6 Jan 2016

Airbnb properties trashed? Not in NZ

9:38 am on 6 January 2016

Airbnb hosts in New Zealand are confident their properties are in good hands, despite international reports of homes being trashed on New Year's eve.

Logo of online home rental website Airbnb displayed on a computer screen in the Airbnb offices in Paris.

Photo: AFP

American and British media have both reported some properties rented through the online service, which connects people offering lodgings to those seeking it, were used for loud parties and left severely damaged.

San Francisco home owner Reshma Vanswala told American news media she and her husband were called home by a neighbour complaining of a loud party.

She said while they thought they were renting their home to an older man from Chicago, the tenant turned out to be a teenager who was throwing an 18th birthday party for more than 200 people.

"Sofas were outside, my TV was in my bathroom, objects - everything, photos memorabilia. I have pictures of my nieces that were on my fridge that were completely on the floor trampled on and torn."

Auckland Airbnb host Laura Tulloch said she had only had one bad tenant during the three years she had used the website.

Miss Tulloch, who created the Airbnb New Zealand Hosts Facebook page, said cases such as those reported overseas were rare.

She said reviews of tenants meant she could filter who stayed at her place.

"It is an incentive for guests to be good and for hosts to offer a good service.

"But it's also really useful when you're trying to assess who you're going to accept into your home, because there is an acceptance part of the booking process.

"So if somebody is unsure about a guest who wants to come and stay with them they can always decline the request to stay."

Sandy Stewart has been running a bed and breakfast exclusively through Airbnb in Matamata for the past three years.

She said she originally took a similar cautious approach, due to fears her property would be damaged.

"Some people had no photographs, no information about themselves and no reviews, and so I didn't take anybody like that when I started out. Then, after I got going, I just took anybody even if they had never used Airbnb before and I've never had a problem."

Miss Stewart said it helped that, along with her husband, she was always on the premises to check on things.

If that wasn't the case then she might be more picky, but she said due to the review system both parties were normally on their best behaviour.

Vedika Jhunjhnuwala used Airbnb throughout her travels in Europe and said getting a bad review could be the end of an Airbnb user.

"If you do something to their house - if you try and book another one nobody is going to accept you again."

I would treat any place just like I treat my own house. Maybe with more respect than I treat my own house. To me the rating doesn't really come to mind."