Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

SFPD Arrests Suspect In Airbnb Rental Trashing

Comments Filter:
  • Uh ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 31, 2011 @05:27AM (#36937946)

    Sounds like what I would expect from sharing my apartment with random strangers.

  • by ledow (319597) on Sunday July 31, 2011 @05:35AM (#36937976) Homepage

    What I can't believe is not that someone would trash an apartment "just because", but that someone else wouldn't think it was possible. Have they seriously been living in cloud-cuckoo-land?

    My ex-mother-in-law rented out her house to complete strangers for six months while she was on the other side of the planet. We all said she was incredibly stupid to do such a thing - not least because in that amount of time you could do ANYTHING, i.e. discover house deeds and sell the house to someone else, sublet it out to complete strangers (it was in the middle of a tourist area and used as a guest house when they were home) and there was no-one to check on what happened (she lived hundreds of miles away from where we did).

    Although everything went fine, why on earth would you consider doing such a thing, especially in somewhere that's still housing your clothes, a safe with your personal documents, personal possessions, etc.? You've got to be really stupid or incredibly naive.

    I bet your normal house insurance doesn't cover such events. I bet airbnb's insurance doesn't cover such events. I bet its difficult to even find rental insurance that covers you when you have no knowledge of who's renting from you.

    It's a horrible thing to happen, and it *shouldn't* happen, but equally if I leave my car out in the road with a "Borrow my car for only £10 an hour" scheme where I never see who borrows my car, it's OBVIOUS that the chances are I will never see my car again or, if I do see it, I won't want to. And a car is a replaceable thing. It's not a house. It doesn't contain safes with all my identification documents (what a stupid idea to leave those, even in a safe, in a house you're renting out).

    Seriously, it's a horrendous thing to have happen to you but, more seriously, you *DIDN'T* see it coming?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 31, 2011 @05:52AM (#36938030)

      "Have they seriously been living in cloud-cuckoo-land?"

      They live in San Francisco. 'Nuff said.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 31, 2011 @05:59AM (#36938060)

      What I can't believe is not that someone would trash an apartment "just because", but that someone else wouldn't think it was possible. Have they seriously been living in cloud-cuckoo-land?

      Yes. It's like you should never take a hitchhiker along, since everyone knows there are psychopaths amongst them that will rape and kill you. Or let a stranger make a phone call using your phone, since they can just as well may run off with it. Or simply walk outside. Do you know how many people get pick-pocketed, mugged, kidnapped, run over by cars, etc every day?

      The risk of being involved in a car accident is probably even much higher than getting robbed the way this person was (even if you only look at people using that service). But I guess cuckoo-you nevertheless walks, rides or drives on/by the street pretty much every day.

      • by Anonymus (2267354)

        Picking up a hitchhiker or letting someone use your cell phone is way different than renting out your apartment to someone for a few months. Anyone who has known or been a landlord can probably tell you stories for hours about the troubles they've had.

        When people move in somewhere, they treat it like it's completely theirs to do with as they please. Even worse, a lot of people treat it like they own it but they know they'll lose it in a few months anyway, so they have no problem writing on the walls, lett

        • Also, when you have your phone stolen you're out maybe a few hundreds bucks, but when your apartment is trashed you're out tens of thousands.

          That seems a bit high to me, especially if you do some of the repairs yourself. You could maybe end up paying that much if you left all of your nice furniture in the apartment you were renting, and replaced it with new equal value stuff after it was ruined, but in general fixing up a junked apartment should only cost you a few thousand tops I would think.

          I guess it depends on what you mean by "trashed." if they punch a few holes in the walls, mess up the paint, and stain the carpets, the repairs shouldn't r

          • I destroy the cabinets in the kitchen and we're up to $5000 for shitty cabinets I'll have to install myself. Tens of thousands is NOT unreasonable.

            • I can think of three explanations for this post:

              1. Your standards are so high that you think oak cabinets with silver handles instead of platinum are shitty.
              2. You're in McMurdo [wikimedia.org] and the price includes shipping.
              3. Someone saw you coming.

              My first guess would be option 3, although with a name like Scott 2 seems plausible too...

          • by Anonymus (2267354)

            Yeah, tens of thousands is a stretch (depends on the place, nicer places seem less likely to be damaged in the first place) but $10k isn't out of the question at all, especially if you factor in that "doing the work yourself" isn't free unless you consider your time to be worthless.

          • by Aquitaine (102097)

            That seems a bit high to me, especially if you do some of the repairs yourself.

            Not at all. If you have even a couple valuable things in your apartment, much less valuable jewelry or electronics, you're looking at about $20k in renter's insurance (which is not very expensive).

            If you have tens of thousands of dollars in cabinets, then you're a strange person. But tens of thousands of dollars in destructible property in your home isn't unusual at all.

          • by Vegeta99 (219501) <rjlynn@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Sunday July 31, 2011 @05:06PM (#36941266)

            If they tear out all the drywall, the wiring, the plumbing, the flooring, and appliances, leaving you with nothing but a room full of 2x4s holding up the ceiling, then yeah, you could end up paying tens of thousands. But I've never seen a place THAT trashed, and I work for a real estate company that specializes in selling foreclosed properties.

