Airbnb Horror Stories: The Worst Guests and Nightmarish Renters

When I leave my hometown, which is good, I tend to list my apartment on Airbnb. If you are an Airbnb user, then I have to say thank you: you are funding my wanderlust. You are welcome to clean linens, friendly notes and cable TV. All I ask in return is that you don’t rummage through every drawer of my dresser.

The social contract when a stranger moves into your home can be vague, defined primarily by the boundaries of civil behavior. Of course, it varies from city to city, person to person, jerk to jerk. If you’re renting your home to Airbnb visitors, you should be prepared for plenty of perfectly nice and reasonable guys, as well as the occasional thug who may not be clean. I reached out to colleagues, friends, and other Airbnbers in Berlin to round up some of their worst experiences.

You have been warned.

The Alcohol Moocher

There is no excuse, in this life or the next, to assume that by renting someone’s apartment you get open bar privileges. Watch out for these people: they could be anywhere and anyone, just waiting to bleed you with your single malt scotch or Peruvian pisco.

The toilet blocker

These people seem incredibly picky about keeping their own plumbing clean while disregarding how the plumbing actually works. As a result, you may find the toilet paper equivalent of a daily Sunday subway clogging your pipes on the way back. Another apartment tenant writes to me: “A couple and their friend came for Berlin Pride and managed to use six rolls of toilet paper in just two days.” On the positive side, it’s better to have too much paper in the toilet than none at all: in one case that went down in history, a tenant returned and found a week’s worth of used toilet paper in the trash.

24 hour party people

At some point in your life as an Airbnb host, someone is going to trash your apartment. Saira in Amsterdam recounts a time when her brother was looking after her apartment and noticed that things were missing. “He sent me a picture of my ceiling asking me, ‘Where’s the lamp?’ He then noticed that the house was full of bottles and cans, vodka, beer, sangria, everywhere.” The guests, however, left a note. It read: “Thank you for providing us with your beautiful apartment. I hope our deposit will be sufficient to buy you a better a.” No deposit was left.

Jason Hoffman/Thrillist

The eternal bringer of additional guests

The offer is one free guest, or $15 per additional guest per night. It’s not until you find out your tenant has brought along his aunt, his girlfriend’s parents, the cleaning lady and the former geography teacher that you realize he’s taking liberties.

The impure

No one wants to come back to a house covered in mud, with a sink full of mocking dishes and hair all over the bathroom. Alas, we can’t have it all.

long lost lovers

People will definitely have sex in your apartment. However, rampant excitement does not exempt a sex lover from basic decency. After returning once to my apartment, I found my erotically enthusiastic guest’s panties hanging from the branch of one of my plants and condom wrappers strewn across the bedroom floor.

inept airbnb person
Jason Hoffman/Thrillist

The inept and the deceiver

They break stuff and deny it. No, it wasn’t like that when you came here. How can I know? Because this is my house, and I don’t sleep with broken glass on the bedspread.

Those who speak right in front of you

If you share your apartment with someone, you can check if they speak the same language. Alex in Berlin writes: “This Russian couple, my roommate, rented their room to sit in the living room all weekend without speaking a word of English over New Years.” Awkward… but hey, at least they’re not drinking all your rum.

The squatters

Renting your apartment in California can be precarious, as some Airbnb guests stay longer than a month and then invoke tenant rights laws to prevent eviction. Beware of those who linger for weeks.

sex toy burglar
Jason Hoffman/Thrillist

The Sex Toy Burglar

Even if you could get your vibrators back through this scam, you wouldn’t want them. Like a friend of mine whose entire fun toy collection is gone asks, “Why take them in the first place?”

It’s one thing to leave your house to strangers. It’s another to come back and find them participating in an ancient shamanic, psychedelic event, throwing up on the floor and talking heebeejibee for days.

The bed bugger

A few years ago, an ex-girlfriend of mine returned to her apartment to find that the woman who was renting her apartment had defecated in her bed. On the mattress. Airbnb insurance compensated her for the nightmare; the bed bugger naturally had his account deleted. But she remains free, wandering somewhere among us.

music enthusiasts
Jason Hoffman/Thrillist

music enthusiasts

Entrusting your record collection to strangers is a courageous, often naive gesture. A person who takes out a record from your collection stings. Yet it’s almost as bad when they misjudge a record they’re listening to.

The Barbarian Orgy

A couple in Alberta, Canada returned to find their apartment had been ground zero for a 100-person party that cops apparently described as “a drug induced orgy“The house was destroyed, the piss was everywhere, the condoms clogged the plumbing, the furniture was smashed. I don’t really know what’s worse: that they used the house for such debauchery, or that they didn’t at least invite the owners to join.

The Adventure Leaders

Returning from a work trip, I found my apartment to be quite clean after a couple spent the weekend there. A week later, I noticed a putrid stench in the kitchen. The culprit: a part-roasted turkey, rotting in the oven, taking on all sorts of strange colors, giving off a wide range of disgusting odors.

And finally… the man from Chicago

Janette in Berlin describes renting the second bedroom of her apartment to a nice older gentleman from Chicago, with whom she immediately bonded. Then, during the night, he woke everyone up in the apartment when he decided to rearrange the furniture. Janette returned from work the next day to find her urine-soaked underwear hanging in the bathroom. That he left there, out in the open, until the day he left.

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Dan Cole is a part-time music critic, DJ, journalist and drifter. Based in Berlin, Dan also works as a cultural consultant for agencies and festivals, as an editorial writer for Amsterdam Dance Event and as a contributor for Electronic Beats and Crack Magazine.

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