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Red flags to look out for when checking into lodges or BnBs

By Winnie Mabel January 18th, 2024 3 min read

In a matter of days, two gruesome murders were reported in Nairobi city, Kenya. Two women, renowned socialite Starlet Wahu, and a yet-to-be-identified woman, were believed to have been murdered by men who checked into short-term rentals with them in South B and Roysambu estates respectively.

Conversations about safety in booking and using rentals continue to be rife on mainstream and online media as well as offline as Kenyans called for the vetting of owners of such establishments as well as some level of administration of the same by government agencies.

As this conversation continues and before any policy is put in place for clients’ safety, how can potential clients identify any red flags and ensure their personal safety before going to a short term rental property for a ‘date’ with a partner?

  1. If you had prior information about the rental you were set to use, consider it a red flag when you arrive on location, and it does not match any of the photos or descriptions given to you by your date or any of the information posted on the official rental’s website.
  2. It is a red flag if you are taken to a lodging that is in a different location other than what you were informed by your date who booked the place in advance, different from what Google Maps states or what is published by the short term rental’s managers. Make sure to have an escape plan in the event this occurs- or simply do not show up if you know something is off from the beginning.
  3. Do not settle into a short term rental where cameras are set up inside private rooms such as washrooms or the bedrooms. You may not know what purpose the owner may have with the footage- especially if you come to discover there are hidden cameras in these spaces as you check in. Cameras should only be permissible in common areas where one’s right to privacy is not infringed upon.
  4. Do not book a short term rental where the owner has negative reviews such as allowing strangers to enter the space when clients are using it. Your personal safety is interfered with because you do not know who has been let into the place or if they would harm you. Sound minded managers will allow you to check in and stay away from the rental space until your time to check out unless you need something from them during your stay.

At the end of the day, before agreeing to meet up at or go to a short term rental space with anyone for a ‘date’, tell two other people your whereabouts, who you are with and how they can find you in the event you are unreachable.

While some lodgings have some level of security such as caretakers, security guards and CCTVs to deter criminal activity, you just never know what may befall you during your stay behind closed doors.

Make sure to prioritize your personal security first- even if you have to walk around with legal self defense tools.

Additionally, if you are not the one who booked the short term rental space, make sure to first obtain the lodging’s information from your date so that you can plan yourself in terms of back up finances and safety.

Do not simply go somewhere because someone you trust or want to trust and create a relationship with has made all the arrangements and all you have to do is show up.

Do some light research about the rental, check out any of its reviews to find out how staff carry themselves and how they handle problems at the establishment.

Make sure to know the surroundings of the rental space in the event you need to escape unexpectedly. You don’t have to get lost while seeking for help.