Woman Reveals Nightmarish and Dangerous Experience As Airbnb Host

Emily Reily 5 Nov 2018

Alavia Khawaja recently shared her terrifying experience as an Airbnb host. This wasn't a simple case of a lodger skipping out on the bill. According to Alavia, one man stole money and belongings from her, then harassed her through constant text messages. She shared her story on Twitter. Read on for more.

Khawaja rented to Jackson on Oct. 11

Alavia, of North Texas, says she rented a room to a man named Leonard Jackson on Oct. 11. She had locked her own room and had a male friend come over just to be safe, according to the Star-Telegram.

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"My closet had been gone through"

Alavia says when she returned home a few hours later, her own room had been broken in to. She alleges Jackson stole about $500 from her. “I saw my door was cracked open, the lights were on, my closet had been gone through,” she said. “The cosmetic case where my sister keeps her cash was empty," she told the Star-Telegram.

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Police and Airbnb get involved

Alavia called Richardson, Texas, police, and a detective took her statement. But police said they couldn't do anything unless Jackson told them he did it. She also contacted Airbnb, who told her if police couldn't solve the case in three days, then they would.

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Richardson police: Jackson faced weapons, drug charges

Richardson police Sgt. Kevin Perlich says Jackson had been arrested on Oct. 17 on a charge of weapons and drug possession, but he made bond soon after.

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Khawaja: Harassment continued

The story doesn't end there. Alavia says Jackson continued to reach out to her, sending her messages through her Airbnb profile. He continued asking if he could stay in her room. Meanwhile, police say Jackson was facing charges relating to harming a child. But again, police said Jackson had to admit stealing from her in order for them to take action.

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Khawaja responded to Jackson's texts

Wikimedia | https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:AirbnbToronto5.jpg

Alavia told the Star-Telegram that she responded to his messages on Oct. 20 because she was getting nowhere with the police or with Airbnb. That's when things started to escalate.

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Jackson: "Do you got any condoms"

Several harassing texts from Jackson revealed messages he was coming over to clear things up. Other messages: “Will you be my wife, Ima show you how much I appreciate you, Ima show you love,” and “do you got any condoms I can use.” When Jackson appeared at her property, she called 911 and police arrested Jackson. All the police could charge him with at the time was trespassing. So he was out again, on bond, about 24 hours later. Two weeks later, Airbnb removed Jackson's profile from their records.

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Airbnb admits their response was "slow"

Airbnb's public relations officer Ben Breit emailed Star-Telegram that their response was "too slow," and that they were working to remedy that. “This reported behavior is abhorrent and unacceptable, and has no place on Airbnb," he says.

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Police say room rentals not safe

But Alavia's story highlights the struggle many women have with being believed. Perlich says "two young ladies renting out a room (is) not the best situation." “Usually when you’re renting out a room that way, you’re not there, but they were. It’s not the best idea or the safest thing to be in the apartment with someone you don’t know,” he continued. Alavia says after she posted her story on Twitter, two other women said they had a negative experience with Jackson as well.

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Khawaja hopes her story will help others speak out

“I don’t like when people focus on what a victim should have done better. There is always something a victim could have done better. If you get hit by a car, you could have been more aware of your surroundings. But no one ever focuses on how the abuser should not have abused," Alavia says.

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