Man Confesses to Killing Airbnb Guest Over Unpaid Bill

Zachary Stieber
By Zachary Stieber
March 5, 2019Australia
Man Confesses to Killing Airbnb Guest Over Unpaid Bill
Ramis Jonuzi, 36, was killed by three men from whom he was renting a room through Airbnb in Melbourne, Australia in October 2017. (Ramis Jonuzi/Facebook)

A man confessed to killing an Airbnb guest in his house in an Australian court on March 4.

Jason Colton, 42, said he killed Ramis Jonuzi, 36, at his residence in Melbourne in October 2017, according to Fox News.

Colton, who was a tenant in the house, was subletting to Jonuzi through Airbnb, a popular service that lets users rent rooms and houses around the world.

Jonuzi initially rented the room for three nights but extended the stay for another week. The extension cost $147.

When the week ended and Jonuzi hadn’t paid, Colton became violent, kicking and punching Jonuzi.

NTD Photo
Jason Colton, 42, admitted to killing Ramis Jonuzi over an unpaid Airbnb bill. (Jason Colton/Facebook)

According to the Herald Sun, two other men who also lived at the residence were involved in the attack. Craig Jonathon Levy, 37 was sentenced to seven years in jail in September 2018 after pleading guilty to manslaughter.

The third man, Ryan Charles Smart, 38, also pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to nine years in prison.

While the men attacked him, Jonuzi cried out and said he had just $6 in his bank account.

NTD Photo
Ramis Jonuzi, 36, was killed by three men from whom he was renting a room through Airbnb in Melbourne, Australia in October 2017. (Ramis Jonuzi/Facebook)

“For some of the attack Mr. Jonuzi was unconscious on the ground, for all of it he was helpless,” Justice Andrew Tinney said during Levy’s sentencing.

In court, Colton said he did choke Jonuzi to death but claimed he’s only guilty of manslaughter, not murder, reported The Age.

Colton pleaded not guilty to murder in the country’s Supreme court, but prosecutors said he knew his actions against the victim were potentially fatal.

“Colton choked or compressed the neck of Mr. Jonuzi, thereby preventing him breathing and Mr. Jonuzi has died,” prosecutor Mark Gibson told the jury.

Colton said he only wanted to subdue Jonuzi and not kill him. The trial is expected to take several weeks.

Airbnb app logo
The Airbnb app logo is displayed on an iPhone on Aug. 3, 2016. (Carl Court/Getty Images)

Los Angeles Passed Airbnb Regulation

In December, an ordinance regulating the short-term rental business including those with Airbnb was approved by the Los Angeles City Council.

The ordinance set a limit of 120 days for the hosts to run their home-sharing business during one calendar year. In addition, hosts are required to only rent their primary residence and must pay an $89 fee for the registration, which will need to be renewed every year.

If the host wants to rent out their place beyond the 120 days limit, they need to meet several requirements including that the property has not been the subject of too many nuisance violations. They will also have to pay $850 for an extended registration without which hosts could face a daily fine of $2,000 or two times the nightly rent charged, whichever is greater.

Hosts may be suspended for 30 days if they have two violation notices at a time. They also could lose their eligibility if they receive three violation notices within a year.

Although the ordinance is “far from perfect,” it is “as close as we can get,” said Councilman Mike Bonin at the council meeting. He indicated that the ordinance is a measure to keep a balance between all the competing interests.

The ordinance acts to protect housing stock by curbing the conversion of long-term housing units to short-term rentals, which is more profitable for the hosts, after critics argued that the home-sharing business further fueled the city’s housing shortage.

“In some cases, large numbers of housing units within a building, or even entire buildings, have been effectively converted to short-term rentals,” the ordinance read. “Short-term rentals in property other than a primary residence create unfavorable consequences, including negative impacts on the residential character of surrounding neighborhoods and increased nuisance activities.”

Epoch Times reporter Zach Li contributed to this report.

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