Victory for irate neighbours? Airbnb confirms its temporary Covid ban on parties in its listings will now be permanent rule
Home and accommodation rental platform Airbnb has confirmed that it will make a temporary ban on parties at its listings, a permanent rule change.
The firm on Tuesday confirmed the decision, after it had introduced a temporary parties and events ban in August 2020, in order to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 via social distancing measures.
The Coronavirus pandemic from early 2020 onwards impacted the firm, and in May this year Airbnb said it was pulling out of China after difficulties in navigating the country’s ongoing zero-Covid policy, which places strict limits on domestic and international tourism.
Covid party ban
Airbnb has registered about 25 million stays in China since launching on the mainland in 2016. Bookings there reportedly accounted for about 1 percent of the company’s overall revenue.
But this week San Francisco-based Airbnb said that its temporary party ban has proved to be effective, “and today we are officially codifying the ban as our policy.”
“At Airbnb, we believe the neighbourhoods and communities in which we operate are as important as the Hosts and guests who use our service,” the firm stated. “We know that the overwhelming majority of our Hosts share their homes responsibly, just as the overwhelming majority of guests are responsible and treat their listings and neighbourhoods as if they were their own.”
“In turn, we focus on trying to deter the very rare cases of Hosts who do not operate responsibly, or guests who try to throw unauthorised parties,” it said. “To that end, in August 2020 we announced a temporary ban on all parties and events in listings globally – which at the time was in effect “until further notice.”
“The temporary ban has proved effective, and today we are officially codifying the ban as our policy,” the firm stated.
Before the temporary ban, the platform had historically allowed Hosts to use their best judgement and authorise parties when appropriate for their home and neighbourhood.
But in late 2019 it began tightened its measures to prohibit both “open-invite” parties (i.e., those advertised on social media) as well as “chronic party houses” that had developed into neighbourhood nuisances.
It also opened a hotline for neighbours to contact Airbnb with any party concerns.
But then the Covid-19 pandemic impacted the world, and countries globally imposed strict lockdowns to isolate people and ensure social distancing, so as to contain the spread.
Unfortunately rule breakers, faced with closed down pubs and clubs, began renting Airbnb listings in order to host parties, sometimes with the hoster being unaware of this violation.
“This was concerning to us due to both the disruptive nature of unauthorised parties and the risk of such gatherings spreading the virus,” said Airbnb. “As such, we announced the party ban to our community as being “in the best interest of public health.”
Airbnb also revealed that its party ban has been working, with a 44 percent drop in the rate of party reports since the temporary ban in August 2020.
“The ban has been well received by our Host community and we’ve received positive feedback from community leaders and elected officials,” the firm stated.
“As we build on this momentum, we believe the time is right to codify this policy.”
The company said guests who attempt to violate these rules will face “serious consequences” varying from account suspension to full removal from the platform.
Airbnb added that over 6,600 guests were suspended from the platform in 2021 for attempting to violate the party ban.
There are however some exceptions.
Airbnb said it would lift its previous 16-person occupancy cap for those hosts who have listings that can house above 16 people comfortably.
Airbnb also said that exceptions to the global parties ban may be made for “specialty and traditional hospitality venues” in the future.