If you were hoping to rent an Airbnb in the GTA and throw a massive Christmas bash, you’re out of luck.
Airbnb, the world-wide online lodging marketplace, announced it’s banning “party houses” after five people were shot and killed at a Halloween party near San Francisco.
The ban applies to Airbnb reservations in Canada.
CEO Brian Chesky tweeted that Airbnb will immediately expand screening of high-risk reservations. Chesky also said they will initiate a “‘party house’ rapid response team” with the potential to remove anyone from the property who breaks the regulations.
“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 stated in a tweet.
The California tragedy occurred at an Airbnb rental that prohibited parties. Still, it was promoted as the site of a Halloween party on social media and more than 100 people attended. A woman who had rented the house told the owners that her relatives had asthma and sought to avoid the wildfires plaguing parts of the state.
The owner eventually called police about the party but they arrived too late to stop the shooting.
Chesky said Airbnb “must do better, and we will. This is unacceptable.”
Airbnb has been under attack for skirting local bylaws and for being a key factor in overtourism which puts a strain on local infrastructure.
An August shooting in Toronto occurred at a property that is thought to have been an Airbnb listing.
In Toronto, it’s estimated that there are 21,000 Airbnb listings. They produce $214 million a year in short-term rental revenue in the Canada’s largest market.
The city has approved a short-term rental bylaw that, pending the outcome of a legal challenge, would require the hosts of short-term rentals to be the principal occupant of the home. A McGill university researcher who testified before a tribunal hearing the appeal of council’s approved rules, said that under the rules more than a third of the city’s Airbnb listing would disappear.
Nearly two years ago, city council okayed zoning and licensing rules designed to restrict Airbnb-style rentals. Those short-term rentals are accused of disrupting residential neighbourhoods and turning condos into ghost hotels with more short-stay units than permanent residents. Many condo boards in the city have passed rules and regulations banning short-term rentals.
The appeal hearings have ended and a decision could be coming within the next 60 days.
Meanwhile, Airbnb has launched a “10-day sprint” to put the new rules in place as quickly as possible. Whether they have any effect on party bookings over Christmas time remains to be seen.