Natalie Siburt.Courtesy of Natalie Siburt
Natalie Siburt said she was shocked to discover her new home had been rented out on Airbnb.
Siburt reached out to the company several times to get the listing taken down, to no avail.
The previous homeowner told Siburt that exactly the same issue had happened to her.
A North Carolina woman who recently purchased her first home said she was forced to navigate a burdensome process to get Airbnb to remove her home from its site after she discovered the previous tenant was still renting it out to guests.
When Natalie Siburt, 26, moved into her new home in October, she was confused to see a man arrive with his luggage and ask her about checking in. She was stunned when the man showed her his reservation to stay in her home.
“I had no idea what was happening. And I saw the instructions on his phone, how to check in, that it was my address,” Siburt told Insider.
Thinking it was a scam, Siburt said she reached out to her neighborhood’s homeowner association. A member then showed her the Airbnb listing, which the previous tenant listed. The member also told Siburt the same issue happened with the previous homeowner.
Siburt said she contacted Airbnb multiple times, trying to get her home removed from the listing. She provided closing documents and the deed but was told to reach out to the host, who was the previous tenant.
Siburt said she reached out to the previous tenant after finding her phone number in the description of the listing, but they told her they couldn’t take the listing down because they no longer had access to the account.
According to Siburt, the following day, the tenant’s phone number had been removed from the listing description.
“So I think that that shows that she definitely had access to it still, which is really frustrating,” Siburt said.
Siburt found out through a public-record search that the previous tenant was arrested for “very serious crimes” and was shocked knowing they were able to pass Airbnb’s background check.
“It took me all of five seconds to learn a lot about the person that posted this listing, and it should have never passed any sort of background check,” Siburt said. “That’s the other factor that’s very concerning as someone who uses Airbnb and that she was allowed to rent this out.”
The previous homeowner who rented the property to the prior tenant for three years, Lori Terunuma, contacted Siburt.
Terunuma told Siburt that the previous tenant had had several issues with the homeowner association, including renting out parking spaces to others on Neighbor.com and listing the property as their own on Airbnb for a long, but not specified, length of time.
“When we did get access to the property, we saw there were locks on the doors and a note on the fridge,” Terunuma told Insider. “I got on the app and I looked it up and I was surprised and extremely angry to see the Airbnb listing.”
After reaching out to Airbnb roughly 10 times, the site took the listing down in May, but Terunuma was shocked when she found out the prior tenant had listed it again for the second time after she sold the property to Siburt in October, according to Terunuma.
“I was shocked, and I was furious, and I started frantically writing Airbnb again saying, ‘I cannot believe this is happening,'” Terunuma said. “Poor Natalie, she didn’t have to deal with any of that.”
“How can they justify leaving up that listing for multiple days?” Terunuma said. “And one of the things that I thought about, too, if the homeowner had a gun and that guest was trying to get into a place that they believed they booked, I mean that could have had a very bad ending and to no fault of either the homeowner or the guest.”
Siburt said the second Airbnb listing was taken down after media coverage but is fearful that her home might be re-listed again.
“I don’t think that without the media reaching out, anything would’ve happened,” Siburt said. “I feel safer in a sense, but I guess because it was taken down and put back up, there still is that kind of looming in the background, like ‘Oh, this could be put back up and someone could show up months from now.'”
“When the listing was still up, I was not sleeping, thankfully I have somewhat of a scary dog, so I feel a little bit protected, and I’ve installed cameras since the first guy showed up,” she said.
Airbnb told Insider in a statement that “issues like the experience reported are rare.”
“And following investigation we have removed the listing from the platform,” the statement said. “All Hosts on Airbnb must certify that they have permission to list their space, and in the event a concern is reported to us we investigate and take appropriate action.”
Siburt said what bothered her the most about her experience was the response from Airbnb.
“I think in Airbnb’s response, I’ve been really bothered because they’ve said when these problems arise, they investigate them and take action, and action was not taken over 10 times that we filed complaints,” Siburt said.
“They didn’t take action on the background check. I just feel like this really fell through the cracks somewhere and I don’t believe it should have.”
Read the original article on Insider