If your neighbors put their properties on Airbnb–and play host to a “drug-induced orgy,” meth lab, or den for peeping Toms—you will soon be able to complain to the site about it. The company announced the feature at a government hearing on home-sharing services in Tokyo today (Mar. 14), Bloomberg News reported.
Yasuyuki Tanabe, Airbnb’s Japan chief, said the feature would address the relationship between Airbnb hosts and their neighbors, which he called “one of the most important issues” affecting the so-called sharing economy. “Our first step in this direction is to give neighbors the opportunity to comment or complain,” he said.
The neighbor feedback feature will let residents who live near a property listed on Airbnb leave comments in an online form. These comments are reviewed by Airbnb’s customer support staff, who will decide if further actions are necessary. The company didn’t specify if neighbors’ feedback will be public, or if neighbors will be identified, according to Bloomberg News. The report noted that this feature would be rolled out worldwide in the coming weeks. Quartz has contacted Airbnb for comment.
Japan is a key market for Airbnb. It’s the company’s fastest-growing market for inbound visitors, partly driven by a hotel room shortage. Tourist arrivals in general are surging, and the 2020 Olympics are on the horizon.
But the rise of home-sharing services in Japan, or minpaku, has rubbed residents the wrong way. The government has issued home-sharing guidelines that greatly limit the properties that qualify to be rented out. Airbnb is lobbying for a new set of rules for lodging-marketplace companies.
The Airbnb horror story is a mainstay of critics’ complaints about the dark side of the so-called sharing economy. But the nightmarish scenarios have largely been confined to hosts, who list their properties hoping to turn a profit. As neighbors are increasingly affected by the spread of Airbnb rentals, the site will need to acknowledge the feelings of a broader group of stakeholders beyond its direct users.