Additionally, most of us who are doing short term rentals and Airbnb hosting, are doing this because we do not want long term “roommates” (see the other blogs entitled “Goodbye to Roommates!”). We have been there, suffered through that, and we have had it up to here with roommates. So we are seeking people who will be staying for a fixed, short or middle term time period, could be a few days, or perhaps a month or two, but never with plans to stay on indefinitely. So Airbnb hosts rarely want a “Move-In Mark” who offers to stay for a week, or a few months, or quite a bit longer than a few months. (What this usually means, is that it definitely will NOT be just a week, and could be up to a year.) Finally, those who are seeking permanent housing, should just look for permanent housing, not try to make a short term rental offering into permanent housing!! That smacks of a presumptuous attempt to appropriate someone’s home and their generosity, particularly in the case where a hosts’ listing clearly states, as mine does, that I do not take reservations for more than X amount of time.
It should be noted too, that it is far easier, and quicker, for someone to book a short term stay in a room or a whole apartment on Airbnb or the like, than it is for someone to go through the standard and much more complex process of obtaining a long term rental — which involves filling out an application, credit reports, interviews, and perhaps more . So, it is quite possible for people who are really seeking long term housing, to try to “sneak under the radar” by booking short term housing in hopes of making it long term. Note too that in many regions, in fact most regions in the USA, those staying more than 30 days, can thus obtain tenant’s rights, meaning that if they overstay their reservation, the host might have to go to court and engage in a costly process (even, possibly, a jury trial!) to get that “guest” out of their home. Hosts should be aware of this and approach all requests for longer term stays with abundant caution.
Finally, I just thought it was odd that someone had their own home, then sold that home, with plans to move into a room in someone’s house. That seems like going backwards rather than forwards.
Fifteenth type: Sally the Scammer
Sally is a very smart gal. She has found ways of getting a lot of things she wants, all without paying for them. Sally is very clever. Because she is clever, she is likely to know how to present herself to appear like the kind of guest you think you want. Which is why it can be difficult to recognize a Sally when she contacts you. She may seem pleasant, she is likely to be forthcoming and tell you about her purpose for visiting your area. She will ask standard questions , and appear cooperative. The one thing that Sally is not likely to have in her presentation, however — is a big, open-hearted, sincere and friendly smile in her photo. She may be smiling, but if you are intuitive and look closely, you won’t see an open heart behind the smile — more likely you will see Sally smiling about her own cleverness. For she is proud of herself. Yes, there is someone and something Sally loves in this world, and it is herself, and her own capacity to pull a fast one on others. Sally, (or Scott as the case may be) is likely to look arrogant in her photo — or perhaps distracted. And if lies could make a nose grow, Sally would have a very long nose.
The first sign that you have a Sally Scammer guest, is the call or text message that you get, which complains of some serious problem with your place — a problem you have a very hard time believing could exist. You scrubbed the place top to bottom and had it professionally cleaned, and Sally is calling to say it is “very dirty, …really uninhabitable.” Or Sally sends you a text message to say, “There are fleas all over the place…I’m getting bitten all over…” and you have never had animals in your home, and none of your guests have had animals. Yet Sally claims there is a horde of vermin in your home. If not insects, it might be mice…or rats, cockroaches. Even hamsters inside the wall, anything is possible for Sally.
If it is not insects or vermin, Sally will complain about heat. There is not enough heat. Or there is too much heat. Or the bed is not as promised, or the oven is broken, or the tub is not draining. Or perhaps the tap water is cloudy, or has sediment in it. There may be mold or a moisture problem in the unit — (perhaps Sally even helped it develop by dumping water on the carpet and letting it sit) Perhaps the problem is noise — your neighbors are having a loud party, Sally claims, she says people have been coming and going — something you know is very unlikely, as your neighbor is an elderly 87 year old woman.
