ST. LOUIS — Airbnb announced a plan on Wednesday to prevent unauthorized house parties in St. Louis and several other cities nationwide during the summer holidays.
The plan includes blocking certain one-night reservations at homes during the Memorial Day and Fourth of July weekends.
Last year, Airbnb piloted a similar initiative over the July 4th weekend, and they estimate that these efforts helped reduce disruptive parties. In St. Louis, nearly 500 people were deterred from booking entire home listings during that weekend.
“In the event of an unauthorized party, initially the action is going to be taken against the guest who made that booking and didn’t tell the truth and caused the problem,” said Ben Breit, the director of trust and safety communications for Airbnb. “We can start by banning that individual from our platform. And there have been instances where we’ve even sued, bringing legal action against guests who have lied and thrown parties. We’re just not going to tolerate that behavior.”
Airbnb first shared its plan on Monday during a press conference with St. louis leaders. During the meeting, the city’s Downtown Engagement and Public Safety Initiative also announced a crackdown on short-term rentals following the deaths of three teens in separate incidents earlier this year.
On March 12, a 16-year-old boy was shot and killed in the lobby of the Ely Walker Lofts. Authorities said someone rented out one of the units to throw a large birthday party at the time.
Two kids, ages 12 and 14, were shot and killed at the Cupples Station Loft Apartments on March 25. The family had rented an apartment unit to celebrate a birthday party. They said the shooting was accidental. Authorities said it was being investigated as a murder-suicide.
“This is a clear message from law enforcement and the business community and the Mayor’s Office that we are not going to tolerate these kinds of illegal parties putting a bad name for downtown. And quite frankly, it’s not fair at all to the vast majority of short-term rentals downtown,” said Jason Hall, the CEO of Greater St. Louis Inc.
Airbnb said it will remove any party house that it becomes aware of, including homes where parties are happening repeatedly and causing disturbances for neighbors. It’s also working with Vrbo, another vacation rental company, to share information on customers that have been banned on Airbnb’s platform.
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