The craziest things ever found in an Airbnb
Fairy tales inadvertently teach children that entering a stranger’s home can lead to amazing discoveries. Goldilocks stumbled across talking bears that ate porridge and slept in beds. Jack the giant beanstalk killer found a goose with lucrative ovaries. And Hansel and Gretel learned that houses can be made of magical diabetes. Given the popularity of such stories, you might expect most kids to become thrill-seeking cat burglars in adulthood. Thankfully, the majority of grown-ups find less questionable ways to explore unfamiliar abodes. One of those ways is Airbnb.
Airbnb essentially lets you sleep in Baby Bear’s bed without the fear of being turned into blood porridge. The service connects travelers looking for lodging with people looking to host them. If all goes well, the hosts get money and the travelers get a guilt-free Goldilocks experience. But unlike the fantastical stories from childhood, Airbnb stays don’t include golden eggs or edible rooftops. Nevertheless, the surprises people find can seem just as grim and ridiculous as anything you’ve read in fairy tales.
Baboons are extremely cheeky monkeys. They have hamster-like cheek pouches, boast blush-colored rump cheeks, and are the very definition of rudeness. That’s three kinds of cheek. Good things come in threes, right? That makes meeting a baboon a good thing. Therefore meeting seven baboons — which contain 21 units of monkey cheek — should be exponentially better. Yet when Tanzanian Neil Cave came across a septet of baboon intruders, he didn’t experience exponential delight.
As Vice explained, in June 2017 Cave rented a residence in Cape Town, South Africa, for a family trip. At some point during their sojourn the Caves decided that their bnb needed some fresh Air, so they left a patio door open. As any talking bear will tell you, such incautiousness leaves your home vulnerable to food-filching children. But instead of getting burgled by a blonde girl, the non-bear Caves got robbed by baboons.
A total of seven baboons threw “an hour-long party.” Neil Cave filmed three of them in his kitchen and posted the footage (above; contains strong language) online. The monkeys munched on bread, snacked on salad, and left a trail of trash. They also pooped. Police eventually dispersed the marauders, but by then the animals had done 850 South African rands ($66.20) worth of damage. Apparently, unsatisfied with their carnage, the baboons later returned. Their second visit proved more amusing, though. The mischievous monkeys reportedly drank bubble soap and began “burping bubbles” on the roof.
Invitation of the body snatcher
One advantage baboons have over humans is that baboons can basically poop wherever they want. Humans have it much harder. If you discard your colon cargo on someone’s porch, you could end up behind bars, barring age-related or diplomatic immunity. You might also get barred by Airbnb. Per the company’s website, ban-worthy offenses include certain types of property damage, violent crimes, and various felonies. The company even does background checks on applicants. Of course, that doesn’t guarantee Airbnb will sniff out brazen defecations. In 2017 CBS revealed that the service sometimes fails to flag people who’ve done way worse.
French tourist Carole Escaliere learned firsthand how sketchy Airbnb users can be. While searching for work in Silicon Valley, she rented a house in nearby Daly City. Her host, Zameer Azam, assured her that she’d share the space with “one other woman.” Obviously Azam needed a math tutor because that second female was really seven or more dudes. Some of those dudes watched and accosted Escaliere while she showered. One guy entered her bedroom with clearly ungentlemanly intentions. Unsurprisingly, she got the heck out of Dodge.
Escaliere didn’t just dodge possibly predatory lodgers. After doing some digging, investigative journalists uncovered that host Zameer Azam, who lived in the rental’s basement, had done 10 years in the slammer “for kidnapping and beating the mother of his child.” Worse yet, despite Airbnb’s claims to the contrary, “the most basic background check” would have exposed Azam’s dark past.
Although you can’t count on Airbnb to spot suspicious characters, you shouldn’t take that to mean every Airbnb host (or internet writer) who miscounts something has a terrifying skeleton tied up in their closet. Just know that, as with Donald Rumsfeld, there are things Airbnb doesn’t know which you don’t know it doesn’t know. Knowing that, it probably won’t shock you to read that the company once let a crack house slip through the cracks. The guests who rented the place, however, likely felt like they licked a live wire.
According to Fox affiliate KDVR, in 2017 Marissa Fox and some friends arranged to spend a week at a house in Broomfield, Colorado. After a night out it dawned on them that something was amiss. Specifically, their personal belongings had gone missing and unfamiliar items had appeared. Fox explained: “There was like a bunch of needles, and then they had this little tray thing and I don’t know if they were like snorting stuff, too.” Or maybe she knew but just didn’t know she knew, like Donald Rumsfeld.
