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Draper family: Airbnb no help after someone listed their home as a rental and guests started showing up

Draper resident Covy Petersen says her house was listed on Airbnb without her knowledge or permission. (KSL-TV)


2 photos

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

DRAPER — Airbnb is wildly popular, as over 4 million hosts use the home-sharing site to provide travelers a place to crash. But when two guests landed on a doorstep in Draper, it caused a big problem for the homeowners because they didn't put their house on Airbnb — someone else did.

When they said they couldn't get help in taking down the errant listing, they contacted the KSL Investigators.

Covy Petersen wasn't expecting anyone when the doorbell rang — let alone two guests with luggage and ready to check-in to her family's home. Wait a second — checking in?

"He was like, 'Sorry, we rented your house on Airbnb. Is this a rental property?'" she recounted. "And I was like – no, I apologize. It's not."

In talking it over with the couple wanting to move in for the holiday weekend, Petersen soon figured out what happened.

"It was the previous tenant who lived here who had rented it out to Airbnb, and I guess he never took the listing down," she said. "And they found it and they wanted to stay here. And unfortunately, we couldn't let them."

Petersen called Airbnb, and she said their response alarmed her more than strangers showing up out-of-the-blue with luggage.

"It's like, 'We are so sorry but due to privacy policies, we cannot take down the listing unless you have access to the holder's account or the host's account.' And I didn't have any of that information."

Petersen said she was also told that Airbnb is a platform. It doesn't control what listings people post.

"I was like, but we own this property. He doesn't live here anymore," she said.

Covy Petersen talks with KSL Investigator Matt Gephardt after two people showed up at her Draper home to check in for an Airbnb listing.
Covy Petersen talks with KSL Investigator Matt Gephardt after two people showed up at her Draper home to check in for an Airbnb listing. (Photo: KSL-TV)

Frustrated by Airbnb's seeming unwillingness to help, she called the KSL Investigators. This time, we reached out to Airbnb on her behalf.

In an email, a spokesperson told us: "After investigation, this appears to be a genuine error committed by the previous host who forgot to remove the Airbnb listing after the sale of the property. We understand the inconvenience this caused for the current property owners."

Airbnb also said the listing was taken down from its platform the day after Petersen called them.

Yes, the listing was removed, but Petersen said that was because she tracked down the previous host. She is calling on Airbnb to make it easier for real property owners to remove invalid or fake rentals.

"The more that I thought about it, it could have been a scary situation for us but also it could have been a scary situation for the people renting," Petersen said.

So what can homeowners do if they find themselves in a similarly scary situation? For now, start by finding the listing of their property on Airbnb and click, "report this listing."

Then call and email Airbnb directly at 415-800-5959 or 855-424-7262 for their mainline or 844-234-2500, their customer service number. For email: support@airbnb.com, automated@airbnb.com or urgent@airbnb.com.

Photos

Matt Gephardt
Sloan Schrage

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