A San Francisco couple went to Burning Man. But wait, it gets worse. While they were gone, the housesitter they found on TrustedHousesitters.com rented their apartment out on AirBnb, the Guardian reports. The sharing economy has gone mad, and San Francisco is a monster of its own creation.
The burner couple, “John and Ed,” had used the same Trusted Housesitter (dot com) twice before without incident, but his trustworthiness was apparently overwhelmed by the chance to charge rent on a sweet house in San Francisco during the only tolerable week of the year to be there: the week when everyone who thinks Burning Man is cool is not there.
The housesitter rented out John and Ed’s place for five days, making $2,000—or, in San Francisco terms, one month’s rent on a broom closet you share with three roommates. (“I’m a very caring person and will treat your animals and house as if they were my own,” his TrustedHousesitters profile read. At least he didn’t lie.)
He would have gotten away with it, too, except that the renters happened to be John and Ed’s friends, who casually thanked the couple for a nice stay in their home.
When the homeowners replied with understandable confusion, their friends told them, “No, it’s definitely your house – your car, your wedding photos, your cats. We found it on Airbnb.”
Now John and Ed had to clean up the results of a grave indignity. And after they got back from Burning Man, they also had to deal with this thing with the housesitter and the AirBnb.
“It was strange coming home to find things moved,” Ed told the Guardian, “The blankets I put on the back of the couches for the cats had been removed, and I still can’t find my laptop charger.
“And our cardboard cutout of Niall from One Direction had been moved – someone had taken him out of the living room and put him in the garage.”
A grown man’s Niall Horan cutout had been moved. This was serious. What did the sharing economy intend to do about such a grievous breach of its users’ faith?
Not much. The Guardian reports that TrustedHousesitters disclaimed responsibility because, despite checking references and doing a background check on their housesitter (as the site recommends), the couple didn’t use “the site’s own secure messaging tool” to set the housesitting dates for that week.
“As a result this particular housesit was not registered on the site, so we did not hold the details of who the housesitter selected was,” TrustedHousesitters told the Guardian, “We have made multiple attempts to contact the home owner requesting the housesitter’s details.”
The housesitter, no longer trusted, has been removed from the site.
AirBnb, which is by now quite used to this sort of thing, made its standard effort to close the barn door after the horse was out, assuring the couple that their fraudulent listing had been deleted. Thanks, AirBnb!
John and Ed’s only financial recourse is to go after the housesitter in a civil lawsuit. The Guardian reports the man’s profile on TrustedHousesitters, which was still up as of last Thursday, “shows him sitting in private jet, and claims he has worked for Google and GE.”
Beautiful. He declined to comment on the incident and possible lawsuit.