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Being Blackmailed

A builder from whom I have withheld a final payment until shoddy work is put right is blackmailing me.

He says that unless I pay him £4000 he will contact Air BnB and tell them that my place is a danger to life ( it isn’t) He is saying that if there were a landslide the guests would be killed. He has no evidence of this. I have no evidence that it wouldn’t happen , other than I have planning permission for the property.

I have another listing as well which he is not going to complain about. But will Air BnB suspend both listings?

Together they are my only income and the blackmailer knows this. I will go to the police but this won’t help me suddenly having no income.

I don’t know what to do. Should I phone Air BnB myself and tell them what he says?

I would really appreciate some advice. Thanks.

I wish we could give you an idea of what Airbnb would do if he called, but it’s really anybody’s guess. A few hosts have reported other hosts for violations and Airbnb doesn’t seem to to act on those complaints most of the time. I wish we could say that Airbnb would be reasonable and require proof of a serious complaint, but Airbnb’s track record doesn’t support this.

I would document the situation and evidence of the extortion (screen caps, e-mails, or just write down the date/time and an account of the phone call or conversation) and be prepared to submit it in case Airbnb asks. Also, don’t ignore any communication from Airbnb. If they contact you about a complaint and you don’t respond quickly, they are much more likely to make a decision that is not in your favor.

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Temporarily deactivate your two listings so he can’t flag them.

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@Ritz3, that made me laugh, but doesn’t seem practical since the listings are @Hut’s only source of income.

Assuming you are in UK, blackmail is a crime so you should be speaking with a lawyer and/or police - not a bunch of hosts on a forum.

https://www.google.com/search?newwindow=1&source=hp&ei=ztNXX6WyM_OrytMP09SrqA8&q=uk+blackmail+law&oq=uk+blackmail+law&gs_lcp=CgZwc3ktYWIQAzoFCAAQsQM6CwguELEDEMcBEKMCOggILhCxAxCDAToCCAA6BQguELEDOgIILjoICAAQsQMQgwE6CAgAEBYQChAeOgYIABAWEB5QiQpY8iVgwSdoAHAAeACAAVOIAa8IkgECMTaYAQCgAQGqAQdnd3Mtd2l6&sclient=psy-ab&ved=0ahUKEwil0budntrrAhXzlXIEHVPqCvUQ4dUDCAk&uact=5

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Shit UK builders yet again. I am so sorry to hear of your woes.

I fully concur with @Brian_R170 with regard to dealing with Airbnb. In the meantime I would contact your local authority who gave you planning permission. Speak to the Planning Department, preferably to any named person you may have on signed letters etc. They will, hopefully, send out building control to assess the problem, who will then hopefully help you manage the issue of shoddy work, by refusing to sign it off. I believe they are able to prosecute cowboy builders.

Indeed speak to the police re feeling blackmailed. I doubt they are in a position to do much at the mo, but at least you have a record.

After collecting your evidence as Brian suggests, nd contacting the Council, you could preempt any BS by contacting Airbnb with a detailed account of what action you have taken and why.

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Absolutely yes, I have spoken to a solicitor and will call the police. It is the Air BnB element I need advice with

If he does this, calls Air BnB it seems they would suspend my listing and cancel my bookings whatever happens? Even with the Police involved? I have read that Air BnB won’t listen.

Thanks Joan. I think I will call planning tomorrow. I hadn’t thought of that.

Oh - also copy the full booking info (dates, prices, etc) as well as the contact info.

The mere threat is criminal in all likelyhood. If he were to actually contact Air, etc - I would guess that he could actually also be on the hook financially for your lost income - so you will want all the booking info saved NOW. Once Air shuts down an account all of that goes away. Lots of screen shots - take them now and EMAIL them to yourself - so they are time/date stamped.

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Sorry to hear about this. Can you expand on what you mean by shoddy building work? Is there a potential compromise that can be reached? I know it’s not ideal but it would mean that you can both move on from this.

Compromise? Why would anyone be interested in proceeding with good faith with that kind of dbag?

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Yes, you might very well be right but I was wondering what the shoddy building work is and whether there is a potential resolution that can be reached. But yes, at the moment it doesn’t appear that the builder is interested in this. It was worth asking the question. Let’s see what the OP says.

If you have no joy with Planning, call Building control afterwards.

Be measured in your approach to get them on side; cool, calm. collected with info. I’m a retired LA Director who knows the ropes!

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Thanks, I will do that. Really appreciate your advice.

It is breach of contract on his part- some elements not delivered at all, some just badly fitted. We had a survey and they said all doors and windows had not been fitted correctly- there are gaps all round and the wood hadn’t been treated so they will just rot.

In fact, it is going to cost us way more than the money we are withholding from him to put right- many thousands more

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Get ahead of it. Contact Airbnb via Twitter or Facebook

Tell them this person is threatening to make false claims if about the safety of your rental unless you pay them.

Tell Airbnb you are filing a police report and will give them a copy when it is available. Then follow through with a copy.

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Oh, yikes. That sounds terrible. In that case, probably best to hold your ground. thought there might be a chance to rectify the situation but it doesn’t sound like it.

You might consider doing a pre-emptive strike: call AirBnB and let them know that you are having this issue but you are committed to customer safety and have therefore switched builders. Customer safety is you primary concern yaddah yaddah yaddah. Then tell them that you are giving them heads up that your old builder is disgruntled. Make sure that they make a note on the system of that with a ticket number or something like that to confirm it. Then, in case he does call them, you have some backup info with Air. Good luck. Sounds like an awful situation.

@Annet3176’s advice is even better. Tell them about the police report in advance. Stay ahead of the curve. Great advice.

Or … this could backfire. No one here has the right answer but I would be concerned that some crappy level 1 Air CS tech puts my account on hold if I called them like that.

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Is this blackmail threat something you can report to your local law enforcement? Seems to me rather like an extortion racket.

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