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Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky
Reuters/Mike Segar
It was a grim Halloween for Airbnb.
NO VACANCY

Airbnb announces “party house” crackdown after deadly shooting

Ephrat Livni
By Ephrat Livni

Senior reporter, law & politics, DC.

What could be better than having a house party at a home that is not your own? You get all the intimacy and coziness of festivities in your abode and few of the woes. However, don’t count on throwing your next bash at an Airbnb because the company today announced that it’s cracking down on festivities. The move follows a Halloween party shooting in Orinda, California at a short-term rental listed on its platform.

Company co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky tweeted the announcement shortly after the Contra Costa County sheriff’s department reported that a fifth person injured in the shooting had died. “Starting today, we are banning ‘party houses’ and we are redoubling our efforts to combat unauthorized parties and get rid of abusive host and guest conduct, including conduct that leads to the terrible events we saw in Orinda,” Chesky wrote.

In a thread, he laid out the actions the company will take, including expanding manual screening of high-risk reservations that are flagged by its risk-detection software, creating a dedicated “party house” rapid response team, taking immediate action against users who violate the new guest policies, and doing all that fast. Chesky says he’s tasked a company executive with creating a new team to “initiate a 10 day sprint to review and accelerate the development and implementation of these new safety initiatives.” He concluded the thread vowing to do better.

The listing in Orinda that prompted this action by Airbnb explicitly prohibited parties. Yet local authorities received repeated complaints about big bashes and lots of noise at the address and issued repeated warnings to the owners of the home. Now, with five people dead and no arrests yet made, the Orinda city council is contemplating what to do to ensure the safety of short-term rentals. Mayor Inga Miller said this will likely be discussed at a council meeting on Nov. 5. The city already restricts how many occupants are allowed at short-term rentals to 13 people, and may approve additional limits.

Airbnb says the Orinda house has been delisted and that the guest who rented it and held a party there despite the prohibition has been banned from the platform.

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