            I have. I worked in student housing. One day, the security guard gave me a call around 11PM on the day all the students were to be out and said he found a door that had been left unlocked by the students when they left. The scene inside was horrifying. Each apartment comes furnished, the living room has a couch, end table, bucket chair, TV stand, and a coffee table. The dining room has a table and four chairs. Each bedroom has a bed, desk, chair, and endtable, for four bedrooms.

            Everything save the dining room table, beds, and desks had been implanted in the walls. That's eight chairs, five end tables, a coffee table, and a TV stand, made of light steel yet contorted into odd geometric shapes.. The cabinets had been ripped from the walls, the refrigerator left in the middle of the kitchen. The washing machine was full of vomit. The oven had some sort of goo in it as if it had been used to cook crack. The ceiling had unexplainable footprints all over it. Even the storage closet outside was not spared: Its interior had been removed so that the students could slip between their and their neighbor's apartments through the walls.

            This was the worst, but certainly not the only one. All said and done, by the end of the summer, we had recorded over $50,000 in damages in a 648 bed complex, with bills to individual students going as high as $5,000 - that's almost the entire school years rent. It's just nuts. These kids are /so/ loaded it's not even funny. One kid reported us to the BBB because we charged him $100 to remove his TV, a gigantic 64" DLP behemoth that worked just fine. What the hell?! Why was it left behind?! And why was I supposed to have to have my maintenance men waste an hour trying to get it out of the third floor apartment?! In another instance, we evicted a kid whose car was worth more than the house I was born in.

            In the US, most of the youth are wholly unprepared for life and completely unable to accept any responsibility, and their parents back them up no matter how unruly and uncivilized. I say this as a 25 year old. I had a phone call from a woman one time berating me about her son's damage bill, saying, "Shame on you for ripping off my child! He's just a college student, he doesn't know any better!" My response was that, at the time, I was a college student as well, and I had yet to have a dime removed from my security deposit, even freshman year when I didn't work for the company. I was told that I wasn't allowed to talk to an adult the way I was - telling her that sorry, I might be a "child," but I was the one who wrote the invoices, and no, my "adult" boss wasn't going to make any changes, no matter how wrong or whatever I was.

            We had a kid run his car off of our private road, tumble it down a hill and into one of our buildings, prompting an evacuation and us having to house the students in a hotel room. He was drunk, but he managed to get out of the car, take his keys, and run home. On the way home, he slipped and fell. He was never charged with DUI, our insurance had to pay for the damages, AND the insurance paid for his injuries (they didn't want to fight it). Fun times.

      • You really need to learn some basic statistics before making silly comparisons. Yes, the probability of being in a random car accident is higher than randomly having your house ransacked, but that's beside the point. A car accident happens due to (bad) luck, while ransacking is a deliberate act. So conditionally on crossing the road, the probability of being run over is rather low (otherwise nobody would cross the road casually), whereas conditionally on giving complete strangers the keys to one's house, t
      • by couchslug (175151)

        "The risk of being involved in a car accident is probably even much higher than getting robbed the way this person was"

        Citation needed including a valid comparison of those activities. In none of the activities you use for comparison is the victim making a specific effort to CHOOSE extreme vulnerability by OFFERING themselves up for potential exploitation.

        You IMO are displaying a need to trust people to not exploit particularly tempting opportunities. Look to why you preferred your response.

    • by AncientPC (951874) on Sunday July 31, 2011 @06:04AM (#36938068)

      Ideally centralizing payment and identity verification to a 3rd party is a step up from Craigslist where you have to do it all yourself. EJ stated that AirBNB does not give out contact information until after someone's rented the place, preventing screening applicants.

      However from the terms [airbnb.com] (keep in mind they may have changed it since EJ's case):

      "1.2 Identity Verification. We make no attempt to confirm, and do not confirm, any user's purported identity. You are responsible for determining the identity and suitability of others who you may contact by means of this Site. We do not endorse any persons who use or register for our Services, whether as guests or hosts. We do not investigate any user's reputation, conduct, morality, criminal background, or verify the information that any user submits to the Site. We encourage you to communicate directly with potential hosts and guests through the tools available on the Site and to review your hosts’ and guests’ profile pages for feedback from other users.

      13.1 IF YOU USE OUR SERVICES, YOU DO SO AT YOUR SOLE RISK. YOU ACKNOWLEDGE AND AGREE THAT Airbnb DOES NOT CHECK ANY GUEST, HOST, OR OTHER USER’S BACKGROUND OR RECORD. Airbnb IS A REPUTATION-BASED SYSTEM. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF OTHER USER’S COMMENTS AND THIRD-PARTY REFERRALS ON HOSTS AND GUESTS. USE COMMON SENSE. BE AWARE AND BE SAFE. OUR SERVICES ARE PROVIDED ON AN "AS IS" AND "AS AVAILABLE" BASIS. WE EXPRESSLY DISCLAIM, AND YOU WAIVE, ALL WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND, WHETHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND NON-INFRINGEMENT.

