Imagine lending out your house out for the weekend to make a little extra cash, and coming home to crack pipes and guns. That’s exactly what happened to a couple who offered their home for short-term rental on Airbnb earlier this fall.
Mid-September of this year, A rambunctious house party ended with a gunshot blast, several arrests and the seizure of guns and crack cocaine. Officers were called to the normally quiet neighbourhood and tried to control the crowd by ordering the owners outside, only to realize the three-bedroom home was being a short-term rental space on Airbnb.
The incident has now come to light, and it has been reported by the Toronto Star that police arrested six young men and a teenage girl, and seized three loaded handguns, a pellet gun and crack cocaine.
The partygoers also caused significant damage to the home, including damage to the drywall, doors and furniture, according to the report.
“There have been over 100 million guest arrivals in Airbnb listings and problems for hosts are incredibly rare, but when they happen, we try to help make things right,” Airbnb’s Nick Shapiro wrote in email regarding the incident.
“We have no tolerance for this type of behavior and we immediately banned this guest from the platform.” Shapiro added that Airbnb is co-operating with the police in the investigation and is, “working to support the host under our $1 Million Host Guarantee by reimbursing her for damages, income loss, and alternative accommodations until repairs could be completed.”
Critics are claiming the incident reflects on the lack of regulations and the urgent need for managing the short-term rental operation, which the City of Toronto is already researching.
“This is a clear example of why we have to regulate short-term rentals, that there’s a risk involved, not only for hosts and guests, but more importantly, also to those around them who do not use the service or consent to it,” said Thorben Wieditz, a spokesperson for Fairbnb, a newly launched coalition that is taking aim at Airbnb plans to call on Toronto councillors to regulate online short-term rentals in the city.
Airbnb has now created Verified ID, a program that connects a person’s offline identification with another online profile to their Airbnb account, such as Facebook or LinkedIn account, so the account can be verified as real.
No wonder the city is looking into regulating the system. What are your thoughts on this unfortunate event?
Main image courtesy of Urban Toronto via Twitter