Please be wary about this!

Hi everyone, Deacon here!

Just wanted to send a quick heads up about a couple of suspicious inquiries I have received. The first was on Peerspace and the next was on another platform.

In both instances, the prospective ‘renter’ told me that they would need to completely clean out my space in order to conduct their shoot (the first inquiry claimed to be shooting home decor and the second didn’t specify).

What’s suspicious is that I have a LOT of decor. A LOT. Oil paintings, furniture, tapestries, lots of stuff.

The first inquired about a 10 hour booking (instant red flag, because it would take a team of movers almost a day to clear our space out, not to mention bringing in their own decor) and the second inquired about a 2 day booking (still not enough time and it creates an additional concern: where are you taking my stuff for two days?)

While it’s entirely possible that they are legit and need to bring in all of their own decor, it’s unlikely that they would choose to book an already decorated space instead of negotiating a deal with the rental manager of an empty condo loft, or the owner of a vacant house on Zillow.

Remember that the most important aspect of host safety is asking yourself: “what’s the worst thing that could happen?”

In the case of the aforementioned inquiry? They could be casing our home for a robbery. The best way to rob someone is to hire a moving company and have them move everything into a truck and just leave us there with goofy smiles on our faces and our property gone forever.

There is NEVER a compelling reason to allow a renter to move the majority of your personal property off of your property, especially into a truck. EVER.

If a renter needs an empty space, there are empty spaces all over Zillow, Craiglist and heck, even Peerspace!

Renting your space is essentially inviting strangers into your home. They could have a stolen credit card and be booking under a fake name. You really don’t know!

Stay safe hosts and I’m looking forward to seeing you at my next event on Friday!

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You’re absolutely correct. Caution. !
Looking forward to your upcoming event.
Would you please share again the address and time. I’d like to attend and discuss with you and attendees the LAPD Film and FilmLA drastic restrictions I’m experiencing for the last weeks
Alexander
SunsetHollywoodVilla

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Hi there!
I’ll send out an email blast with all of the pertinent details (address, etc) but I can’t help at all with the LAPD and Film LA situation. Ultimately, I’m a host just like you and don’t want to take away from the focus of the event, which is going to be a lot of fun! :slight_smile:

Hi Deacon,

Thanks for the post! While it is definitely in the best interest of every host to be cognizant of red flags and potential issues that could arise from guests shopping their space and making what many might consider to be “atypical” requests, I think we as hosts can sometimes take things a bit too far when it comes to drawing extreme conclusions like this simply due to lack of experience. While the request might seem atypical, it is actually quite common, especially on the production side of location rentals. To immediately conclude someone is casing your space for an elaborately orchestrated robbery seems a bit extreme in my opinion, but that’s probably because we’ve done this so many times we know what to look for, what to ask and how to go about protecting ourselves and our spaces.

We have hosted well over 400 production shoots across three locations (all fully furnished, large residential spaces), and have had several instances where the production company requested to completely remove furniture and re-dress the space to suit their creative direction. Some were larger production houses such as Netflix or Warner Bros, while others were indy or commercial projects that loved the “bones” of the space, but wanted to customize it to fit their needs. We’ve even had a few furniture brands such as Joybird request to do this to showcase their new furniture lines for e-comm shoots.

In each of those instances, our furniture, decor and even some of our personal items were carefully relocated onto a locked truck w/ security to be temporarily held while they were filming in our space. We’ve even had folks re-paint our space and paint it back right after the shoot was over. Some of these projects were single-day, while others were multi-day/week, and each time, there was a team of professional movers that operated like a well-oiled machine to get our things out quickly and securely. Never once did anyone abscond with our things in a getaway truck. We were careful to have the proper contracts and security deposits in place prior to anything being moved and were paid a premium for our “trouble” so to speak. It’s pretty standard.

We’ve had nothing but positive experiences each time, and all of our furniture was returned unharmed and relocated back into its original place and condition. In matters of safety, I do agree that it’s best to err on the side of caution to protect yourself, your space and ultimately, your livelihood. However, I highly encourage hosts to not jump the gun so quickly and let said safety concerns get the best of us before we’ve done our research. That’s why these forums are so helpful because we can compare stories and share experiences in this productive way.

The film industry is a very unique one and often times involves very unique (and extreme) asks. Ultimately, it is up to each individual host to assess and determine what they’re interested in, comfortable with and ultimately willing to accommodate and what they’d prefer to pass on. For us, we’re probably more open and flexible than most, so we’ve grown accustomed to things like this, but that’s simply what works for us, our space and our business as a whole.

