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SFPD Arrests Suspect In Airbnb Rental Trashing

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the when-internets-attack dept.

The Internet 179

theodp writes "Just days after it was reported that apartment sharing startup Airbnb had raised $112MM at a $1B+ valuation from investors that included Marc Andreessen and Jeff Bezos, Airbnb user EJ's blog entry on the ransacking of her apartment by Airbnb renters went viral, creating a PR nightmare that's turning into a war of words. CNET reports San Francisco police have confirmed that a 19-year-old woman has been arrested in the case, booked on possession of stolen property, methamphetamine, fraud charges, and an outstanding warrant."

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Uh ... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36937946)

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

Re:Uh ... (0)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#36939210)

I can't see exactly how the parent was modded -1 because I haven't been able to see mod details for nearly a week, but the parent's post is Insightful.

It's the risk you take (4, Insightful)

ledow (319597) | more than 3 years ago | (#36937976)

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?

Re:It's the risk you take (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36938030)

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

They live in San Francisco. 'Nuff said.

Re:It's the risk you take (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:It's the risk you take (2)

Anonymus (2267354) | more than 3 years ago | (#36938084)

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, letting food rot in the carpet, or water overflow in the bathroom.

Going by my experience/gut feeling (ie, completely pulling numbers out of my ass) I'd say your chance of getting killed by a hitchhiker is about 0.00001%, your chance of having your phone stolen by someone using it is about 5%, and your chance of someone mistreating your apartment while renting it is about 20%. 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.

Re:It's the risk you take (1)

WillDraven (760005) | more than 3 years ago | (#36938184)

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 ruin you financially. 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.

Re:It's the risk you take (2)

PopeScott (1343031) | more than 3 years ago | (#36938262)

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.

Re:It's the risk you take (1)

maroonhat (845773) | more than 3 years ago | (#36938710)

someone is taking you for a ride with those cabinets, I can get you nice cabinets, installed for that price...

Re:It's the risk you take (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#36939738)

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...

Re:It's the risk you take (2)

Anonymus (2267354) | more than 3 years ago | (#36939334)

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.

Re:It's the risk you take (1)

Aquitaine (102097) | more than 3 years ago | (#36939792)

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.

Re:It's the risk you take (1)

Eunuchswear (210685) | more than 3 years ago | (#36939140)

Since temporary home renting schemes have existed for years you seem to be arguing gut feeling against reality.

This tells us more about you than about the subject under discussion.

Re:It's the risk you take (2)

Anonymus (2267354) | more than 3 years ago | (#36939280)

I guess so. In my own personal experience, literally 2 out of 4 of my renters have been absolutely horrible and caused damage only slightly below what they were paying in rent (when they felt like paying it at all). I also saw some of my neighbors places when I myself was renting an apartment, and have a relative whose primary income came from managing rental properties and heard a lot of stories.

Most temporary home renting schemes I've seen that actually -work- are either upper class places (summer homes and the like) or low-income borderline slums where it doesn't matter if damage is done.

Re:It's the risk you take (2)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 3 years ago | (#36938092)

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, the probability that they'll damage or ransack it is pretty high.

Or put yet again differently, if you stand in the middle of the road at some random time of day, the drivers who see you aren't likely to deliberately run you over. There are some, but they're probably on some different road or in some other city on that particular day and time. If you advertise your house keys on some website, the people who will deliberately trash your place are reading the website and will likely contact you.

A website is like a mile wide road with hundreds of thousands of drivers who all see you standing on the road. One of them will run you over, deliberately.

Re:It's the risk you take (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36938298)

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 is pickpocketing and mugging.

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, the probability that they'll damage or ransack it is pretty high.

Apparently not, otherwise there would have been more complaints than just the one until now. Or are you arguing that most other people who used that website before has been immensely lucky against all odds? Additionally, there are obviously also conditions involved here (if nothing else, it's registering on that website, although that by itself most likely won't filter out that many people with bad intentions).

Re:It's the risk you take (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 3 years ago | (#36938712)

So is pickpocketing and mugging.

Yes, which is why every city has "bad" areas where the chance of being mugged is higher.

Apparently not, otherwise there would have been more complaints than just the one until now. Or are you arguing that most other people who used that website before has been immensely lucky against all odds?

That's a good point, but it only applies in a stationary situation. If a website has been around a long time and has a stable population, then yes, a steady number of complaints per time period would be expected. However those assumptions fail in a number of cases.

