RENTAL REMORSE: Woman experiences “creepy” living conditions at Airbnb
MESA, Ariz. (AZFamily/Gray News) – A woman needing some temporary housing was using a popular website to look for homes to rent when she came across a house she thought was just right.
But when she arrived, she says the home was nothing like the photos she viewed online and claims it was downright creepy.
Krista Luciano just needed a place to stay for about a month before she left out of state for a job transfer. She went online and found a house on Airbnb with a room to rent.
“The room looked nice in the pictures,” she said. “You know, it looks clean. The floor looks clean.”
Luciano paid almost $1,200 in advance for a month’s stay. However, when she arrived at the house in Mesa, Arizona, she found the lock on the front door broken, and she was able to walk right in.
She thought she might be sharing the house with a family or maybe some roommates. It turned out that was not the case at all.
Once inside, she found the entire home was converted to bedrooms, all available for rent. There was no living room, no kitchen, a green pool and only one bathroom that all renters in the house had to share.
When AZFamily visited the house, the bathtub was filthy and had pink mold.
“So, I sat down, and I almost started crying,” Luciano said. “It just felt … It felt dirty and just bizarre in a way like I didn’t feel safe at all.”
Luciano said there was no way she was sharing the bathroom and the rest of the house with strangers and immediately contacted Airbnb along with the hosts. She told them she wanted her $1,200 returned because the house didn’t feel safe.
“And they responded very shortly after and said ‘Of course it’s safe,’” she said.
Luciano said she never stayed in the house and kept waiting for Airbnb to change its mind regarding her refund.
“I didn’t cancel my reservation because I didn’t want to forfeit my money,” she said.
Luciano then contacted AZFamily, who discovered that Mesa police have responded to the home nearly 20 times over the last year and a half, including calls for sexual assault, burglary, threats and suspicious activity while that list goes on.
“There’s a lot of illegal stuff that happens in places like that hurt people,” Luciano said.
In addition, the house’s owner was cited by the City of Mesa several times this year for using a single-family home as a multi-family rental. City of Mesa records show they are trying to collect $1,600 in fines, but the homeowner hasn’t paid up.
Since the room was still rented to Luciano, she agreed to take AZFamily crew back to the house.
“As we walked in the room, it’s not the way it was when I left it and I’m still renting it.,” she said. “So, someone has been in here. They’ve slept here.”
The bedding was different; a lamp was moved, and a bath towel was hanging to dry in the closet.
AZFamily contacted Airbnb and sent pictures of the broken door lock, the dirty towel hanging in the closet, the filthy tub, and that green pool. They also attached a police document detailing the disturbing calls for service.
After reviewing the information, Airbnb decided to refund nearly $1,200 back to Luciano.
The company is also launching an investigation into the hosts, who rent other properties on Airbnb’s site.
“They need to do better, and they need to verify that the homes that are being listed are to code,” Luciano said. “If they would have done that alone, that would have avoided all of this.”
In the meantime, Luciano is renting a hotel room. It’s more money than she wants to spend, but she said it’s worth it. She said she feels comfortable and safe.
Luciano said the ordeal was a real eye-opener and she credits AZFamily for getting involved, saying that she might not have gotten her money back if not for the media’s involvement.
“I’m very grateful,” she said.
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