Airbnb Host Only Received Enough Compensation for Flooding After Posting on X

By | November 5, 2023

The mission district of San Francisco. Erika Gemzer says her home in the area was flooded by Airbnb guests.

  • Erika Gemzer claims her Airbnb guests flooded her San Francisco duplex, leaving her $300,000 in debt.
  • She posted a thread on X six months later, criticizing Airbnb for its compensation offer.
  • The post went viral and Airbnb then made enough of an offer to “make a difference,” Gemzer said.

Six months later Airbnb Host Erika Gemzer’s San Francisco duplex flooded, she took to social media to oppose vacation rental business.

In a position of 30 thread on X, formerly Twitter, on October 19, Gemzer detailed how she Airbnb guests had flooded his propertyleaving her “homeless” and over $300,000 in debt – all while she was pregnant.

And Airbnb wasn’t doing much to help clean up the mess. Her reimbursement offer only covered 10% of her personal expenses, she claimed in the thread.

Gemzer’s thread went viral – garnering over 20 million views – and a few weeks later, the company offered him a bigger deal.

Neither Gemzer nor Airbnb have disclosed specific details about the offer – including the amount – but Gemzer believes its social media blitz prompted the company to act.

Airbnb did not explicitly comment on the impact of Gemzer’s social media activity on its final offering. “After receiving additional documentation, we provided additional support to our host with some of the additional costs not covered by their insurance,” a company representative told Insider via text message.

Here is what happened

On the morning of April 14, Gemzer — who lived in the lower unit of his duplex and rented the upper unit on Airbnb – woke up to what she described on X as “cascades of water” pouring from the ceiling and light fixtures.

The guests staying in the upper unit had checked out the day before — two days earlier than expected, she later told Insider by phone.

It cost Gemzer $130,000 just to dry out his duplex, and contractors estimated it would take nearly $250,000 to rebuild it.
Erika Gemzer

Gemzer said she rushed upstairs, worried that one of her guests had drowned in the bathtub, simply from the amount of water flowing. Instead, she discovered that the toilet bowl in the upper unit was clogged and the valve connecting it to the water tank had been damaged. At that point, water had been flowing continuously from the toilet bowl for more than 15 hours, she wrote on X.

Gemzer – who said guests clogged toilets — I contacted Airbnb to find out what the company would cover. Airbnb Host Damage Protection Policy called AirCover reimburses hosts for up to $3 million in damage to their home or property, according to on the Airbnb website.

However, the company told her it could only create a case under its Host Damage Protection program if guests refused to pay, she noted on X.

Airbnb did open a case, but Gemzer told Insider it took weeks of correspondence with the company and the third-party expert it hired to investigate the matter before a plumber came to look at it. toilet. Meanwhile, the bills kept piling up.

Airbnb, however, has a slightly different account. “We take Aircover’s requests seriously, including in this case, and have remained in constant contact with the host,” its representative told Insider via text message.

Erika Gemzer said there were “cascades of water” pouring down her ceiling on April 14.
Erika Gemzer

In his posts on X last month, Gemzer said her unreimbursed expenses totaled more than $300,000, taking into account costs such as her water bill from the flood, property taxes, mortgage payments, insurance premium increases, appliances damaged appliances, water damage restoration costs, packing and storage of one’s belongings and loss of rental income.

Dry the house alone cost about $130,000, and one contractor estimated that rebuilding the house would cost nearly $250,000, although his homeowner’s insurance covered most of those expenses, Gemzer later told Insider.

Airbnb offered her $6,000 at one point, before increasing it to around $31,000 in mid-October, she said on future payments with each offer.

However, she accepted the company’s latest offer. While the new amount doesn’t cover everything, it covers enough to “make a difference,” Gemzer told Insider via text message.

“I didn’t want to be an owner.”

Since her post went viral, Gemzer said she has received a series of criticisms from “mean Twitter trolls” telling her she doesn’t know how to run a business.

She says she never wanted to run one in the first place: “I couldn’t afford a single-family home. I bought a two-unit building because that was what I could afford, and decided to become a landlord. result of this. »

While San Francisco the notoriously expensive real estate market has cooled in recent months, the median home price in the city was still around $1.3 million, according to to Redfin’s September figures. And with the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment around $3,000, the California Department of Housing classifies single-person households earning even $104,400 as a “low” income.

Gemzer said she decided to rent the upper level of your duplex to Airbnb guests for short-term stays – instead of hiring long-term tenants – so she has space for her family after her baby is born.

However, San Francisco Planning Department officials said Gemzer’s residence was not permitted for “intermediate-term occupancy” stays ranging from one month to one year. according to to the San Francisco Chronicle.

And Gemzer said the costly — and emotionally draining — takeaway from the incident is that Airbnb isn’t doing enough to “educate” hosts like her. Not all Airbnb hosts are “mini-businesses” running multiple Airbnb sites, she said.

Gemzer is now reportedly advising other Airbnb hosts to purchase homeowners insurance, umbrella insurance, and short-term rental insurance.

Since the incident, Gemzer said she lived in four different Airbnbs in an “ironic” turn of events, and she recently signed a lease on another home in the area while she waits for construction on her duplex to be completed.

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