Regardless the type of problem that Sally complains about — one thing will be true — she doesn’t actually want the problem fixed. So if she complains the place is very dirty (“unliveable” , really) , and you offer to send a cleaning company over that very day, she will make various excuses about why she can’t let them in. If the heat is problematic, she wont’ let you send a heating repairman over . No, you can always be sure that Sally is up to her scams, when it becomes clear that Sally doesn’t really want any problem she complains about to be solved. And if you offer to put her up elsewhere, you’ll find that neither is she interested in leaving for a better situation. No, she’d rather stay and complain, while allowing nothing to be fixed. Sally’s planning to submit a claim for a big $$$ refund from you after her stay, and she is also likely to threaten you with “legal action” if you dont’ pay up, because bullying people with legal threats is one of her favorite pastimes, as it is for all malicious sleazebags.
In short, there is no shortage of complaints that Sally might make about your place. Sally is a scholar on scams, and knows that in many cases of renter’s complaints, fiction and baldfaced lies can go a long, long way. The US legal system in fact seems to roll out the red carpet to malicious liars, as it has never heard of a lawsuit worth throwing out. Sally thrives in this atmosphere where lies get you so much mileage, and figures Airbnb renting should be no different. Sally may even have come prepared with evidence to plant at your home, secreting away some bugs in a ziploc bag in her luggage, which she will pull out later as “proof” that your home is infested.
The one type of Sally you really need to watch out for, is the one whose scam is to squat. One of the worst possible things to happen to an Airbnb host or any property owner, is to have a renter who wont’ leave and won’t pay. Laws heavily favor tenants in some areas. , and in such places, tenant scams abound. There are several stories of Airbnb squatters — The ones in Watsonville, and another one in San Diego , another in San Francisco and then one in Palm Springs and then there was a squatting nanny in California as well. (Note that all of these squatters were in California!, and that several of them had previous evictions on their records — hosts can if they want do a superior court case search in guest’s county of last residence, under that guest’s name, to find any lawsuits filed by or against that individual)
So, the various scams that Sally the Scammer may pull, could vary from trying to get a partial refund, to demanding a full refund for her entire stay, to attempting to squat and refuse to leave. Those renting a unit for over 30 days need to beware of laws which make it easier for such renters to squat, since stays of 30 days or more give them “tenants’ rights” , whereby if they refuse to pay or leave, you will then have to go to court to get them out. Since court processes move slowly, this can take quite a long time in some cases, particularly if the renter fights the eviction lawsuit. In this case it took the property owner 274 days to remove a renter who actually never paid rent from day one — much like the horror story about tenants Pacific Heights, the film with the tagline,
“It seemed like the perfect house. He seemed like the perfect tenant. Until they asked him to leave.”
Moral of the story: beware of scammers. It may be hard to recognize Sally when she first contacts you to stay at your place, but look for someone who in some way doesn’t appear entirely genuine or open hearted. Maybe her self-description just seems to have some holes in it. In any case, once you accept her and she arrives, it won’t take long to find out what kind of person you have in your house. Please don’t fall for her fiction, and dont’ cave in to her demands for refunds, and if possible, give Sally a swift kick in the heinie as soon as possible, and boot her out of your home and far from you.
just say noto Sally the Scammer
Sixteenth Type: “Destructo-Dave”
Our last type of guest to beware of, is the guest who can be most costly. For you may not have a problem with them during their stay — they may be quiet, they may be polite– but they will break, damage or stain one or more things during their time at your house. And the damages may be small, (as with Destructo-Dave’s habit of dropping dishes) , or they may be quite expensive. For instance, when Destructo-Darlene enters the house, she forgets to remove her shoes — and whereas with some this may only result in a bit of dirt being tracked in, Darlene has stiletto heels and with each firm step on your shiny, newly refinished hardwood floor, she drills a hole into the floor. So that the traces of Darlene’s route through the house can be mapped by the serial gouges. Darlene has only been in your home one day, but she’s already tracked in several thousand dollars of damages to the floors.
What about that TV in the corner, why is it turned the other direction, not how you left it? That’s because Dave dropped it and cracked the screen, and turned it, hoping to hide the damage so you wouldn’t see it.
