Tempe woman experiences “creepy” short-term housing rental

Krista Luciano says the home was nothing like the photos she viewed online and claims it was downright creepy.
Updated: Jul. 28, 2022 at 5:00 PM MST
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TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - A Tempe woman needing some temporary housing used a popular website to look for homes to rent. That’s when she came across a house she thought was just right. But when she arrived, she says the home was nothing like the photos she viewed online and claims it was downright creepy.

Krista Luciano just needed a place to stay for about a month before she left out of state for a job transfer. So she went online and found a house on Airbnb with a room to rent. “The room looked nice in the pictures,” she said. “You know, it looks clean. The floor looks clean.”

Krista paid almost $1,200 in advance for a month’s stay. However, when she arrived at the house in Mesa, she found the lock on the front door broken, and she was able to walk right in.

She thought she might be sharing the house with a family or maybe some roommates. It turned out that was not the case at all. Once inside, she found the entire home had been converted to bedrooms, all available for rent. There was no living room, no kitchen, a green pool and only one bathroom that all renters in the house had to share.

When On Your Side visited the house, the bathtub was filthy and had pink mold. “So I sat down, and I almost started crying,” Krista said. “It just felt...It felt dirty and just bizarre in a way like I didn’t feel safe at all.”

Krista says there was no way she was sharing the bathroom and the rest of the house with strangers and immediately contacted Airbnb along with the hosts. She told them she wanted her $1,200 returned because the house didn’t feel safe. “And they responded very shortly after and said ‘of course it’s safe,’” she said.

Krista never stayed in the house and kept waiting for Airbnb to change its mind regarding her refund. “I didn’t cancel my reservation because I didn’t want to forfeit my money,” she said.

Krista contacted On Your Side, and we wanted to see how “safe” the house was.

After doing some digging, we found that Mesa Police have responded to the home nearly 20 times over the last year and a half, including calls for sexual assault, burglary, threats and suspicious activity. The list goes on. “There’s a lot of illegal stuff that happens in places like that hurt people,” Krista said.

In addition, the house’s owner has been cited by the City of Mesa several times this year for using a single-family home as a multi-family rental. City of Mesa records show they are trying to collect $1,600 in fines, but the homeowner hasn’t paid up.

Since the room was still rented to Krista, she agreed to take On Your Side crew back to the house, and what we discovered surprised even us. “As we walked in the room, it’s not the way it was when I left it and I’m still renting it.,” she said. “So someone has been in here. They’ve slept here.”

The bedding was different; a lamp had moved, and a bath towel was hanging to dry in the closet.

On Your Side got a hold of Airbnb and sent them pictures of the broken door lock, the dirty towel hanging in the closet, the filthy tub, and that green pool. On Your Side also attached that police document with those disturbing calls for service. After reviewing the information our information, Airbnb decided to refund nearly $1,200 back to Krista.

They are also launching an investigation into the hosts who rent other properties on Airbnb’s site. “They need to do better, and they need to verify that the homes that are being listed are to code,” Krista said. “If they would have done that alone, that would have avoided all of this.”

In the meantime, Krista has been renting a hotel room. It’s more money than she wants to spend, but she says it’s worth it. She feels comfortable and safe.

She says the ordeal has been a real eye-opener — and she credits On Your Side for getting involved. “I’m very grateful,” she said. “It’s money that I really needed to get back, and I would not have gotten it back if you guys hadn’t been a part of this.”