Mesa, Arizona (AZFamily/Grey News) — A woman in need of some temporary housing was using a popular website to search for homes for rent when she came across a home she thought was a perfect fit.
But when I arrived, she said the house wasn’t like the pictures she had seen online and claimed it was just plain scary.
Christa Luciano only needed a place to stay for about a month before she left the state in order to transfer a job. I went online and found an Airbnb house with a room for rent.
“The room looks beautiful in the pictures,” she said. “You know, it looks clean. The floor looks clean.”
Luciano paid nearly $1,200 up front for a month’s stay. However, when I got home in Mesa, Arizona, I found the front door lock broken, and I was able to walk straight.
I thought she might be sharing the house with a family or maybe some roommates. It turns out that this was not the case at all.
Once inside, she finds the entire house has been converted into bedrooms, all available for rent. There was no living room, no kitchen, green pool, and only one bathroom that all the tenants share in the house.
When AZFamily visited the house, the bathtub was dirty and had pink mold.
“So I sat down, and almost started crying,” Luciano said. “It felt… It felt so filthy and weird in a way that I didn’t feel safe at all.”
Luciano said it was impossible to share the bathroom and the rest of the house with strangers and immediately contacted Airbnb with the hosts. She told them she wanted the $1,200 back because the house didn’t feel safe.
“They responded very shortly afterwards and said ‘Of course it’s safe,'” she said.
Luciano said she never stayed home and kept waiting for Airbnb to change her mind regarding her response.
“I didn’t cancel my reservation because I didn’t want my money confiscated,” she said.
Luciano then contacted AZFamily, who discovered that Mesa police had responded to the home nearly 20 times in the past year and a half, including calls for sexual assault, burglary, threats, and suspicious activities while this list went on.
“There are a lot of illegal things that happen in places like this that hurt people,” Luciano said.
Additionally, the City of Mesa has cited the homeowner multiple times this year for using a single-family home as a multi-family rental. Mesa city records show they were trying to collect $1,600 in fines, but the homeowner didn’t pay.
Since the room was still rented to Luciano, she agreed to take the AZFamily crew home.
“As we walked into the room,” she said, “it wasn’t like that when I left and I’m still renting.” “So, someone was here. They slept here.”
The mattress was different; The lamp was moved, and the bath towel was hung to dry in the closet.
AZFamily contacted Airbnb and sent pictures of the broken door lock, the dirty towel hanging in the closet, the dirty sink, and the green pool. They also attached a police document containing the details of the service’s disturbing calls.
After reviewing the information, Airbnb decided to return approximately $1,200 to Luciano.
The company is also investigating hosts who rent other properties on Airbnb.
“They have to do better, and they have to check that the homes that are being listed are licensed,” Luciano said. “If they had done it alone, it would have been to avoid all of this.”
Meanwhile, Luciano is renting a hotel room. It’s more money than you want to spend, but she said it was worth it. She said she felt comfortable and safe.
Luciano said the ordeal really caught her eye and she credits AZFamily for her involvement, saying she might not have gotten her money back had it not been for media intervention.
“I am very grateful,” she said.
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