      14.1 WE SHALL NOT BE LIABLE FOR DAMAGES OF ANY KIND (INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, ANY DIRECT, INCIDENTAL, GENERAL, SPECIAL, CONSEQUENTIAL, EXEMPLARY OR PUNITIVE DAMAGES) EVEN IF WE HAVE BEEN ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES, ARISING FROM OR RELATING TO: (A) THE USE OR INABILITY TO USE OUR SERVICES; (B) HARM OR DAMAGE TO YOUR PROPERTY AS A RESULT OF USING OUR SERVICES; (C) DISCLOSURE OF, UNAUTHORIZED ACCESS TO OR ALTERATION OF YOUR CONTENT; (D) ANY HARM TO YOU CAUSED IN WHOLE OR PART BY A THIRD PARTY, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO ANOTHER USER OF THE SERVICES; (E) STATEMENTS, CONDUCT OR OMISSIONS OF ANY GUEST, HOST, OR OTHER THIRD PARTIES ON OUR SERVICES; OR (F) YOUR OR ANYONE ELSE'S CONDUCT OR ACTS IN CONNECTION WITH THE USE OF THE SERVICES, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION FROM INTERACTIONS WITH OTHER USERS OF OUR SERVICES OR PERSONS INTRODUCED TO YOU BY OUR SERVICES, WHETHER ON-LINE OR OFF-LINE."

      In essence, I find it hard to understand what added value AirBNB provides over either Craigslist (pay) or Couch Surfing (free, reputation-based).

      • by jovius (974690)

        1.2 Identity Verification. We make no attempt to confirm, and do not confirm, any user's purported identity. You are responsible for determining the identity and suitability of others who you may contact by means of this Site.

        I wonder what's the rationale for not confirming any identification in the first place. Wouldn't it be beneficial for a service like this to build confidential relationships between the users (and the service)?

        • by geniice (1336589)

          Cost mostly. Confirming identification takes time and money. It also annoys the customer who is having to go through the process. Worse still once you start down that line there is pressure to add more and more anti fraud measures which again costs money.

          • I suspect it's more liability than cost. Once you start checking identities and past history, you can get sued for missing stuff.

            • by geniice (1336589)

              Eh you can insure against that so again it boils down to cost. But yes there are a whole bunch of reasons why that gets messy fast.

      • by jimicus (737525) on Sunday July 31, 2011 @07:15AM (#36938214)

        In essence, I find it hard to understand what added value AirBNB provides over either Craigslist (pay) or Couch Surfing (free, reputation-based).

        They don't, so quite how they managed to get a valuation of $1 billion I have no idea. Are we looking at another dot-com boom?

        • by geniice (1336589)

          Well on paper (and that's where the valuation is) they have first mover advantage (well sort of, somewhat related home exchange vacations have been around for a long time) in what could be the next big area of the Hospitality industry. With the total value of the hospitality industry and their currently very low overheads they would only have to capture a small percentage of the hospitality industry to be worth that.

          • by jimicus (737525)

            they would only have to capture a small percentage of the hospitality industry to be worth that.

            Every time I've seen that argument used, there's an unspoken bit which goes something along the lines of "therefore we don't need to understand our prospective customer - or even define them that closely (because we don't need many), our competition (who cares if they do get 98% of the market as long as we can get our 2%?) or the issues we are likely to face in bringing this product or service to fruition (with such fantastic numbers, so what if it works out a little harder? It won't significantly affect th

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          They don't, so quite how they managed to get a valuation of $1 billion I have no idea. Are we looking at another dot-com boom?

          Yes. It is reputed to mostly be centered around Silicon Valley again, too. Suckers.

        • Are we looking at another dot-com boom?

          Bubble. The term you're looking for is bubble. A booming economy is not necessarily fragile, and is not prone to popping all at once as we all wake up from our collective stupor. A bubble is built on such fragile grounds that when it pops we all wonder how it could ever have been built in the first place.

        • You make a good point. A minute or two with Google suggests [getcomparisons.com] that the main thing Airbnb provides over Craigslist/Couch Surfing is a nicer site and a (presumably) more upscale stock of abodes. It also provides the illusion that they've done the legwork you'd expect to do yourself on Craigslist, or as an alternative to the trust-building on CouchsSurfing.

          For Airbnb to rebuild the business goodwill they've lost, they'll need to 1) provide the 24/7 phone support EJ suggested, 2) provide some sort of bonding for

      • by vlm (69642)

        In essence, I find it hard to understand what added value AirBNB provides over either Craigslist (pay) or Couch Surfing (free, reputation-based).

        Whats their patent portfolio look like? Do they have a patent on something obvious and profitable like "renting a room using an iphone" that is probably worth a billion bucks if you already own a complementary property, perhaps a world wide hotel chain. On the other hand if you don't own a world wide hotel chain then the only way to demonstrate your patent is a "LOL wut?" business model like this.

