Airbnb declares all parties over indefinitely at its listings

Airbnb has been implementing measures to help limit hosting of unauthorized parties at listings booked through its platform, and today it implemented the strictest of all: a global ban on all parties and events. This includes an occupancy cap of 16 guests max at even the largest of the listings available on its platform, and the ban is “in effect indefinitely until further notice,” according to the company.

The company notes that “unauthorized parties” have always been against its rules, even though it previously allowed hosts on its platform to selectively authorize small parties depending on their own assessment of whether they would be okay with that, given the size of their house and the comfort level of the surrounding neighborhood.

In its posted explanation of the rule change, Airbnb cites the global COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing as a contributing factor to updated rules around group gatherings, including removing from its search tools specific flags encouraging use of listings as party venues. Simultaneously, they also added a policy that requires both hosts and guests to follow local health agency guidelines around COVID-19 prevention measures, which the company says amounted to what was “effectively […] a form-fitting, patchwork ban on parties and events.”

Airbnb says that while that seemed to be sufficient at the time to encourage responsible and safe behavior, changing regional guidelines have meant that they’ve seen an increase in some individuals on their platform to turn listings into defect bars and clubs — hence the introduction of this new global ban, which is designed “in the best interest of public health.”

In terms of specifics, the guideline explicitly prohibits parties on all future bookings, and adds the 16-occupant cap. Airbnb is working on creating some kind of exception process for boutique hotels and other similar properties that make use of its platform for bookings. Meanwhile, Airbnb is working on a process for informing guests of the party rules and that they open themselves up to potentially legal action if found to be in violation of the restriction.

Airbnb does not mention recent killings at rentals arranged through its platform, including one in Toronto in February in which three people were killed, and the California shooting last Halloween in which five people died. That incident in October 2019 prompted the “party house” ban that Airbnb then implemented, while the incident from February prompted calls for further action.