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Airbnb apartments are being used as temporary brothels

Maybe wash those sheets a few dozen extra times the next time you rent your apartment out.


EJ Dickson


Posted on Apr 14, 2014   Updated on May 31, 2021, 11:49 am CDT

Remember that guy who rented out his apartment on Airbnb, only to discover when he returned it was being used to host “XXX freak fest” orgies? Well, here’s another story that’ll make you think twice about leasing out your apartment to that nice Midwestern couple for the weekend: Sex workers are using Airbnb to rent New York City apartments and using them as temporary brothels.

The New York Post reports that escorts are renting out apartments in midtown or in the financial district through individual Airbnb profiles. Their agencies then foot the bill for rent on the apartment, which usually varies between $200 and $400 a day.

“It’s more discreet and much cheaper than the Waldorf,” one sex worker who uses the service told the New York Post. “Hotels have doormen and cameras. They ask questions. Apartments are usually buzz-in.”

One New Yorker to fall victim to this escort service scam was 29-year-old Jessica Penzari, who rented her apartment through Airbnb to a woman purporting to be a U.S. Army servicewoman. The woman said she was being deployed that week, and needed a place to “hang out” before she got shipped out.

But a few days later, Penzari received a call from the cops after the woman had been slashed by a client over the price of a “massage.” When she returned to her apartment, she discovered the woman had left behind baby wipes and “at least 10 condoms,” as well as a “business card” scrawled on lined notebook paper.

Although Airbnb generously compensated Penzari for the incident, paying for her to change her door locks and stay two nights in a hotel, the apartment-sharing service can’t really afford any more bad press like this at this point. They’re currently under investigation by the state Attorney General for potentially violating New York state subletting laws, and city planning departments across the country are cracking down on the service. With that on top of the bad PR associated with the aforementioned XXX freak fest, things don’t exactly seem to be looking up for Airbnb or their renters at this point (or sex workers, for that matter).

H/T New York Post | Photo by Capitan Giona/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)

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*First Published: Apr 14, 2014, 2:38 pm CDT