18 Jun 2018

Teens' party 'out of control' at Airbnb property

9:53 am on 18 June 2018

By Elena McPhee for the Otago Daily Times

A Dunedin Airbnb host who had to call police when about 100 young teenagers held a boozy party on his property is mystified as to how they were able to use the site, and wants answers.

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Photo: AFP

Airbnb operator Jeremy Craw told the Otago Daily Times he was left cleaning up glass, vomit, and "booze splashed up on the walls" after the party in Kaikorai on Saturday night.

He said he had no idea the person who had booked his property for a night about a month before was only 14 years old.

He called police after a neighbour alerted him shortly before 8pm to an "out-of-control, underage party" on the premises. About 100 people were at the party, and police told him they were about 14 or 15 years old. The teens "scattered like ants" when police arrived, beating a hasty retreat through rose bushes and over a fence onto a rugby field that bordered the property.

"Some of them might have a few scratches," Mr Craw said.

The booking was made weeks in advance and the person who made it told Mr Craw he planned to have a couple of people over. Under the site's terms and conditions, guests are supposed to be at least 18 years old before they can create an account.

"My big question is how does a 14 year old book an Airbnb property," Mr Craw said.

"And how did they get hold of that much booze?"

Mr Craw said police shut down the party by about 8.30pm, but there was glass at nearby Balmacewen Intermediate School the next day, indicating it had carried on there.

Fortunately, his property was not damaged, Mr Craw said, but it would need to be professionally cleaned. Mr Craw had complained to Airbnb about the incident and was keeping it up-to-date. The site was his livelihood, so he would continue to use it, he said. He admitted the method of organising the party was "ingenious".

"Police told him [the organiser] he should go into events management."

He had spoken to the organiser's parents, who lived outside Dunedin. They were were apologetic and prepared to contribute to cleaning costs.

A police media spokeswoman confirmed about 100 people had turned up at the house. The party organiser had been taken home by police, but she understood no charges had been laid. An Airbnb spokesman said via email on Sunday afternoon the site was investigating, but did not comment on how the 14 year old might have been able to book.

"There have been over 300 million guest arrivals in Airbnb listings to date and negative incidents are extremely rare.

"We have permanently banned this guest from our platform, are fully supporting our host while we investigate, and will provide law enforcement our full support."

Three boys came to help with the clean-up effort yesterday morning, Mr Craw said.

He understood the boy who organised the party went to school in Dunedin.

Earlier this year, international news outlets reported nearly $US20,000 in damage was caused when a US Airbnb guest threw a party for more than 300 people in her host's home.

This story originally appeared in the Otago Daily Times.