WATCH: It’s become a popular way to earn some extra cash, with people renting out their homes to strangers through sites such as Airbnb, HomeAway and VRBO. But, a Calgary family couldn’t believe what happened to their home in just one weekend. Reid Fiest has the details.
Seeing is believing but Mark and Star King didn’t dream the nightmare they discovered at their northwest Calgary home after renting it out through the website Airbnb.
“This feels like assault,” Star told Global News of damage done to their house.
Top to bottom, the two-storey house was trashed after the couple rented it to four people through the popular short-term rental website this past weekend. The group of renters said they were in town for a wedding, but instead hosted a party for about 100 people.
The couple’s neighbour called the police when she realized something was amiss, hearing loud noise and fighting coming from the Kings’ home.
“You know those house party movies that you see? And it’s 100 times worse,” neighbour Monica Zapshalla told Global News.
Accompanied by police, the Kings entered the home Monday morning to see the damage for themselves; the damage they discovered left them speechless.
“I walked in the door with something horrible in mind, but not this,” Star said.
The floors were covered with broken glass and soaked with alcohol and much of the furniture will have to be thrown away. The walls will require cleaning or painting, after being smeared with condiments like mayonnaise and barbeque sauce. Garbage — including liquor bottles, underwear, condoms — was left everywhere in the suburban home, which the couple purchased in 2010.
“Chicken thighs in our shoes? It’s just unbelievable,” Mark said. “The violation, the lies, the pretense of what it was for and then the complete disrespect.”
In a statement, Airbnb said it has “zero tolerance for this kind of behaviour,” adding the company has about 30,000 Canadian listings on its website.
“Our team is working quickly to make this right,” the statement read. “We have been in very close contact with these hosts and we are working quickly to reimburse them under our $1 million host guarantee, which covers a host’s property in the rare event of damages.”
The Calgary Police Service said the renters caused $75,000 in damage, and are considering laying criminal charges.
“Obviously, our first person we would like to speak to is the person who rented it,” said Const. Attila Horvath. “We’d like to hear his side of the story and how it went out of hand.”
Normally, a homeowner’s private insurance would not cover renting a house in this manner.
In Alberta, the Residential Tenancies Dispute Resolution Services does not apply to short-term rentals like those posted on Airbnb.
Quebec is poised to become the first province in Canada to regulate these types of “home-sharing” services. But, the aim is less about owner protection and more focused on collecting an accommodation tax, similar to what hotels pay.
In the meantime, Airbnb said the renter has already been banned for life from its website.
The company said restoration crews will soon begin work at the Kings’ house.
Still, the family isn’t laying blame on the popular website.
“This isn’t the Airbnb experience,” Mark said. “We happen to be that one in a million that it happens to.”