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Toronto Airbnb host speaks out after $21,000 theft

Matthew Lyn, 28, said Airbnb guests left his place in a mess and stole thousands of dollars worth of valuables. Matthew Lyn / Handout

A Toronto man said he found his home ransacked  – and missing an estimated $21,000 worth of valuables – after hosting Airbnb guests who weren’t who he thought they were.

Matthew Lyn, 28, said when he came home after renting out the place on the popular accommodation-sharing website for four days earlier this month, his door was unlocked and his apartment was in complete disarray.

“All the lights were on. The dishes, like, were completely stacked up,” he told the Morning Show on AM640 on Wednesday. “Everything was messy, everything. There was clothes all over the place.”

“[It] looked like everything had been searched,” he added.

LISTEN: Matthew Lyn joins the Matt Gurney and Supriya Dwivedi on the AM640 Morning Show

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Lyn, who works as a photographer, said camera equipment and electronics were missing, as were “at least 50 per cent” of his clothes, his social insurance card and a photo ID. His valuables had been stored in locked areas.

If that wasn’t enough, there was another unpleasant discovery — the condoms he found “around the place.”

“When the cops came, I was like, ‘You know, there’s a lot of DNA evidence if you want to take that,’ but apparently, they only use that in homicide [investigations],” he said.

WATCH: Airbnb host robbed of thousands

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Airbnb host robbed of thousands – Mar 29, 2017

Based on the guest’s Airbnb profile, Lyn was under the impression that a family was using his home — at one point, they even said their son needed Internet access for a project.

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But he didn’t meet them in person during their stay. They had gained access to the apartment through keys that were stored in a locked box outside his door.

Toronto police confirmed they are conducting an investigation into the matter. They said those renting out their homes using websites like Airbnb should take precautions such as asking for identification from renters.

Lyn has the same advice for his fellow hosts — meet the person and confirm that their identity matches the guest you were expecting.

“I never really thought about getting ID, but hotels do it,” he said. “Why can’t we?”

READ MORE: Airbnb: 3 things you need to know at tax time if you rent out your home

As of Wednesday, Airbnb said Lyn’s case was in the final stages of review with its insurance company. Lyn provided an update on Friday, saying the company has since resolved his case and he is being reimbursed for his losses.

Under its host guarantee program, those offering up their homes on the website can recover costs up to $1 million in the event of damage caused by guests, though there are some restrictions on what can be claimed.

“We have zero tolerance for this type of behaviour and have banned this user from our platform,” Lindsey Scully, press secretary for Airbnb in Canada, said via email Wednesday. “We are also working with the local authorities to best help them in any way we can.”

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READ MORE: Damages could hit $150,000 in Calgary home trashed by Airbnb renters

On the Morning Show, Lyn said the company has been “more than helpful,” and empathetic in its response.

Despite several high-profile cases of property damage in recent years, Scully said negative incidents are “extremely rare.”

Out of more than 30 million Airbnb stays worldwide last year, damages valued above $1,000 were reported to the company 0.009 per cent of the time, she said.

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