An Airbnb host in Melbourne, Australia has been suspended for allegedly discriminating against a user on racist grounds.
Sadia Mohamed, 19, was looking to rent a holiday spot in the city with her sister and had been confirmed for a two-bedroom waterfront apartment.
But she was shocked when she received a private message from the host saying the arrangement wasn't going to work out because Mohamed was black.
"Thank you so much! If you are black, please forgive us for not receiving you!" the host wrote.
Mohamed told NCA NewsWire it was an instance of racism more blatant than anything she'd experienced.
"I've never experienced anything so in my face. I've dealt with racism in the past but not something like this and with someone that's so open," she said.
"I was honestly just shocked that someone living in 2020 was so comfortable with making racist comments."
After receiving the message from the host, Mohamed shot back in the message thread: "Okay give me my money back right now cause I am black."
According to screenshots shared by Mohamed, the host suggested she apply through Airbnb to get her money back.
But Mohamed told her: "I do not appreciate this at all! This is pure RACISM.
"In a time like today especially, I'll be sure to report you immediately. For someone to be hosting on a major platform such as this, such discrimination is not acceptable."
The host defended herself, claiming it wasn't discriminatory and blamed the building management for the decision: "I'm sorry, because the whole building is like this, and the building management gave us an ultimatum! Thanks."
Airbnb told NCA NewsWire it had taken swift action after being alerted to a Twitter post about the incident. The company opened an investigation and froze the host's account, saying it would eventually be removed completely.
It is understood Airbnb confirmed the authenticity of the conversation in the screenshots before pulling the plug on the host.
"Airbnb's mission is to create a world where everyone can belong anywhere. This is something we care deeply about and are absolutely committed to," the company said in a statement.
"Discrimination is unacceptable and has no place in our community. We have removed a host and the listing in question and will continue to investigate the matter.
"We enforce a strict non-discrimination policy and, under our Open Doors initiative, if a guest feels they have been discriminated against, we will provide personalised support to ensure they find a place to stay."
Asked what she thought of the company's response, Mohamed said: "Honestly, I'm happy with what Airbnb did but I wish they did more."