        • by dtmos (447842) * on Sunday July 31, 2011 @08:59AM (#36938556)

          Whats [sic] their patent portfolio look like?

          After a quick search on the USPTO web site, there are no issued patents or published patent applications assigned to "airBNB" or "Airbed and Breakfast." Of the founding team [airbnb.com], Nathan Blecharczyk, Brian Chesky, and Joe Gebbia, there is design patent (not utility patent, mind you) D540,097, "Portable seat cushion," listing a "Joseph Gibbia" as inventor, and assigned to "Joe Gibbia." Other than that, I couldn't find any issued patents or published patent applications associated with the founding team, either.

          Of course, patent applications are published 18 months after they are filed, so it's possible they have some applications in the works of which we are not aware.

          • by vlm (69642)

            Of course, patent applications are published 18 months after they are filed, so it's possible they have some applications in the works of which we are not aware.

            So nothing public. Of course submarine patents are not lunch recipes or navy-related.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Submarine_patent [wikipedia.org]

            It seems odd that they're doing something "new" but haven't publicly filed anything legal WRT their "new" stuff. The complete lack of defensive portfolio is in itself suspicious.

      • by whoever57 (658626) on Sunday July 31, 2011 @01:06PM (#36939910) Journal

        "1.2 Identity Verification. We make no attempt to confirm, and do not confirm, any user's purported identity. You are responsible for determining the identity and suitability of others who you may contact by means of this Site

        Since Airbnb does not allow exchange of personal information until after a contract is agreed, that clause seems to be particularly problematic.

      • by jadavis (473492)

        1. I think we can all agree that the criminals are to blame.

        2. The victim used poor judgement, took a bad risk, and unfortunately paid the consequences.

        3. If everyone used good judgement, would Airbnb still be in business? If not, what are the ethics of starting a business that relies on customers using poor judgement?

        4. Can Airbnb mitigate the risk enough that this is still a viable business for customers using good judgement?

        5. Airbnb actively prevents the host from getting personal information about the

      • value-add from whose perspective?
        Since CouchSurfing is supposed to stay noncommercial AFAIK, that might not work out so well for the person with the space available.

        I suppose one needs weasel words in the legalese for odd cases like this, even if things normally go OK. I'm not too deterred by odd-case horror stories (also see PayPal)

        (I've never been on Craigslist, and have use AirBnB and CouchSurfing only once each, so I admit to a lack of specific experience.)

        • by AncientPC (951874)

          I forgot to mention this in my original post, but a company has already been doing this for the past 5 years called HomeAway [homeaway.com].

          I don't have any experience with them, but they've managed to avoid AirBNB PR disasters for 5 years running . . .

      • In essence, I find it hard to understand what added value AirBNB provides over either Craigslist (pay) or Couch Surfing (free, reputation-based).

        Bingo. Heck, I'm just an ignorant techno-redneck from Alabama, not nearly as enlightened as my betters in San Fran, and there's no way IN HELL I'd pay to use a service like this. What exactly is their angle?

    • by doug141 (863552) on Sunday July 31, 2011 @08:00AM (#36938376)

      My ex-mother-in-law rented out her house to complete strangers for six months while she was on the other side of the planet.... Although everything went fine

      Reminds me of a story... Once I had the most vivid and shocking dream that my grandmother had been in a car accident. The phone woke me from that dream in the middle of the night. It was a wrong number.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by LordNimon (85072)

      Although everything went fine

      In other words, your ex-mother-in-law proved you wrong.

      You really should have come up with a better example.

      • She didn't _prove_ him wrong. You can walk across a busy highway, and by some miracle escape being hit by a vehicle. That doesn't prove that everyone who told you that you are doing something stupid was wrong.

        • You can walk across a busy highway, and by some miracle escape being hit by a vehicle. That doesn't prove that everyone who told you that you are doing something stupid was wrong.

          Fair enough. The question is, how many times do you have to walk across the busy highway and escape being hit by a vehicle in order to prove the person's fears were invalid? 10 times? 100 times? 1000 times?

          You're right--she didn't prove him wrong because it is possible that a bad thing could have happened. The issue here is how likely is it that something bad could happen. If I rent my condo 1000 times for $50, I've made $50,000. If I have one bad person who causes $10,000 worth of damage, I'm still

          • by horza (87255)

            The other posts in this thread are just depressing, and they don't seem to understand this fact at all. I've let plenty of people stay at my place, rent free, including from abroad stranded with no money and nowhere to live. I've never had a single bad experience. Sure I may have been lucky, but I think I helped a number of people out. Once I had a party and I let some foreigners keep a set of my keys as I had to rush off and catch a plane. When I got back my favourite watch had disappeared. I thought about

    • by vlm (69642)

      Seriously, it's a horrendous thing to have happen to you but, more seriously, you *DIDN'T* see it coming?

