Guests using short-term rentals for wild parties and criminal activities have been the scourge of the sector, and the problem was highlighted again this week after a Halloween evening “mansion party,” booked through Airbnb in Orinda, California, reportedly led to the deaths of five people in a shooting.

The party, apparently publicized via Instagram, reportedly drew more than 100 people even though it was booked for a group of a dozen people supposedly celebrating a family reunion.

In response, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky tweeted on Saturday that the company is taking steps to ban “party houses,” which have been a chronic problem for Airbnb, other alternative accommodations businesses, hosts, and neighbors.

Among the measures Chesky announced:

  • Airbnb will expand manual vetting of high-risk reservations that its risk-assessment technology highlighted.
  • The company will create a team to rapidly respond to reports of party houses.
  • Airbnb pledges to take “immediate action” to boot guests who violate its prohibition against party houses.
  • Margaret Richardson, Airbnb’s vice president of Trust, will oversee the rapid response team “and initiate a 10-day sprint to review and accelerate the development and implementation of these new safety initiatives.”

“We must do better, and we will,” Chesky tweeted, referring to the fatalities in Orinda. “This is unacceptable.”

Join us at Skift Short-Term Rental Summit in NYC on Dec. 5

Chesky’s tweets come a day and a half after the shootings.

Critics will charge that Airbnb’s response is too little and too late, and the company is merely concerned about its reputation as it heads into 2020 and its intended debut on the stock market.

“Gotta take fast action before that IPO!” responded Riana Lynn, founder of food technology company Journey Foods IO on Twiiter.

Ryan Danz, a TV host, tweeted to Chesky: “For years superhosts and hosts like @airconciergeinc have pleaded and begged for assistance from
@AirbnbHelp when we’ve seen:heard:reported issues on site in real time. Local law enforcement rarely offers support usually claiming falsely ‘landlord/tenant issue — go to court.’ We’ve constantly lived and operated our businesses and homes in a constant state of fear of these exact sceneries.”

The issue of party houses and unruly guests have been chronic problems — and not just for Airbnb. It’s one of the reasons that many hosts resist the platforms’ efforts to make instant bookings standard for alternative accommodations.

Register now for Skift Short-Term Rental Summit in NYC on Dec. 5

Photo Credit: Airbnb signage during Airbnb Open LA on November 17, 2016, in Los Angeles, California. Airbnb is taking steps to ban "party houses" after fatalities at an Airbnb-booked house party in Orinda, California, on October 31, 2019. Mike Windle/Getty Images / Airbnb