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Women Sue After Airbnb Turns Into 'House of Horror'

Suit against rental site, Michigan homeowners comes after women say they were attacked by bats
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 31, 2023 7:53 AM CDT
At This Spooky Airbnb, 'Every Renter's Worst Nightmare'
Stock photo of a bat.   (Getty Images/CreativeNature_nl)

According to its Airbnb listing, the "Castle House" in Alpena, Michigan, is an "incredible historic home" that's "bursting with charm." According to a group of eight women who rented the abode earlier this year, the place is actually like a "horror movie," complete with bats. That's per a new lawsuit filed Monday against both Airbnb and the home's owners, in which the plaintiffs say they suffered a "sleepless, scream-filled night of terror," reports the Detroit Free Press. The women, who'd rented the Victorian-style residence at the end of July for their 50th high school reunion, say that the first couple of days of their stay at the Castle House were uneventful, per a press release from Marko Law.

A few nights in, however, all hell broke loose, they say, claiming that as two of the women were attempting to go to sleep in the room inside the turret, they spotted a dark shape flying around the bedroom. The women say they ran out and shut the door behind them, sealing the crack under the door with blankets so that the lone bat (or so they thought) couldn't escape. They were "consumed" with more bats in the hall and stairwell, however, and so retreated back to their bedrooms, trying to block the door cracks with towels, pillows, and other materials—but the bats found their way in through gaps in the baseboards and walls.

The women "cowered underneath their covers" until dawn, when the screeching bats finally headed back to the attic, per the release. At least one of the women says she was bitten. An exterminator found a large colony of Michigan brown bats in the attic, with bat urine and "inches upon inches" of bat guano coating the floor and walls. The women, who were advised to get rabies vaccinations, say that Airbnb "negligently allowed the bat-infested home to be advertised on the platform," while they said the homeowners "had a responsibility to ensure that the home was safe when renting it," per the release.

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Click On Detroit notes that Michigan brown bats are the most common bat species found in the northern part of the state's Lower Peninsula, and that, after coming out of hibernation, the creatures will set up shop in homes and other man-made structures, like in barns and underneath bridges. "This is every renter's worst nightmare," attorney Jon Marko says in the release. "What was supposed to be a fun vacation turned into a house of horror for my clients. No one expects to be attacked by a horde of bats." (More bats stories.)

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