Miami real estate agent sues Airbnb over “fraudulent” rental

Suit surrounds a duplex at 521 Northeast 68th Street in Miami's Morningside neighborhood

521 Northeast 68th Street
521 Northeast 68th Street

In a twist on an alleged Airbnb scam, a real estate agent is accusing the online short-term rental listings company of allowing an unauthorized individual to rent out a client’s Miami property without her knowledge.

Realtor Yarden Bayles is suing Airbnb in Miami-Dade Circuit Court to recoup $29,500 in rental fees she paid the property owner out of her own pocket and for an undetermined amount of damages.

In recent years, the Federal Trade Commission has received dozens of complaints from Airbnb users who rented homes from alleged hosts who would request payments be made via wire transfer instead of the company’s online platform. The guests would subsequently learn the properties were not available and that they had been scammed.

In Bayles’ case, an individual named Mihael Yordanov allegedly fraudulently listed a duplex at 521 Northeast 68th Street in Miami’s Morningside neighborhood on an Airbnb account with his information, asserting himself as the property’s owner, the recently filed lawsuit states.

Bayles, who has her own Airbnb account that she uses to list numerous properties, including the duplex, said in the suit that a woman booked the home via Yordanov’s account for four weeks between March 12 to April 6. The renter paid him $29,500 via Airbnb, the lawsuit alleges.

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However, when the guest arrived on March 12, Bayles turned her away because she had no knowledge of the “fraudulent reservation” and she hadn’t received any payment, the lawsuit states.

Airbnb spokesman Ben Breit declined to comment on the specific allegations, other than saying, “We are reviewing the matter and are working to address Mrs. Bayles’s concerns.”

Bayles’ lawyer Krysten Pogue declined comment.

According to the lawsuit, Bayles and the property’s real owner spoke to an Airbnb representative only identified as “Joseph” and provided proof that Yordanov had no right to list or rent the duplex. Joseph allegedly told Bayles that Airbnb would pay the proper rental amount for use of the duplex if she allowed the guest to stay for the agreed upon rental term.

However, Airbnb never made the payment, despite numerous attempts by Bayles and her attorney, according to the suit. Bayles wants Airbnb to reimburse her the money that she was forced to pay the owner from her own funds, as well as pay her for the loss of goodwill from her clients, additional cleaning and servicing fee and emotional distress.