      Maybe she did, we'll never know unless she confesses... One story I heard, which as far as I know has absolutely nothing directly to do with this case:

      1) House needs substantial structural water damage / mold repairs after hurricane Andrew (or whichever one it was)

      2) Owner verifies home insurance has no coverage for storm damage, but full coverage for criminal vandalism. (lightbulb turns on over owners head .. lets see how many /.ers already know how this is gonna turn out...) Owner somehow overlooks oth

    • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Sunday July 31, 2011 @11:22AM (#36939240) Journal

      Check this out, from TFA:

      It was several months after moving in that I finally felt ready to try renting it out while I traveled. (I had rented out my apartment several times while living in New York, through Craigslist no less, and always with exceptional results). Now, I convinced myself that anyone would love and respect this lovely space as much as I did. It seemed silly to let a perfectly good apartment sit empty while I traveled, when there were so many visitors to San Francisco in need of a place to stay, who wanted to experience a city as I preferred to: in a local’s home, outside the tourist bubble of a hotel. Anyway I liked the idea of someone being there, looking after my thirsty houseplant, and of course the opportunity to earn some extra cash was more than appealing.

      This woman is ultra-naive.

      • by Zancarius (414244) on Sunday July 31, 2011 @05:43PM (#36941526) Homepage Journal

        This woman is ultra-naive.

        It's helpful to remember that while we geek-types tend toward being highly pessimistic, there are a significant amount of people who truly do live in a world where they believe nothing could possibly go wrong. For us, it's alien, simply because we generally don't trust people--and we can't; optimistic and/or ignorant programmers are likely responsible for exploits the rest of us have to deal with.

        On the other hand, the response of Slashdot (again, generally speaking) is a symptom of another facet of our tendencies: We have a hard time living in someone else's shoes. Being unable to see ourselves in her position--simply because we would never commit to doing something in the first place--is certainly no excuse to treat her harshly. Was it a mistake? Maybe, but reading her blog is telling and implies that there was no way that she could possibly vet potential guests. Perhaps I can more easily empathize with some people, but regardless, what she went through is something no one should.

        I'm with a handful of other posters here. What value does AirBnB add to renting if they don't give you any information about the guest until the last minute? It seems like a scam to me, and it works because there are an awful lot of people who are far too trusting and caring.

        • by Seumas (6865)

          You don't need to be pessimistic by nature to have common sense. If you told anyone "hey, I'm renting my home out to a total stranger from craigslist while I'm out of the country", they would tell you that you're an idiot. Your parents would tell you this. Your friends would. Your coworkers would. Your neighbors would. Your landlord would. There's a reason your landlord makes you fill out a lengthy application, submit a security deposit, and perform a credit check and criminal background check.

          This is about

          • by horza (87255)

            Wow you must live in a rough depressed neighbourhood. Maybe you should consider moving?

            Phillip.

            • by CycleMan (638982)

              No, it's a realistic balance of the difference between the upside and downside potentials of the transaction given some unknown variables. Some of my family advised strongly that I have some written up agreement with my fellow renters when we jointly rented a place, to spell out details such as if damages occur or one person isn't paying their full share or other contingencies. Because I knew these fellow renters reasonably, I made the decision to forego such write-ups but if I were rooming with strangers

    • by rolfwind (528248)

      My ex-mother-in-law rented out her house to complete strangers for six months while she was on the other side of the planet. We all said she was incredibly stupid to do such a thing - not least because in that amount of time you could do ANYTHING, i.e. discover house deeds and sell the house to someone else....Although everything went fine, why on earth would you consider doing such a thing, especially in somewhere that's still housing your clothes, a safe with your personal documents, personal possessions,

      • Documents should be scanned and encrypted and uploaded to the cloud as well. ( in this case im using cloud a generic term for offsite backup storage medium.)
    • by Virtucon (127420)

      No, it's not hard to believe because it is human nature. I've had two homes trashed by people renting the place with oversight by a rental agency. I've had doors smashed, walls with holes in them and appliances trashed. I have court judgements against people that have long skipped into the ether and although I can keep those security and cleaning deposits I no longer have any interest in renting property to anybody. I even had one deadbeat during our court proceedings skip out on holding his rent in tr

    • by ShakaUVM (157947)

      >>if I leave my car out in the road with a "Borrow my car for only ã10 an hour" scheme where I never see who borrows my car, it's OBVIOUS that the chances are I will never see my car again

      There's actually several companies that do this. (http://www.zipcar.com/)

      Was probably where airbnb got their idea from, actually.

    • I bet the renter is under 30 years old and I'll tell you why. I've noticed something that really concerns me about people under 30 years old. For the record, I'm over 40. I'm not saying that all under 30s are like this. I'm not sure that even most of them are like this. And there are people over 30 and even over 40 who are like this, but not so many. But one thing I consistently see from people under 30 is a belief that all internet transactions are safe and they simply cannot ever be cheated. I see
    • by Aighearach (97333)

      Although everything went fine

      Uhm... dude... so even when it happened to somebody close to you, instead of learning what happened, you took it as a lesson to avoid the thing that didn't happen. Congratulations, you're in cloud-cuckoo-land.

