Over a year after Airbnb banned the use of rental homes on its platform for parties — following a deadly Halloween 2019 shooting at one such party in Orinda — the company says it is still cleaning house with local rentals that received complaints during this pandemic year.
The company announced in a release that it was removing or suspending accounts for 65 "party house" listings in San Francisco, Oakland, and San Jose, based on these rental listings getting flagged for violations.
"The vast majority of hosts in the Bay Area contribute positively to their neighborhoods and the local economy, and they also take important steps to help prevent unauthorized parties," Airbnb said in the announcement. "Our actions today address the small minority of hosts who have previously received warnings about hosting responsibly or have otherwise violated our policies."
Monday's announcement of these banned listings follows on several others that the company has made regarding this issue over the course of this year. And it sounds like they maybe wanted to get ahead of some story? Or they're just trying to get themselves in the news amid a pandemic when very few people are traveling and using their service.
Technically, no one in any Bay Area county is permitted to rent a vacation rental right now unless they're a nurse, doctor, or essential employee, under stay-at-home orders from the state. The only exception is for people renting homes for longer than the minimum 10-day quarantine period and who intend to stay at the rental without leaving for that quarantine period.
"Everyone in the Bay Area has a role to play in reducing the number of large gatherings and parties, and that includes Airbnb,” said Matt Middlebrook, Airbnb Regional Policy Lead, in a statement published by KRON4. “By sharing out our actions today, we hope to raise awareness of our 24/7 neighbor support line which helps to bolster the enforcement of our global party ban."
Airbnb went public in splashy fashion on December 10, and while the stock tumbled a little in its first days it has broadly recovered, and is now trading at $161.68, well above its Day 1 close of $144.71.
Last year, the issue of "party houses" made international headlines following the quadruple homicide at an Airbnb rental in the East Bay on Halloween. And in August, Airbnb took the unprecedented step of suing a guest in the Sacramento area who rented a home where three people were subsequently shot during an illegal party.
Now, though, and for most of this year, the issue is less about noisy parties or people getting shot as it is about dumb people and teens having parties that become COVID super-spreading events.
In addition to the banning of these Bay Area listings, the company last week announced a global plan for New Year's Eve (impacting the US, UK, Canada, Mexico, Australia, France, and Spain) to prevent unauthorized parties from taking place in its hosts' homes. The company is banning all one-night rentals on NYE for guests without a history of a positive reviews on the site.
Airbnb says a similar ban over Halloween appeared successful, but the company is responding to feedback from hosts about permitting one-night rentals by responsible guests.
The company has also instituted a blanket ban on rentals by guests under the age of 25 who have fewer than three positive reviews on the site. And Airbnb now has a global capacity cap of 16 people for all home rentals.
Photo: Filios Sazeides