Be careful when you rent out your apartment via Airbnb in the UK or Sweden. Your ‘cosy and spacious apartment’, which would best be described as ‘an elegant and soothing combination of old world charm and modern design with all the amenities’, could very well be used as a brothel, or a whorehouse as it is called in layman’s terms.

UK Police are now warning owners of rental properties to be on their guard against Airbnb pop-up brothels. Detective Inspector Nick Skipworth told the Daily Mail:

“We see a lot of them using flats and these will be £1,000-a-week flats (…) they can easily cover that. I chatted to one Polish girl who was 19 and she was seeing up to ten clients a day and making £100 a client,”

During police raids focussed on human trafficking, dozens of Airbnb apartments were discovered which were used by Eastern European sex-workers. The women were travelling across the UK with the goal to make large amounts of money in a short period of time. They travelled from city to city every one or two weeks, to stay under the authority’s radar. But the phenomenon is not restricted to the UK. In Sweden, where prostitution is illegal (for ‘consumers’), sex-workers are increasingly using Airbnb to accommodate their services.

UK police found that many of the women come from Romania. The fear is that many have been trafficked into the country by criminal gangs. Sergeant Matt Puttock, the tactical lead for sexual exploitation, stated that they:

“interview all the women and check why they are there and whether they want to be there. Generally, we have no power to make them leave the situation they are in but we can use various methods to remove women if needs be, but it is difficult. Some are brainwashed to not to talk to the police or any other authority.”

In The Netherlands, council member Dennis Boutkan of the Dutch Labour-Party (PvdA), expressed his concerns for Amsterdam. There is evidence that there too, rented apartments have been used by sex-workers. Boutkan commented that: “Amsterdam barely takes action against ‘home-prostitution’ when it’s not explicitly advertised.” Boutkan fears that prostitution via sites like Airbnb can, therefore, remain under the radar.

An Airbnb Spokesman commented on the situation, and stated that Airbnb has:

“a zero tolerance policy for issues like these and are urgently investigating (…) there have been over 200 million guest arrivals in Airbnb listings and negative incidents are extremely rare.”

Still, our advice would be, that should you rent an apartment via Airbnb, to ask the owner for a clean set of sheets.