Airbnb guests let clogged toilet run 15 hours, then leave pregnant owner on the hook

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A pregnant California woman said she and her husband were thrown into a rental property nightmare when Airbnb guests reportedly flooded their home, leaving them homeless and thousands of dollars in debt. 

“Want to hear an Airbnb horror story this Halloween season? Here’s the story of how I ended up pregnant and homeless and in over $300,000 of debt after Airbnb guests flooded my home. It’s a real cliffhanger,” Erika Gemzer said in an in-depth and viral X thread detailing how her home in San Francisco was destroyed. 

Gemzer and her husband bought a two-unit Edwardian building in San Francisco’s Mission District back in 2018, and had been renting out the upstairs unit to help cover their mortgage, according to the San Francisco Standard. The couple had long-term tenants until the coronavirus hit, and decided to rent the upstairs unit on Airbnb. 

The couple’s dreams of establishing roots in the home while renting out the top floor came crashing down in April, when Airbnb guests reportedly clogged a toilet and flooded the building. 

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“We had an Airbnb guest for a one month stay,” Gemzer detailed in her X thread, which was posted Thursday. “They checked out early, no warning. They had clogged the bathroom toilet with baby wipes and human waste. They also damaged the valve that manages water flow from the tank to the bowl.”

Gemzer said it was a “perfect storm” of plumbing issues that caused her toilet in the rented apartment to run for more than 15 hours and flood the entire building.

“The water kept running from the tank, to the bowl, over the bowl, and into the flat, nonstop for 15+ hours. I went to bed at a normal hour, dealing with ungodly pregnancy nausea and with no idea that the unit above was flooding,” she detailed. 

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The heavily pregnant mother, whose due date already passed earlier this month according to local media, has spent the last six months trying to repair the damages that left both units flooded and damaged. 

Gemzer and her husband moved out of their home due to the damage and are staring down bills, lost revenue and continued repairs — drying out the house alone cost $130,000. She said that homeowner’s insurance has covered a large chunk of the costs, but is hoping Airbnb cover issues like water damage demolition and gaps in costs between the approved amount for repairs and what contractors actually charged her, the local outlet reported. 

Gemzer added that she does not believe the guests intentionally created such a disaster at the home. 

“I don’t want them to be harassed,” Gemzer told the Standard. “It’s a crappy thing to do to abandon the clogged toilet, but there’s no way in their mind they thought they were going to ruin the house.”

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Throughout the ordeal, Gemzer has been in communication with Airbnb, which offers AirCover Guarantee and Host Liability Insurance, to cover some of the expenses. Working with the company, Gemzer argued, has been another nightmarish ordeal. Airbnb reportedly first told her to ask the former guests to foot the bill, which was unsuccessful, before assigning her case to an employee who set the couple up with a third-party adjuster, according to the Standard. 

She then spoke with a former Airbnb employee who advised her to find a person within the company to help champion that her case get attention from higher-ups. Gemzer, however, said she’s been going around in circles with the company as it requires that she send individual quotes for items and repairs before knowing if they would be covered, according to the outlet. 

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Gemzer said that she has never personally spoken to an Airbnb employee on the phone, but her husband received a call from an executive after she posted the X thread. 

“I just want to stop the bleeding and know that the mountains of financial losses are not going to continue to mount,” Gemzer told the San Francisco Standard. “You advertise that we got your back when things go really wrong, but you don’t and you know that you don’t.”

Fox News Digital reached out to Airbnb for additional comment on the matter Monday afternoon. The company did tell the Standard that employees have been in “continuous contact” with Gemzer regarding the damages. 

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“We offered to pay the loss of bookings, her insurance deductible and additional reimbursement as a gesture of goodwill — we have been in continuous contact with the Host, including speaking today, to continue to support her,” an Airbnb spokesperson said in a statement.

The company added in comment to KGO that it takes “Aircover requests incredibly seriously, including in this case.” 

“We take Aircover requests incredibly seriously, including in this case, where we tried to send a third-party investigator to review the damage, but the Host declined, stating that her homeowners insurance company was supporting her with the damage as well as temporary accommodation,” Airbnb said. 



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