A New Zealand couple visiting Toronto was booted from a downtown Airbnb rental by police in the middle of the night after a man claimed the unit was his, even though the couple had paid in full for a one-month rental and had already been staying there for several days.
Syeda Farhana Shariff and Shariff Masudul Haque had rented a Front Street West apartment listed on the Airbnb website and had paid more than $4,000 to the rental company.
“It was amazing until last night,” Farhana told Global News describing the couple’s visit to Toronto, praising the city and the location of the apartment about a block from Rogers Centre.
But late Wednesday, the couple got an unexpected knock at the door when they were settling in for the night. A man told them he lived there and said they had to leave.
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“He said we had been fraudulently staying there because the property is owned by him and we are not supposed to be there,” said Shariff, her husband.
“Initially we were thinking … is somebody pulling a prank on us? Or is it it fraudulent,” said Farhana.
The couple provided proof that they had rented the apartment legally until Aug. 2 and had made payment in full.
Two Toronto police officers were called to the apartment by the man at the door.
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“We showed everything to the police … they weren’t interested,” said Shariff.
“We just want you guys gone before things escalate,” police reportedly told the couple.
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When contacted by Global News, Toronto police acknowledged they went to the apartment and that the couple agreed to leave.
“The couple retrieved their belongings and left the unit upon police arrival and confirmation that the complainant is the rightful lessee of the unit,” wrote Const. Laura Brabant, media relations officer with Toronto Police.
The couple said that they didn’t want to challenge the police because they are not Canadian residents.
They relocated to the lobby of the apartment before returning to claim their recreational vehicle, which was being repaired in Vaughan, north of the city.
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Global News contacted Airbnb to find out why a customer could be forced out of a rented apartment under these circumstances.
Airbnb spokesperson Matt McNama told Global News via email they were looking into the matter. “We take this incredibly seriously,” he said.
As of Thursday afternoon though, the rental listing was still active.
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“We have taken action to deactivate the listing and are in the process of suspending the Host as we investigate this further,” McNama said.
He added that as a result of the circumstances, the couple will get all their money back.
“We are working to provide our guest with a full refund for this experience,” McNama said in the email.
Contacted by Global News about the company’s decision, the couple — en route to Niagara Falls — expressed appreciation.
“So highly appreciate your help in getting this resolved,” they sent in an email.
“We will pretend we had a bad dream and leave Canada with a pleasant feeling!’
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