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HELP! Crazy Guest Threatening to Accuse Me of Discrimination

hosting

#1

I’ll try to keep this as short and clear as possible, but it is kind of a doozy. I rent out 4 rooms in my home. It’s a relatively big home, we’re really busy, and we do self check-in, so we often don’t meet our guests in person. We have a Ring Video Doorbell on the front door (disclosed in the listing), and we periodically review its footage to make sure everything is ok. We usually only review the footage taken during checkin and checkout times or very late at night, but we monitor it more closely when we are out of town.

Last Thursday I had two guests staying in Room1 and two guests staying in Room2 (two guests was the maximum allowed for each room) for about 3 days each. There were other guests in the two other rooms as well, but they aren’t involved in this story.

My co-host and I had to leave to go out of town on Friday morning. On Friday night, we reviewed the recent footage from our Ring Video Doorbell. We saw footage showing our primary guest (I’ll call her Jessie) in Room1 letting 3 other young women that we couldn’t recognize into the home sometime after midnight on Thursday night. After viewing the footage, we checked to see that Jessie had not returned to the home yet on Friday night. Since she was still out and probably awake, I called Jessie and calmly and politely told her we saw her letting more people into the home than were supposed to be in her listing, and asked her why. The call only lasted 1 minute.

Jessie’s tone and choice of words showed that she got very upset and angry with me. She fussed about the camera, and I had to explain that it was disclosed in the listing, and that we use it to make sure that everyone who enters and exits the home is a guest. She told me that the other 3 people were also guests: one was staying with her and the other two were our guests in Room2. According to her, they were all in the same program at a nearby university and had been coming and going from the home for several days. (This was completely new information to me, by the way, as neither group had ever told me that they knew each other or that they were in town for the same thing). I listened to her and asked questions to clarify that I understood. Then I told her that was fine, and that it was our standard safety procedure to check on our guests if was saw more people entering and exiting the home than were supposed to be staying in a single listing. I made it clear that this was for the security of everyone staying in the home.

Then I immediately messaged Jessie in the app and also messaged the Room2 primary guest to document the explanation and confirm that the story was true. The Room2 guest confirmed that they were the people being let into the home. As far as I was concerned, the issue was over. I knew Jessie was mad at me for calling her, but didn’t worry about it too much because I figured anyone with any kind of sense would understand the situation.

They checked out on Saturday with no obvious issues.

Then on Sunday I got a phone call from a strange number, which I let go to voicemail. It was from a man I’ll call Josh claiming to be Jessie’s husband, and he said something cryptic about wanting to talk to me about the “surveillance incident” at my airbnb “with his wife.” I called Airbnb to report the call. They told me to block his number and that they would document the call, and they also advised me to “stay safe” and contact police if necessary.

I blocked the number, but received another call a few days later from a different one, still from Josh. The call repeated some cryptic weirdness about an incident involving surveillance and his wife. I also reported this to Airbnb and blocked his number.

This Friday, I received another message from Jessies account, this time with Josh’s name in the signature. Again, a cryptic and weird message saying he wanted to talk to me on the phone. My cohost messaged her to say it was Airbnb policy to keep all communication in the app, and that if she wanted to talk to us she could do it there. In the next message Jessie wrote again and stopped being as cryptic and said somewhat threateningly that she wanted to talk to me before she wrote a review and contacted Airbnb about her stay. She said she didn’t like being called after midnight.

I responded with a message that she had repeatedly attempted to break Airbnb communication rules and had passed my private cell phone number on to an unregistered guest, and that I had informed Airbnb of this and had been advised not to engage with her and to contact police if harrassment continued. I also told her that I didn’t know exactly what her questions were, but I recounted my version of what had happened and emphasized that we always immediately check with guests if we see more people entering the home together than are supposed to be staying in a single room. I also reiterated that this was for the safety of everyone in the home. I reminded her that she was clearly awake after midnight when I called, since she didn’t get home until later. I finished by saying that we have nothing more to discuss.

Jessie responded something about leaving a review and said that she felt discriminated against and would bring it up with Airbnb. (Side note: I haven’t heard a peep out of the Room2 guests since checking with them to make sure they were the ones let into the home.)

