Believe it or not, Airbnb has been around for 15 years now. Born in 2007 when two hosts welcomed three guests to their San Francisco home, it’s since evolved to 4 million hosts who have had over a billion guests in their homes in almost every country in the world.
Of course, Airbnb has had its issue:
- Some owners have been caught using hidden cameras
- Depending on where it is, the Airbnb unit could be illegal
- All the other things, big and small, that you have to worry about when you’re staying in a stranger’s house
- Or what if you get a host who’s a nightmare unto themselves, like this woman was?
All that set aside, Airbnb has its place. Maybe not always so much now, but for years, it was usually cheaper than a hotel room. It’s ideal for those who want more privacy than a hotel can offer. And I’ll be the first to admit it was a game changer during COVID, when travelers invested in their health and safety wanted to limit their amount of “peopleing” while away from home. And, more recently, people even used Airbnb as sneaky a way to support Ukrainians.
Airbnbs can be as tiny as a bedroom or as big as a mansion. The spaces that are huge are great for those who are having family reunions, sorority/fraternity get-togethers, or just a big group of people going on vacation. But the one big problem of those big, full home rentals? When they’re used as party houses.
Renting Airbnbs as party houses has become a huge problem. And it all came to a head in 2019, when an “Airbnb party house” became the scene of a murder investigation. It was so bad that the FBI became involved.
That’s around the time that Airbnb started making rules about parties. For certain holidays – New Year’s Day, 4th of July, Halloween, etc., they started making specific rules (number of nights you could rent, number of people in the rental, etc.) about renting Airbnbs.
Now, I get it when it comes to having parties in rented houses. Joe and I have Disney Vacation Club points and since we don’t use them for trips to Disney anymore (we live 9 miles away from Disney World), we have, on occasion, hosted parties in some of the larger villas available at Disney. It meant we didn’t have to scrub our house clean before or after; just get rid of all the trash, leave housekeeping an amazing tip, and it’s all good. However when we were hosting these parties once a year or so, we and our guests were already middle aged, and all very much law abiding citizens (half our guests worked at Disney – they weren’t going to do anything stupid while on property. And at least one was, at the time, a cop – she CERTAINLY wasn’t going to do anything sketchy). As for being obnoxious, heck, quite frankly, we were falling asleep by 11pm ;-). We weren’t blasting music, doing drugs, shooting each other and having to have the FBI called.
But that’s us.
After the murder/FBI event, Airbnb did what they could to tighten the reigns on rentals for the purpose of parties. They also opened a Neighborhood Support Line phone number for neighbors in some areas to call regarding party complaints.
Fast forward to 2020, and a few months after Covid hit, Airbnb put a temporary stop to all rentals being used a parties, in the name of public health. Not surprisingly, there was a 44% year-over-year drop in the rate of party reports. Over 6,600 guests were also suspended from Airbnb’s platform for attempting to violate the party ban.
The temporary ban worked so well that it’s now becoming permanent, effective immediately. Well, effective earlier this week. From Airbnb’s June 28th newsletter:
At Airbnb, we believe the neighborhoods and communities in which we operate are as important as the Hosts and guests who use our service. We know that the overwhelming majority of our Hosts share their homes responsibly, just as the overwhelming majority of guests are responsible and treat their listings and neighborhoods as if they were their own.
In turn, we focus on trying to deter the very rare cases of Hosts who do not operate responsibly, or guests who try to throw unauthorized parties. To that end, in August 2020 we announced a temporary ban on all parties and events in listings globally — which at the time was in effect “until further notice.”
The temporary ban has proved effective, and today we are officially codifying the ban as our policy.
…it’s been working. We believe there is a direct correlation between our implementation of the policy in August 2020 and a 44% year-over-year drop in the rate of party reports. The ban has been well received by our Host community and we’ve received positive feedback from community leaders and elected officials. As we build on this momentum, we believe the time is right to codify this policy.
Airbnb says they’ve introduced several anti-party measures to stop both unauthorized parties and what they call “chronic party houses” (houses offered for rent specifically to hold parties). These include anti-party reservation prevention, special holiday anti-party measures, a 24-hour safety line, our Neighborhood Support Line, and a partnership with Vrbo to share information on repeat “party house” offenders in the US.
As the old song goes, “the party’s over…” It’s probably just as well.
Feature Photo: Airbnb
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