 listings, it would be much difficult for them to perform the tasks you listed.

 

If Airbnb would do the vetting and/or release the crucial information in truth to hosts, it will be much more helpful.

Re: Jekyll and Hyde Guest - a cautionary tale.

in
Cleveland Heights, OH
Level 2

Mike1034. I my situation I actually do work for a living. 

 

Level 10 is commercial? This is an altogether different scale and business model and possibly another topic. I live in this neighborhood and care about my neighbors. I live near an elementary school. Should I be worried about sex offenders staying in my house? Maybe this is one reason my city requires all names and legal addresses of guests and not just the "member" guest.

 

I do agree with you about Airbnb's obligation to all hosts...safety!

Re: Jekyll and Hyde Guest - a cautionary tale.

in
England, United Kingdom
Level 10

Crikey, what a horrible incident. You must leave negative feedback and a 'no' to would you host again though. This is the only way we can reduce this type of guest (although he'll probably just create another account) Good luck in the future

Re: Jekyll and Hyde Guest - a cautionary tale.

in
Taunton, United Kingdom
Level 4

Thank you for your reply, we will think about it.

Re: Jekyll and Hyde Guest - a cautionary tale.

in
Bristol, United Kingdom
Level 10

Please don't just think about leaving a review @Neil-and-Debs0 - leave an honest review so that your fellow hosts are warned about this guest and don't have the same horrible experience.

 

It is extremely unlikely this guest would retaliate - what sort of retaliation are you concerned about? (presume you have already blocked him on Airbnb, your social media etc).

 

You are much more tolerant than me I would have had this guest out after the first night by getting on the phone to Airbnb and letting them know that this guest was disturbing other guests and yourself and not responding to requests for quiet times (which I am assume you have for your listing) and insisting they cancel the booking.

Re: Jekyll and Hyde Guest - a cautionary tale.

in
Taunton, United Kingdom
Level 4

Thanks for your input, thats sound advice, I wish we had done that, rather than placate him.

Re: Jekyll and Hyde Guest - a cautionary tale.

in
Toronto, Canada
Level 10

@Neil-and-Debs0 

 

I had made a comment on this in another thread and have made similar suggestions directly to airbnb executives. I really hope they start taking this more seriously to avoid dangerous situations such as yours and also bad press for airbnb. The thread is

https://community.withairbnb.com/t5/Hosting/Mass-Shooting-in-Airbnb-house-in-Orinda-last-night-4-dea...

 

The suggestions I made were that not only should a host see the full name of the guest after the booking but also during the request to book phase. Whenever I have a local booking, i always search their number on google but I cannot search their name so hopefully I can find enough info about them by their number. For instance, I have a guest checking in today at my larger listing (6 bedrooms) and he is local. He told me he is booking it for his family but after I googled his number, I saw that he was a promoter for night clubs and events. But it is too late now because I was only able to see his number after I accepted. So now I am very worried he will host a party even though I asked him to confirm he is not throwing any parties. Now I have to drive by at midnight and check the cameras every 30 minutes tonight to verify because I am about 50/50 that he will throw a party. It has all the markings of it. This could have easily been prevented had we had more info.

 

If they allowed hosts to screen guests prior to bookings, it would avoid so much drama and would actually save airbnb money from having fewer resolution requests and fewer demands on their customer service department when guests break house rules. It would also improve their credibility. 

 

The other suggestion I made is that all guests MUST submit a government issued ID when they sign up for an account and that the name they put on their profile must match their ID. This will prevent the bad apples from joining which is what you want and promotes guests to be accountable. As someone who uses airbnb's when I travel, I have no issues with this because I know that I come with good intentions and will not cause issues. Those are the type of guests airbnb should want to have.

 

These suggestions do not breach privacy laws because if a guest wants to book someones private home, the host has the right to more information before accepting. In the case of Long term rentals, it is standard practice to obtain 2 forms of the tenants government issued ID on file as well as check their credit history. We are not asking for any of this. Just their names so we know what were getting into. It really isn't too much to ask.

 

I think executives should really start taking these suggestions seriously.

Re: Jekyll and Hyde Guest - a cautionary tale.

in
Taunton, United Kingdom
Level 4

I hope your suspicions don't materialise, and the guest is honest and has booked for the reasons they say they have.  I totally approve of all of your suggestions, who wouldn't. What do you say Airbnb? Are you ready to make this a safer hosting environment? Who wouldn't want that for their business...

Re: Jekyll and Hyde Guest - a cautionary tale.

in
Florence, OR
Level 10

@Sean433  It is my understanding that Airbnb denies our ability to see surnames as we will possibly 'discriminate' and not accept the booking.

 

And so, to ensure we hosts do not discriminate, they have created a system that makes hosts vulnerable to criminals and criminal activity in their homes. 

 

Guests must be protected. Hosts, not so much...

Re: Jekyll and Hyde Guest - a cautionary tale.

in
Albany, Australia
Level 10

@Neil-and-Debs0 That sounds awful and frightening. And I understand your reluctance to leave a bad review for fear of retaliation. This guy sounds unhinged.  But reviewing him is the only way to stop him abusing other hosts, unfortunately, because Airbnb won't be banning this guest, even in light of their supposed new security policies.

Re: Jekyll and Hyde Guest - a cautionary tale.

in
Alberta, Canada
Level 10

@Neil-and-Debs0  What a nightmare. Painfully, I can relate. I will add that even with a last name and govt ID, you still don't know exactly who you're getting through the door. We had a nightmare with a guest also. He had fulfilled ALL the verifications, including govt ID, and a quick search of his full name (only after the booking was already complete, of course 🙄) brought up nothing of interest or concern. Yet when we went to file the police report afterward, we found out he was already known to them.  At the end of the day, we should always be on our guard.

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