Airbnb faces an accusation of trying to impose a gagging order to prevent a customer from describing how guests had destroyed his property during an all-night rave.
The online accommodation sharing business told Luciano Dinulescu that it would refund him the full amount of more than £6,000 in damages only if he signed a non-disclosure agreement.
That would have prevented anyone finding out about what had happened to his London flat for a weekend over the Christmas holiday.
However, the guests used the property to host a party with a professional sound system, attracting hundreds of people.
Neighbours called police five times but some revellers remained, barricading themselves inside to continue partying.
The partygoers damaged or destroyed a sofa, carpets, and artworks. They punched a hole in the wall and broke the apartment block’s lift. Alcohol and drug paraphernalia were littered everywhere, The Times reported.
Damage amounted to £6,400 and Dinulescu submitted a 34-page dossier with photos and receipts. For two months he heard nothing until Airbnb asked him to re-submit his claim and evidence. It also asked him for evidence that he had already submitted.
After extensive exchanges, Airbnb offered to reimburse him only £1,403 and demanded that he accept the offer within 72 hours.
When Dinulescu declined he was told that he had 24 hours to accept the offer or it would be rescinded.
He took his story to an American news website called Observer.com, which highlighted the case.
After this, Airbnb transferred £1,403 into his account and sent him an email offering to wire the balance of his claim provided that he sign a gagging order, which would prevent him from talking to the press.
Dinulescu declined and is now trying to obtain a full refund from the company.
Airbnb has a £600,000 “host guarantee” that is supposed to cover damage to a property and “booking income loss” when reservations have to be cancelled.
The property owner has to pay for all repairs and then submit a claim to Airbnb for reimbursement.
Dinulescu said: “What I thought would be a no fret, two-night hosting turned into a rave party with over 200 hooligans completely destroying my flat.”
He told the news website: “They’re using people’s houses to make money and don’t want to take responsibility. They just want to get away with it.”
An Airbnb spokesman said: “Our original handling of this incident fell below the high standards we set for ourselves and are working with the host to make things right.
“We have zero tolerance for this kind of behaviour, have removed the guest from Airbnb and are supporting the host.”
He added: “There have been over 160 million guest arrivals in Airbnb listings and bad experiences are extremely rare.”
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