Man suspended by Airbnb when nightmare guest accused him of spying

Robert Serr, who owns several properties, criticized Airbnb (Photo: Kennedy News and Media)

A guest staying at an Airbnb reported the owner installing a “hidden camera” – which turned out to be a carbon monoxide detector.

Property developer Robert Serr, 48, says he felt like a ‘voyeur’ when a guest left a review claiming he had spied on her.

Serr, from Leeds, West Yorkshire, rents out her Palm Beach, Florida home through the vacation rental company’s website.

But he gave a recent guest a one-star review after leaving her in a “dirty, disgusting mess” that took five hours to clean up in December.

In what Serr believes is retaliation for his rating, the guest posted a lengthy review alleging he was monitoring her with a hidden camera.

She wrote: “My concern was that Airbnb hosts would make an appearance at the house during my stay.

“(Among) all the homes I’ve rented, I’ve never seen the Airbnb host make a physical appearance at the property during my stay.”

The guest review accused Serr of spying on her (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)

The guest claimed that Serr ordered her to leave his property “the same way I found it,” an exchange that made her feel uncomfortable.

“I didn’t feel comfortable with his visit,” she wrote, “especially after the host texted me confirming that I won’t be hosting a party.

“I just revealed to him that there will be no party on his property, but we are celebrating my mother’s birthday.”

“Also, I saw two smoke detectors in one of the bedrooms,” the guest added in his comment, referring to the open-plan kitchen. “What concerns me is that there is a recording device hidden in one of the detectors.”

The accusation led Airbnb to suspend Serr’s account after he spent more than $30,000 (£25,000) refurbishing the place to make it more “Airbnb friendly”.

Airbnb bricked its account on Jan. 8 after receiving a report that the host made a guest feel “unsafe.”

Serr said, “It’s the vilest accusation to make against anyone, whether I’m some kind of sick voyeur or voyeur.” It’s very damaging to my reputation.

The claim that the detector contained a camera prompted Airbnb to launch an investigation (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)

“It’s a cut below to say I’m basically a sex offender. Making that kind of accusation and then having Airbnb accept their claim without proof and banning me makes you feel disgusting.

“She was too stupid to realize that one of them is a smoke detector and the other is a carbon monoxide detector.

“Airbnb needs to change its ways. You are guilty until proven guilty.

Serr claimed to have messaged the guest not to hold any gatherings after she asked if the house had a back garden.

An exchange between the two showed Serr telling the guest, “I just wanted to confirm with you that we can’t allow any house parties even though it’s New Year’s Eve.”

Serr said the area was “quiet” and an elderly couple lived next door.

“She checks around the house. At 1 a.m. that night, I got a phone call from my neighbors to tell me she was having a big house party,” he added.

Ser claims the office threw a party at his Florida property (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)

“(Then) the next night, I get a phone call from the neighbors at 4 a.m. and there’s a bunch of people coming in and out of the house.”

Serr claimed his cleaners found his property after the guest left, which looked “disgusting and dirty”.

“She wiped the grease from the kitchen with the sheets and towels. It was a filthy, disgusting mess,” he claimed.

‘Obviously the one star review I left prompted Airbnb to get in touch [with her] and because of that I believe she made up lies and said my carbon monoxide detector was a camera.

After Airbnb suspended him while its security team investigated whether a host spied on a guest, Serr is now considering quitting the platform.

“Am I supposed to be grateful that they have now restored my account which should never have been suspended in the first place?” Serr said, adding that he was close to listing two more of his properties on Airbnb.

Serr, who placed his property on Airbnb in November, is now considering stepping down (Photo: Kennedy News and Media)

‘No. All of this made me see how easy it is to shut down your entire business in the snap of a finger with little or no recourse.

“Airbnb had so much documentation of my concerns with this booking from the start, but it seems all of that is irrelevant. Even up to the 4am phone calls to Airbnb.

An Airbnb spokesperson said, “We were disappointed to learn of this experience and have resolved this issue.

“A temporary suspension was in place as we investigate a safety request to help protect our community.

“We have contacted the host to reactivate the listing and have taken appropriate action regarding the guest who booked.”

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