It sounds like a great idea: you’re going to be out of town, or you’ve got a never-used spare bedroom that you’d like to put to a money-making use. You decide to list your place as a vacation rental on a site like Airbnb.com. I’d never heard of this company until last week, when the story hit the news about one of their customers — a woman in her 30s in San Francisco — came home to find her apartment absolutely trashed by her short-term renter. On her blog, she wrote:
With an entire week living in my apartment, Dj and friends had more than enough time to search through literallyÂ everythingÂ inside, to rifle through every document, every photo, every drawer, every storage container and every piece of clothing I own, essentially turning my world inside out, and leaving a disgusting mess behind.They smashed a hole through a locked closet door, and found the passport, cash, credit card and grandmother’s jewelry I had hidden inside. They took my camera, my iPod, an old laptop, and my external backup drive filled with photos, journals… my entire life. They found my birth certificate and social security card, which I believe they photocopied – using the printer/copier I kindly left out for my guests’ use. They rifled through all my drawers, wore my shoes and clothes, and left my clothing crumpled up in a pile of wet, mildewing towels on the closet floor. They found my coupons for Bed Bath & Beyond and used the discount, along with my Mastercard, to shop online. Â Despite the heat wave, they used my fireplace and multiple Duraflame logs to reduce mounds of stuff (my stuff??) to ash â€” including, I believe, the missing set of guest sheets I left carefully folded for their comfort.
So, be careful of both the random renter who might trash your house, and also the random neighbor who might cause you all sorts of grief by reporting you for renting our your place illegally.