1) For a growing website, the user population is small at first so the chance of an incident is best discounted until a critical mass (ie the site becomes sufficiently popular and mainstream to attract enough bad guys).

2) As the rules of the website/service are changed over time, the behaviour and opportunities change. Also, the user population goes from an early adopter profile to average which can make a difference.

3) Not all incidents are equivalent. The reporting of incidents in the media follows record events, eg the first time a TV gets trashed it's interesting, but the second time it's not. So the second report would have to be a room getting trashed. Then the third report would be a whole house, etc. Many people might have never heard of the website until this newsreport, which would make it the "first" incident in their minds.

So I wouldn't expect a lot of house trashing reports in the past, rather they should likely occur in the future. However, that's if no new rules or tightening security arrangements are made by the startup to combat the likelihood.

Re:It's the risk you take (4, Insightful)

AncientPC (951874) | more than 3 years ago | (#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).

Re:It's the risk you take (1)

jovius (974690) | more than 3 years ago | (#36938210)

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)?

Re:It's the risk you take (2)

geniice (1336589) | more than 3 years ago | (#36938258)

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.

Re:It's the risk you take (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 3 years ago | (#36938304)

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

Re:It's the risk you take (1)

geniice (1336589) | more than 3 years ago | (#36938320)

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.

Re:It's the risk you take (4, Insightful)

jimicus (737525) | more than 3 years ago | (#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?

Re:It's the risk you take (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36938358)

Yes, I am already short on the stock... So I am waiting for the market to open...

Okay, This is the first I heard of AirBNB but if I had heard of it before.....

Re:It's the risk you take (2)

geniice (1336589) | more than 3 years ago | (#36938400)

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.

Re:It's the risk you take (2)

jimicus (737525) | more than 3 years ago | (#36938978)

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 the figures)."

Re:It's the risk you take (1)

Eunuchswear (210685) | more than 3 years ago | (#36939168)

Yeah, but they hav low overheads because they provide (almost) no service.

Shit, no identity checks? No liability? No insurance?

Fuck 'em.

Re:It's the risk you take (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#36938638)

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.

Re:It's the risk you take (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36939798)

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.

Oh, Christ, if this went public I'd short it harder than smurfs in a cat-food factory. Billion dollar valuation of a stupid idea that begs for abuse centered around Silicon Valley and San Francisco? Please, God, if you do exist, please drive the people who came up with this shit into homelessness and wailing and gnashing of teeth, as a lesson to all the other fake-capitalist, half-assed con-men scum out there: CREATE REAL VALUE WITH YOUR COMPANY BY DOING SOMETHING WORTHWHILE, DON'T PRETEND YOUR VAPOR IS YOUR VALUATION AND DON'T ETERNALLY SUCK THE VC TEET.

Re:It's the risk you take (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#36938342)

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.

airBNB patent portfolio (3, Informative)

dtmos (447842) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:airBNB patent portfolio (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#36938986)

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.

Re:It's the risk you take (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36939134)

Typical greed sucking, low-life lawyer bullshit.

Re:It's the risk you take (4, Funny)

doug141 (863552) | more than 3 years ago | (#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:It's the risk you take (1, Insightful)

LordNimon (85072) | more than 3 years ago | (#36938428)

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.

Re:It's the risk you take (2)

Kenneth Stephen (1950) | more than 3 years ago | (#36938486)

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.

Re:It's the risk you take (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#36938432)

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 other section of insurance contract explaining coverage is void if property is rented, owner must live onsite; no rental contract allowed; etc.

3) Owner rents to local 1%er motorcycle gang. In a surprising turn of events, house is now condemned.

4) Owners statement to insurance co "I thought those hoodlums were church missionaries, I'm such a victim, that means you have to like me..."

5) Insurance co uses big red "denied" stamp.

6) Owner freaks out, OMG what am I gonna do ... happens to glance at TV news sleazecast ... another lightbulb appears ...

7) Local newspaper and "fox news on your side" breathless TV coverage about the horrible victimization of the owner vs the rich insurance company blah blah blah. "Today's news brought to you by advertisements from the insurance co's competitors..."

Don't remember how that one turned out. A more modern retelling would be "Katrina" instead of "Andrew", or maybe upside down post-housing bubble mortgage instead of hurricane, or maybe "airbnb" instead of "1%er motorcycle gang", etc. Its an insightful story.

