Renter will be reimbursed after vacation home had bugs, blood stains

Posted: Jun 21, 2018 6:10 PM Updated:

The NBC2 Investigators are getting results.

Last week, we told you to about a Fort Myers woman who spent $9,000 on a summer vacation rental on Sanibel that was filled with bugs, and what looked like blood stains and small hairs in a mattress.

PREVIOUS STORYHow renting a vacation home on Sanibel turned into a $9K nightmare 

One week after our report aired, the company that facilitated the transaction said she'll be getting all of her money back.

Dr. Amy Stanfill rented the house thru VRBO, or Vacation Rental By Owner. She had planned to stay there for three months with her family, but when they arrived, their dream vacation turned into a nightmare.

And the owner of the property said there was nothing wrong with the house.

The VRBO listing described the house as an "airy island cottage."

"It seemed perfect for a nice summer at the beach," said Stanfill. "When I pulled into the driveway, and I walked into the house, my heart just sank."

Once inside, Stanfill showed mattresses with stains, bugs and bug droppings throughout the house, mold in the shower, and rotting wood in the garage.

"They called me back last night and said they were finally able to look through all the information that I provided, including watching your news segment, and they stated I'm eligible for a full refund because the owner did misrepresent the house," said Stanfill.

While Stanfill is glad she's getting her money back, she said the fight isn't over, because the house is still listed on VRBO's website.

"My worry is that if a family with an elderly person or a small child comes and tries to walk up those steps, where the structure underneath is all rotted, somebody is going to get hurt," said Stanfill.

The homeowner said she plans on visiting the property soon, but she's not planning on taking the listing down adding that she had people renting here for two years without complaint.

She also said she recently installed a new air conditioner.

Neighbors we spoke with had a different story.

"I know about this house. I've been dealing with this for five years trying to get the city and the county to do something about the landscaping, the mold, the bugs," said Diane Chesley, who lives across the street from the property. "I think the renters have been treated unfairly just like we're treated unfairly every day."

VRBO said they only remove a listing on a case-by-case basis decision.

“The biggest tip for your viewers: if something goes wrong with their rental and they cannot reach a resolution with the owner or manager, call us immediately – our 24/7 team is available to help them find an alternative place to stay. If there’s something specifically wrong, document it and share it with us so that we can ensure the problem is corrected for future travelers or so that we can take appropriate action.” -Jordan Hoefar, Corporate Communications Manager, HomeAway

Additional tips from VRBO:

Know what you’re getting into — read the reviews and the vacation rental contract before submitting payment.

Protect yourself — book and pay directly through the website to be eligible for guarantees that guard against anything going wrong, like the property being misrepresented.

Public records show emails from a code enforcement officer that said the home had "dry rot" and "water damage to wood." But a building official said he "did not see any building code issues, just maintenance issues."