Kristin Turner's first few months as an Airbnb host had gone off without a hitch. She and her husband had purchased a home in Austin, Texas, in 2022 as a place to stay when they commuted into the city to work at a downtown trauma center, where they are both nurses.
Turner, 41, and her husband are both Austin natives, but they normally live with their son on a family farm outside the city that has been passed down within her husband's family for decades. "It's a great life, but we commute a lot," she said. To make the constant travel more bearable, they started to look into buying a home in Austin proper, but found the housing prices too high for them to afford on their own.
"So we said, 'Well, let's look into buying a house in Austin as a place that we can stay part time and rent out other times,'" she said.
In July, they closed on a three-bedroom home, planning to put it on short-term rental sites like Airbnb. One month later, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said recruiting more hosts was the company's top priority as it tried to meet demand for rental properties and reduce nightly costs. The company regularly advertises the benefits of putting one's home on the platform.
To make the home more appealing to potential renters, the Turners fixed it up and built an elaborate guest book that took advantage of their knowledge as Austin locals. It was a sizable investment of time and money, but by the fall, the plan appeared to be working.
"Things were going really well," she said. "I had bookings coming in daily."
Then, one night last October, Turner received an email that changed everything. It was from a member of the Airbnb team who identified herself only as "Eleanor," saying that the company had decided to remove her from the platform not because of her own behavior, but because her account had been "closely associated with a person who isn't allowed to use Airbnb."