Lexington man says Airbnb ignoring host protection guarantee

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LEXINGTON, Va. (WDBJ7) -- Airbnb's have become a popular way to earn extra cash.

But, for one Lexington man, it's his primary income.

Now, he says Airbnb owes him after his place was destroyed.

Justin Peery can remember the cold, April night his Bed and Breakfast burned down. "The fire began in the furnace and burned up through the registers," he recalled. "I was thinking 'Oh God, I'm losing everything.'"

About forty people were staying at Peery's B&B at the time.

He says one of the guests was turning an oil furnace on and off throughout the evening. "And with the type of furnace we had, which was an oil dump furnace, each time it was turned on, it dumped more oil," Peery explained.

He says an estimated 25 gallons of oil was dumped and the burn box couldn't keep up.

An independent investigator hired by Peery's attorney ruled the fire was caused by that furnace.

Peery booked the party through Airbnb which comes with what's called a "host guarantee."

According to their website, that covers listings for up to $1 million in damage. "We're writing to inform you that we are denying your host guarantee claim," Peery read.

In a statement to WDBJ7, Airbnb said “Our sympathies are with Mr. Peery, and we are deeply saddened by the loss of this historic property. We strive to provide exceptional support for our host community, and in particular we take Host Guarantee claims extremely seriously. In this case, our denial was based upon a thorough and independent report from a respected Virginia fire investigator who did not attribute the fire to any actions of the guests.”

In that report, the investigator said "it was not possible to determine the origin or cause due to the severe damage"

But, Peery says he just wants a company that promised him peace of mind, to deliver. "You know, I'm from the south, a handshake is a handshake to me, so if you've led me to believe you're going to help us out and take care of us, that's our hope, I hope you step up to the plate and show us that you will."