Prostitute uses woman's home as brothel through AirBnb
A LISMORE woman who listed her house for let on website Air BnB says she was deceived when a prostitute started to use her home as a brothel.
The woman, who did not want to be named, said she had rented her property to at least 12 other people over the past 18 months through Air BnB without a problem.
Founded in 2008, Air BnB is a website for people to rent out lodging.
It has more than one million listings in 34,000 cities and 190 countries.
As with some of her previous Air BnB tenants, the woman said she didn't think it was strange the rental was for two days.
She said the woman contacted her through her Air BnB listing, but paid in cash instead of booking through the website.
However, the prostitute's lodging lasted only two hours - she was caught out when men were seen coming and going from the house.
The Lismore woman said her eagle-eyed neighbours quickly noticed the suspicious activity.
She said she had entered into the contract in good faith but the woman lied to her by telling her she was on holidays.
The woman said the sex worker told her she had just spent two nights in an Air BnB-listed property at Ballina and she believed she may have been performing her services in other Air BnB listed residences in the region.
A Lismore City Council spokeswoman said councils must be able to take swift and effective action against brothels when they were operating without development consent or against the conditions of their consent, or where they were adversely impacting on the community.
The spokeswoman said the Brothels Act 2007 gave councils the power to issue an order themselves - without going to court - to shut a brothel down.
If the order was ignored, the council could get a court order to shut off the brothel's utilities.
"Brothels and home occupations (sex services) can only be operated in commercial/industrial zones," the spokeswoman said. "If a complaint is made to council regarding a brothel or home occupation (sex services), council compliance officers are obliged to investigate the matter to determine if they have appropriate consent."
An Air BnB spokesman said more than 40 million guests had stayed at properties through Air BnB, and problems for guests and hosts were incredibly rare.
"When you book a reservation through our secure platform, you receive the benefits of Air BnB's global trust and safety program and our $1 million host guarantee," the spokesman said. "It's why there is a reminder to only book through Air BnB next to every message thread.
"This was not an Air BnB reservation but we have been in contact with the host to offer our support."