Airbnb cracks down on house parties, suspending more than 20 listings in the Austin area

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — More than 80 Airbnb listings across Texas, including more than 20 in Austin, have been suspended or removed from the company’s platform, according to Airbnb.

The short-term rental company announced Tuesday morning that the move came after complaints that the listings violated policies on parties and events, which includes a ban on gatherings of more than 16 people.

According to Airbnb, one listing in Wimberley and another in Fredericksburg are part of the suspensions and removals.

Kelly Graham is an Airbnb owner in Fredericksburg who has been taking actions for years to help prevent parties at his properties.

That includes only allowing those 18 and older to rent.

“I had some drunk people issues; shower doors magically breaking and not knowing why… I wanted a little bit of a responsibility factor,” he says.

“That eliminates that kind of incentive to rent to a large group,’ he says.

Graham also banned parties at his property– a global rule for all Airbnb listings since August.

“The majority of our hosts in Texas and otherwise already ban parties. So, if a party happens in a listing where they ban parties and it’s unauthorized, we’re going to work with that host,” says Ben Breit, Airbnb Trust and Safety spokesperson.

He says they looked into listings with recurring complaints last week.

“We decided to take a dedicated look at important places, like Texas, to make sure that we were properly enforcing on all homes where we’ve been receiving complaints,” says Breit.

Graham says he understands hosts are in a tough position — he’s had to break up a party, himself.

“They’re not the ones that have to show up and tell the people, ‘Hey, you have to stop this party. I know you’ve had this wedding plan for a year and a half now and postponed it for six months,'” he says.

But he sees the need for enforcement.

“If the host is just blatantly disregarding the rules, then I do support that so it doesn’t ruin it for everyone else,” says Graham, who started his first Airbnb about four years ago in order to afford his Fredericksburg home next door.

“It’s not a property I bought as an investment property. This is how I’m affording my mortgage. And so, I’m a little bit more invested in what happens with the Airbnb community and my community,” Graham says.

In 2019, Airbnb formally announced a ban on party houses and established a 24/7 hotline for concerns.

Breit says whether a listing is removed or suspended — and for how long — is decided on a case-by-case basis.

Here is the full list of cities where Airbnb has suspended or removed listings: 

  • Austin
  • Baytown
  • College Station
  • Corpus Christi
  • Cypress
  • Dallas
  • Edgewood
  • El Paso
  • Fort Worth
  • Fredericksburg
  • Houston
  • Lubbock
  • Pearland
  • Richmond
  • San Antonio
  • Uvalde
  • Wimberley

In the last few months, Breit says Airbnb also started restricting some bookings for guests under the age of 25.

“As a practical example, if we identify a 20-year old guest who is located in Texarkana, our systems are set up to restrict that user from booking a house, apartment or other entire home listing in Texarkana for a 1-night reservation the following weekend unless they have a history of positive reviews on Airbnb.  However, if that same 20 year-old is booking a stay to visit family in Houston, the restriction would not apply,” the company stated in Tuesday’s press release.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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