Dirty underwear, camera inside, 911 called: Garner family recalls Airbnb nightmare

GARNER, N.C. (WTVD) -- Vacation rental bookings are surging in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic, but a Triangle family's Airbnb mishap left them without a vacation or their money.

It started with a booking Jensey Diaz made through Airbnb. She and her family were planning to enjoy a getaway to the Washington D.C. area.

"We just wanted some time away somewhere where we didn't have to be close to people, where there was social distancing also," Diaz said.

She rented an entire home in Burke, Virginia, but when they arrived, there were immediately some red flags.

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The group, which rented a home on VRBO, woke up to their van's tires slashed and a threatening message painted on the garage.

"Never had we stayed in an Airbnb where you walk in and there's razors, toothbrushes, dirty underwear, and a hamper -- all her belongings were in the Airbnb," Diaz recalled

Still, Diaz said she and her family looked beyond those things and headed to dinner. Then, when they got back and settled into the rental home, they noticed a camera inside the home.

"That's where I said, 'We're leaving, pack your stuff, get the dogs, get everything, let's get out of here,'" Diaz said.

As they were packing their things to leave, it got worse: the police arrived.

Two officers confronted Diaz and her family. The owner of the home had called the police thinking Diaz and her family were squatters trying to take over the house.

Diaz showed the officers her reservation with Airbnb on the home, and it was quickly cleared up. Diaz said the owner of the home told police, "My wife isn't here, but they're not breaking in, I'm OK with Airbnb. It's just my wife didn't know."

Diaz had enough, and checked out of the Airbnb rental, saying she reported the problems to Airbnb right away.

"They said they're still investigating; that they have taken down a property, but that's as far as they've gone," Diaz said.

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After not hearing back from Airbnb with a resolution, Diaz reached out to Troubleshooter Diane Wilson. Wilson reached out to Airbnb and while they did not get back to her, the representative did reach out to Diaz and gave her a full refund, plus a $600 Airbnb credit for her troubles.

"I just want people to be aware that this is what's going on that people are taking advantage of, especially right now during the pandemic," Diaz added.

The best advice is to do your research on properties, read reviews. If you check-in and there is a problem, document it by taking pictures and video and reporting the issues right away.
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