AirBnB nightmares: Is it worth the risk?

Local I-Team

MEMPHIS, Tenn. ( – Want to make some extra cash? How about renting out your house on AirBnB?

During a one-year period last year, Memphis AirBnB hosts earned nearly $13 million, welcoming around 124,000 guests.

There is no shortage of listings – there are around 1300 properties in the Memphis area.

Is the extra cash worth the risk of renting out your house?

This week, AirBnB announced new safety measures were being put into place after an unauthorized party at an AirBnB rental in California ended with five people being shot and killed.

Closer to home, there have been problems. 

According to a police report, a Cordova woman ended up with $35,000 worth of damage after she rented her home on AirBnB to someone who threw a party at her house this summer.

Despite hearing these horror stories, homeowners are still signing up.

Earlier this summer, the Local I-Team obtained video from an unauthorized party held by someone who rented a house on AirBnB just south of Cooper-Young in the Castalia neighborhood. The homeowner had no idea the renter and his friends used social media to sell tickets to the party.

The same group of friends did the same thing earlier in the summer at a house in Southaven. The homeowner had no idea his home would be used for the “Wet ‘n Wasted” summer-time pool party. Hundreds of teens ended up in his pool and left tens of thousands of dollars of damage.

Then in 2017, three people were arrested after turning the AirBnB they rented in Cooper-Young into a brothel. The next-door neighbor is the one who first discovered there was a problem. Police shut down the brothel and neighbors say the homeowner felt so victimized he sold his house and moved out of town.

“It still had that invaded feeling, so they didn’t want to stay there anymore,” said neighbor Patty Crawford.

“I hear these horror stories on the news – that’s not been my experience at all,” said AirBnB owner JR Parsons.

Parsons has two rental properties in downtown Memphis. He’s had such a good experience with AirBnB that he just bought a second.

“I’m getting about three times what I was getting when I had a longer-term renter,” said Parsons.

“There is a lot of things to think about before you let someone in your house,” said lawyer Kevin Snider.

Snider says before you decide to list your house as a short-term rental, think about this.

“Most people don’t realize if somebody gets hurt or something happens on your property, you can actually be held responsible for it,” said Snider.

Snider recommends setting up a business or company and put the property listing under that, so you are not personally liable if something goes wrong. Also while AirBnB gives you insurance, get additional insurance. And remember while you can say no parties allowed, that doesn’t mean people listen. Both of these homeowners’ listings said no parties allowed.

“If somebody is going to rent a house and they have the sole intent of having a party, there is not a whole lot you can do about it,” said Snider.

“I think I’m probably the product of good luck as much as anything else,” said Parsons.

As for Parsons, he does his best to properly vet everyone he lets stay at his place and hopes he never has a problem.

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