The rise of short-term letting platform Airbnb has been hailed as a revolution for travellers – and derided for its impact on local rental and housing markets.
But the platform continues to see strong growth worldwide with around 7 million properties currently listed and 600 million members.
However, recent events in California which saw a Halloween party held in an Airbnb-listed home turn to tragedy with the death of 5 people, has prompted the firm to take urgent action.
In an email to its staff, Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky said that the business is built on trust and – as some take advantage of this trust – it’s time to tighten up the rules.
It means that homeowners who list on the platform will need to be verified. This verification program is underway and means that homes will be verified for accuracy of the listing (including accuracy of photos, addresses, and listing details) and quality standards (including cleanliness, safety, and basic home amenities) and those that meet the company’s high expectations will be clearly labelled.
The plan is for every home and host to be 100% verified by December 15, 2020.
Manual screening for risky behaviour
The firm will also be rolling out expanded manual screening of ‘high-risk’ bookings where its risk detection models suggest bookings may be used for unauthorized parties.
This will initially apply in North America from December 15 and then globally through 2020.
There will also be a 24/7 hotline and rapid response teams that will handle calls from concerned neighbours. This is being set up with help from law enforcement agencies in the US.