Airbnb files landmark lawsuit against unauthorised Sacramento host

US: Airbnb has announced landmark legal action against a Sacramento host who hosted an unauthorised party during which a gunman injured three people. 

This is the first time that Airbnb has ever brought legal action against one of its guests.

The action alleges both negligence and violation of local health orders on the part of the guest. Airbnb has already removed the offender from its platform and has said that in keeping with its terms of service, the case will go to arbitration if a settlement is not reached.

Airbnb spokesperson Ben Breit said that the guest had booked the rental under false pretences. It has committed to donating any money gained from the legal action to a Sacramento based non-profit fighting gun violence.

Breit told Business Insider: “Airbnb has no tolerance for unauthorised parties, which are expressly banned in its Community Standards.”

Airbnb’s citation of health orders shows a growing concern with pandemic laws on rentals, as officials have linked outbreaks to unauthorised indoor gatherings. According to The Sacramento Bee, Los Angeles city officials threatened to cut utilities to houses which flout city and county orders.

The company first banned unauthorised house parties on its platform in November 2019 when a similar outbreak of gun violence in San Francisco led to the death of five. The company has since introduced a variety of additional measures to crack down on house parties, including restricting under-25s from renting full houses in the United States and Canada [and now the UK, France and Spain], and encouraging hosts to install sensors which detect noise and other potential party indicators.

Daniel Guttentag, assistant professor in hospitality at the College of Charleston, told The Sacramento Bee: “I think it probably reflects growing frustration on the part of the company that these parties are still happening. And a growing recognition that they need to do everything to make these parties stop.”