A family of six said they were forced to sleep in their car after an eviction notice was posted on the door of an Irvine, California apartment they had rented from Airbnb.
The Berlans, from Texas, had been staying since Saturday in the three-bedroom apartment while vacationing in California. At midnight Thursday, they returned to the room at the Metropolis Apartments and found an eviction notice on the front door. Because their keys no longer worked, all their possessions and souveniers were locked inside.
The family paid $1,500 on Airbnb for the rental and were staying in California to celebrate the daughter's high school graduation.
"My 8-year-old son says, 'Mom, did you not pay? What happened, mom?'" said Stephanie Berlan, fighting back tears. "I don't need my son to think I'm not taking care of him."
With no staff members available at the building, the family had to sleep inside their SUV, which was parked on the street. By the morning, the situation became even worse.
Stephanie Berlan spoke to the apartment's landlord via FaceTime to explain which items in the apartment belonged to her family. The family's possessions - clothes, suitcases and some expensive souvenirs - were then brought downstairs in plastic bags.
"People (were) watching me dig through trash bags not knowing what we were doing. It's humiliating," Stephanie Berlan said.
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The Berlans said they rented the apartment from a man named "Parker," a confirmed host on the Airbnb website. After the family moved in, he even asked how they were doing; "Just checking in to see how your stay is coming along," read one text message.
"We can't get a hold of him. I've been trying since midnight last night," said Chad Berlan after the eviction. "They tried, Airbnb tried, nobody can find him."
While the family has used Airbnb in the past, this incident has soured their view of the service. Before heading off on the next leg of their trip, Chad Berlan cautioned people to stay away.
Airbnb told NBC4 it is refunding the Berlans' entire $1,500, offering the family a $500 credit on another booking and banning "Parker" from its website.
"There have been over 200 million guest arrivals in Airbnb listings and negative incidents like this are extremely rare," said Jeff Henry, an Airbnb spokesman. "Our guests absolutely deserved better assistance from us and we are incredibly sorry for this experience. We have fully refunded this guest for their entire reservation and are reviewing how this happened."
The company also said hosts must abide by local laws. In Irvine, a home cannot be rented for less than 30 days.
The Metropolis Apartments property manager did not return a request for comment.