Airbnb host slams guest who accused him of 'planting a hidden camera'
Airbnb host slams ‘vengeful’ guest who rented out his three-bed property and reported him for ‘planting a hidden camera’ – which was really a carbon monoxide detector
- Robert Serr, 48, was accused by a guest of having a ‘hidden camera’ in his home
- Mr Serr was then suspended by Airbnb while it investigated the claim
- The guest earlier left the Florida pad in a ‘filthy state’ and got a one-star review
- Mr Serr, of Leeds, West Yorkshire, is reconsidering whether to use Airbnb again
A property developer has hit out at a ‘vengeful’ guest who rented his three-bed property on Airbnb and reported him for supposedly planting a ‘hidden camera’ – which was really a carbon monoxide detector.
Robert Serr, 48, says he was made to feel like a ‘Peeping Tom’ when the guest left a review claiming a carbon monoxide detector in the bedroom had a concealed recording device.
Mr Serr, from Leeds, West Yorkshire, had rented out his near Palm Beach, Florida, to a guest who left the house in a ‘filthy, disgusting mess’ requiring a five-hour cleanup, leading him to give her a one-star review.
Mr Serr believes she retaliated by leaving her own review, which in turn led to his suspension from the platform on January 8.
Robert Serr, 48, says he was made to feel like a ‘Peeping Tom’ when the guest left a review claiming a carbon monoxide detector in the bedroom had a concealed recording device
Although Mr Serr’s account has now been reinstated, he says he is considering boycotting Airbnb as he feels he was treated as ‘guilty until proven innocent’
She had claimed that there were ‘two smoke detectors in the room’ and that she feared one contained a ‘recording device’ however one was actually a carbon monoxide detector – required by law.
As a result, Mr Serr faced having his account permanently banned and losing the $30,000 he spent renovating the property to make it more ‘Airbnb friendly’.
Although his account has now been reinstated, Mr Serr says he is considering boycotting Airbnb as he feels he was treated as ‘guilty until proven innocent’.
Airbnb said that it was only a ‘temporary suspension’ while they investigated the matter and that the guest has now been removed from the platform.
Mr Serr said: ‘It is the vilest accusation to make about somebody, that I’m some kind of sick voyeur or peeping Tom. It’s very damaging to my reputation.
‘It’s one step below saying I’m essentially a sex offender.
Mr Serr described how he made clear to the guest that there were to be no parties at the three-bedroom property
When Mr Serr’s latest guest checked in on December 29, he had already warned her that parties were banned – but he claims she threw two loud gatherings anyway.
‘To level that kind of accusation then have Airbnb accept their claim without evidence and banning me, it makes you feel disgusting.
‘She was too stupid to realise that one of them is a smoke detector and one of them is a carbon monoxide detector.’
Mr Serr first listed his Airbnb property in November and claims he had previously had a bad experience with another partygoer who ruined his fruit machine and dartboard.
When his latest guest checked in on December 29, he had already warned her that parties were banned – but he claims she threw two loud gatherings anyway.
After the guests left, Mr Serr claims his cleaners reported the rental was ‘very dirty’, prompting him to leave a one-star review for the customer.
But three days later, he woke to a review from the woman herself, who claimed that while the house was ‘gorgeous’ she feared Mr Serr had planted a hidden camera.
Mr Serr said: ‘This woman sent me a message after she booked [the house] asking me if I had a large back garden.
‘The alarm bells started going off right away and I contacted Airbnb.
Mr Serr says the bruising experience has made him reconsider whether to use Airbnb as a platform for his holiday homes
‘They told me to get in touch with her and send a message making it very clear there’s not to be any parties at the house. She responded and said ”absolutely, there’s not going to be any parties. I’m renting it for my mother, it’s her birthday”.
‘She checks into the house. At 1am that night, I get a phone call from my neighbours to say she’s having a big party at the house.
‘[Then] the following night I get a phone call from the neighbours at 4am and there’s a bunch of people coming in and out of the house.’
The following day, Mr Serr’s cleaners went to the property and he claims it took them five hours to clean up after her – finding grease-covered towels and ruined bedsheets.
Mr Serr said: ‘It was so disgusting and filthy. They ruined my bedsheets and towels.
‘She wiped up grease from the kitchen with the bedsheets and the towels. It was a filthy, disgusting mess.
‘Evidently the one star review I left her prompted Airbnb to get in touch [with her] and because of this I believe she… said my carbon monoxide detector was a camera.
The carbon monoxide detector in question, which a guest falsely claimed was being used to his a hidden camera
‘I got an email from Airbnb [on Sunday, January 8] first thing in the morning saying they’d suspended the account pending investigation from their Trust and Safety team because somebody felt unsafe in the house.
‘I brought up the party I’d reported and asked if it wasn’t pretty obvious to them what had happened. They were not the least bit interested in talking about the party and couldn’t care less.’
Mr Serr claims that despite providing evidence that 16 people were spotted coming in and out of the property, his account remained suspended for five days.
He is now considering pulling his listing from the platform and potentially sell his newly-renovated property.
Mr Serr said: ‘I’m in the process of finishing two other properties that I was originally going to turn into Airbnbs but I’m not going to do that now because of that.
‘Am I supposed to be grateful that they’ve now restored my account that never should have been suspended in the first place?
‘No. All this has done has made me see just how easy it is to have your entire business shut down at the snap of a finger with little to no recourse.
‘Airbnb had so much documentation of my concerns about this booking from the start but it seems like all of that is irrelevant. Even down to the 4am phone calls to Airbnb.’
An Airbnb spokesperson said: ‘We were disappointed to learn about this experience, and have resolved this matter.
‘A temporary suspension was in place as we investigated a security query to help protect our community. We have contacted the host to reactivate the listing, and we have taken appropriate action on the booking guest.’
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