The hazards of renting your apartment out to people you don’t actually know remain, whether you use the Internet to do the renting or not. But Airbnb’s runaway success in convincing users to rent their homes via the platform is continuing to throw up cases of abuse that we might never have heard of otherwise.
TechCrunch has been passed the story of two women with an apartment in Stockholm who rented out their apartment on AirBnB while they went on vacation for a month. When they returned yesterday they found an official note from the police, sent in the mail, stating that they had raided the apartment last weekend after trailing two prostitutes back to that location. The prostitutes were described as dressing as if they were on a business trip.
Sources say the owners found a plastic bag containing used condoms in the apartment.
It was reported yesterday that the prostitutes were Irish. However TechCrunch has confirmed that this is incorrect. All that can be said is that they had traveled to Stockholm from Ireland after booking the apartment on Airbnb.
An Airbnb spokesperson told us: “We were appalled to hear about this and we will work with local authorities to investigate the situation. We’re also providing ongoing support to the host. While this situation is being investigated, we can’t comment further.”
A source close to the incident told us told us: “I’ve always seen Airbnb as a great company and idea and I’ve never thought of something like this happening… Now I’m going to think twice before renting out my place… or put up a sign… No prostitution allowed.”
It’s understood from sources that the apartment owners are not keen to go down a legal path, but they are looking for potential compensation from Airbnb.
Clearly, if the police had not made a bust, they would never have known about what had been going on in the apartment. Which raises questions about how often this happens either on Airbnb or on other similar rental platforms.
In Europe Airbnb is battling local competition from sites like Wimdu and 9Flats, but Airbnb appears to remain the biggest market player right now.
Airbnb has been something of a victim of its own success, recently hitting 60,000 guests in one day.
The site also recently acquired similar UK business, Crashpadder.
The above incident is perhaps still not as bad as the one just over a year ago when a woman’s apartment and all her belongings were utterly trashed.