Airbnb, Vrbo Teaming Up To Stop Party House Whack-A-Mole
When people use short-term rentals to throw wild parties, it isn't just loud noise and overflowing parking lots that cause headaches for neighbors.
One Miami condo was so overrun by short-term renters and partiers that it had to spend an additional $200K on janitorial services, $560K on security and $93K on a more expensive insurance policy when its original one was dropped, the condo association alleged in a lawsuit against Airbnb last fall. Court records show they settled in March. In Sacramento, Airbnb sued a guest who used its platform to book a house and throw a 50-person party where people were shot.
Short-term rental platforms Airbnb and Vrbo, which is owned by Expedia, on Friday announced that they will team up to develop the Community Integrity Program, sharing inside information about their respective listings in order to crack down on so-called party houses, which repeatedly violate rules and bounce from platform to platform to evade punishment and stay in business.
In 2019, Airbnb started cracking down on party houses and launched a Neighborhood Support Line for complainants in the U.S. and Canada. The company also implemented manual reviews of high-risk reservations and restricted guests under age 25 from booking homes near where they live unless they had a history of positive reviews. Vrbo likewise implemented the Stay Neighborly program, allowing complainants to submit reports about troublesome properties.
Last August, as the coronavirus spread throughout the world, Airbnb announced a global ban on all parties and events at Airbnb listings and a cap on occupancy at 16. Airbnb announced in May that the worldwide ban would remain in effect through the end of this summer.
Airbnb went so far as to ban 50 problematic properties in Los Angeles, 65 around San Francisco, 50 in Arizona and 40 in Florida in geographic crackdowns last year, but those same properties could just pop up on another short-term rental site.
With the Community Integrity Program, Airbnb and Vrbo will enlist a third-party intermediary to develop a process that identifies properties that have been permanently removed from each platform. From there, each company can take its own action.
The companies plan to launch the program in the United States in the coming months. Airbnb and Vrbo are hoping more short-term rental companies join the program.
"Neither Airbnb nor Vrbo have tolerance for irresponsible activity in South Florida, and this program aims to narrow enforcement gaps and prioritize the safety of the communities in which we operate," an Airbnb spokesperson said via email.
Airbnb and Vrbo say that party houses make up a very small minority of short-term rental properties.