Talk about a nightmare.
A Toronto father says his children are "scarred and terrified" after their family home was violated by individuals who rented it using a popular family-friendly home rental site, Kid & Coe.
The renters, who fraudulently described themselves as a young family with a three-year-old child in town for a family reunion, instead allegedly threw a 50-person party, robbed and ransacked the home, and ruined all the toys, furniture, and books belonging to the homeowners' children, Daniel Habashi said in a public Facebook post Wednesday morning.
"They put out cigarette butts and joints on our children's books and furniture, they broke our children's toys beyond repair, and they emptied our son's piggy bank, which only had a few dollars in it, but has left him devastated," Habashi said in the post.
[Our children] have repeatedly asked us if they will be safe, if anything bad is going to happen again, and if our house is still safe to live in.Daniel Habashi
The incident occurred in July, Habashi said in the Facebook post, but he's going public now due to what he said is a lack of support from Kid & Coe. He'd assumed Kid & Coe would cover the host rental fee, deposit, and reimburse his family for the damages, but that wasn't the case.
"Kid & Coe contends that we are in violation of Kid & Coe's terms of service by not having adequate insurance," Habashi wrote.
Kid & Coe's agreement with homeowners is that it's their full responsibility to ensure their home insurance is adequate to cover renting to guests through their site, the company said in a Facebook post in response to Habashi's allegations.
We are working as fast as we can on this right now; we are committed to reaching a settlement with the family as our top priority.— Kid & Coe (@kidandcoe) October 12, 2017
Habashi was also dismayed to find out that the renters had used a fraudulent credit card to attempt to book four other properties in Toronto, according to an email he said he received from founder Zoie Kingsbery Coe.
Despite this seemingly obvious red flag, Kid & Coe allowed these criminals to proceed with another booking, which was our home.Daniel Habashi
In an emailed statement on Thursday, Kid & Coe told HuffPost Canada they'd reached out to the Habashi family to tell them they'd be giving them a further offer. Later that day, Coe apologized "wholeheartedly" in a statement posted to the Kid & Coe Facebook page. This story has been updated to include the new statement.
"I will be the first to admit that looking back at this we have not handled it as best we could," Coe said in the statement, adding that she would "put things right" for the family.
Kid & Coe will be rolling out a new insurance offering for their hosts as a result of this incident, Coe said.
It's not the first time homeowners have experienced horrifying results after renting out their houses to vacationers. In 2015, a Calgary couple saw their home turned into what police called a "drug-induced orgy" after renting it out on the popular site Airbnb.
The couple's house was trashed after the renters used fake credit cards to buy food and alcohol, then partied hard, causing about $150,000 worth of damage, according to CBC.
In that particular case, Airbnb covered the costs of repairs and restoration to the home under its insurance, and provided the family a free place to stay during that time.
Meanwhile, angry responses to Kid & Coe from the public have been rolling in on Twitter and Facebook.
Wow @kidandcoe, true colors certainly shine through. Always sad to see a smart business idea run poorly...— Brendan Fallis (@brendanfallis) October 11, 2017
Some commenters noted that the company missed an opportunity to demonstrate their loyalty to their customers, and in doing so, negatively affected their business.
"Rather than create a great customer service moment you have created a top-down failure on social media. This is revealing not only a lack of compassion for this family but also for the rest of your host families. Just as you pass blame onto the "credit card processing company" you are also shaming the exact people you need to make your business model work, the host and the safety of their home," wrote one.
Habashi declined to give a statement to HuffPost Canada, adding that his family wanted to limit how much they relived the painful memories of what had happened to them, but did want their experiences shared so that others might be spared.
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