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How to Avoid a Drug-Fueled Orgy When Renting Out Your House

Airbnb makes it easy to rent your home out to total strangers, but how do you stop those total strangers from leaving their bodily fluids behind them?

by Elianna Lev
May 11 2015, 4:10pm

Photo via Flickr user Quinn Dombrowski.

This article originally appeared on VICE Canada.

The last time I rented out my apartment, I wrote up a contract that made my subletter (whom I met on Tinder) promise not to bring home any squirters. I'd already learned my lesson the hard way when, on a separate occasion, I'd rented out my place to an older fellow, only to return home to a mattress covered in oily stains. I tried to convince myself it was salad dressing, but I wasn't deluded enough to successfully repress my instinctual repulsion. The stains that dappled my Serta were a constant reminder that other people had released their fluids all over my sacred space of slumber and there was nothing I could do about it, except invest in another expensive mattress.

I've come to learn that a stained mattress is a pittance of concern compared with the situation facing the Kings, a really adorable Calgary family whose beautiful home was turned into a slop bucket of biohazard nightmares after they Airbnb-ed it out to four adults who were apparently in town for a wedding. These mysterious renters—whom police are urging to come forward—did way worse damage than the legacy of all high school ragers combined (except maybe this guy).

Amid the $150,000 worth of desecration were condiments emptied on the walls and ceiling, toilets clogged with condoms, and chicken wings discarded in footwear (huh?). The damage was so toxic that a hazmat team had to be called in. In a statement, Airbnb said, "Our team is working quickly to make this right. We have banned this guest from Airbnb, and our Trust and Safety team will offer its full assistance to law enforcement in any investigation of this incident. We have been in very close contact with these hosts, and we are working quickly to reimburse them under our $1 Million Host Guarantee, which covers a host's property in the rare event of damages."

Aside from using common sense and gut instinct, how much can really be done to prevent something like this from happening? Or at least prevent it from making international headlines?

Guests Will Fuck, so Just Accept That:
We wanted to chat with Airbnb about how to tackle the issue of boning in other people's spaces with tact and aplomb. Their kind PR person shared the company's etiquette guide, which was written by Debrett's, the "trusted source on British social skills." While it suggests things like keeping visits to the bathroom as short as possible and discourages guests from shouting between rooms, it doesn't come close to broaching the topic of fucking amongst and between houseguests. That's because it's generally not something that's socially acceptable to bring up, even with tact and aplomb.

One Texas-based etiquette professional we chatted with, who didn't want to use her name, said, "Sex isn't something you can dictate when you're offering your home. However, you can certainly say that you want it to be left in the same condition that you left it."

At the very least, invest in a bedbug cover. They're handy at protecting your mattress from the obvious, as well as salad-dressing stains.

Be Cautious of Shoe Enthusiasts:
When dealing with potential subletters, you're likely only going to capture thin slices of behavior, which can make it challenging to decipher if they're psychopathic or not. However, Zach Walsh, a psychology professor at University of British Columbia, said to be wary of shoe enthusiasts. That's something he learned while studying psychopathic behavior in prisons.

"We'd do something called the shoe test, where if someone complimented your shoes right off the bat for no good reason, that was a sure tell," he said.

If you're communicating with your potential guest strictly online, there are certain points a psychopath will be more inclined to focus on than others.

"If you look at verbalization of high-psychopathy patients, they were more focused on material needs like food, drink, and money and make fewer references to social needs like family or religion," he said.

So if your potential renter is keen on talking about what the chimichanga he's eating at the moment, rather than if wife who prefer to use two pillows instead of one, it might be a red flag.

Ultimately (and obviously) Walsh said it's a gut instinct that you should be following. If something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't. "I don't think science can save you from that disaster," he said.

Invest in Ugly Furniture You Don't Care About:
When it comes to outfitting your home for long- or short-term renters, take the Buddhist approach and let go of value placed on inanimate objects.

"You need to get into the headspace that your house is no longer going to be your home," said Amanda Forrest, a Toronto-based design expert. "Pack away anything you cherish, whether expensive or sentimental in value, and start thinking of your home as a business investment."

If you're planning on renting out your home as a way to supplement your income, invest in furniture from Ikea or garage sales—stuff that you're not attached to.

"Choose furniture, decor, and finishes that are commercial-grade—things that can easily be wiped down and can handle extreme wear and tear, which will save you headaches down the road," she said.

If You're Staging a Drug-Fueled Orgy, Stagger Your Highs:
If you're on the other end of the bargain—a subletter looking for a place to have group sex—there are several basic rules to be followed, all involving respect and good behavior. Abby Normal, a Vancouver-based promoter, regularly organizes sex parties for all genders, in all kinds of venues, including her home. She has a trunk that's basically an orgy-preparedness kit, full of toys, lubes, and latex and will lay out sheets over her furniture to save from scrubbing up splooge. If drugs are involved, Normal makes sure they aren't taken in unison.

"You want to clean up after yourself, which is especially hard when drugs are involved," she said. "It's good to stagger your highs, so there's someone to kind of keep things in order."

Normal even goes so far as to arrange visits from the Consent Squad, a nonprofit that visits sex parties to assure people are familiar with what is considered consensual.

"Just moderate your drugs and make sure people aren't making mistakes," she said.

Make sure people aren't making mistakes is probably what should be written in cross stitch and placed next to your door in lieu of "Home Sweet Home." That way, if you're welcoming strangers into your home, at least there will be a reminder that what you do in other people's space can have a real, lasting effect.

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