The Airbnb horror: short term tenancy cautionary tales

A coming deregulation bill will finally make it legal to let out your property in London using temporary services like Airbnb. But is the lure of a quick short term buck worth the risk of installing someone in your property who hasn’t gone through a background check? Or signed a tenancy agreement? We’ve put together a list of the worst Airbnb landlord horror stories to help you make up your mind.

Temporary brothel


This is one of the original Airbnb horror stories, and it’s a classic. Two Swedish roommates returned from a four-week holiday to find pubic their Stockholm apartment strewn with condoms, pubic hair and other nasties. It turns out that only the day before, police had raided the property and turfed out two “high class” Irish prostitutes who were caught in the act, so to speak.

Utter destruction


Another classic story that caused such a public outcry that it forced Airbnb to launch a  Host Protection Insurance program. A San Francisco woman returned from a week away to discover her Airbnb guest hadn’t left the property exactly how they had found it. They had ransacked the place, worn all of the host’s shoes and clothes, stolen everything of value, burned the pots and pans, and doused the house in bleach.  As if that wasn’t enough, they then “redecorated”the house, hanging up new pictures and cutting the tags off pillows.

Turn Up Part 2: The Pantie Raid


A New Yorker handed over his keys to someone renting his apartment through Airbnb, nipped out to dinner, and returned to his building to pick up some luggage only to discover an event called “Turn Up Part 2: The Pantie Raid” being closed down by building management. The event, which had been advertised online as a  “XXX FREAK FEST”, featured plus-sized women and had led to the trashing of the apartment.

Meth den

head hole

There are so many of these stories floating around that meth addicts renting Airbnb accommodation with stolen identities have become something of a trope. Perhaps the best/worst story belongs to a man from Oakland who found more than an assortment of used meth pipes when he returned home. His renters also stole his personal identity, caused damage to the closet doors with “a human head”,  shredded his clothes, and left a stolen cat.



A Californian woman’s Airbnb tenant was moderately well behaved, for the first 30 days at least. After that he simply stopped paying rent, and the nightmare started. Under Californian law he was a “month-to-month” tenant, meaning that the costly process to evict him would take up to half a year.  In the two months that it eventually took to kick the squatter out, he had pulled every trick in the book, from pretending to be his own brother so as to refuse the eviction notice, to threatening to press charges because he didn’t like the tap water.



The risk of an Airbnbn tenant holding a party in your property is always going to be high, but the post-party mess that one New York property owner returned to takes some beating. There were condoms all over the bedroom, chewing gum stuck on the floors walls and furniture, and human waste smeared throughout the previously immaculate penthouse. You can find pictures of the party that caused the damage, and the aftermath, here.



Stories of Airbnbs being used as brothels are so common that property owners might be tempted to hold their nose and take the money. But before they do they should probably talk to the New Yorker who returned to find her property surrounded by police tape. There had been a “price dispute” between her Airbnb tenant and their john which had resulted in the tenant being stabbed. Airbnb paid for the cleaning bill.