Trust in the sharing economy - an $18,000 mistake

I was an early adopter in 1989 of room sharing with Servas (https://www.usservas.org). I'm a member of the house sharing networks Couchsurfing, HomeAway and HomeLink. We have had good visits and extraordinarily wonderful visits such as the time we were hosted by a Servas family in Australia. One family we met through HomeLink have became lifelong friends whose daughter traveled with us to the Beijing Olympics.

So when Airbnb started up, we signed on due to our great experiences. That was until 'xxx' stayed at our vacation home. You see, 'xxx' arranged his 19th birthday party at our house and under his care, the house sustained $18,000 in damage. One of the first questions I get asked is, ‘what did Airbnb do?’ Through their insurance, they paid the $18,000 in repairs. The 2nd question I get asked is ‘how does someone do $18,000 in damages in a weekend?’ Think 19-year olds punching holes in the wall, urinating in the mattresses, saturating the carpets with beer and you get the picture. The next question I get asked is ‘why did you rent your home to a 19 year old??’

Well, that was my mistake. Before renting, I had done a quick search on 'xxx' and saw he was a local from my family’s hometown. His age was not listed in Facebook, only where he had gone to college.  Because I’m generally a trusting person, I let my guard down resulting in the extensive home damage. After spending a week of my time overseeing repairs, I got to thinking. My expertise is in predictive analytics surely I could have predicted this turn of events! A background search turned up some rather interesting facts about 'xxx' had I know I would have never let him rent. So that’s how Vijilent was started.

I continue to be a trusting person, but now I’m more careful in vetting individuals I invite into my home. Vijilent’s V-score makes it quick and easy for me to make an informed choice on who rents our house, who cares for our pets, who cleans the house and who I bring into my mother’s home to care for my grandmother with Alzheimer’s. I invite you, even if you are a stranger to me, when in the Raleigh, NC area to share a bottle of wine and even to spend the night, but I will look up your V-score before extending the invitation.

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