To address this issue, Chesky reassured users that they don’t have to worry about fake listings because Airbnb is working on a new system to verify them.
As has been his habit about product changes, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky tweeted about updates the company is making to this year’s summer release announced in May.
Notable are the updates on the long-awaited verified listings, cleaning fees and lower prices, and better customer service.
But let’s talk about verified listings, as it’s been a concern the company has said it was addressing for a while — precisely four years in the making.
A common concern among Airbnb users involves difficulties in locating the advertised apartment or encountering unresponsive hosts. To address this issue, Chesky reassured users that they don’t have to worry about fake listings because Airbnb is working on a new system to verify them.
This is how it will work: In order to get verified, for each listing, individuals must provide proof of being a genuine resident at the location, with the host having access to that property. To accomplish this, Airbnb will deploy a mix of anti-fraud technology, artificial intelligence (AI), and human evaluation to assess authenticity and ascertain if they fulfill the verification requirements.
For new listings, this entails uploading photos with GPS data via the Airbnb mobile app. For existing listings, it will rely on data from past bookings, guest reviews, and information supplied by the host.
In its blog, Airbnb said that in the upcoming months, it intends to implement listing verification across the United States, Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, and France, with the verified icons scheduled to be visible on these listings starting in February of the following year, with additional 30 countries coming in the fall.
These measures are designed to bolster trust and safety within the Airbnb community, reinforcing its commitment to prevent fraudulent listings. The company said it removed 59,000 such listings while blocking 157,000 more would-be listings throughout the year.
Airbnb first announced policies around verification in 2019 after a mansion party booked through Airbnb in Orinda, California saw the shooting deaths of five people on Halloween. Curbing house parties and guest safety were important concerns in the lead-up to Airbnb’s IPO in 2020. The pandemic had other plans and this initiative was paused until now.
Announcing these updates on X, Chesky hinted there will be more to come in November.
Hostaway Appoints a CFO
Vacation rental property management software provider Hostaway announced that it appointed Ashley Milton as its new chief financial officer. In his previous role, Milton was the CFO at human resources software solutions company Tellent Group. His prior roles include CFO positions at DAZN, Stats Perform, and WPP.
Sonder’s Reverse Stock Split Now Effective
Sonder 1-for-20 reverse stock split, was slated to begin trading on an adjusted basis starting today. This strategic move aims to boost the stock’s trading value to above $1 per share to meet Nasdaq’s compliance requirements.
The reverse stock split involves consolidating every 20 shares of Sonder’s common stock into one share and reducing the total authorized common stock shares from 400,000,000 to 20,000,000. The decision to pursue a reverse stock split followed a Nasdaq notice in April, warning of possible delisting due to shares trading below $1 for 30 consecutive days. Shareholders approved the reverse stock split in a special meeting held on Friday.
Richmond Eases Rules on Accessory Dwelling Units
After Phoenix, Arizona did so, the planning commission in Richmond, Virginia has considered allowing homeowners to construct secondary housing units on their properties. Proposed modifications to the city’s zoning code would permit accessory dwelling units (ADUs) without requiring a special permit in all residential zones.
These units, including converted garages, basement apartments, and purpose-built units, would have to be one-third the size of the primary residence or 500 square feet, whichever is greater, and can only be built on lots with single-family homes. The legislation also introduces a minimum rental period of 30 days for units in residential areas, except when the owner’s primary residence is on the same lot. The proposal suggests increasing the fee for a two-year short-term rental permit applications from $300 to $600. These ordinances are scheduled to be reviewed by the city council on September 25, VPM Media (NPR) reported.
Role of Short-term Rentals in British Columbia
A McGill University professor has released a report shedding light on the impact of commercial short-term rental growth on British Columbia’s rental costs. The study emphasizes the need for the province to establish a short-term rental registry and implement platform accountability measures to save tenants billions of dollars in rent, and address housing supply, attainability, and affordability.
The report found that in the summer of 2023, around 16,810 homes transitioned from residential to dedicated commercial (investor-owned) short-term rentals. The rise of short-term rentals contributed to rent increases of 28.1% that year. The study estimated that tenants in British Columbia incurred an additional $2 billion in rent costs between 2016 and 2021 due to the expansion of commercial short-term rentals. Proposed measures include “homesharing,” a registry system and real-time data sharing.
Australia’s First Short-Term Rental Tax
The local government of Victoria, Australia unveiled two significant initiatives aimed at reshaping policy in the state: The country’s first widespread tax on short-stay accommodation platforms like Airbnb and Stayz, and the redevelopment of 44 large public housing towers.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced the 7.5% levy starting in 2025, anticipating an annual revenue of approximately $70 million to support social and affordable housing, The Guardian reported. In addition, the plan outlines an ambitious project to revamp Melbourne’s post-World War II public housing towers, which have been integral to Victoria’s public housing system for six decades.
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