We’re well-travelled U.S. tourists and thought we’d seen it all… but wait until you see the pictures of what we found in our Airbnb when we returned after a quiet Sydney dinner
- Couple booked Sydney Airbnb during Mardi Gras celebrations
- Returned to the townhouse to discover evidence of a wild orgy
- Locked in six-month battle with Airbnb to receive compensation
A glamorous couple were horrified to discover the Airbnb apartment they were staying in had been used to host a sexy party – all while they were out for dinner.
Personal items worth thousands of dollars were either stolen or soiled, sparking a ‘nightmare’ six-month battle for compensation with the rental giant.
Jared Manheim and his partner Danielle, who both run a hobby Instagram travel page where they exhibit luxury hotels and designer outfits to their 290,000 followers, travelled to Sydney in early March.
Despite there being limited options during the month-long Mardi Gras festival, they managed to secure a townhouse in the exclusive inner-city suburb of Paddington.
The property, which was on Airbnb under two different listings, was divided into a ‘commercial’ space at the front, which used to be a glass-fronted café, and a ‘residential’ space at the back.
Their host told them there would be a small gathering of ‘sophisticated people’ in the commercial space on the Saturday evening – the night after they arrived – and she asked if they could make themselves scare until it finished around 11.30pm, sparking concerns for the couple.
Jared and Danielle were further alarmed when they checked in only to discover there were no locking doors separating the commercial space from the rooms they would be leaving their things in.
‘I told the host “this is pretty crazy, it’s just a small residential area, basically like a dorm room upstairs”,’ Jared told Daily Mail Australia.
‘She brushed it off and told us she would be having a sophisticated gathering the following day. We told her we were concerned about what might happen because it was completely open.’
The couple, who both work full-time in finance and property respectively, considered pulling out and booking a hotel but ultimately decided to stay due to the limited options available.
‘We ended up barricading the door to the residential area, which no one was meant to have access to any way before leaving for the evening,’ said Jared.
‘But at the end of the night we got back and the place was trashed.
‘It was clear there had been a sex party: there were abandoned handcuffs, lace panties and every inch of every surface was sticky with spilled drinks.
‘When we got upstairs, we realised they had broken into our bedroom, ransacked our clothes, stolen expensive dresses and other items.
‘My girlfriend’s eye mask was covered in some sort of bodily-fluid.’
They also found droplets of blood in their bedroom’s ensuite bathroom and vomit in another toilet.
The items they had stolen include a $10,000 wedding dress, $15,000 Chanel purse, $2,500 Invisalign dental retainer and a $750 silver necklace.
The horrified couple contacted the police and the host to demand a refund for their subsequent night’s stay, which was grudgingly granted, before leaving the next morning.
But their troubles were only just beginning.
‘We’ve been hosts on Airbnb and we’ve had issues in the past, like things being damaged, but we always went through the due diligence and got a payout for what was rightfully due,’ said Jared.
Yet, after their claim for damages and stolen items was palmed off to a third-party insurance platform, they heard nothing for a month.
That was until Jared realised their Airbnb account had been mysteriously deactivated.
It is understood that the couple’s subsequent night’s stay on the Saturday was made through an off-platform arrangement between them and the host, which means Airbnb is not liable to cover any losses or damage as it has not been booked through their system.
It is also believed that their account was taken down in relation to an incident associated with a separate booking, although it is unclear what exactly had transpired.
The couple, who are based in Kensington in London when they are not travelling, believe the error may have stemmed from them being mistakenly sent a ‘host’ rather than a ‘guest’ form to fill in.
‘But with Airbnb now the customer support seems outsourced to people in the Philippines or India,’ said Jared.
‘No offense to them, but nothing really happens anymore. You call in, they’ll take a note, nothing happens. It’s robotic.’
Jared has been ringing or emailing every few days for the last few months to try to get an answer on their compensation claim.
But each time receives a variation of the same maddeningly unhelpful response that the review is ‘complete’.
‘Our reservation included a fee to Airbnb which covers insurance. Theoretically we paid it into the insurance program and they will not even give us the satisfaction or the opportunity to lay out our case,’ said Jared.
‘Now, if we laid out our case and the third-party insurance firm decided not to side with us that would be different. But we’ve not even had the chance to provide any evidence.’
In addition to photos, videos and screenshots, the couple have a report filed with NSW Police.
‘Police are aware of the incident, and it is currently under investigation,’ an NSW Police spokesperson said.
The listing, which was not removed by Airbnb after incident, was subsequently taken down by the host.
Jared added: ‘Airbnb are a publicly-traded company and have shareholders to answer to. It’s disgusting to me.’
Susan Wheeldon, Airbnb’s Country Manager for Australia and New Zealand, said: ‘Our team is focused on promoting positive experiences for guests, Hosts and the wider community.
‘Airbnb is built on trust. Provided guests stay, pay and communicate only on Airbnb, they will be using our secure processes, refund and support policies.
‘In general, Hosts who breach our Off-Platform Policy may face suspension or removal from our platform.’