RENTAL GONE BAD
• Thieves made off with a 50- inch TV, treasured family heirlooms and a carefully curated sneaker collection, but it’s their son’s plundered piggy bank that really upsets Daniel Habashi and Andrea Van Leeuwen.
The Toronto homeowners say they were shocked to find their century- old Victorian rowhouse trashed and ransacked after renting it out for a weekend in July on the Airbnb-like website Kid & Coe.
They are now suing the New York- based company and estimate damages to the home and the value of stolen property total $100,000.
“The ( renters) ransacked our home, they emptied drawers out, cleared out closets, they used our own luggage to sort through all our belongings to determine what to take, what to sell,” said Van Leeuwen, who suspects more than 50 people trampled through their house.
Habashi said they believed they were renting to a young couple with a toddler, but later learned the renter had used fraudulent credit card information. They learned something was wrong July 22, the day after the guest checked in.
They were visiting New York when a neighbour emailed a noise complaint that evening. Early the next morning, Habashi noticed several alerts on his mobile phone reporting smoke in the house. They called a security company to investigate, and it discovered eight adults sleeping in the home. They were evicted, and a relative filed a police report.
Van Leeuwen said she was especially distressed to find her children’s toys broken and apparently used as drug paraphernalia, and their books burned by cigarettes.
Ever since, she said her four- and five- year- old sons have been “highly distressed.”
“I can still smell the hint of the smoke that was in the home, it’s a constant reminder for me of what has happened in the home as well as our son just asking questions — asking if he’s safe, asking if his stuff is OK.”