Just wanted to share our experience to lend a different perspective since we’ve had several positive experiences with said “suspicious” inquiries. For us, it’s very common and nothing to be concerned about provided the proper preparations have been made and the guest in question is a reputable professional who will take care of your space, personal property and assume all liability should something go awry.

EDIT: Also, to quickly touch on the point around why not simply go with a vacant property on Zillow or Craigslist, consider their side as a location scout/consumer— they’re going to go to platforms such as Peerpsace where reputable and experienced location hosts are not only willing to allow filming, but are seemingly equipped and accustomed to accommodating productions. This makes their job so much easier! It’s much more work for them to comb through resources such as Zillow or track down property managers of vacant building to even get them to agree to let them film in the first place, whereas Peerpsace is a marketplace loaded with film-ready spaces and hosts eager to accommodate them. It’s too much work and usually a waste of time going about it any other way. Take it as a compliment that your space has a such great layout and overall aesthetic that they’d like to use it as the foundation for their vision, just with their own special touches :wink:

Hope this helps!

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Thanks @Deacon_T Thanks for providing this information, I will also keep my eye on these messages.

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They were able to clear out and repaint your space and conduct an ENTIRE PRODUCTION and then put everything back the way it was all within a ten hour rental?

Even my team of experienced, professional home movers could not accomplish that with even a quarter of the decor that we have now. I apologize, but I actually don’t believe that is possible.

Remember that exercising caution and throwing accusations are actually two entirely different things.

In the sake of playing devil’s advocate, my comments are often taken as one, when in actuality, they are the opposite. If you recall, I even added the possibility that their intentions were noble.

But if you saw our space, you’d realize that it would require a ten hour day to move the items out alone, to say nothing of protecting dozens and dozens of fragile vintage paintings.

So not only was the time requested not sufficient, it was equally unusual that no site site visit was requested.

But even then, I considered noble intentions, while warning against the potential of a scam (once more without making an allegation).

Please keep in mind that while I enjoy opposing views on all things, I don’t act rashly. When I make a post like this, it is well thought out.

But in the future, I’ll keep these words of caution to myself. Cheers!

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So while I don’t want to flog a deceased equine here, remember that everything is within the realm of possibility, even when unlikely:

Here are a couple of articles


These are different platforms and yes, having been in production for 21 years myself, I know that a space can be cleared out, repainted, etc. But, having done productions, my clients (and me) have always sought out spaces that were already vacant. Everyone does things differently, I suppose.

But if I were a thief, here’s how I’d do it:

First of all, why my space? Because when a home is robbed, thieves typically look for items of value that can be quickly flipped. This includes electronics, artwork and jewelry.

Our space has a lot of artwork, lots of antiques and a lot electronics - a LOT. It’s a weird blend of Moroccan decor meets 22nd century. In addition to the smarthome stuff, there are Projectors, HDTV, and since I’m a commercial photographer, a literal and figurative ton of camera equipment, studio lighting, etc. Plus, there’s hard drives, tablets, computers. All very lucrative.

So with that in mind, sneaking in at night isn’t an option. We have motion detectors, two alarm systems, glass sensors and a dozen cameras.

But everything is possible and the way I’d do it would be to use a stolen credit card (or I don’t know, is a prepaid card a possibility?) or even a hacked account to rent a space and then hire a personal assistant from Craiglist (communicating over the phone or email) and have that PA hire movers to move everything to a storage locker (with night access) that was rented online using the same stolen credit card (keys picked up by the unaware personal assistant).

Then the real robbers could slip on balaclavas and enter the storage locker and take whatever they wanted.

There are two levels of obfuscation to an operation like this: the movers are innocents, as well as the unwitting personal assistant.

Meanwhile, the host allowed this to happen with a smile and a handshake.

Lastly, the inquiry that I received on the other platform would have been for this weekend. There were no details about their production, no production company name and no site visit requested. Had they requested a site visit, they would have realized that we have a very long courtyard leading to our building’s front egress/ingress, which would have slowed the movers.

If it’s a large enough production to warrant clearing out an entire space, then it’s a large enough production to warrant a tech scout, or at least to make considerations such as this.

The first inquiry through Peerspace I didn’t think much of, however the second one that I received via the other platform was so filled with red flags that it inspired me to make this post.

I’ve been around for a while now and as I am known to say often: “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.

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Wow! This is scary stuff. Glad you are raising the red flags. Is there a way to vet authentic companies who are looking to rent locations? Background checks? Upfront deposits that can be authenticated? References? Since I’m new to Peerspace I don’t want to invite creeps just for the dollars. Thanks for sharing, Be safe. Cynthia Brian, www.CynthiaBrian.com

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Yes, in several cases it was all done within a standard 12-hour working day. For more extensive prep that involved removal of more than one room and/or having to paint etc., sometimes a prep and strike day were required. For these types of requests, it’s always best to arrange a preliminary tech scout with the potential guest to iron out these details in person at the location itself, instead of just completely writing them off in the messages.

