A developer has lashed out at a “vengeful” guest who rented his three-bed home on Airbnb and reported him for allegedly installing a “hidden camera” – which was actually a carbon monoxide detector.
Robert Serr, 48, says he felt like a ‘peeper’ when the guest left a review claiming a carbon monoxide detector in the bedroom had a hidden recording device.
Mr Serr, of Leeds, West Yorkshire, had rented his house near Palm Beach, Florida, to a guest who left the house in a “filthy, disgusting mess” that required five hours of cleaning, prompting him to one star review.
Mr Serr believes she retaliated by leaving her own review, which in turn led to his suspension from the platform on January 8.
Robert Serr, 48, says he felt like a ‘peeper’ when the guest left a review claiming a carbon monoxide detector in the bedroom had a hidden recording device
While Mr Serr’s account has now been reinstated, he says he is considering boycotting Airbnb because he feels he was treated as ‘guilty until proven innocent’
She had claimed there were “two smoke alarms in the room” and that she feared one contained a “recording device” but was actually a carbon monoxide alarm – required by law.
As a result, Mr. Serr was faced with having his account permanently banned and losing the $30,000 he spent renovating the property to make it more “Airbnb friendly.”
Although his account has now been reinstated, Mr Serr says he is considering boycotting Airbnb as he feels he has been treated as ‘guilty until proven innocent’.
Airbnb said it was just a “temporary suspension” while they investigated the matter and the guest has now been removed from the platform.
Mr. Serr said, ‘It’s the meanest accusation you can make about anyone, that I’m some kind of sick voyeur or spy. It is very damaging to my reputation.
“It’s a step down from saying I’m basically a sex offender.
Mr Serr described how he made it clear to the guest that there would be no parties in the three bedroom property
When Mr. Serr’s last guest checked in on Dec. 29, he had already warned her that parties were prohibited – but he claims she organized two rowdy gatherings anyway.
“To make those kinds of allegations and then have Airbnb accept their claim without proof and ban me, that makes you feel disgusting.
“She was too stupid to realize that one is a smoke alarm and one is a carbon monoxide alarm.”
Mr Serr first listed his Airbnb property in November and claims he had previously had a bad experience with another partygoer who ruined his slot machine and dartboard.
When his last guest checked in on Dec. 29, he’d already warned her that parties were off limits — but he claims she staged two rowdy gatherings anyway.
After the guests left, Mr Serr claimed his cleaners reported that the rental was ‘very dirty’, prompting him to leave a one star review for the client.
But three days later, he woke up to a review from the woman herself, who claimed that while the house was ‘gorgeous’, she feared Mr Serr had installed a hidden camera.
Mr Serr said, ‘This woman messaged me after she booked (the house) asking if I had a large backyard.
“The alarm bells immediately went off and I contacted Airbnb.
Mr Serr says the bruise has made him reconsider whether to use Airbnb as a platform for his holiday homes
“They told me to contact her and message her to make it very clear that there would be no parties in the house. She answered and said ‘absolutely, there will be no parties. I’m renting it for my mom, it’s her birthday.”
She checks into the house. That night at 1am I get a call from my neighbors that she is having a big party in the house.
“(Then) the next night I get a call from the neighbors at 4 a.m. and a lot of people are coming in and out of the house.”
The next day, Mr. Serr’s cleaners went to the property and he claims it took her five hours to clean up – finding grease-covered towels and broken sheets.
Mr. Serr said, “It was so disgusting and filthy. They ruined my sheets and towels.
She wiped the grease from the kitchen with the sheets and towels. It was a filthy, disgusting mess.
“Apparently the one star review I left her prompted Airbnb to contact (her) which is why I believe she made up lies saying my carbon monoxide detector was a camera.
The carbon monoxide detector in question, which a guest falsely claimed was used to his hidden camera
“I got an email from Airbnb (Sunday 8th January) first thing in the morning saying they had suspended the account pending investigation by their Trust and Safety team because someone felt unsafe in the house.
“I brought up the party I reported and asked if it wasn’t pretty obvious to them what had happened. They weren’t the least bit interested in talking about the party and didn’t care.’
Mr Serr claims that despite providing evidence of 16 people moving in and out of the premises, his account remained suspended for five days.
He is now considering removing his ad from the platform and possibly selling his newly renovated home.
Mr Serr said: ‘I’m finishing two other properties that I was originally going to turn into Airbnbs, but that’s not why I’m going to do that now.
“Should I be thankful that they have now reinstated my account that should never have been suspended in the first place?
‘No. All of this has made me realize how easy it is to shut down your entire business at the snap of a finger with little to no recourse.
‘Airbnb had so much documentation from the beginning about my concerns about this booking, but it seems none of that is relevant. Even down to the 4am phone calls to Airbnb.”
An Airbnb spokesperson said: “We were disappointed with this experience and have resolved this matter.
“A temporary suspension was in effect while we were investigating a security question to help protect our community. We have contacted the host to reactivate the listing and have taken appropriate action against the booking guest.”