How nice of Darlene to offer to strip the bed and load the laundry into the washer before she left, you thought. And you refunded her security deposit pronto as she was so polite, before you realized that the reason she loaded the sheets, comforter and all into the washer before she left, was to hide the damage she did to them…the coffee stains, from when she ignored the rules not to eat or drink on the bed and spilled her Starbucks there…
Destructo Dave is a strong man, and doesn’t know his own strength, so when he pulled on the cord for the curtain, he not only yanked the curtain off the curtain rod but also yanked the curtain rod out of the wall, leaving a bent rod and sheetrock powder spilling out onto the floor.
The kitchen looks okay on first glance…no broken dishes there…but then you notice that there is only one wine glass on the shelf instead of your set of eight…and it dawns upon you that Dave and Darlene broke the other 7 glasses and just threw them away. And what’s this? You pull out the drawer of utensils and find that you’re down to one spoon and two forks, whereas when Dave and Darlene arrived there was a full set of 10 of everything. How can a guest break utensils? You go sifting through the garbage can and find the remaining forks and spoons are all in the trash. Together with one cracked plate. They are smeared with peanut butter or grease, jam or butter…but they are not broken, why were they thrown out? Because Dave and Darlene dont’ like to wash up after themselves.
Why is the bedspread turned inside out? It’s because Darlene left her hair curler on it, burning two parallel black lines into the irreplaceable antique white quilted bedspread.
Why was the extra quilt from the bedroom left folded neatly over the couch arm? Because hidden underneath it are burn holes in the couch — you have a strict “no smoking” policy on your property but Destructos dont’ mind such peevish things and Dave and Darlene both smoked cigarettes on the couch, and their embers dropped around and burned the furniture. Oh, and as you look down, you note– also the carpet.
Destructo Dave and Darlene are not only serial destroyers, but they apparently have long practice with how to try to hide the damage they do. So it’s not until 2 months after they have left that you find the broken CD player, the cracked window and a few other things you correlate to their rampage.
You wonder, as you scour your property for other signs of damage disguised…how Dave and Darlene do at their own home…are they lords of a domain of broken furniture, cracked windows, burned quilts and singed carpets? Or has their place long ago been reduced to a pile of rubble?
Moral of the story: Beware the Destructo-Duo!
Seventeenth type: “Doan Speak Much English”
Our 17th type of guest you would do well to avoid, is the guest from another nation who has mastered the game of being smart and skillful in the local language when it benefits them, and feigning ignorance of local customs, laws, house rules, or the local language when that benefits them.
Doan-Speak-Much-Daria arrives at your house smiling pleasantly, ready to stay for a couple weeks while she completes a short course for her Master’s Level program in Business Management. She is traveling with her Mother and Brother. Everyone is polite and smiling — it appears all is going well.
You return a couple days later to drop off an extra blanket as Daria requested, and when you look inside the house you are disturbed to see that there are 3 extra people in the apartment, and cigarette butts in your crockery on the end table. You tell Daria that she cannot have extra guests. “What mean?” she asks. You’re startled by her naifish prattle, since she communicated in excellent English in her initial inquiry.
You lift up your ceramic bowl, now containing cigarette butts, and frown, “Smoking is not allowed in the house.” Daria gives you a blank look and says, “Sorry, not understand.” You are wondering how on earth Daria manages to get through her workshop in Business Management when she seems capable of only these simple responses in broken English. Did she feign familiarity with the regional language when inquiring, and get help in her initial email communications from a friend?
Just then, you hear one of Daria’s unregistered guests in the other room, talking to someone else in perfect English. You then hear one of them call out to Daria in English, and wait for her to respond saying, “What mean?” but she does not.
You discover that Daria speaks English flawlessly, when she wants to, and that she pretends to not understand a thing in English, when that is convenient for her.
And you then require Daria’s extra guests to pack up and leave, and submit a bill to Daria for $250 in extra cleaning fees due to her smoking in a non-smoking unit.