  • So this woman EJ rented her house, with her personal stuff, photos, jewelry etc to a COMPLETE stranger through some web site..and now she's mad & surprised because she got robbed? WTF ?
    • How often do we get mugged walking down the street? It can happen, but it's so exceedingly rare that it never happens to most of us. This is not even a remotely new concept - there are tons of travel forums where people offer this kind of service from all over the world. If you read a little closer, this woman didn't take any basic precautions like getting ID, photographs, references, phone numbers and so on. Sure you could fake all of that information, but then you need accomplices.

      Right you are, she is ma

      • by Gaygirlie (1657131) <{gaygirlie} {at} {hotmail.com}> on Sunday July 31, 2011 @08:20AM (#36938448) Homepage

        If you read a little closer, this woman didn't take any basic precautions like getting ID, photographs, references, phone numbers and so on

        That's because Airbnb explicitly denies the possibility of doing such: you do not get any kind of details, not even phone number, on the rentee. Blaming it on EJ is kind of pointless then.

    • by jimicus (737525) on Sunday July 31, 2011 @07:26AM (#36938260)

      A lot of this is reading between the lines, but if you RTFA, she didn't do any due diligence because she couldn't. Airbnb explicitly demand that all communication takes place through their website - which can make it hard to get someone's email address, phone number and references.

      To a lay person, this is more-or-less how traditional letting agents work. The landlord and the tenant aren't even allowed to communicate directly until contracts are signed; either tenant and/or landlord pay the agent a fee and the agent does all the checks before this happens.

      Therefore - reasonably if somewhat naively - EJ assumed that this was pretty close to a traditional letting agency - and Airbnb would have done these checks themselves. After all, they charged her a fee much like any other tenant-finding service.

      • by Kenneth Stephen (1950) on Sunday July 31, 2011 @08:59AM (#36938554) Journal

        Yes, Airbnb is a service that doesn't provide any value (why do they exist, again?), but thats not the problem here. Even if they did provide verification of the renter, it would still be stupid to rent out ones apartment exposing private and personal information to some stranger. In this case, the landlord realized that her identity was at risk because the place had been comprehensively trashed. A smarter thief would have simply noted down all the personal data would letting the landlord suspect anything. And because the identity theft using this data could happen many months later, it would be difficult to pin this down to a specific renter.

        There is no escaping the fact that landlords like this need a reality check. Maybe the world is filled with people who do and want to do the right thing, but why would you take a risk like this assuming that no bad apples would come in contact with you?

    • by couchslug (175151)

      Why isn't the whole idea of apartment-sharing an met with instant and total scorn?

      Stupidity has consequences.

      • by nbauman (624611) on Sunday July 31, 2011 @12:40PM (#36939732) Homepage Journal

        Because it's worked in the past, in various forms, successfully for many years.

        There was a group you could join in the 1970s to get your name in a directory of people who would put other people up free, in exchange for reciprocity by somebody else when they were looking for a place to stay -- sort of Craigslist before computers. Great deal if you like to travel and meet people.

        That's different from going off and leaving somebody to rent your house in your absence, but there are dangers in having people as guests in your own home.

        When I was in college, I was renting a house that I sublet to some physics graduate students for the summer. I had to clean the place up after they left (not malicious, just lazy), but it was worth it for three months rent.

        Usually, when you sublet, you check them out. My sub-tenants were students at the same school, and I got them through the school housing office, so they couldn't disapper.

        One of the problems in this case is that Airbnb actually makes it more difficult or impossible for you to check the renter out. As several astute /.'rs have pointed out, what exactly is the value-added that this company offers over Craigslist?

        I'd like to see a lawyer give an opinion on what liability Airbnb has to this blogger, notwithstanding their boilerplate waivers.

  • Billion dollar company I have never even heard of. Who says dot-com is dead?

    Or is a billion dollars really so little nowadays.

    • I'm not the most clued-in person around, but I'm still surprised that I've never heard of Airbnb before, given that I live in San Francisco.

    • by jimicus (737525)

      Billion dollar company I have never even heard of. Who says dot-com is dead?

      Billion dollar company you have never heard of that isn't making any profit (otherwise they wouldn't be asking VCs for money), that doesn't deal in anything tangible, that owns very little in the way of real assets (Office furniture typically goes for a fraction of its new value at auction; they're using outside companies to host their website and email so they probably don't have much of their own server infrastructure), that adds no real value for their customers and does something that almost anyone coul

      • that adds no real value for their customers and does something that almost anyone could replicate very quickly and cheaply.

        Come to think of it, you could advertise a sublet on Craigslist for free, and maintain your control over the entire process, including running background checks on the renters, getting insurance, and all the rest. It doesn't sound like Airbnb adds anything useful at all.

        AFAICT, sounds like an absolutely classic dot-com disaster waiting to happen.

        This is the disaster unfolding.