I'm just saying, only the most lilly white bread type can be honestly completely confused... Follow the money...

Re:It's the risk you take (3, Insightful)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#36939240)

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.

Re:It's the risk you take (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 3 years ago | (#36939242)

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, etc.? You've got to be really stupid or incredibly naive.

Documents should go in a safety deposit box in the bank. It should not be in a flimsy "fire-proof" safe bought at walmart. It should not be in the very same house it pertains to.

Re:It's the risk you take (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 3 years ago | (#36939408)

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.)

Re:It's the risk you take (2)

Virtucon (127420) | more than 3 years ago | (#36939260)

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 trust with the court. The judge just looked at them funny, yeah I won that case too but that and $3 will buy me a great cup of coffee. Ever wonder what it takes to get rid of 4 barrels of "unknown material" that were left on your property by a deadbeat renter? Just open your checkbook and find out.

People can be scumbags and while I don't throw all people who rent or lease property into the same category as the people who caused me grief, I can understand now why landlords always are suspicious of their tenants.

Re:It's the risk you take (1)

olderphart (787517) | more than 3 years ago | (#36939312)

Cloud cuckoo land? Precisely right. I read her blog posting and some of the comments. Her cognitive community Believes In Karma. Somewhere amongst the four forces there lurks a cosmic accountant. OK, whatever. In my universe, reality is a bitch. It probably takes her and me to make a society. I think she's an idiot, she thinks I'm a brute. Oh well.

so what (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36937980)

and this is interesting to Slashdot because?

Caveat adoptor (2)

Svartormr (692822) | more than 3 years ago | (#36938000)

and this is interesting to Slashdot because?

...Slashdotters are early adopters of many new products. And everyone needs reminding now and then that just because most people are reasonable doesn't mean this particular stranger will be. (Apologies for the Latin-English mismash.)

Re:Caveat adoptor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36938130)

...Slashdotters are early adopters of many new products.

That would actually surprise me given the fact that most articles about new products in slashdot are met with comments that lambast them, saying "why would we need this" or "this is just product x again" or "just another fad."

And of course the others where it ends up being "I welcome our new x overlords" and "when can I put it on a shark."

Re:Caveat adoptor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36938354)

It's not good unless it runs Linux. And no, sharks and windows is a recipe for disaster, they may get a virus and turn on you!

Re:Caveat adoptor (2)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 3 years ago | (#36938364)

"...Slashdotters are early adopters of many new products. "

'Timeshare scam' is new?
It gets 36 million hits in Google.

Re:so what (-1, Offtopic)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 3 years ago | (#36938048)

and this is interesting to Slashdot because?

Apparently for several bizarre reasons:

1) It involves a web site. So, although clearly debatable and a tenuous connection at best, it involves the web'o'tubes and that is like tech and shit.
2) It involves a web site that managed to get funding in some vague way that is hinted at.
3) Said funding involves some guys that are actually famousish, if that's a word. Since those guys are related to tech and they invested in a company that is web based and involves tech and shit, it only reinforces how relevant this is.
4) Something at the web site, or related to it, went like totally fucking fubar. Like DoD getting hacked, All porn everywhere being deleted, and puppies being beaten to death.
5) Despite #4, the tech support is lauded by the victim like they gently took his virginity and he has only pure love for them.

Slashdot.... you always surprise me. Some of the stuff you put in Idle is questionable at best... but this in the tech section. Really? :)

Well to give an analogy this like a major magazine or Opera talking with a celebrity for a whole hour about their hang nail or something.

Apparently Slashdot is like the patent office (2)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#36938168)

Adding "on the internet" to something turns it from a trivial happening into Slashdot-worthy material. It's the same method companies use to cancel prior art at the USPTO.

Re:Apparently Slashdot is like the patent office (1)

Teancum (67324) | more than 3 years ago | (#36938416)

It is a compelling story and something that has been burning up the blogosphere, and Slashdot is a news aggregator site. There are more than a few other connections with the tech industry here, not to mention that sometimes you have to stop and realize others have a life too. Complaining that this shouldn't have been made a story only means that you should have been going through the firehose and modding this down previously.

From my own experience at sifting through the firehose, this is at least a decent story and worthy of promotion to the front page compared to the rest of the garbage that is typically submitted. If you have a more compelling story and something more "news for nerds" worthy.... submit it! I've had more than a couple stories hit the front page, how about you?

