At the end of 2019, Airbnb announced that it would ban “unauthorized” parties in short-term rental properties. Any house parties that were held without preapproval from the Airbnb host, such as “open invite” parties, would be prohibited starting in 2020. This came after a deadly shooting occurred at a party house near San Francisco, California during Halloween of last year. But the party house ban was also meant to address common issues neighbors tend to have about Airbnb rental properties such as excessive noise and parking issues. It would also help hosts who are faced with unauthorized guests visiting or staying at their rental properties.
Since the initial ban on party houses, Airbnb has been taking steps to crack down on listings that violate the new regulations in many major cities across the US. Listings that have complaints against them regarding parties or that have violated Airbnb’s policies in one way or another have been removed from the platform. The short-term rental platform also advised hosts to use “party sensors” in February. These devices can measure humidity and noise levels and essentially tell a host if a party is being held on the premises. To try to further crack down on large house parties to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, Airbnb even went as far as banning guests under the age of 25 from booking rental properties on the platform. A hotline was also opened for neighbors who wish to lodge complaints.
However, for the first time in the company’s history, Airbnb is suing a guest who held a party in an Airbnb in Sacramento, California last weekend that ended in a shooting. Three party goers were injured.
Ben Breit, an Airbnb spokesperson, said in a statement that the Airbnb Sacramento guest (whose name has not been released to the public) “booked the rental under false pretenses, acted with negligence, and violated public health orders.” Breit commented on Airbnb’s decision to take legal action against the guest:
Airbnb has no tolerance for unauthorized parties, which are expressly banned in its Community Standards.
Not only was the party in violation of Airbnb’s policies but it was also violating the state’s regulations against large gatherings due to COVID-19. Around 50 people attended the party at the rental property.
This step to take action against an Airbnb guest for violating policies comes in a time when the company has been suffering great financial losses due to the coronavirus. Airbnb’s reputation also took a blow as the company set a new COVID-19 cancellation policy earlier this year. This lawsuit may be another way the company works to fix its image and repair its relationship with hosts before going public later this year.
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