Airbnb renews company policy after recent issues

Farah Javed, Copy Chief

On Oct. 31, partygoers were excited to attend what they thought was just another Halloween party. However, when they arrived, a feud broke out between members of rival gangs, leading to a shootout that killed five people.

According to Yahoo News, a sheriff arriving at the Airbnb location in San Francisco Bay, California described it as a “bloodbath.”

On Nov. 2, the CEO of Airbnb, Inc., Brian Chesky, tweeted that the company has put a team together to rewrite company policies within 10 days, in light of the recent tragedy.

The shooting came in the midst of backlash against the company across the United States. For instance, CNBC reported that New York has been closing down illegal listings, and that New Jersey had voted to regulate short-term rentals.

Residents voted in favor of the regulation because they believed “the platform was allowing tourists to overwhelm residential areas, raising housing costs and mostly benefiting large-scale investors.”

According to Inside Airbnb, of the roughly 3,000 listings on the platform in Jersey City, 500 are operated by the top 10 hosts in the area.

The shooting also played a role in this decision, as New Jersey residents were concerned for their communities’ safety.

The company released a new list of policies meant to promote safety. In Airbnb’s newly released policies there is a party house ban, stating that by Dec. 15, measures will be in place to prevent unauthorized parties.

The company will also review all listed homes and hosts to make sure they are up to Airbnb’s standards, as well as check to see if the residents are the registered hosts.

To prevent another incident on company property like the one in California, Airbnb is doubling the size of its response team. It will also have a 24-hour hotline in case of emergencies.

To further ensure safety, the company will be tripling technological and operational investment to screen high-risk reservations. According to the new company policy, these changes will take effect in the United States, Mexico and Canada by the end of 2019, and globally by the end of 2020.

The fourth and final measure is that if a client reaches their rented property and finds it to be lackluster, Airbnb will provide a full refund.

Despite these measures, the company’s website still includes in its policies that “all weapons that are present at a listing must be properly stored and secured,” instead of completely banning them.

Moreover, this is a loophole in their policies, as guests could bring weapons of their own to the property, as shown in the shooting, but would not be punished by the company as they are not the renters.

It is unclear how well these policies will enforce safety, as the company’s own website explicitly allows weapons.

Overall, as states continue to fight to regulate rentals, Airbnb is working to implement its new safety measures.