Woman’s $14,000 Airbnb nightmare

WHEN Kimberley Johnson-Baxter made the decision to list her family home on Airbnb, she expected it to make her a bit of extra money.

But one nightmare booking would leave the 51-year-old Ocean Grove woman with a bill for about $14,000.

A group staying at the beachside property over the New Year's period had held a gathering in the large home, which was interrupted minutes before midnight by an incident involving a stove fire, about half a dozen sparklers, and an unfortunate loss of footing in the beautifully decorated living room.

"One of the guys had lit a handful of sparklers on the stove and went to walk them out onto the deck - there were already embers flying on the floor apparently, but then he tripped over and the sparklers went flying," Ms Johnson-Baxter said.

Kimberley Johnson-Baxter ended up with thousands in damage to her Ocean Grove home. Picture: Supplied
Kimberley Johnson-Baxter ended up with thousands in damage to her Ocean Grove home. Picture: Supplied

When she was alerted to the incident by her otherwise conscientious guests, the understanding host wasn't worried - how much damage could a few sparklers do? She thought.

Insurance assessors were able to answer that question - about $12,000 to 14,000 worth.

"The burn marks were just everywhere, and even though in some parts it was just little specks on the floor, it turns out you can't just replace bits of floor so we had the whole floor on our bottom story replace," she said.

"We had to get removalists to remove the fridge, furniture, put that in storage, bring it all back. It was just epic, it was insane."

Though the experience was stressful Ms Johnson-Baxter was at least spared the cost. She had done some research before listing the property and found that her home insurance wouldn't cover certain incident that occurred while she had Airbnb guests in the house and so took out specialist cover.

Couches, cushions and other furnishings had to be replaced and movers called in. Picture: Supplied
Couches, cushions and other furnishings had to be replaced and movers called in. Picture: Supplied

New data released by ShareCover reveals for some holiday property owners, taking out extra insurance has been well worth it.

The specialist provider has revealed some of the bizarre horror claims holiday rental property owners have made, including having a kitchen sink broken after a frozen chicken was dropped, and a guest falling through a flight of stairs.

A brawl after a party caused extensive damage to one property, and other owners returned home to more than a dozen perfectly circular burn mark on the carpets all throughout the house.

The sparklers burned through Kimberley’s floors. Picture: Supplied
The sparklers burned through Kimberley’s floors. Picture: Supplied

A survey by Australia's largest general insurer IAG found of 1000 Australians one in six Australians had broken or damaged something in their accommodation while on holiday and one in five had hosted or attended a party at a holiday rental property.

Men were found be more likely than women to cause damage while staying in an Airbnb property, and young men, those aged 18 - 34, were the most likely group to cause damage, injure themselves, or host a party at a rental property.


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