Often times, they can under/overestimate the hours needed and logistics involved with their request because they’re not as knowledgable about your space as you are. It is our job to teach them. By accommodating a scout, these details can be discussed at length with helpful context of actually being in the space. It’s quite possible that 10 hours was not enough time to do what they were requesting to do; just depends on their budget and manpower.

Sharing our experiences on forums like these is a positive and constructive way to support each other, grow our community and propel the location rental industry forward. By all means, please do continue to share your experiences and feedback for all to benefit from. However, drawing extreme conclusions rooted in speculation and not actual experience is problematic and not conducive for the community at large.

Simply put, if you were actually robbed by a guest that said they wanted to move your furniture for a shoot, then by all means alert the community. But if someone makes what the industry considers to be a very standard request, and you speculate that they’re most likely trying to rob you simply because you’re unfamiliar with it, then falsely alert the community, you are inciting baseless, unnecessary fear and concern. This forum is then no longer a safe place to discuss factual information, and instead becomes a town hall riot where every member becomes fearful of the very nature of the industry they’re in and service everyday, preventing us all from progressing forward as a peer-to-peer platform.

Sharing our experiences to start a conversation and get feedback from each other is constructive. Making bold conclusions with no true evidence or first-hand experience to back it up is destructive. Let’s all do our part to keep the constructive conversations the focus of this forum. :slight_smile:

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Here are some photo examples just to give folks an idea of how it all works. Since I’m not able to upload video, I just took some screen grabs from the videos themselves. These are actually from a commercial shoot (booked from another site) going on today that I took earlier this morning. They removed my living room set, loaded it onto a truck and then staged their own furniture. This process took less than 1 hour to do and will likely take less than an hour to reset.

Hope this helps shed some light and normalizes what might seem strange to those who may be unfamiliar.

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Thank you @Deacon_T and @Ashley_N for sharing your perspectives and experiences. As experienced hosts it is indeed often up to us to educate our clients. I often get clients who are booking for the first time for a personal event, and we are able to let them know how long it typically takes to load in and set up, how long guests are typically here, and how long it takes to break down and clear out. Thank you both for contributing to the community!

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Deacon, bottomline, if you don’t feel comfortable with a request, it’s probably not legit. You are experienced and go with your gut instinct. I’ve had requests here and on Airbnb from new users that were odd and made me uncomfortable. When I inquire about the request sometimes I get no reply (ie they are looking to quickly book, no questions asked) or they give a half assed answer and get annoyed that I still want answers. They never book anywhere else as I have checked and they have no reviews. You’d hate to accept a booking and then end up needing the police etc. I appreciate your input, don’t be discouraged.

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you have 1/5th the decor that we do in a place 1/2 the size (with only a very small portion of that smaller place cleared), with direct access to the outside and no courtyard to walk through. In your space, they moved a couch, a couple of chairs and some rugs.

I was told that paintings hung 16 feet in the air would need to be yanked down, dozens of smarthome devices removed, antiques removed - takes a little longer. I think your photos say it all - apples and oranges and I greatly appreciate that you posted those.

But I can understand the desire to be ‘right’ over the desire to be ‘informative’. I mirror Brad’s sentiment, thanking you for providing us with your own experience.

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Exactly!
After 21 years of productions, I have a pretty good bead on things. But just for the sake of argument, I decided to re-check the message that I received on the other platform (keeping in mind that I received a somewhat similar request on Peerspace first, but I don’t want to single out a peerspace guest on a peerspace message board)

“Great! It is decorated so beautifully but we would need to strip the main studio area bare. Is that an issue?”

STRIP. THE. MAIN. STUDIO. BARE.

Taking a look at what stripping the studio means

000_3664-Pano 000_5782-Pano 000_5791

That is only the tip of the iceberg. Aside from fragile antiques, there are vases - how are those being protected? The paintings? you can look at the space and tell that you’re going to need days and days to tear it apart and that nobody but me would know how to put it all back together again.

Plus tens of thousands of dollars in camera equipment. Plus, she probably would have needed to ‘strip’ my dozen security cameras, not to mention dozens and dozens of smart home devices.
Lights, smart blinds, speakers, two entirely different alarm systems, just so much.

I can appreciate the other host’s alternate views, but she was so intent on arguing and proving me ‘wrong’ and taking the words of my post out of context that she ended up proving my point for me.