STOCKHOLM — If you're not careful, the so-called "sharing economy" can turn your home into a temporary brothel.
Swedish police report a growing number of pimps and prostitutes in Stockholm using long-term rentals on the home-sharing website Airbnb without the owner's knowledge."We estimate that there are currently about 200 apartments in Stockholm that are used for prostitution," Simon Häggström, part of the recently formed Stockholm Police Prostitution Group, told Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter.
The encounters are arranged on websites where pimps publish hundreds of ads daily. "The servers are located abroad and the webpages pop up as fast as they disappear," explains Häggström.
Airbnb warns its homeowner users against the risk of prostitution, showing examples of online requests to use a location until 2 a.m., signed "Destiny."
But in Stockholm, Dagens Nyheterreports that the apartments are often rented out for two or three weeks to guests claiming to be a couple on a "romantic vacation" or friends taking part in extended language courses.
Häggström says the people renting out their places through Airbnb are often naive, and wind up shocked when they find out their flats have been used for paid sex. "If we find out about prostitution activities, we always send a letter to the owner," says the investigator. "Sometimes they are so distraught, they want to sell both the bed and the entire apartment."