Family Discovers Their Own Home Listed On Airbnb After Strangers Arrive Saying They Rented It!

Lots of people are getting into the Airbnb game — whether they realize it or not, apparently!

At least that was the case for a California homeowner who was shocked when strangers showed up on his family’s doorstep claiming they had rented the villa on the vacation rental site — even though he never listed it.

Jeff Branch (above, inset) told CBSLA he moved into the house, which is nestled up against the Santa Monica Mountains, with his wife and children four months ago. In November, the family went out of town and left a pet sitter to watch the place — but they soon had a bizarre situation on their hands.

Branch recalled:

“ text us and said, ‘Did you rent the house out for the weekend?’ And we said no. And she said, ‘Someone is here who rented the house through Airbnb.’”

What sounded like a bad prank turned out to be real: the homeowner went on to Airbnb’s site and found a listing for his abode that he didn’t make, which used photos taken from when the house was up for sale. The entire villa, described as a “modern masterpiece,” was up for rent for $450 a night.

After discovering the listing on the website, Branch recalled thinking:

“I was a bit surprised, but not surprised. It got me to really realize just how easy it is for people to do anything online without anyone’s permission.”

So scary!

The homeowner immediately contacted Airbnb and was told his case would be “escalated to a specialized team.” Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Branch said:

“…and he said, ‘Okay, someone will be in touch with you tonight.’ Nothing.”

The company didn’t lift a finger for weeks, while the listing remained on the site. Then, last weekend, another stranger arrived at the home claiming she had rented it on Airbnb. Branch explained:

“It’s not a comfortable situation when people show up at your house and have seen pictures on the internet and say, ‘I paid for this house.’”

Awkward for everyone!

Thankfully, something did eventually inspire Airbnb to take action and remove the listing: potential bad press. Hours after CBSLA reached out to the company, the listing was taken down.

Branch said:

“Until the media speaks up and they could potentially get bad press, they don’t care.”

CBSLA reported that, although the site had it listed that the host’s identity was verified, Airbnb seemingly doesn’t do anything to verify the address to make sure the person listing the property is actually its owner. The host’s profile revealed a listing for another home in Kern County, the outlet claimed, but a reverse image search on Google apparently showed the home was actually on Sunset Boulevard in Brentwood. WTF?

Airbnb also deleted that second listing after being confronted by the station. The vacation rental company said it doesn’t release funds until after check-in and uses software to detect fake listings, which it claims are rare.

It also sent CBSLA the following statement:

“Trust is at the heart of everything we do, and bad actors have no place in the Airbnb community. This homeowner is correct, and we’ve taken action to ban both the listing and the host from our platform.”

Comforting words. But they’d feel much more authentic if it didn’t take a news station to get the site to take action.

Thoughts on this? Check out the news clip (below) for more and sound off in the comments.

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