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Norwich: Airbnb scam warning after cameras turned off

Published:
6:30 a.m. March 1, 2022



Update:
11:04 a.m. March 1, 2022

A landlord had to tally up the cost of an Airbnb scam after guests ransacked her home and disabled security cameras before leaving the back door unlocked.

Sadie Brown, 53, “bent over backwards” for a last minute booking last weekend.

The guests – a son and his mother – have booked his property in Rosary Road for February 20.

After hosting the pair, Ms Brown was shocked when five hours later the booking was canceled due to an alleged mold problem.


Rosary Road where Sadie Brown’s Airbnb home is located
– Credit: Ben Hardy

Ms Brown explained: ‘I was contacted by these people who said their original accommodation was filthy and asked if I could move them in at the last minute.

The London-based worker, who brought the property while living in Norwich, said the booking was for 10 days at a cost of £900.

The Mundesley-born host added: ‘I felt bad for the guests because they said their last booking was unacceptably dirty.

“They also asked if they could bring a very well behaved dog. They made a point of saying that they themselves were proud of the house so that the dog was not a problem.


Dirty underwear left by guests at Sadie Brown's Norwich home

Dirty underwear left by guests at Sadie Brown’s Norwich home
– Credit: Assessed

Law firm marketing manager Reed Smith added: ‘Then at 2pm I got a message saying they had canceled the booking.

“They had taken a shower, then left dirty underwear and used wet wipes in my house.

“They also emptied a hand-held vacuum, spilled the contents and shook it all over.

“I then realized that as soon as they arrived on the property, they had disabled the home security cameras by disconnecting the broadband.

“Before leaving, they also unlocked the back door and left it unlocked.”

Given the complaint against Ms Brown, she incurred an £80 charge on her next booking.

This was later removed by Airbnb after the host proved it had over 80 reviews from previous guests praising the tidy and cleanliness of the home.

The house is rated 4.99 stars out of five thanks to 85 guests.

She added: “I feel really disappointed with Airbnb on this one.

“They need to create better controls to verify a guest because it’s a bit of a loophole for people to create this mess. I’ve never had issues like this before.

“I will not rent the house again unless there are reviews on Airbnb. I already deleted another request right away from someone who had just joined and was waiting for ID verification.”

Ms Brown has family living in Norwich and had to replace the locks on the house, as well as spend £100 cleaning up the mess left by guests.

“My 72-year-old mum spends five hours cleaning the house to get it ready for them,” Ms Brown said.

“They are suspicious guests, their behavior is bizarre. I am unable to see photos of this alleged mold and Airbnb has not been able to confirm what it was.

“It has been suggested that there is mold in the top of the washing machine but I hardly ever use it as I work in London. What are they doing anyway looking in the top of the washing machine? washing machine ?”

Ms Brown added that her Norwich home was well insulated and properly ventilated.

She warned other hosts – especially ahead of the busy summer tourist season – to take photos of each room before a guest stays as evidence.

“I don’t care about the money, but I think it’s something where someone figured out how to access homes without paying and other Airbnb hosts might need to take notice,” Ms Brown continued.

“The Airbnb agent I spoke to was very helpful and kind but the staff have their hands tied by company policy. This was unacceptable.”

An Airbnb spokeswoman said: “We require valid photographic evidence from guests to prove cleanliness issues and this has been provided.

“We also have strict policies governing the use of security features in listings, and the host has been suspended while we investigate.”

Airbnb is a San Francisco-based online marketplace that was founded in 2008 by roommates and former classmates Brian Chesky, Joe Gebbia, and Nathan Blecharczyk.

It connects people who want to rent their accommodation with people looking for accommodation in specific areas.

What does Airbnb’s policy state?

Airbnb’s guest refund policy states that a guest will be refunded the amount paid through the Airbnb platform if they report a travel issue up to 24 hours after check-in.


Airbnb has revolutionized the way we vacation [PA Photo/Airbnb]

A logo for Airbnb
– Credit: PA

The company’s website states that it will, at its discretion, either refund the amount paid or help to book reasonably comparable accommodation for the remaining unused nights.

He adds that the host can notify the company in writing or by phone to provide evidence if they dispute the trip issue.

Guest refunds are automatically refunded if the host’s cancellation policy allows.

But the website says that even if it doesn’t allow it, the guest may be eligible for a refund under a guest refund policy, or if there is an extenuating circumstance.

If a guest cancels after check-in, Airbnb states that they must vacate the space immediately and the terms of the cancellation policy still apply.