I wish I could view the world EJ's way... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36938008)

It's awful that this happened to her but I'm in a bit of disbelief that someone could be this free with their home.

From reading her blog posting (from a month ago?) about this, it seems she didn't really follow the Safety Tips for Hosts on Airbnb [airbnb.com] . It didn't sound like she really vetted the person that was going to rent (supposedly you can turn down potential renters. They say to look for full profile info, pictures, that sorta thing. She didn't even know the person's real name...). I could see using the service if you had an extra vacation home, condo, or similar where the furnishings weren't necessarily precious beyond their retail cost but for the location you keep your documents, heirlooms, and porn?

Wasn't there a story about a car rental service with a similar model (rent your personal car to complete strangers)? I have to wonder how they handle something similar.

I also wonder how Home/Renters insurance companies view something like this. In their shoes, I certainly would want to raise rates on someone that is so carefree with what you are trying to insure.

It just seems a bit naive to me. Airbnb should vet the renters better or at least offer some form of insurance policy, but this was just an incident waiting to happen.

I honestly wish I could view the world with the same amount of trust that 'EJ' can (well, or could, this is likely a hard lesson).

Re:I wish I could view the world EJ's way... (3, Informative)

lpp (115405) | more than 3 years ago | (#36938072)

From some quick googling, it seems that that safety FAQ was only recently made available, perhaps in response to the whole EJ incident. If you go to the Wayback Machine (http://wayback.archive.org/web) and enter that page's URL (http://www.airbnb.com/home/safety) and click 'Show All', it will tell you it doesn't have it but there are other pages. Go ahead and look at what airbnb had to offer the wayback machine and you'll see a tips page. Check that one out and you'll see some very very simple safety suggestions. Except they aren't NEARLY as protective as what this new page makes out.

Should she have done more to protect herself? Sure. Would I personally ever use airbnb? No; my trust of my fellow human doesn't go that far. But don't make it appear that at the time EJ performed her transaction on the website that airbnb had posted stringent rules about staying safe and protecting yourself.

Re:I wish I could view the world EJ's way... (4, Insightful)

millisa (151093) | more than 3 years ago | (#36938142)

Ooh, good catch. (I'm the A/C above, didn't notice I wasn't logged in). I have to wonder what type of info they may have posted to the logged in user at the time when they made the listings. Probably very little based on what you found. I think most of us agree she appears to have approached the whole thing without enough common sense.

I just ran across this usatoday article [usatoday.com] which had some more info (apparently the 19 year old isn't in SF PD custody anymore...).

EJ claims she hasn't gotten squat from airbnb still, airbnb is saying they have offered all sortsa compensation. Seems like an easy enough thing to verify; I don't get how it's still a he-says-she-says routine.

What was interesting in the article was this bit from airbnb:
Airbnb, while pointing out that the incident was the first of its kind out of some 2 million stays booked since the company's founding in 2008, announced that it would be doubling the size of its customer service staff (42 people at the time of the incident and 88 currently), offering insurance to hosts and creating a "Trust and Safety" department, among other measures.

That seems to imply that they do not currently offer insurance. How naive of them to not consider it necessary in the last 3 years. One of their similar competitors, roomarama.com, also doesn't provide any type of insurance.

Also from that article:
She said was "growing a very thick skin" because of accusations that she was part of a plot by the hotel industry to discredit Airbnb, and because of criticism that she courted disaster by opening her rented apartment to strangers.
That's just harsh. I couldn't find who was supposedly making those accusations, but if it's more than the cynical /. user, that just isn't right.

Here's hoping she at least gets her backup drive back.

Rose lensed glasses for everyone!

Could someone clarify this (1)

mvar (1386987) | more than 3 years ago | (#36938012)

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 ?

Re:Could someone clarify this (2)

digitalchinky (650880) | more than 3 years ago | (#36938088)

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 mad and surprised, though the thought of easy money for her obviously far outweighed the minimal effort she put in to get it. Hopefully the people who did it are caught, and hopefully this woman learns a very valuable life lesson.

Re:Could someone clarify this (3, Informative)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | more than 3 years ago | (#36938448)

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.

Re:Could someone clarify this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36939042)

That is because they expect the renter/rentee to get aquainted first, and then exchange contact info I'd they want to move forward... Kinda like an online dating site!

They provide a means of making contact, and assume the users are competent enough to proceed from there.

