Renters list woman’s Hollywood property on Airbnb without her knowledge, make profit while behind on rent

(WSVN) - A South Florida woman who moved up north thought she left her home in good hands with respectful renters, but turns out, those renters were profiting off the home, even though they are months behind in rent. The Nightteam’s Kevin Ozebek investigates.

Carol Martin will always call this house her home.

Carol Martin, homeowner: “I love this house. All the fruit trees that I planted, the landscaping and everything.”

But four years ago, Carol left South Florida for a job in Pittsburgh.

She wants to return to her Hollywood house once she retires, so she decided to rent it out in the meantime.

But, things have not gone smoothly with the three renters who signed the lease.

Carol Martin: “I know that some people are having it really bad with COVID and loss of jobs, but they have abused the system and continue to abuse the system.”

Earlier this year, one of the tenants sent Carol this screen grab of her house alerting her to a plumbing problem, but the screen grab showed more than a plumbing issue.

On the top it said “spacious home with big backyard.”

Beneath that was a nearly $2,500 price tag for just over a month’s stay.

Carol thought it looked like a direct message between an Airbnb customer and a host.

Carol Martin: “My blood pressure skyrocketed.”

So, Carol searched Airbnb and found this listing for her house as a short term rental.

It is a blatant violation of the lease.

Carol says the discovery came as the tenants were falling behind with both the rent and water bills.

Carol Martin: “It has been extremely stressful, frustrating.”

On Feb. 3, Carol alerted Airbnb that she’s the owner and does not want the home subleased, but the listing was not immediately removed.

Then, on March 1, she filed this eviction complaint to remove the renters, but she has no clue where they are living.

Carol Martin: “I don’t know where to go. I don’t know what else to do.”

When 7 Investigates first stopped by Carol’s home, we spotted a man arriving.

Unidentified man: “I am visiting somebody.”

He told us he was visiting friends renting the home through Airbnb.

When we returned a few days later, we found trash scattered and liquor bottles left on Carol’s lawn.

Neighbors say whoever was staying here had a party that included drag racing down the street.

Alia Johnson, neighbor: “They were racing really fast. I think they were spring breakers.”

Ken, neighbor: “They were drag racing, going through stop signs. It’s annoying.”

7News was able to help solve part of Carol’s problem when we reached out to Airbnb. A company spokesperson told us, “We apologize to Ms. Martin for the delay in responding to her concerns … As a result of our investigation, the listing is deactivated and has no future reservations.”

Carol recently came back to Douth Florida to find the renters

Carol Martin: “I am pissed off as hell. Can I call the mortgage company and say that, ‘Oh, I cannot pay you this month because my tenant decided to sublease the property, and they don’t want to pay me? Can I do that?'”

As she looks at this mess left in her backyard, she tells us her renters owe her about $6,000 in back rent, bills and damage.

She hopes she can find and evict them before that figure gets any higher.

Airbnb also tells us when a host agrees to the company’s terms and conditions, they agree to be in compliance with any related contracts, which includes lease agreements.

CONTACT 7INVESTIGATES:
305-627-CLUE
954-921-CLUE
clue@wsvn.com

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