Rental nightmare: Woman claims Airbnb guest threw party, caused nearly $20K in damage

Company responds to host after monthlong case

SAN ANTONIO – A local Airbnb host is finally getting help from the company after a college student rented her property and caused nearly $20,000 in damage.

Chelsey McGovern said it was a nightmare she been dealing with since Feb. 2.

“I should have listened to the red flags that were going up,” McGovern said. “It was a single male, needing a place for one night and was wondering how early he could get in there.”

McGovern said, on that night, she called police multiple times after learning that the renter was throwing a big party with hundreds of guests.

“Every time I called police, I called Airbnb because I didn’t know what to do,” McGovern said. “Eventually, they told me that I needed photographic evidence that there were more than 50 people at the house.”

The home, in the 200 block of West Wildwood Drive, is just four houses down from McGovern’s property. She has video footage of several youngsters going in and out of the home.

After it was all over, she learned the destruction caused by partygoers resulted in $18,868.

“He peed on the bed,” McGovern said. “It looked like they were just smashing Jello shots against the wall. They were putting out their cigarette and marijuana joints on the walls. They broke furniture. The floor was just sticky with this stuff called jungle juice. It was bad.”

McGovern has homeowner’s insurance, but it didn’t cover the type of damage that was done to her property. She turned to Airbnb, which offers a $1 Million Host Guarantee. The company said most cases are resolved within a week of submission, depending on the severity of the case.

Though McGovern said it seems her calls fell on deaf ears, the company finally responded to her with an apology in the following statement, which was released Tuesday:

“Our original handling of this case did not meet the high standards we set for ourselves and we apologize to our host for the delay; the host is receiving our full support under the $1 Million Host Guarantee program. We have zero tolerance for disruptive behavior and permanently banned this guest from our platform, and have reached out to law enforcement to offer our assistance with their investigation. There have been over 300 million guest arrivals in Airbnb listings to date and negative incidents are extremely rare.” 

Airbnb provides the following tips for hosts:

  • Set Clear Expectations: Your listing description should let potential guests know about the unique features and amenities of your home. As a host, you can also outline specific expectations (like quiet hours) in your house rules

  • Set Guest Requirements: Every guest is asked to provide their full name, date of birth, photo, phone number, email address, and payment information to Airbnb before booking. Home hosts also have the option to require guests to provide Airbnb with a government ID before booking their listing.

  • Read Profiles & Reviews: If you want to know more about a guest before accepting their reservation request, check out their profile or read reviews from past hosts.

  • Get to Know Your Guest in Advance: Our secure messaging tool gives you the chance to get to know guests and answer or ask any questions that come up before or during the trip. Messaging is also a great place to coordinate things like check-in or provide local recommendations.

For more information about being a host or guest, visit Airbnb’s website. McGovern encourages all hosts to be more careful. 

“We are going to try round two in a more responsible way,” McGovern said. “I guess I learned my lesson, but we are going to try to be a little more cautious.” 

About the Author:

Japhanie Gray joined 10 News as an anchor in March 2022.