VENICE, CA — Airbnb, one of the largest short-term rental companies in the world, announced Thursday it will ban all parties and events at its global listings, including capping capacity to 16 people, until further notice amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Airbnb stated that starting Friday, the party ban applies to all future bookings.
“We are currently scoping a potential exception process for specialty and traditional hospitality venues (such as boutique hotels),” Airbnb said in a statement. “Guests will be informed about Airbnb’s party rules and informed that they may be legally pursued by Airbnb if they violate our policy. This work is currently being operationalized and will be rolled out in the near future.”
The announcement comes after city and health leaders have made efforts to curb party houses, and Airbnb said it is committed to working with them on this issue.
Airbnb stated the move also comes on the heels of a party house crackdown in Los Angeles earlier this year, which resulted in the suspension or removal of 28 listings in the Hollywood Hills identified by the Los Angeles Police Department as “creating a substantial neighborhood nuisance.”
“We are currently in the process of communicating this new policy to our global community. We are partners with our hosts on this important issue and we both feel the pain when an unauthorized party occurs during an Airbnb reservation,” Airbnb stated. “We believe having a simpler, global policy will allow us to better support the vast majority of hosts who already ban parties in their homes.”
Councilman David Ryu has advocated for the City Council to adopt enforcement against people who host large house parties during the pandemic.
“I’m glad to see Airbnb take this issue seriously and adopt some of the ideas I have been pushing for alongside Mayor Eric Garcetti and Council member Paul Koretz,” Ryu said. “Party houses are unsafe, irresponsible and can have grave consequences, especially during a pandemic. All of us, from individuals to governments to global tech platforms, have a responsibility to shut these parties down for good.”
Airbnb stated that when the COVID-19 the pandemic was declared and social distancing became an important element in promoting public health and responsible travel, it updated its policies. At the time, most local governments were imposing strict limits on gatherings.
Some guests, however, chose to take “bar and club behavior to homes” that are sometimes rented through the platform.
“We acknowledge that there will always be those who attempt to break the rules,” Airbnb stated. “This is why we’ve implemented steep consequences for hosts or guests who try to skirt them, including bans from our community and even legal action.”
Garcetti said on Wednesday he authorized the city to shut off utilities to a Hollywood Hills home where several large parties were hosted despite the COVID-19 pandemic and Safer at Home orders as well as multiple warnings from law enforcement, although it’s not clear if that home was rented through Airbnb.
Earlier this month, a longtime Venice resident sued the owners of an adjacent home, alleging the property is leased on a short-term basis for party purposes during the coronavirus pandemic.
Nina Menkes’ Santa Monica Superior Court lawsuit against Palms Blvd. Venice Beach LLC alleges private and public nuisance, trespass, intentional infliction of emotional distress, unjust enrichment and violation of the Business and Professions Code.
PBVB has “made it clear that their short-term rental income stream is more important to them than compliance with the law or plaintiff’s and her neighbors’ concerns,” according to the complaint. The suit seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages, and a court order preventing the landlord from continuing to rent out the property on a short-term basis.
Menkes has resided for nearly 20 years in her quiet neighborhood, located about two miles from the commercial areas of Venice, according to her court papers, There are no nightclubs, bars or restaurants on her block or in the vicinity, the suit says.
PBVB bought the home next to Menkes’ residence last November, according to the suit, which says the PBVB property has seven bedrooms, 5 1/2 bathrooms, a guesthouse and a large outdoor pool and patio area.
From April until the present, PBVB has listed, marketed and rented the property for profit on a short-term basis, using online services such as Airbnb, according to the suit, which says guests typically stay at the home for less than a week and often for only one to two nights.
“In practice, PBVB has converted the property into an unlicensed and illegal, all-hours nightclub, bar and party house,” the suit alleges.
Guests are charged well over $2,500 per night and PBVB has “apparently marketed the property as an open alternative to the still-closed bars and nightclubs where people can drink, smoke, dance, fight and party as freely and as loudly and for as long as they like, all to plaintiff’s and her neighbors’ detriment,” the suit alleges.
PBVB’s guests have “near continually held raucous, indoor/outdoor parties, frequently lasting through all hours of the day and the night,” the suit says. “These parties routinely bring dozens of visitors to the property, upwards of 50 guests at a time on more than one occasion.”
Guests occasionally hire DJs with professional, amplified sound systems and some in attendance use microphones to host events, give speeches, make announcements and sing along with “their already deafening music,” the suit says.
Guests often smoke and drink to intoxication and block the plaintiff’s driveway with their cars, according to the plaintiff.
“Defendants’ guests rent the property on a short-term basis and do not live in the neighborhood, they do not care what effect their behavior has on (Menkes) and other neighborhood residents … it simply is not their problem,” the suit states.
PBVB’s guests have used the home in violation of stay-at-home orders issued by Los Angeles County, which generally forbid any and all social gatherings with rare exception, the suit alleges.
Menkes has spent months trying to resolve the problem with PBVB without success, according to her court papers.
The full statement from Airbnb is available at news.airbnb.com/airbnb- announces-global-party-ban.
– City News Service and Patch Editor Nicole Charky contributed to this report.
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This article originally appeared on the Venice-Mar Vista Patch