Airbnb rager roils quiet New England town

The Swellesley Report reports residents of a street just off Rte. 9 flooded police and selectmen with complaints about a house rented on Airbnb for a party that left the neighborhood streets covered in vomit and red Solo cups. And the noise, noise, noise.

Himmelberger said neighbors have apparently been advised by the house’s owner that it was purchased with the intent to rent it out on Airbnb. “I don’t think that comports with our residential neighborhoods,” said Himmelberger, who urged the board to consider assembling some sort of committee with the Planning Board to address this situation and possible future issues in other neighborhoods across town.

Of course, there are two sides to every story. The house's owner, who, in fact, lives in California (who thoughtfully advises prosepective guests "please do not walk naked in front of open windows facing my neighbors because they all have young children") writes in a review of the woman who rented the house:

She did an amazing job of cleaning up my house after what neighbors tell me was a party of several hundred people with the only trace being 4 or 5 party cups under or behind furniture, my daughter's high chair in the garden, two empty bottles of hard liquor behind where it would not be easy to see at a casual glance, and vomit in my laundry basket and corner of the basement. I had a hard time believing my neighbors story because there were very few cracked windows and it was obvious someone fell into the wall of the basement stairs because it is loose and the bottom stair is more cracked open. The only smell was very slight of beer in a sink that became slow to drain. My neighbors claims that they were smoking weed inside but each room smelt as fresh as a summer breeze even though they turned off all my air purifiers and fans however I found a pack of papers used to roll up joints behind an appliance in the basement. My neighbors said all the party goers were courteous and respected the police who came twice to break up the party which last only until 2 AM, a perfectly respectful hour for some neighborhood but my neighbor let me know that it was too late for a neighborhood full of families with young children. The amount of garbage wrapped up very nicely in big black garbage bags and left in a spot that would be easy to spot is not consistent with the what may be a tall tale of my neighbor of hundreds of people.

H/t Suzanne B. for finding the owner info.



      Free tagging: 


      the tone

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      it is like listening to a corporate ceo or a politician

      what was the line from Casablanca about gambling?

      I don't know,

      Reading the owner statement about the renter left me with the feeling that he was warning other owners to not let this person use their home, without saying something she could retaliate over. Seriously, after reading that, would you let that person anywhere near your property?


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      It read more to me like a sales pitch for throwing more wild ragers at this address. Helpfully demonstrating that as long as you don't make a headache for the owner, then you can piss off the neighbors and still get a good Air BnB review.

      Is this person for real?

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      All I can think of is to ask guests in the future to have more than 10 cars park on Washington street or the Wellesley Hills Commuter rail parking lot and make arrangements with a friend to pick up and shuttle everyone who is parking farther away so that they do not walk on neighbors lawns, leave behind plastic disposable drink cups or vomit on their gardens. I am planning to construct a sound wall 10 to 20 feet high so that the sound would not wake up the children and vice versa with regard to traffic on route 9.

      The cities need to outlaw 'investor' AirBnB. And tax the hell out of nonresident 'investor' landlords.

      The city officials are supposed to represent the city residents. Not keep trying to bring in new revenue at the cost of forcing out city residents with the real estate prices.

      City Residents?

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      Did you read the story ... or just the by-line?

      Yes, I read it, and I don't know why you're asking

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      There is a major, ongoing problem in various Boston area cities with wealthy nonresident investors buying up the properties -- driving up prices and driving out people, and then subjecting the remaining city residents to transients.

      This particular story is a prime example of the latter half of the problem.

      Let's try this again

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      The events in question took place in a suburban town that has been wealthy since the land was cleaved off from Needham over 100 years ago.

      not entirely true. it was

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      not entirely true. it was largely a working class italian community until the 50s or so. white flight out of boston was a big part of its development as a super wealthy community.

      But it was started as a wealthy enclave

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      It's named for Samuel Welles, who married the daughter of H. Hollis Hunnewell, who owned much of the western end of Needham and who decided he wanted a town more to his liking (you can still see the family estate on Rte. 16 between Wellesley College and the Natick line; if you're lucky, the cows will be out).

      I can't stop laughing

      Yes, yes, a 10 to 20 foot sound wall seems like a perfectly adequate solution to the problem of your guests vomiting on your neighbors' gardens!

      Hilarious review

      Is that the most backhanded recommendation ever?

      Awesome job cleaning up! She got almost all the vomit, except for my laundry basket!

      Probably on purpose! People

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      Probably on purpose! People can try and fight a negative review, review you back in retaliation, etc... but leaving a positive review that's full of red flags is very clever.

      I honestly can't tell if they

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      I honestly can't tell if they're trying to leave a negative review, or if they're trying to defend what happened against the neighbor's complaints but need a lesson in diplomacy.

      Don't worry

      Airbnb "will permanently ban one of the users, work with local authorities to avoid future problems and say this only happens in a very small number of cases, especially since most users are middle class residents trying to pay for their living expenses."

      In other words, they don't care.


      Historically they've reimbursed owners when they can show damage which seems easy in this case. It's not clear what else they could do.

      I've used AirBNB as a guest many times and it works well. The hosts I've spoken to are equally happy.

      AirBNB could (perhaps should) limit "investor" hosts but these hosts will just move to another service. Local regulations are a better solution.

      It's Not Clear?

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      They should reimburse the neighbors whose property values and sanity levels will plummet with every party.

      Doesn't sound like an investor host

      Sounds more like someone who is able to vacate their own home to rent it out here and there. Huge House Palaces cost a great deal to own and operate - paying guests can defray that quite a bit.

      This is becoming an increasing issue in the burbs where large houses are required by zoning. The most notorious incident was in Lynnfield:

      The house in that case wasn't an "investor property", but the host's principal residence.


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      Why is someone who lives in Rockland renting a house in throw a party? Is this a thing - Airbnb houses for a rager?


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      It would be interesting to trace where that 'investor' $ originated.

      The fact that the property

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      The fact that the property has a laundry basket and a high chair suggests that this is/was the owner's home before they ended up moving out-of-state. You'd expect they would find a long-term tenant, but maybe the owner wanted to keep the place available for themselves to use when they're back in town, while still making some money on it while they're away.

      In that case, they probably ought to pay a neighbor to act as the rental-manager. If the Airbnb ad says "we're right next door, in case you have any problems", then that should be enough to ward away anyone planning a large party.

      Definitely not a new problem

      The Air BnB in non-tourist suburbs part is only a new variant.

      Remember kids: don't let your classmates know that your parents are out of town!