Airbnb to restrict under-25 rentals in UK, France and Spain

Europe: Airbnb has announced a trial that will restrict guests in the UK, France and Spain under the age of 25 from booking entire homes in an area close to where they live, in order to clamp down on antisocial behaviour and unauthorised rowdy parties in various neighbourhoods.

Starting with immediate effect and lasting for four weeks initially, British, French and Spanish guests under the age of 25 with fewer than three positive reviews will not be able to book entire home listings close to where they live, however they will still be able to book any type of listing outside of their local area. The restrictions do not prevent guests under the age of 25 from booking private rooms and hotel rooms through Airbnb, regardless of where they live.

Meanwhile, younger guests with at least three positive reviews and no negative reviews on Airbnb’s platform or with long-term plans are not subject to the restriction.

Airbnb said the measure was a follow up to similar pilots in the United States and Canada, which had proved successful in reducing the number of unauthorised parties that were taking place without the platform’s knowledge.

Last year, Airbnb announced it was banning all unauthorised parties and events across its listings around the world, as well as disabling the platform’s ‘event-friendly’ search filter to prevent further disruption to local communities. It added that it had also “strengthened its policies to ban gatherings that violate public health mandates”, in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The company first banned unauthorised house parties on its platform in November 2019 following a fatal shooting incident at a Halloween party at a California property rented through the platform. Five people were shot dead in the incident in the San Francisco suburb of Orinda, with Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky pledging immediate action on Twitter.

Chesky tweeted at the time: “We are redoubling our efforts to combat unauthorised parties and get rid of abusive host and guest conduct, including conduct that leads to the terrible events we saw in Orinda. We must do better, and we will. This is unacceptable.”

The issue of guest safety was raised again this week as it was confirmed that Airbnb was pursuing legal action against a Sacramento host who hosted an unauthorised party, during which a gunman injured three people. It was the first time that Airbnb had ever brought legal action against one of its guests.

The company’s latest press release read: “While the vast majority of stays on Airbnb are for responsible guests and just 0.03 per cent of stays result in a significant Host Guarantee claim, Airbnb is committed to being good partners to communities and today’s announcement follows a series of measures taken by the platform to clamp down on antisocial behaviour and unauthorised parties.”

Airbnb director of public policy, Patrick Robinson, said: “We want everyone to enjoy the summer safely and while the overwhelming majority of guests on our platform are responsible neighbours, we are absolutely determined to obstruct and weed-out anyone intent on causing antisocial behaviour. We want to do everything we can to be good partners to the communities where hosts live and we hope that our new policy will make it abundantly clear that there is no home for any unauthorised parties on Airbnb.”

In addition, Airbnb has launched a Summer Safety Campaign for hosts and guests to encourage safe and considerate travel amidst a busy summer season. The platform said it would be reaching out to the community with information and resources to ensure everyone can enjoy their stays safely over the coming weeks.

Throughout the four-week campaign, guests will be reminded to follow house rules, as well as local Covid-19 restrictions and Airbnb’s party policy. Guests who violate the company’s policies and community standards may be removed from the Airbnb platform.

Hosts will receive tips such as setting clear expectations to guests on the house rules and prioritising cleaning whilst hosting during Covid-19, and being considerate of local neighbours.

Earlier this year, Airbnb launched its enhanced Enhanced Cleaning Protocol handbook for hosts, with guidance from international experts on how to specifically clean and sanitise their properties.