    • Or is a billion dollars really so little nowadays.

      nah, but a billion dollar valuation is a little different than an actual billion dollars. To get the actual billion, you have to sell the company to some damn fool for that much money. Sadly, that kind of thing really does happen so the line between valuation and value is pretty murky.

      Short answer, yes it's a tech bubble, it's irrational, and we should know better but clearly don't.

  • Call me paranoid (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 31, 2011 @07:02AM (#36938180)

    I rent a house and the landlord wanted to send round some painters to paint the windows and front door. I wasnt going to be in that day i was at work and didnt want to take a day off just for that. anyway i'm talking to the painter on the phone and he asks me to leave the house keys next door to he can open the front door and paint the frame and the whole door, thats when i my alarm bells started ringing so i said to him how about you leave me the can of paint and i'll finish the inside of the door, so he says no i cant do that. so i left it at that, i'm thinking you dont trust me with a can of paint but you want me to trust you with my house keys?

  • Let me get this straight. The gimmick is you rent out your place to a total stranger, you don't even meet them face-to-face, and expect them not to run away with all your phat loot ? Moronic. Hotels don't trust them anywhere near as much. They sure as shit don't leave anything of real value in closets, despite the cameras on each floor and at all exits.

    What happened to EJ is truly vile, but what the fuck was she expecting ? She probably felt generous thinking 3% of Airbnb users would be vile, but she got the math wrong. Yes, 3% might be wanted criminals, but then about 90% are opportunist scum, and the remaining 7% are people like EJ with their heads in the clouds. All the locks and home insurance in the world are pointless if you're handing your keys to any stranger with a credit card.

    After reading that post, I almost think she was asking for it, that it was all a set-up to show how dangerous this thing can be. Heck, I could do the same: I'll just write my door code on the lock itself, then leave for a week. By the time I return, I guarantee you there will be nothing left of my apartment, not even the fancy lock! They'll even smile at my cameras as they walk out with my used underwear.

    Inventing a farcical business model, backed by a handful of dot-com profiteers is not going to change the fact that people are, by default, selfish, destructive, competitive swine until proven otherwise. People are greedy little shits, and nothing is going to change that as long as we worship possessions and wealth.

    • by geniice (1336589)

      Let me get this straight. The gimmick is you rent out your place to a total stranger, you don't even meet them face-to-face, and expect them not to run away with all your phat loot ? Moronic. Hotels don't trust them anywhere near as much. They sure as shit don't leave anything of real value in closets, despite the cameras on each floor and at all exits.

      What happened to EJ is truly vile, but what the fuck was she expecting ? She probably felt generous thinking 3% of Airbnb users would be vile, but she got the math wrong. Yes, 3% might be wanted criminals, but then about 90% are opportunist scum, and the remaining 7% are people like EJ with their heads in the clouds. All the locks and home insurance in the world are pointless if you're handing your keys to any stranger with a credit card.

      I would argue that perhaps the more interesting side of the story is the whole PR battle aspect. Airbnb falsely make people feel safer than Craigslist and the current PR mess is complicating that. Oh and opportunist scum are probably less of a risk than you might expect. After all they would probably like to rent cheaply in future and could do without the criminal record. It's simply not in their interest to rise above the level of minor annoyance.

      Of course realistically you are just falling for another PR

      • by Aquitaine (102097)

        Airbnb falsely make people feel safer than Craigslist and the current PR mess is complicating that.

        The only people who are 'made' to feel safer by what is essentially nothing more than a matching service are people who feel that their apartment has 'energy' that is affected by 'burning sage' in the first place. San Francisco has a tremendous concentration of such people.

        My heart goes out to this lady, but to make it to 29 years old and not perform due diligence on ANYBODY who is going to have unmonitored access to your home is the definition of irresponsible. 'Well, Airbnb wouldn't give me that informat

    • by vlm (69642) on Sunday July 31, 2011 @08:38AM (#36938494)

      Let me get this straight. The gimmick is you rent out your place to a total stranger, you don't even meet them face-to-face, and expect them not to run away with all your phat loot ? Moronic. Hotels don't trust them anywhere near as much.

      Everyone is focusing on the moronity of renting to, basically, an "AC" because of THIS story. What I wonder is if the renters get to (legally) learn about the owners; are the owners ACs from the point of view of the renters?

      I can see four business models where the owner is a crook:

      1) House happens to burn down (arson) while renter is present so presumably the owner can not be blamed. Sucks if the renter dies in the fire; then again that makes it more "authentic".

      2) House has a "big brother" style camera / videorecording infrastructure, including/especially in the bedrooms and showers. And the owner prefers to rent to attractive young people, perhaps by being on the beach or near a college campus, or maybe kids play equipment in backyard is used as a lure, etc.

      3) So, someone is visiting, probably with stuff worth stealing, and someone happens to have their full itinerary, and a spare house key... Would be a shame if their laptop gets stolen... Consider a young woman and someone knows her schedule and knows she is completely alone and also has a key to her bedroom and has some bad intentions...

