CLEVELAND — A mom who traveled to Cleveland to seek medical care for her young son booked a stay for her family at what she thought was the perfect spot -- a Tremont home listed on Airbnb.
But she said their short stay soon turned into a nightmare, including visits from the city’s building and housing department and no help from the company.
“This was the most uncomfortable situation that I've ever been put in,” Amanda Gilliss said.
Last Saturday, Gilliss, her husband, and their two sons arrived at a home on West 11th Street in Cleveland from Houston, Texas.
Gilliss said she booked a one-month stay there back in April for $1,880 so she and her husband could take their 6-year-old son, Jose, to Cleveland Clinic for treatment for what they believe is autism.
But when they went inside, she said what they saw wasn’t in the photos online and wasn’t communicated to her by the Airbnb host.
“We see the stairs that she shows on Airbnb. But she does not indicate the danger of the stairs,” Gilliss said.
Gilliss was concerned that Jose and her other young son could fall down the stairs and hurt themselves, so she contacted the host for an explanation and a refund.
“Her response was, ‘You know the cancellation policy. If you want to leave, you're free to leave, but you don't get a refund,’” Gilliss said.
Gilliss said she contacted Airbnb too, but they said because the host notified her of the stairs there was nothing they could do. She said as the days went on and she continued to fight, things at the house got even worse.
“There’s nails sticking out of the floor, my son stepped on it and cut his foot,” Gilliss said. “The bathtub, there’s sewage coming out of the pipes, the bathtub has issues.”
Gilliss said when she got nowhere with Airbnb, she contacted the City of Cleveland’s Department of Building and Housing.
Friday, they issued a citation to the homeowner -- who is not the same person listed as the host of the property on Airbnb -- listing three violations, including the nails sticking out of the floor and a defective bathtub drain stopper.
News 5 tried to reach the homeowner for comment at his home Saturday, but didn’t get an answer. We also reached out to Airbnb about Gilliss's situation. The company sent us a statement:
“Our 24/7 Community Support teams work diligently to support hosts and guests when reservations don’t go as planned. In this case, we offered to rebook Ms. Gilliss into an alternative accommodation when she reported her concerns to us, though to this point she has declined the offer. We will continue to offer her rebooking options and support her as best we can.
“After you all reached out to her, there was an associate from the safety department that did call, but it's too little too late,” Gilliss said.
Gilliss said that the offer was $300 to book a hotel room, which would not cover the month stay that her family needs.
Instead, they found another rental on Craigslist where they moved Saturday, just after an eviction notice was posted on the door of the home on 11th Street.
Gilliss said for now she’s letting it go.
“You can try to evict me. That's okay, I'm already gone. What are you gonna do? You're just being petty,” Gilliss said.
Gilliss and her husband are currently looking for a permanent home in Cleveland. But once her family gets settled, she plans to get her lawyers involved.
“Airbnb needs to be held extremely accountable,” Gilliss said. “They need to be heavily regulated and they're not. Tech companies, it's like the Wild West, there's absolutely no structure to anything that they do.”
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