American woman shocked to find her new home on Airbnb listed by evicted tenant

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina: Natalie Siburt bought her first home in Charlotte last month and, until recently, she had settled in well.

But last Tuesday evening, she saw a man dropping off luggage outside her door. When Siburt approached him, he asked him to check into the Airbnb inside his apartment, as described in a TikTok video.

Siburt, a native of Greenville, South Carolina, says she was perplexed by the alien question. She had no idea her house had been listed on the popular short-term rental site by the tenant of the former owner.

“I said to him, ‘Oh, I think you might have the wrong address, it’s not an Airbnb,'” Siburt said in an interview with The Charlotte Observer. “He showed me the check-in instructions on his phone and that was my address.”

Siburt initially thought it might be a scam, so she turned to her neighborhood Facebook group where she learned that other members of the community might have an idea. what was happening.

“I posted in my neighborhood group and immediately everyone on the HOA board was like, ‘We know exactly what this is,'” Siburt said.

She later learned that the stranger’s visit was the result of a scheme that dated back months.

HOA board members sent Siburt documents detailing a dispute between the former landlord and her tenant, who illegally listed the rented space on Airbnb.

The tenant violated her lease and HOA rules by passing the property off as her own and taking advantage of Airbnb bookings, according to Lori Terunuma, the former landlord. Reviews left on the listing showed dozens of completed bookings.

Terunuma had rented the property to the tenant for nearly three years before evicting her, she told the Observer.

Before signing the lease, Terunuma conducted a background check on the tenant. However, she claimed that a scan failed to detect the tenant’s criminal record.

Terunuma only discovered these details years later, shortly after the tenant had already been notified of the eviction. She came across the information by searching on Google.

According to Terunuma, the tenant was hit with several minor lease violations by the HOA in the first two years.

Terunuma then began the process of evicting the tenant earlier this year, but was still unaware that the occupier was renting the space to guests through Airbnb.

At some point after the eviction notice was served, Terunuma entered the apartment to check the condition of the property and found locks on the cupboard doors and a note on the refrigerator that read: “Use what you want!

Terunuma suspected that the condo may have been sublet by the tenant. She discovered an Airbnb listing that included photographs of different rooms with the following description: “Welcome to our charming condo in the heart of Carolinas shopping, dining and entertainment. Suitable for virtually all travelers.

The home has received over 25 reviews and an average rating of 4.77 out of 5 stars.

Some guests encountered ‘red flags’

Yoana Reyes, of Greenville, South Carolina, stayed at home with relatives during a trip to Charlotte in March. When they arrived for the taping, the band encountered the host as she came out of the house with large bags of toiletries and random items, Reyes said in an interview with the Observer.

Reyes said the encounter raised “a red flag” as the woman then walked towards a car full of belongings.

Upon entering the house, Reyes and his cousins ​​found clothing strewn across the property and spoiled meat inside the refrigerator. When the group filed a complaint with the host through Airbnb, they were told that the items and food were leftovers from previous guests.

Reyes explained that the band accepted the host’s reasoning and chose not to think twice about it. Now Reyes says she never would have stayed on the property if she had known the truth.

Airbnb Verification Policy

It is Airbnb policy that background checks are performed on most hosts and guests.

“Keeping our Airbnb family safe is one of our top priorities. If we have at least one specific first name, last name, and date of birth for a host or guest, we will perform a background check,” Airbnb says. on its website.

Guest backgrounds must be checked 10 days before check-in, and hosts are vetted after they create a listing or when a stay with them is booked, according to the company.

Airbnb offers two verification methods for hosts who want to list their listing on the site. One requires potential hosts to provide a qualifying document (a utility bill, mortgage statement, or rental agreement) that is less than two years old.

Another method of verification is to choose to receive a company security code by mail. Hosts then have 60 days to enter the code online. After that, hosts can be verified “within minutes,” according to the company’s site.

Attempt to delete Airbnb

Terunuma first began her efforts to have the listing removed in April, contacting Airbnb more than 10 times, according to documents she showed to the Observer.

Siburt, the current owner, said she called Airbnb several times, providing details and documentation that she now owns the property.

“I said here’s the list, it needs to be taken down,” Siburt told the Observer. “They then said they were just a platform and had nothing to do with it and that I should contact the host directly.”

Siburt says she was able to get in touch with the host, but was told the listing couldn’t be taken down because she no longer had access to the Airbnb account.

“I just don’t understand what’s in it for (Airbnb) to keep it going because it seems like a terrible customer experience,” Siburt said. “I don’t know why any company would want that.”

“Very disturbing”

Siburt and Terunuma claimed their continued attempts to have the list taken down were met with “canned responses” and few responses. Airbnb, according to documents obtained by the Observerrepeatedly told Siburt and Terunuma to contact the former occupant in order to resolve the issue.

“Thank you for responding to us,” Airbnb wrote to Terunuma earlier last week. “We believe that communicating directly with your tenant is the easiest way to deal with these types of complaints.”

Terunuma’s tenant had already been evicted months ago and the house belonged to Siburt.

“Again, these canned responses are not helpful. Like I said before, I no longer have a tenant,” Terunuma replied. “These random people showing up with an Airbnb reservation have been very disturbing for the new owner.”

In May, the listing was taken down from the platform for a short time, Terunuma said. It is unclear when the list became active again after this.

Airbnb removed the listing from its platform within 24 hours of being contacted by the Observer for comment last week.

“Issues like the reported experience are rare, and after investigation, we have removed the listing from the platform,” Airbnb said in a statement to The Observer. “All hosts on Airbnb must certify that they have permission to list their listing, and if an issue is reported to us, we investigate and take appropriate action.”

Siburt explained that she doesn’t want to hurt Airbnb by going public with her story — she just wants the company to implement policies that protect landlords.

“I’m in the mortgage business, so I’ve worked with a lot of investors who buy homes to be Airbnbs. I don’t want them to get a bad rap. I don’t want Airbnb to go down,” Siburt said. “I just think they need to put policies in place to protect homeowners buying homes that still have active listings.” – The Charlotte Observer/Tribune news service

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