Airbnb restricts rentals for people under 25 after latest Toronto shooting
In an attempt to crack down on its well-documented (and increasingly deadly) house party problem, Airbnb is testing new regulations that effectively ban people under the age of 25 from renting homes in their own local markets across Canada.
The wildly-popular vacation rental platform announced the news today during a press conference in Toronto, where three young men were recently shot to death at a condo unit that had been rented through Airbnb for a party.
That shooting, which took place on Friday night near Fort York and Bathurst, is only the latest to make headlines for taking place inside an Airbnb host home.
As part of new security measures in Canada, @Airbnb will introduce a 24/7 neighbour telephone hotline on Feb. 10, and pilot preventing guests under the age of 25 from making local entire-home bookings. pic.twitter.com/ZQMjfCyZlB— Airbnb Citizen (@AirbnbCitizen) February 5, 2020
One teen sustained serious gunshot injuries in April of last year during what was described as an "Airbnb mansion party" in Etobicoke. Another man almost died in August when shots were fired at a swanky Airbnb rental on Toronto's Bridle Path.
Five people, all under the age of 29, died similarly in November during a shooting in the San Francisco Bay area, where hundreds of people had gathered at an Airbnb rental to party.
Airbnb rolled out several new features in response to the deadly California shooting, one of which was a worldwide ban on "open invite" house parties. Another was the U.S.-specific implementation of a 24/7 hotline for neighbours of suspected Airbnb violators.
Mass shooting at Toronto AirBnB. So sad it has come to this. Toronto needs to enforce its new regulations NOW and delist these ghost hotel operators. I think we’ve all had about enough. #topoli #affordablehousing @Fairbnbcanada https://t.co/KdoOhqBt4p— Lis Pimentel (@lapimentel) February 1, 2020
The short-term vacation rental company promised on Wednesday that it would be rolling out a similar "rapid response" hotline for Canadians next week, and that it would be donating $300,000 to the Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns organization.
More controversially, Airbnb will soon restrict the ability of guests under the age of 25 to book homes within their own communities (though they can still book private rooms within homes, according to company spokesperson Chris Lehane.)
Exceptions to the new rule may be made for Airbnb users under 25 who have many positive reviews or meet other yet-to-be announced criteria.
Lehane said during his news conference in Toronto Wednesday afternoon that the measure is meant to "reduce instances of unauthorized parties" in Canada.
This is all well and good, but many press conference attendees were more focused on asking Lehane about the roughly 9,000 illegal Airbnb properties that continue to be rented in Canada's largest city.
"In Kensington right now as Fairbnb calls for Airbnb to remove 9,000 illegal listings from its Toronto website," wrote University-Rosedale MPP Jessica Bell on Twitter after the press conference. "Toronto should enforce its laws, Airbnb should abide by them."
We’re responding to Airbnb’s half-measures announced today: company is still enabling ghost hotels. They should obey the regulations. pic.twitter.com/v7d5tr4iTm— Fairbnb Canada (@Fairbnbcanada) February 5, 2020
Some critics also worry that the "under 25" restrictions won't do much to stop the problem of gun violence at house parties in Toronto.
"As an AirBnb property owner, I can tell you that the only time we've had an issue was a raucous party thrown by a 30 yo police officer from the next city over," wrote one on Twitter in response to the news.
"This is easily circumvented. Airbnb doesn't police vendors. Their system moves vast swaths of long term housing stocks to the speculative real estate markets, and they dont accept liability," pointed out another.
"Ban Airbnb entirely, they epitomize the term corporate psychopathy."
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