The news only worsened for Fox and friends. Police informed them that they had unknowingly stayed in a “known crack house” where dozens of crimes had occurred. Their ignorance wasn’t bliss but a blitz that cost them thousands of dollars in lost property. For the dope fiends who robbed them, knowledge was powder.
A stiff in the mud
Few things kill joy faster than getting ransacked by drug addicts. Among those killjoys is homicide. And right after homicide is a corpse. Nobody enjoys having a body around, save for the occasional Dahmer. That undoubtedly goes double during birthday parties, which essentially celebrate how many years of a life have already ended. So it must have really ruined the mood for a group of would-be birthday revelers when they noticed a maybe-murdered body at their weekend rental.
Per The Telegraph, in 2016 an unnamed woman turned 25. To mark her accomplishment, she and some buddies booked a “19th-century traditional French house with swimming pool” located in the French suburb of Palaiseau. On paper (or rather, online) it read like an ideal party venue. Not only could guests get wet there, but the property came with seven bedrooms and a garden. It also came with a decaying cadaver “at the bottom of a steep bank” by the garden.
The deceased was described as a woman of “advanced age.” She had clothes on but no shoes, and it appeared that somebody tried to conceal her body in a “shallow grave” topped with branches and logs. The whole thing reeked of foul play. The renters understandably nixed their party plans and departed. The homeowner, however, didn’t get discouraged. According to him, he wasn’t “disappointed” by how things turned out because he hadn’t used Airbnb before. Clearly, having a corpse on his property was just a rookie mistake.
A blown-up opportunity
Finding a dead body is no picnic, unless you’re a vulture. But it is one of the better worst-case scenarios you could face in an Airbnb. (The worst worst-case scenario is probably becoming a corpse yourself.) A person’s festering remains might lodge themselves in your brain like a macabre mind-squatter, but they can’t do squat to you intentionally. A living person, by contrast, can do everything from devouring your bread in a baboonish fashion to devouring gingerbread-fed children. Somewhere between those two extremes fall the actions of Michael Debrown.
According to The Chicago Tribune, in 2017, Debrown paid for a single room in a single-family home in Chicago. He quickly became cranky about the absence of a lock on his door, asked about scoring drugs, and left. Host Mike Duckworth saw this as a bad sign. Once he saw his Adderall had vanished, Duckworth entered his uninviting guest’s room. There he found mounted cameras, tools, a tube with a fuse, and a serious Ted Kaczynski vibe. No word on the Adderall, though.
Afraid of becoming a crispy Duckworth, the host evacuated his home and called the cops. Police initially identified Debrown’s device as “a box of old wires,” per The Chicago Tribune. They later realized those old wires were part of a new, 10-inch pipe bomb that contained nearly half a pound of explosive powder. Authorities subsequently detained Debrown. Duckworth, meanwhile, couldn’t help making a daffy pun and declared his Airbnb “the Bomb.”
The tale of Mike Debrown demonstrated that while you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, you should judge a pipe bomb by its fuse. Cynically put, sometimes you should assume the worst. This can prove tricky because pipe bombs occasionally resemble books. In Amanda Wong’s case, there wasn’t a bomb at all, just pipes that leaked explosively.
As Business Insider elaborated, in 2014 Wong let her Los Angeles condo to a female guest. During that period, Aunt Flo paid the guest a visit and soggy folly ensued. She combated her crimson tide with sanitary pads she persistently tried to flush down the toilet. The sanitary pads overwhelmed the condo’s sanitation pipes, which hemorrhaged water into the building’s hallway and lobby. The liquid leaked into a neighbor’s apartment, destroying the wood floor.
Wong got charged $10,000 for the subsequent cleanup. She turned to Airbnb for help but got turned away. The company had guaranteed up to $1 million in damage-related compensation, but only for the rental itself. The hallway, lobby, and neighbor’s apartment didn’t qualify. Moreover, the guarantee expires once hosts host additional guests, which Wong did. However, she only did so because the woman whose Flo led to the overflow downplayed her screw-up, and a cleaning crew hired by the condo association tidied things up while Wong was away. Nevertheless, Airbnb only agreed to pay $78, which Wong didn’t like. Her condo association banned Airbnb, and she resolved to abandon it.
When the scat's a way…
Toilet water is one of several crappy fluids that could soil your home. Another awful contaminant comes directly from the human body and is loosely associated with the book Moby Dick. Obviously, that substance is harpoon juice. Granted, harpoon juice can be bad in a good way. But when it emanates from an unknown source and is accompanied by things typically found in toilet water, the stuff is a nightmare.
Kristina Knapic confronted that nightmare in 2015. According to The Smoking Gun, Knapic leased her California mansion to a guest registered under the name Anna. Anna’s stated plans sounded attractively boring: she and “a group of friends” would occupy the palatial space for a five-day “summer vacation.” What could go wrong? Plenty of things, but Knapic didn’t imagine her mansion would be used to film graphic man-love.