At this point I realized that all of the guests involved in this were probably people of color (although I can’t really tell from the camera footage and I don’t have photos of all the guests, just the primary ones). I’m white. My cohost is clearly hispanic, for what its worth. I can guaran-damn-tee you that I don’t give a flying eff about what color someone is. The first line in our house rules says that we don’t discriminate against race, creed, gender, sexual preferences, or anything else stupid like that. In fact, I think most of my guests are people of color – not that I notice or that it matters to me.

I’ve heard horror stories about hosts getting wrongfully accused of discrimination by guests and getting immediately kicked off the platform, no questions asked. I’m really scared that will happen to me. I need this income from Airbnb, and it would be devastating to lose it. I’m really scared about what will happen.

The only things keeping me optimistic are: 1. I kept all communication except for the 1 minute call in the app and documented everything. 2. I called Airbnb and made a record of the two calls from Jessie’s husband. 3. I have call logs and video footage of their coming and going to corroborate the story, if necessary. 4. This is so obviously insane that I hope any Airbnb support rep will see right through it, if they read our message history. 5. I think that Jessie might post a review that breaks Airbnb content policy, since she seems so crazy.

I haven’t contacted Airbnb since she sent the discrimination message because I want to keep my head down. I have about another 7 days from now before the review period is up.

What do you guys think? I appreciate any advice you can give!


#2

I would open a case. Always do that when you begin having a bad experience so the trail of events is documented and so that you have credibility and the benefit of a heads up with Air when dealing with a difficult guest.

Don’t lay low. Call them now. Report all the disturbing behavior and tell them you received a threat that someone was going to leave a bad review claiming discrimination because they were busted on camera breaking the house rules.

Your house rules are clear right? If not, fix them now.

  • Absolutely no extra guests allowed on the property or in the home at any time. The home is equipped with remote surveillance for this reason, is reviewed regularly and to ensure security of all guests. Guests caught breaking this rule will be asked to leave the property immediately with no refund.

Sorry this happened. Air can be a difficult business indeed.
.


#3

These guests didnt break any rules . OP Mistaken her guest’s from another room for extra people.

@Clemkadiddlehopper, the woman is super sensitive. You were in your right to question. And about discrimination… it’s just gets ridiculous at times… like with some people in this forum…
I sent this message to my guests who stay here 2 weeks/ Emily I am sorry to bother you with this but as a host I need to know: my husband felt very strong smell of marijuana outside your window. I am not saying it was you and I personally don’t mind people smoking it but not in my property please .
She calmly answered me : no worries Yana, in understand. It was not us, we don’t smoke anything and don’t do any kind of drugs including pot. I understand your concern.

We as hosts are entitled to be on quard and ask questions regarding our property. It’s normal . That Jessie girl is out of line and so is her husband. Actually at this moment they are harassing you. And I wouldn’t just block them but tell them if they don’t stop harassment I will report them to police.


#4

Your main issue is being reliant on one booking system.


#5

I hate it when people try to use the race card when it’s not relevant. Years ago when I was a retail manager, I stopped someone from writing a bad check. She said “you’re picking on me because I’m black!” I said, “No, I’m picking on you because you’re deliberately trying to write a bad check!” Hang in there. I think you will prevail in this case. The only thing I wouldn’t have called after midnight. I would have waited but otherwise you didn’t do anything wrong. The fact that you accepted bookings from minorities repeatedly goes in your favor.


#6

House rules are very clear. They disclose the camera and also say that no additional guests are allowed.

I just opened up a case with Airbnb. I really hope this doesn’t backfire. :slight_smile:


#7

Airbnb is the only platform that allows me to rent out multiple rooms in my home, and that’s the only situation that is remotely possible for us.


#8

Given your desire for privacy, fear of serial killers and other things you’ve posted about here previously I’d suggest more security cameras on the exterior of the home. I have a 1st generation Ring doorbell and there are a few drawbacks for me… one being the shortness of the videos. I’ve had mine record the car pulling into the driveway and then it doesn’t start again until they are in the house and done unloading the car. I wouldn’t know what they looked like or how many people they had if it weren’t for my other cameras that record 24/7 onto a DVR. Also if your wifi goes down you’re SOL.

As for the rest, hopefully they will just get over it. A retaliatory review will violate TOS. There are negative things they could say that won’t be removed and won’t say anything about discrimination. Honestly, I’d be annoyed if my host called me at any hour to confront me about coming in with the other guests. I’d be annoyed that they don’t know who the guests are and who they aren’t and I’d wonder why I was singled out for a midnight call when there was plenty of videos you could have looked at to sort it all out without calling me. I understand your point of view but I also understand the point of view of the guest. The husband harrassing you with veiled threats was unneccesary and out of line. So look on the bright side, his bad behavior may have saved you from a bad review that didn’t violate TOS and would have stood.