Makes perfect sense to me!

Re:Could someone clarify this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36939050)

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.

Blame is perhaps too strong a word, but certainly her acceptance of such odd terms wasn't exactly a smart move on her part.

Re:Could someone clarify this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36938944)

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.

Do you live in a gated community or something? I don't know a single person who has never been mugged.

Re:Could someone clarify this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36939056)

Do you live in some hell-hole slum? I don't know a single person who has ever been mugged.

Re:Could someone clarify this (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 3 years ago | (#36939782)

Wow, please let me know where you live so I can make sure that I never visit...

Re:Could someone clarify this (4, Informative)

jimicus (737525) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Could someone clarify this (3, Interesting)

Kenneth Stephen (1950) | more than 3 years ago | (#36938554)

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?

Re:Could someone clarify this (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36938316)

Despite the trust (read: idiocy) of strangers, I still have some sympathy for this person. I may consider that this person, and those like this person, to be far too trusting, but that doesn't belie the inherent feeling of "damn that sucked and I'm sorry for you."

I think of it like rape victims (and the way the blog post characterizes it feels...remarkably similar). Yeah some folks may say "x was asking for it" or "y should've done this or that to prevent it" while jeering at the person, but in the end the fact of the matter is that someone here was violated in a horrible fashion. Not *quite* in the same way as rape, but in some ways it is very *very* close.

Have some sympathy for the person. Please. And after that, you can get back on your high horse.

Re:Could someone clarify this (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#36939190)

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

Stupidity has consequences.

Re:Could someone clarify this (3, Informative)

nbauman (624611) | more than 3 years ago | (#36939732)

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.

SHOULD HAVE ASKED FOR SLASHDOT CREED !! (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36938032)

Creds ?? Whateva !! No one here is a loon, that much is for sure !! Even our illustrious Cmdr. is no worse than an STD, from a Bangok street whore. No, no. We are all safe. Every fucking last one of us... EXCEPT YOU !! Yeah, YOU, MOTHERFUCKER !! You think I forgot about you ?? WRONG !! Yes, YOU !!

Mostly safe.

All these (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#36938070)

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

Or is a billion dollars really so little nowadays.

Re:All these (1)

FoolishOwl (1698506) | more than 3 years ago | (#36938250)

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.

Re:All these (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36938410)

I live in San Francisco and I've never heard of them either. It's another bullshit company from the slimy "Hacker News" crowd.

Re:All these (2)

jimicus (737525) | more than 3 years ago | (#36938292)

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 could replicate very quickly and cheaply.

A company that is so secure in their billion-dollar valuation that the CEO actually contacted the blogger in question and explicitly said that he was concerned about what that blog entry would do to the valuation of his company.

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

Re:All these (1)

FoolishOwl (1698506) | more than 3 years ago | (#36939642)

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.

Billionaires bloated w/ cash like Macy's balloon (0)

leftie (667677) | more than 3 years ago | (#36938368)

The Billionaires a bloated with cash they've plunders the last two decades. All the money that was in real estate is cash now too.
They are just flinging around money now.

Call me paranoid (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#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?

Go figure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36938218)

Give someone you don't know access to your apartment when you aren't there and they trash it? Who would have every thought of that? Maybe I just don't have that much faith in humanity but this seems like a "Did you learn your lesson?" moment.

Brilliant business model preying on gullible twits (2)

billcopc (196330) | more than 3 years ago | (#36938220)

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.

Re:Brilliant business model preying on gullible tw (1)

geniice (1336589) | more than 3 years ago | (#36938318)

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 line. In reality all the locks and home insurance in the world are pointless when dealing with actual criminals. Hotel rooms get broken into, there are dodgy B&B places out there and burglars are unfortunately smart enough to break in while you are away on holiday.

Re:Brilliant business model preying on gullible tw (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 3 years ago | (#36938374)

The never-meeting-the-guest and not-monitoring-the-accommodations are not intrinsic to the business model, they are choices the host made.

The not worrying about whether the host has proper insurance or the legal right to do short term subletting does seem to be a major component of the business model.

Re:Brilliant business model preying on gullible tw (3, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#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?

Re:Brilliant business model preying on gullible tw (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36938544)

How long till any of these show up on CSI: Law & Order? It's just a matter of time, after all.

