I may have been charged a penalty then! I definitely had lost my power host status over it. But it was worth it.
Story time (and I have some great stories!) I had a rental on New Year’s Eve through a different platform. The renter had claimed that he was renting the space for a private viewing of a movie that he had worked on.
Since we have a 100" movie screen and a 65" HDTV, this is kinda normal, so we were happy to have them.
But in the weeks leading up to the rental, I knew something was off: he wasn’t asking any questions about the projector or the TV (I had expected questions about hdmi inputs, sound, and especially seating).
Having been in business for 20 years, I get really good hunches, but I ignored my hunch because I was afraid of getting on the platform’s bad side (all of the platforms have potential penalties for cancelling a rental).
On the day of the rental, they brought in big speakers and lots of liquor and about 30 people (they had booked claiming 1-15 crew members) and had a big RATCHET house party.
Now, I grew up in the hood, so I am very familiar with these parties, but we are in a condo in a nice part of town and the sound travels, so this is a huge no-no for our building.
I should have immediately thrown them out when I saw that they lied about their intended use of our space, but once they were in our building, I started worrying about “good reviews”. This was mistake #2.
We asked them to turn their music down once and they did and then turned it right back up even louder. Then, I had my assistant ask them a second time, because I was fairly angry at this point and I was still worried about “reviews”. They completely ignored her and even laughed at her.
That was enough to make me come back out and I was fairly loud and direct about it (keep in mind that after so many years in business, I am extremely unafraid of people and I cannot be intimidated).
That got the music down for a little while, but around 11:30, it got louder than ever and we were getting warnings and complaints.
So I used our Alexa smarthome to turn off the lights and I came out with the intent of kicking everyone out. The place was a mess and everyone was hammered.
They had attempted to get aggressive with me (reminder: I cannot be intimidated by anyone) and the guy was in my face calling me a racist (this is unusually ridiculous, because we are both African American) and everyone is cussing me out at the top of their lungs.
The guy looks at me and says “get back in your little room and shut the f*** up”. That is legally kidnapping, so I said “Alexa, arm Ring in away mode” and told them that they had 60 seconds to leave.
I added the command “Alexa, trigger brother Epsilon” which instantly arms the motion detectors in my SECOND alarm system via IFTTT and sounds a SECOND siren and calls the police a SECOND time.
Within a minute, the police called our home and I informed them that we were being kidnapped.
I had almost 3 dozen drunk strangers partying up my home. I don’t know these people, I don’t know if any of them are armed. I could not very well turn my back on them and fumble for a keypad. I was literally saved by my smarthome.
When they later on attempted to play the victim and denied everything, I pulled the footage from the security cameras and sent it in to them and told the renter that he either owns up to it, or I was giving that footage to LAPD.
In another situation through Peerspace, a renter demanded that we leave our own home during their rental, which is extremely shady. They kept telling me that they were “under the impression” that I wasn’t going to be present, etc etc. It was intended to be a 'workshop/ , but it was so shady that it was likely that they were going to have a house party, or try something illegal in the space.
When I refused to leave my own home, they left and abandoned their TWO DAY rental and then left me a bad review.
Again, I pulled the security footage, sent it in to Peerspace and not only did they remove their bad review, but I still got paid for the rental.
More recently, on another platform I had two filmmakers who I was sketchy about because they were very disrespectful and persistent (I did not initially want to book them).
During day one of their rental, they damaged several items in our space (a brand new $800 table from World Market, a $230 folding screen, one of the steps in our home, an end table, a guy was literally walking on top of our kitchen island and counter top, put dirty grip equipment on two brand new linen couches, etc - real rookie stuff). They too attempted to deny culpability (and this time, this other platform did not handle the situation as well as they should have), but because I had that security footage, I filed a claim with my insurance company, who then went after the filmmakers and their insurance company, who had been dragging their heels.
Tomorrow our insurance company is paying out over $2000 in damages to us, because we had that footage and because we kept good documentation.
Just today I had to cancel a rental through another different platform. They were booking for a ‘photoshoot’ but suddenly demanded to move their ‘photoshoot’ to 2am and were talking about bringing liquor.
Moral of the story is this: none of the platforms want you cancelling renters willy nilly, but all of them understand that situations may arise AFTER a booking has been made and if you communicate with the platform, they will probably understand.
If they don’t, they the second moral of the story is that your safety and the sanctity of your home or business come first. Don’t break your back over response times, or cancellation policies, or live your life worrying about bad reviews. All of that leads to burn out.
In my day business as a commercial photographer, when I have a client who is trying to manipulate or control by threatening me with a negative review, I tell them to go right ahead, because my quality of service will speak for itself. I cancel contracts or refuse clients whenever I feel that a situation is likely to turn sour. It’s better to turn them away sooner than to regret it later.
To date, I have no negative reviews and I am much happier and see rentals as a long term, fun and exciting secondary income!