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Airbnb host suspended after 'nightmare tenant' wrongly accused him of spying on her

Robert Serr rented out his Palm Beach property to a 'nightmare tenant'. (Kennedy News)
Robert Serr rented out his Palm Beach property to a 'nightmare tenant'. (Kennedy News)

An Airbnb host has said he was made to feel like a "peeping Tom" after a guest falsely claimed he had been spying on her with a "hidden camera".

Property developer Robert Serr, 48, says the guest was retaliating for his one-star rating of her after she left his property in Palm Beach, Florida, in a "filthy, disgusting mess" that took five hours to clean in December.

The guest had published a long review on the property rental app that Serr, from Leeds, West Yorkshire, was spying on her with a concealed camera – which was in fact a carbon monoxide detector.

She wrote that Serr had told her not to have a party at the property and visited her in person while she was staying there.

She claimed Serr ordered her to leave his property "the same way I found it", an exchange which she says made her feel uncomfortable.

Host Robert Serr told the guest not to have parties while she was staying at the property. (Kennedy News)
Host Robert Serr told the guest not to have parties while she was staying at the property. (Kennedy News)

The guest wrote: "I did not feel comfortable with his visit, especially after that host text me confirming that I will not be having a party.

"I just disclosed with him that (there will not) be a party on his property but we are celebrating my mother’s birthday.

"Also, I did see two smoke detectors in one of the rooms. My concern with that is there is a recording device hidden in one of the detectors."

The guest's accusation led Airbnb to suspend Serr's account on 8 January while they investigated.

Serr said: "It is the vilest accusation to make about somebody, that I’m some kind of sick voyeur or peeping Tom. It’s very damaging to my reputation.

The carbon monoxide detector was one of two installed in the property. (Kennedy News)
The carbon monoxide detector was one of two installed in the property. (Kennedy News)

"It’s one step below saying I’m essentially a sex offender. To level that kind of accusation then have Airbnb accept their claim without evidence and banning me, it makes you feel disgusting...

"Airbnb need to change their ways. You’re guilty until proven innocent."

Serr said he had sent a message to the guest telling her that gatherings at the property were not allowed after she asked if it had a back garden, telling her that it was situated in a "quiet" neighbourhood.

However, he claimed that neighbours called him twice during the guest's stay to tell him a "big party" was taking place.

Serr said his cleaners found his property after the guest checked out looking "disgusting and filthy" and claimed she had wiped up grease from the kitchen using bedsheets and towels.

He added: "Evidently, the one-star review I left her prompted Airbnb to get in touch [with her] and because of this, I believe she made up lies and said my carbon monoxide detector was a camera."

The guest said the carbon monoxide detector was a hidden camera. (Kennedy News)
The guest said the carbon monoxide detector was a hidden camera. (Kennedy News)

An Airbnb spokesperson confirmed that a "temporary suspension" was in place while they investigated the "security query", but that Serr's account was now reinstated.

They said: "We were disappointed to learn about this experience, and have resolved this matter...

We have contacted the host to reactivate the listing, and we have taken appropriate action on the booking guest."

However, Serr is now considering leaving the platform after his suspension.

He said: "Am I supposed to be grateful that they’ve now restored my account that never should have been suspended in the first place?

"No. All this has done has made me see just how easy it is to have your entire business shut down at the snap of a finger with little to no recourse."