Woman forced to squat in her own Barcelona apartment after ‘fake tenant’ listed property on Airbnb
A Barcelona woman became a squatter in her own home after discovering her tenant was using tourism Airbnb rental website to illegally sublet the apartment in the trendy district of Barceloneta.
Montse Pérez saw the ad for her 32 square meter jewel apartment near the Barcelona beach on Airbnb and decided to pose as a tourist, renting a night from the impostor “host” and locking herself in her own property.
“We had no choice but to reoccupy our apartment and change the lock” Mrs Perez said the newspaper La Vanguardia, adding that his lawyer had said it would take a year to evict his fraudulent tenant in court.
Ms Pérez explained that six weeks ago she had rented the flat from a 26-year-old man with dual Russian and Chilean nationality, who said he had worked as a financial adviser to a British company which had moved to Barcelona.
“He showed me a document saying his salary was €3,000 ($4,439) a month, so I thought OK, no problems here. Well, I was wrong,” Ms Pérez said. , who charged €950 ($1405) per month for the apartment.
Ignoring a clause in the contract expressly prohibiting subletting, Ms. Pérez’s supposedly bona fide tenant was quick to put the apartment up for rent, at €200 a night in June and rising to €250 for the peak months of July and August, which means he could earn up to €7,500 per month.
Ms Pérez said she contacted Airbnb, but the company said all it could do was “mediate between me and the host”.
In the meantime, she saw how the name of the contact host for tourists entering the apartment – converted into space for four with the addition of a sofa bed – changed three times “from Shaergei to Andrei and Eduard”, suggesting a possible organized network of fraudsters.
A spokesperson for Barcelona Council said inspectors had visited Ms Pérez and assured her that her bogus tenant would be prosecuted and face a fine of between €60,000 and €600,000.
“We have fined Airbnb €600,000 for repeat offense in advertising properties that do not have the tourist accommodation license. But they continue to break the law and simply carry on regardless.
The spokesperson said that other rental platforms such as Far from home, Booking.com, Tripadvisor, Rentalia and Apartment were attending meetings with the council to develop a protocol to help manage the impact of the city’s large number of tourist apartments, but Airbnb had declined to participate.
In response, Airbnb said it suspended listing Ms. Pérez’s apartment while it investigates the dispute between the landlord and tenant.
“We ask all hosts to certify that they have permission to list their space and remind them to check and follow local policies before listing,” the company added.