Anna imagined it, though. In fact, Anna was imaginary, the wholesome-sounding alias of adult film director, producer, and actor Andrei Treivas (who also uses the pseudonym Michael Lucas). Treivas’ films are best described as — well, it’s best not to describe them. Anyway, those undescribed undertakings spattered human waste and harpoon juice on Knapic’s walls, ceilings, floors, and furniture. She found multiple “enema kits,” and her hot tub contained “brownish” water. Hoodwinked and humiliated, Knapic sued. Treivas was honest about his deception, telling NBC, “She’s correct in saying I didn’t tell her.” Case records show that he and Knapic reached an out-of-court settlement.
The Trojan horde
Like the saying goes, when the cat’s away the mouse will play with his rodent buddies. As metaphorical cats, Airbnb hosts need to nip that behavior in the bud, lest some bud-hole messes up a mansion. The simplest approach is probably to stay home and watch the mouse like a hawk. Even then the mouse might outfox the cat. Isaiah Shahid, for example, duped his host into letting him hold a ginormous party while he was home.
According to reporting by Cleveland.com and NBC affiliate WKYC, Shahid rented a room in the Ohio home of Airbnb host Sangmyung Lee over New Year’s Eve weekend in 2017. The terms were clear as cling wrap: $40 a night and no more than 5 occupants. At some point Lee gave Shahid permission to throw “a small party.” Big mistake — if you give a mouse a cookie, you get a rodent infestation.
While in his room, Lee heard “crazy music sounds” and immediately smelled a rat, hundreds of rats, really. Shahid had advertised a New Year’s Eve party on Twitter and charged each attendee $5. The resulting crowd was purportedly “packed so tightly in each of the rooms and up the stairwell, it did not appear there was space for anyone to extend their arms.” Cops were called to disperse the partygoers, many of whom drunkenly jumped through (and broke) windows while fleeing. Trashed revelers completely trashed Lee’s house, a truly rubbish way to start the year.
Getting your panties in bunches
Some Airbnb guests treat rentals like naughty potties. Others opt to throw preposterously large parties. Put those two scenarios together, and you get preposterously large naughty-potty parties. Those gatherings sound unspeakably gross; thankfully we won’t go into details. Instead we’ll discuss something more disgusting: how a man’s life got flushed down the potty because preposterously large people threw a naughty party.
In 2014 comedian Ari Teman became the butt of an unfunny joke. As The New York Daily News described, in 2014 Teman sublet his apartment to a dude named David. David claimed to need accommodations in order to attend a wedding. But when Teman dropped by to retrieve a suitcase, he witnessed a scene worthy of Caligula’s wedding night. David had organized a so-called “[Big Beautiful Woman] Panty Raid Party,” which he touted on Twitter as a “XXX Freak Fest.”
Per The LA Times, Teman encountered “18 large, heavyset men and women who were in informal attire.” Privates, booze, and “abused” stuffed animals abounded. Teman also saw partiers putting his white sofa in an alley. The estimated damage to his apartment topped $67,000, which Airbnb partly covered. Teman was furious. So was his landlord, who eventually evicted him, according to The New York Daily News.
Teman was blacklisted by area landlords, leaving him intermittently homeless. The comedian had the last laugh, though. He rebounded and, per the above YouTube clip, founded a service that exposes illegal Airbnbs.
When all is said and done, Airbnb users use each other. They use each other for shelter, money, potties, and parties. If the parties who partake in these transactions are on the up-and-up, nothing particularly bad should go down. Ideally, they would always pursue such constructiveness. Realistically, less-than-ideal people will use the pretense of constructiveness for destructive purposes. One pair of Airbnb users literally constructed things that had to be destroyed.
The destructive constructors in question were Burak Firik and Dogan Kimilli. Per Pix 11 News, in 2015 Firik and Kimilli rented a three-room apartment in a house in New York. Evidently unconvinced that good things come in threes, the duo built sheetrock walls to split their space into 10 small “rooms.” They then leased these live-in slivers on Airbnb. Landlord Eddie Shiew had no clue until his other tenants told him. Incensed, Shiew had the walls torn down and changed the door locks.
Firik and Kimilli counterpunched, suing Shiew for wrongful eviction and initially won. This wasn’t their first rodeo, you see. In fact, they were masters of bull. According to Pix 11 News, the pair had a history of illegally altering apartments, countersuing landlords, and evicting their own renters. After five frustrating months, a judge sided with Shiew, who then vowed to sue for $10,000 in unpaid rent. It’s not a fairy tale ending, but it’ll have to do.