“I was horrified to find that I’d unwittingly rented out my house to a serial killer!” forty eight year old Coventry resident Arthur Fridz tells The Sleaze, describing the nightmare he endured after letting his house as a holiday home to a stranger, via Airbnb. “When I got home from my holiday, it seemed that the guy I’d let it to had left it in good condition, but then we started having problems with the waste disposal unit – it kept backing up. So, I called in a plumber to look at it – je quickly found the blockage: part of a human foot!” Fridz subsequently spent several days in police custody, as both they and the plumber assumed that he was responsible for trying to dispose of human body parts via his waste disposal unit. “They eventually had to accept that I’d been out of the country when the person the foot had belonged to had been murdered and carved up,” he explains. “That’s when they finally turned their attention to tracking down the bastard I’d let the house to – I couldn’t tell them much about him myself, other than he was foreign, probably from Eastern Europe, judging by his accent. He’d come highly recommended on Airbnb, he’d rented houses and apartments all over the world, with no complaints from the owners. Obviously he’d done a better job of disposing of his victims on previous lets.” The police have confirmed to The Sleaze that they are now seeking an international serial killer, believed to originally be from Serbia, thought to have claimed at least thirteen victims on three continents, most of them vagrants. The Coventry victim has been tentatively identified as a local homeless man.
Fridz is appalled that Airbnb and other, similar, online services don’t vet their clients for the possibility of them being serial killers. “Quite frankly, I think it is shocking that they’ll let just anyone sign up,” he told us. “I just assumed that they employed some kind of screening for applicants. But no, it seems you could be renting your home to any crazed killer or psychopath in the world!” An investigation by The Sleaze has revealed that Fridz isn’t the only Airbnb user who has had a bad experience letting their property via the service. “We let our apartment to this apparently nice middle aged lady from Verona and her daughters – but the state of the place when we got it back was shocking. It’s hard to fathom just how they did that much damage in under three weeks,” Brighton resident Mary Jox told The Sleaze. “There were these horrendous stains everywhere – on the furniture, the carpet, all up the walls – plus, all of the beds were damaged: one had collapsed completely, while the others had damage to the head boards, as if something had been tied to them. As for the damage to the plaster on the walls behind the head boards, well, I’ve never seen anything like it! They must have taken a real hammering!”
After hearing complaints from neighbours about the constant stream of furtive looking men coming and going from the property during her family’s absence, not to mention excessive noise emanating from the property, including loud groans, screams and the sound of whips cracking, Jox realised that she had let her property to a travelling brothel. “Apparently, it’s not uncommon, they move from city to city, all across the world, offering their services to the local populace for a limited period only,” says Jox. “It turned out that this particular brothel specialised in bondage and S and M. I’m shocked that we weren’t warned that these kind of people were allowed to use this sort of service! I still don’t know how I’m going to get those stains off of the sofa – I think I’m going to have to burn it.” For thirty six year old Hounslow resident Clive Stong, the problem wasn’t immediately obvious when he returned to his house. Having let it to a group of nuns while he was on a three month work secondment. “It was all in pristine condition, I was pleasantly surprised,” he recalls. “But then again, what else would you expect from a bunch of nuns?” But when, a few weeks later, Stong visited an adult website, he experienced a feeling of familiarity while watching a movie on the site. “I suddenly realised that I was watching this girl being ‘spit roast’ in my own bloody kitchen!” he says. “I checked out a few more films on the site and saw her being whipped in the bedroom, water boarded in the bathroom and spanked in the dining room!” He later ascertained that the ‘nuns’ had been illicitly shooting porn films in short let residential properties, rented via services such as Airbnb, for several years. “Why does nobody warn you about this sort of thing?” he asks. “I quite reasonably assumed that a service which allows you to let your property to complete strangers was perfectly safe.”
Not surprisingly, the services involved have denied any knowledge of these incidents, claiming that they act only as a facilitator, bringing together parties interested in letting property with those looking for short term stays in particular cities. Travel writer John Volmute is openly contemptuous of those complaining about their supposedly bad experiences with services such as Airbnb. “For God’s sake, they’ve only themselves to blame if their lets go wrong – they could and should have carried out checks themselves,” he opines. “Just take that bloke with the serial killer problem – he should have been suspicious from the start: who in their right mind would want to spend their holiday in Coventry in the first place? The fact that the guy was East European should have alerted him too: they are all notorious for being sex offenders, murderers and snuff film producers.”
But The Sleaze has discovered that it is not just property letting services like Airbnb which are creating problems for consumers: similarly structured taxi services such as Uber, which allow ordinary people to transport fare paying passengers in their private cars are proving equally problematic. “I used this company’s phone app to get a ride into town and I found myself being picked up by this guy in a shabby old Ford Sierra – I was surprised to see that he apparently already had another passenger in the back seat,” explains twenty nine year old Londoner Kathy Abber. “He looked a bit creepy, but I thought, what the heck, an online service matching potential passengers up with completely unlicensed hire drivers wouldn’t allow a real psycho on their books, so I got in the front passenger seat.” Although she struck up a faltering conversation with he driver, the rear seat passenger remained silent. “There was this damp, musty smell in the car,” she says. “But I only began to worry when he told me he had to make a bit of a detour to drop the guy in the back off first – we ended up parked outside a cemetery. When the driver opened the back door to help the other passenger out, the dome light came on and I could see that it was actually a mouldering corpse sat in the back!” It transpired that the driver was a local necrophiliac who regularly dug up bodies and took them for drives. “When I complained to the company whose app I’d used, they just said that I wasn’t in any danger because he was basically harmless – he didn’t actually murder people, he just liked talking to corpses,” she told us. “But they did say that they’d be reviewing his contract as it was a clear breach of their rules for him to have two passengers in the car at once.”