      4) Its actually a grow op / drop house, what if the cops decide to show up that night? Is the visitor part of the gang and laundering their money, or not?

    • Let me get this straight. The gimmick is you rent out your place to a total stranger, you don't even meet them face-to-face, and expect them not to run away with all your phat loot ? Moronic

      I have to agree. The concept of renting your place out while you're not using it isn't moronic, but the concept of renting your place out filled with your valuables, irreplaceable and otherwise, and a trove of identity stealing documents is really, really stupid.

  • Slashvertisement (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rebelwarlock (1319465) on Sunday July 31, 2011 @07:46AM (#36938322)
    Since there's nothing remotely tech about this story, with the possible exception of a website existing, and the fact that they do unrelated plugs to other stories in an attempt to make this airbnb thing sound neat, I'm going to go ahead and say this is just an attempt at getting more attention/traffic their way. I'm not saying no vandalism occurred, I'm just saying that there's no part of this story that belongs on slashdot, and it's only here because it serves as a way to get them more of that SEO goodness with the google love machine.
  • To continue growing long term Airbnb needs to become an insurance carrier making renters whole if something like this happens. EBay growth stalled when fraud became rampant. If Ebay had agreed to become a centralized third party with insurance and clearing services, i.e. a true clearing house they would be right now the size of WalMart.

    The insurance plan is all about the details. Start by charging a credit card security deposit of $1000. Then charge a one time joining fee of $100 as well as an insurance fee

    • by vlm (69642)

      To continue growing long term Airbnb needs to become an insurance carrier making renters whole if something like this happens. EBay growth stalled when fraud became rampant. If Ebay had agreed to become a centralized third party with insurance and clearing services, i.e. a true clearing house they would be right now the size of WalMart.

      The insurance plan is all about the details. Start by charging a credit card security deposit of $1000. Then charge a one time joining fee of $100 as well as an insurance fee of $15 per day for the first 50 days, going down to $5 for the next 100 and finally $1 thereafter. Then have a high deductible for renters, around $1000, since the landlord assumes responsibility for minor damages. If all the renters did is break a dish, tough luck, it happens, but something like the case above would definitely be covered.

      Won't work, rental liability is infinite, or at least infinite compared to your numbers. Every "upside down" house in the country would get rented and torched. Which is a lot of losses. Maybe if you charged $50K per rental and hired the local fire department to park an engine in front of the house overnight...

      • by Alomex (148003)

        Won't work, rental liability is infinite,

        Oh please.This is BS. Replacement value for a rental property is around $500K max. Last I checked that is much smaller than infinity. Also, this is no different than regular household insurance, just at a much higher rate. So not only it would work, it would likely be a profit center too.

        • by vlm (69642)

          Won't work, rental liability is infinite,

          Oh please.This is BS. Replacement value for a rental property is around $500K max. Last I checked that is much smaller than infinity. Also, this is no different than regular household insurance, just at a much higher rate. So not only it would work, it would likely be a profit center too.

          What if one of the renters kids is in the building when it gets torched and there's no fire detector or extinguisher, and "everyone knows" the side door sticks so use the front or back, blah blah.

          Also, this is no different than regular household insurance, just at a much higher rate.

          Not just commission/fee but also higher rate of torching / Animal House style frat parties / copper wire and pipe "recycling".

          I think we agree the rate would be higher; I think high enough that it would be way beyond uneconomic; We'll have to agree to disagree on that.

          • by Alomex (148003)

            What if one of the renters kids is in the building when it gets torched and there's no fire detector or extinguisher, and "everyone knows" the side door sticks so use the front or back, blah blah.

            There is no need for third party liability coverage. Likely the landlord would not be liable either, though it is hard to say given than in America nearly all lawsuits are allowed to prosper.

  • Never rent out a property you are emotional invested in, and never get emotionally invested in rental property. If you do, even normal wear and tear becomes troubling - because "you would have been more careful since it's yours..."

    While most renters are decent people, things get broken, disappear - it's part of the rental business. Sometimes, it;s just down right funny - I had a renter take a $2 shower curtain from a vacation rental. As long as they didn't trash the place (beyond the deposit) and paid on ti

    • It's also worth checking whether you are allowed to let the property. Most mortgages that are not explicitly buy-to-let loans do not allow the property to be rented out unless you specifically request permission from the bank. If you rent them without the bank's permission, then this may violate the terms of the mortgage and they can require you to repay the full mortgage sum immediately.
    • by couchslug (175151)

      Best post in the thread. People who have never been landlords often have no clue.

  • Well what the fark would you expect to happen?

    If you are going to do this, at the very least buy a second place and fill it with furniture and stuff you have zero attachment to.

  • What is it with these new companies who only post videos when explaining what it is that they do? This is about the third company that I have encountered that only provides a video. I can read a lot faster than they can speak. Put the video up front for the illiterate, but at least provide those of use that can read with the details in an usable form.

The meta-Turing test counts a thing as intelligent if it seeks to devise and apply Turing tests to objects of its own creation. -- Lew Mammel, Jr.

Working...