DALLAS, TX – Airbnb has offered to replace the locks of a Dallas woman’s home after a guest ransacked her apartment, stole roughly $500, and harassed her via text message. Alavia Khawaja chronicled her Airbnb nightmare on Twitter, where her story has collected more than 27,000 retweets.
The incident with an Airbnb guest named Leonard Jackson began Oct. 11. Jackson was expected to stay that night but after she returned a few hours after giving him the keys, Khawaja found her locked bedroom broken into.
"He picked the lock on my bedroom, threw away every photo I had of male friends, and went thru my closet," Khawaja tweeted. "I confronted him and he denied everything. I kicked him out and he had the audacity to tell me to refund him. I found out an hour later that he stole cash (around $500)."
So, I Airbnb out a room in my apartment. I had a guest checking in; Everything was normal— I come home to this man cleaning up my apartment. He picked the lock on my bedroom, threw away every photo I had of male friends, and went thru my closet..— Alavia Khawaja (@EmpressAloeVera) October 27, 2018
Khawaja attempted to contact Airbnb after Jackson kept texting her things like "I need you to be my wife one day" and if she had any condoms. When Khawaja brought this to Airbnb’s attention, the company was no help, Khawaja told Patch. The police said they couldn’t act unless Jackson showed up at her home, Khawaja added.
"It’s kind of too late on (Airbnb’s) end," Khawaja told Patch Monday through Twitter DM. "I’ve only been w/ Airbnb probably since like early this year, as that’s when I started traveling."
Jackson texted Khawaja on Oct. 20 saying he was coming to visit her. Khawaja sat in her car a distance away and called the police once Jackson showed up. He was charged with criminal trespassing, WFAA reported.
Airbnb removed Jackson’s Airbnb profile roughly two weeks after Khawaja first brought him to their attention.
Airbnb did not respond to numerous comment requests from Patch regarding Khawaja’s experience. Khawaja shared the following email she received from Airbnb Tuesday. The company is "aware of areas that we need to improve on," the email said. Khawaja also added that she had recently spoken to Airbnb on the phone about her situation and offered money to replace her locks.
Airbnb’s Ben Breit provided the following comment on behalf of the company after Patch’s story was published Friday.
"This reported behavior is abhorrent and unacceptable, and has no place on Airbnb. We have removed this guest from our platform and are in contact with local law enforcement to offer our assistance. Our initial response to this incident was simply too slow and we are working to fully support our host. There have been over 400 million guest arrivals to date and negative incidents are extremely rare," Breit said.
The entire experience has left Khawaja speechless, she said.
"I don’t know what else to include except that women need to be taken more seriously," Khawaja told Patch.
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