#9

We host a lot of people. So my desire for privacy and security is to just maximize what little privacy and security we can have while acknowledging the obvious risks of hosting strangers in our home on a rotating basis. And we’ve had more than our fair share of bad guests, possibly because we host such a high volume of them and are statistically more likely to get them.

As for calling after midnight, I don’t think it was unreasonable at all, and as a guest I wouldn’t think it was unreasonable either. For one thing, we could view the footage and see that she had not returned home yet, so we knew she was awake. For another thing, if I were a guest, I would want to host to be proactive at all hours to keep unregistered people from entering an Airbnb we were staying in.

We don’t have any way of identifying who our guests are unless we want to start asking for IDs of all of them. All we get are account photos of the primary guests. We don’t get any photos of whoever is staying with the primary guest. And our guests often look very different from from their profile photos. It is often very difficult to recognize people on camera even if we know who they are, and we often don’t really know what they look like in the first place.

That is why our policy is to always check on the guests if we see them entering with more people than are supposed to be staying with them in the listing. It doesn’t matter who they are or what they look like. It’s something we feel is important to check on.


#10

Actually, you knew that she wasn’t in your home. She could have been asleep at a friend’s house.


#11

So far Airbnb has been supportive. They agreed that we did nothing wrong and acted in the best interest of the safety of fellow guests. They also agreed that Jessie/Josh were harassing me and that the accusation of discrimination seemed slanderous. Jessie also sounded threatening because she mentioned she’d be traveling back to my town several times in the next few months. They escalated it to another team. So I think this will be ok. :slight_smile:


#12

That’s a possibility. But I don’t really care. Safety of my home and the other living things and people in it is way more important than her mild inconvenience.


#13

Calling after midnight about an infraction is not out of bounds. Just because the midnight hour has passed and your guest turns back into a pumpkin does not immunize them from being confronted about breaking house rules.

You did the right thing and I am glad Air sided with you.

If future difficulties begin to happen, always call right away so there is a history of that guest being a problem or potential problem.


#14

You asked for opinions, and mine is that you are contradicting yourself. You repeatedly state today and in previous threads that security and privacy are important to you but you have 4 rooms on airbnb to 4 different parties and you don’t know who they are and you don’t check them in in person.

I think you made a mistake, others don’t. You’ll know soon enough. Do keep up posted on the review or what Airbnb does. We read so few stories of them supporting hosts it’s always good to hear that they do.


#15

My view/opinion is simplistic. You had an incident which apparently never happened before; it concerned you enough so you found it necessary to act on it immediately rather than let it go until morning. You are the host and you are within your right.


#16

Yes. Privacy and security are important to me.

So is the income from Airbnb.

I do my best to balance the two needs in the most efficient way I can. This is not a contradiction. It is just a necessity that I have to do deal with.

If you can offer ways to ensure that I know exactly who is always booked in my airbnbs and exactly what they look like, and do it in a way that doesn’t completely piss off and annoy all guests, and do this so efficiently that when a guest lets in more people than the number allowed in the listing that I can absolutely be sure they are all registersd guests, then I am open to suggestions. But since I work a day job and cannot personally monitor all check ins and entrances and exits, this is the best solution I can come up with.

As a side note, I was not looking for “opinions.” I was looking for help and advice. Those are not always the same things.


#17

Duly noted. …

Edit to add: If someone was threatening me and knew where I lived I would advise putting as many security cameras as I could afford on the exterior of my home. Not only would they assist me in knowing who is coming and going from my home I could deduct them from my taxes as a business expense and my homeowners insurance might consider it for a security device discount. A police report isn’t going to do anything to protect you or future guests if you have truly pissed off this husband. He doesn’t even have to do anything to you he can just ruin the stay of a few guests, get you some bad reviews. Things like putting a dead animal near your HVAC or cutting your cable line into the house might be revenge enough for him. Perhaps reporting you to the city in which you live or code enforcement or parking enforcement. As you know there are some psycho people out there.


#18

Better Cameras?

Make sure all guests sign in and you check ID?


#19

Simple, you or a co-host personally check in your guests,.


#20

That’s not feasible from a budgetary or logistical standpoint.


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