Re:Brilliant business model preying on gullible tw (2)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#36939006)

LOL more like how long until they show up on Fark with a "Florida" tag, in real life

Slashvertisement (3, Insightful)

rebelwarlock (1319465) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Slashvertisement (1)

geniice (1336589) | more than 3 years ago | (#36938362)

Its a PR fight and if the recent history of tech is anything to go by it is the PR that matters.

Re:Slashvertisement (4, Insightful)

adamofgreyskull (640712) | more than 3 years ago | (#36938452)

Is the news that we're in the middle of another bubble? To wit: some company I've never heard of that has nothing and produces nothing is supposedly worth $1bn + and has already convinced some chumps to pony up $112m.

Re:Slashvertisement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36938722)

Yeah...I'm thinking the VC's haven't really learned their lessons with the last bubble like this.

How'd 19 y.o. tweaker w/ warrent rent from AirBNB? (1)

leftie (667677) | more than 3 years ago | (#36938334)

This isn't going to help make this any less of a PR nightmare for AirBNB.

How did a tweaker with a warrant under 21 get approved by AirBNB to rent from them?

Re:How'd 19 y.o. tweaker w/ warrent rent from AirB (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36938436)

they do not check people. probably because if they did, they would become liable for missing things.

pretty much same with that one story where some guy asked why google doesn't make a "google for kids". most likely once again liability.

checking things may make you have only 1 in 100 things go bad instead of 10 in 100. but that means you could get sued for that 1 in 100. and lets face it, many ignorant people are suehappy these days.

Re:How'd 19 y.o. tweaker w/ warrent rent from AirB (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36938678)

Because they don't do checks themselves- and then don't allow anyone to do the checks on their own. Quite simply, AirBNB is needing and has the ensuing PR nightmare coming to them. I've a bit of sympathy for the lady (Only a smidge...this is a, "should've known better" moment...) and absolutely NONE for the company here.

withoutvirtual.noreality@gmail.com (1)

schn (1795404) | more than 3 years ago | (#36938372)

they have a nice email address

WON"T HAPPEN TO ME !! CUZ I'M FUCKING PARANOID !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36938408)

Krank'll do that to you, doncano !! You only see around corners for so long, then WHAM !! They fucking move in and start talking from the walls !! Ask Amy !!

You can look, but you can't touch
I don't think I like you much
Heaven knows what a girl can do
Heaven knows what you've got to prove

I think I'm paranoid
And complicated
I think I'm paranoid
Manipulate it

Bend me, break me
Anyway you need me
All I want is you
Bend me, break me
Breaking down is easy
All I want is you

I fall down just to give you a thrill
Prop me up with another pill
If I should fail, if I should fold
I nailed my faith to the sticking pole

I think I'm paranoid
Manipulate it
I think I'm paranoid
And complicated

Steal me, deal me, anyway you heal me
Maim me, tame me, you can never change me
Love me, like me, come ahead and fight me
Please me, tease me, go ahead and leave me

Bend me
Break me
Anyway you need me
As long as I want you baby it's all right

Bend me
Break me
Any way you need me
As long as I want you baby it's all right

Insurance (1)

Alomex (148003) | more than 3 years ago | (#36938424)

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.

Re:Insurance (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#36938498)

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...

Re:Insurance (1)

Alomex (148003) | more than 3 years ago | (#36938680)

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.

Re:Insurance (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#36939022)

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.

Re:Insurance (1)

Alomex (148003) | more than 3 years ago | (#36939068)

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.

VCs (1)

rafe.kettler (1946264) | more than 3 years ago | (#36938528)

Who gave these guys who have only been around for a few short years $112 million? Who valued a startup at $1 billion?

Don't these people know that they're going to lose their money? The popularity of any of these services is incredibly ephemeral.One thing goes wrong and no one ever forgets.

Ist rule of renting (1)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | more than 3 years ago | (#36938660)

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 time I was happy. This poor lady's case illustrates the danger of renting property you also use regularly. It 's not her fault, but unless you kno and trust a renter don't leave any of your stuff their and don't violate rule 1 at any time.

$112MM (1)

nicodoggie (1228876) | more than 3 years ago | (#36938918)

$112 Mega Millions is a lot of money...

Rent your home to a stranger (1)

SilverJets (131916) | more than 3 years ago | (#36939166)

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.

Why subletting is illegal in most apt leases... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36939382)

Now you know why...

Because the Apt manager doesn't get the chance to vet the new leasers. You get jerks like this that make it hard for everyone.

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