Airbnb rental turns into nightmare for Calgary woman
Published Sunday, May 26, 2019 3:26PM MDT
Last Updated Sunday, May 26, 2019 6:33PM MDT
When a Calgary woman put up her property for rent on the popular short-term rental website Airbnb, she expected to have an easy way to make some extra money.
Instead, she ended up with a situation that cost her thousands in repair bills.
Allana Murray has had her property, which is next door to her home, up for rent for some time and says it was all smooth sailing with renters until one situation in March.
"The guests booked in on a Thursday around 11 a.m. and checked in at 3 p.m. They showed some peculiar actions but nothing that I couldn't accept them on. At 6 p.m., I came back to the house and all of the windows on the front of the house were closed off."
She spoke with the tenant and says he was acting strangely again but didn't want to press any further and risk getting a bad review on the Airbnb website.
"I went back to my home and said to my family 'I'm not feeling good about this guest.'"
After two nights of noise complaints from the tenants, Murray went next door to investigate a little more.
"I saw two guests that were not registered go into a black car and drive halfway up the street, then get out and backtrack along the grass and fences to get back into the house."
Murray then went back to the property to speak with the registered renter and was told he'd left the province, but the two mystery guests were 'watching over the home.'
"I told the two guests, 'I can watch the house. You need to leave.' They told me 'That was rude' and I said 'I'm calling the police.'"
The police arrived about 15 minutes later and found one woman, believed to be intoxicated, upstairs in the rental as well as some other strange and even illegal items.
"There were two unopened packages of drones, there were copious amounts of drugs around. There was a photo album with LPs in it, so it was noticeable that these were some prized possessions."
Murray says the 'guests' left an incredible mess behind and she had no idea how she was going to clean it all up. For advice, she contacted Airbnb.
"I asked for help, given the amount of drugs that were around the house and everywhere in the house. They told me that I would have to clean it up, take pictures and that was it."
When she returned the next morning, she discovered even more illegal items including firearms, counterfeit cash and equipment used to manufacture fake identification and bank cards.
"I called back the [Calgary Police Service's] non-emergency line and asked what I should do."
When a police officer returned later that afternoon, they agreed there was a lot of illegal property that was clearly evidence of a drug investigation.
"A lot of emotions went through my head at that moment in time," Murray says. "The biggest emotion that I had is to the neighbours. It's a great neighbourhood that I live in and I feel horrible that these people thought that they should come into our neighbourhood."
Murray says she had to book the Haz-Mat teams herself and was also on the hook for that cost as well as the expense of repairing a number of items in the rental.
After her horrific experience, she insists there needs to be a policy of guest and host safety in regards to Airbnb rentals.
"There needs to be some guidelines that hosts need to follow as well as Airbnb in helping hosts follow so that they ensure that the hosts are safe and the guests are safe."
During the ordeal, Murray says she sent in photos of the drugs she found in the house and they simply told her it was a "rare occurrence."
Airbnb wrote in a statement to CTV News that they are taking Murray's situation very seriously:
Airbnb provides hosts with protection against property damage through our $1 Million Host Guarantee. Airbnb takes these allegations seriously and we have reached out to the Host to support them with a claim. The guest’s account has been suspended while we investigate this incident.
In the meantime, Murray says she's been forced to install cameras inside the property to deter future criminal activity at her home.
The Calgary Police Service says there is an open case file on the incident and their investigation is ongoing.
(With files from Stephanie Wiebe)