An Airbnb host who was left with a $640 utility bill says that guests left the gas and water taps running after he did not meet their cancellation request

A woman using a tablet to browse the Airbnb on an app store.
An Airbnb host in South Korea had to deal with a huge utility bill.John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images
  • A South Korean Airbnb host was handed a $640 utility and water bill after a couple's stay, per SBS.

  • Two guests, who booked the Seoul home for 25 days, had left the gas and water taps running.

  • The host said the couple's behavior was in retaliation to him not accepting a cancellation request.

An Airbnb host in South Korea is facing a $640 utility bill after two guests left the gas and water taps running for prolonged periods during their booking, SBS reported last Wednesday.

The property host — who was only identified by his last name, Lee — said he was charged 840,000 South Korean won after a Chinese couple rented out his property in the capital city of Seoul for 25 days in March. Lee did not disclose the amount he was paid for the booking.

Lee only discovered the high gas usage when a gas meter inspector called to tell him that the property might be experiencing a leak.

He visited the property only to find an empty home with the windows open, and the gas left on, per SBS. The gas usage resulted in a 640,000 won charge, according to a video posted by SBS on YouTube on April 7.

The video garnered 3.4 million views since being posted.

Lee was particularly vexed about the 170,000 won water bill — the charge for using about 120 metric tons of water, per SBS. Seoul's water authority told SBS that the quantity is the same as eight adults would use in two months.

"Seeing how the utility bills went up by quite a lot, I wonder how unkind they have to be to be able to do such a thing," Lee told SBS in the YouTube video.

Lee said he believed the couple deliberately ran up his bill to retaliate for not meeting their request to cancel the reservation after they booked the home.

The couple said they wanted to cancel as they had contracted COVID-19, per SBS. Lee then asked for proof of their infection, but the guests said they would be going ahead with their reservation.

The couple then asked Lee if there were surveillance cameras on the property and were told there were not, per SBS.

But the home did have a camera at the entrance, which documented the guests' entries and exits. The guests had stayed in the property for five days after checking in, after which they left and dropped by the property every three or four days, per SBS.

Lee said he tried to get Airbnb to help to cover the high water and gas bills, but the platform said it was "unable to make an exception and help with compensation," according to screenshots of his conversation with the company shown in the video.

Airbnb's AirCover protection program covers guest damage to homes and damage to guests' belongings, but not high utility bills.

Airbnb did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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