Barnsbury homeowner’s Airbnb hell: ‘Noise forced me to sleep in my car’

PUBLISHED: 07:00 02 February 2017

Dionne Duncan wrote about her plight of living under a noisy Airbnb on her front window in Offord Road, Barnsbury. Picture: Polly Hancock

Dionne Duncan wrote about her plight of living under a noisy Airbnb on her front window in Offord Road, Barnsbury. Picture: Polly Hancock


Culture, food, proximity to the City – Islington is a top tourist destination. So there’s a huge market for people renting out their homes on Airbnb. But as the Gazette hears, it can be a headache for those who live here full-time.

Dionne Duncan lives in a basement flat, underneath an Airbnb on the ground floor. Picture: Polly Hancock Dionne Duncan lives in a basement flat, underneath an Airbnb on the ground floor. Picture: Polly Hancock

Dionne Duncan reached the end of her tether on a hot night in August. Desperately needing a good night’s sleep, she was kept awake by loud banging in the Airbnb-let flat above.

“People were having thunderous sex upstairs,” she recalls. “I had a 7.15am flight. There was nothing for it – I actually went out and slept in my car.”

Airbnb is a website that allows people to list and rent their properties for short-term lodgings. The horror stories usually centre around landlords finding their homes ransacked or destroyed.

But neighbours can have it just as bad. In the past year, complaints to Islington Council about “nuisance” noise from Airbnb properties increased to 45: up from six the previous year.

Ms Duncan, 41, has lived in her basement flat in Offord Road, Barnsbury, for four years. The problems began in January last year, when the ground floor tenants moved out and the flat was listed on Airbnb.

The Gazette meets the self-employed IT programme manager on a Thursday. Ms Duncan claims she was restricted to three-and-a-half hours’ sleep the night before.

She describes a typical night: “I come home from work, make some food, relax and try to go to bed at about 11pm. This is where I start to feel nervous. Every sound is like a volt and the more it happens, the more sensitive you become to it.

Dionne Duncan also claims she has slept in her summer house in the garden to escape noise from an Airbnb flat. Picture: Polly Hancock Dionne Duncan also claims she has slept in her summer house in the garden to escape noise from an Airbnb flat. Picture: Polly Hancock

“Doors will start slamming. I can hear people stomping through. Conversations rain through the ceiling. Last night they were talking about one of their friends, whose 22-year-old son is apparently dealing weed at Manchester University.”

But what is the difference between Airbnb users in holiday mode and noisy neighbours?

Ms Duncan answers: “These people come and go. They are never there for more than three days. On the other hand, if someone is living there permanently, it is more of a community. You would expect them to be more considerate to neighbours’ routines.

“The guests have not been bad people. Some have even posted notes apologising for any noise made.

“I like the idea of Airbnb – I have used it myself. But this building should not be a full-time hotel.”

Cllr Diarmaid Ward, the town hall housing boss, is also unhappy at the number of Airbnb properties – 306 as of Tuesday – listed in Islington.

In spring, Airbnb is to block London hosts renting out homes for more than 90 days a year, unless they have official consent.

‘No comment’

Emily van Eyssen, owner of the ground floor Airbnb flat above Ms Duncan, refused to comment when approached by the Gazette – citing ongoing legal proceedings.

It is listed as a “super new flat” off “cosmopolitan” Caledonian Road, accomodating four people. It features a “stunning” bedroom and open plan living room. “Lovely fluffy cotton towels” are provided on arrival.

The three house rules are no smoking, no parties and keeping noise to a minimum after 10pm.

From 69 reviews of the property, it has an average four-and-a-half star rating. However, the most recent said: “The beds were the most uncomfortable I have ever experienced.”

But Cllr Ward told the Gazette: “Airbnb pushes up rent for long-term residents and takes housing stock out of supply. Landlords can make a lot more money from short-term Airbnb lets.

“In terms of neighbours, the first thing we do is call in our anti-social behaviour team. What we really need is for the government to give us power to enforce. But I am very happy to take on this lady’s case.”

After sleeping in her car in August, Ms Duncan scrawled on her front window, for Offord Road to see: “A night’s sleep is impossible here as full-time Airbnb up there.”

Ms Duncan and the ground floor flat owner, Emily van Eyssen, are in the middle of legal proceedings.

She describes the impact on her life over the past 13 months: “It makes me feel sick. And what p***** me off is that I lost my gravitas interacting with people.

“But I can’t let it crush my general happiness. Nothing is going to change so I have to go on the front foot – that’s why I put the message on my front window.

“The legal proceedings isn’t about going to the courts to get some money – I just want to sleep!”

Has your life been ruined by a neighbouring Airbnb property? We would like to hear from you. Email


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Islington Gazette visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Islington Gazette staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Islington Gazette account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Islington News Stories


Jeremy Corbyn has criticised “disgusting” treatment of the Windrush generation – including a number of his Islington North constituents.


We held a local elections hustings last night. Sadly, barely anyone turned up. There was still good debate, though. James Morris reports from St Mary’s Church in Upper Street.


Police are trying to track down a prolific shoplifter who assaulted a man and has twice pulled weapons when confronted about stealing booze from Tesco in Stroud Green Road.

Yesterday, 16:28

Police are appealing for information on Islington teenager Marcus Simmonds, who has been missing from his St Paul’s Road home since Saturday.

Yesterday, 15:50

A man has been charged with possession of an offensive weapon as murder police continue to investigate the stabbing of 20-year-old Kwasi Anim-Boadu on the Andover Estate.

Yesterday, 15:43

In a weekly feature, we profile and champion a fascinating shop or company doing business here in Islington. This week, we visited Newington Green’s Acoustic: Jeremy Corbyn’s favourite restaurant.

Yesterday, 11:37

A parent has called for greater police presence in troubled Rosemary Gardens after a huge brawl yesterday afternoon.

Yesterday, 11:05

Islington South and Finsbury MP Chris Smith offered himself as a “swap” for hostages on a hijacked Kuwaiti airliner.


“I try and do my best to enhance the young person’s capabilities. I’m very focused on their education, their wellbeing and their cultural needs.”

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Islington Gazette
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now