TAMPA, Fla. — In an effort to keep people safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, Airbnb is cracking down on house parties in Florida. So far, the vacation rental company has shut down more than 40 listings for violations – including in Manatee County.
"We've seen what parties and large social gatherings can do with spreading the virus. Any roll we can play in stopping house parties we are going to do it," Airbnb's head of trust and safety communications, Ben Breit, said.
The popular vacation rental business formally banned party houses last year.
"We've actually recently taken steps for the first time to take legal action against guests who have thrown unauthorized parties," Breit said. "A few weeks ago we went even further and capped occupancy at 16 people globally in addition to banning party houses."
Unauthorized parties have always been a challenge for Airbnb to avoid, but with the pandemic, it remains a top priority to address. Research from the company shows last-minute reservations are more likely to lead to unauthorized parties, prompting another new change.
"If you are under the age of 25 and have no history of positive reviews then we will not allow you to book an entire home listing local to where you live," Breit said.
For example, an 18-year-old with no positive reviews on their account who is trying to book a mansion in the same city they live in would be blocked from doing so.
"The overwhelming response from hosts in Florida has been positive and they are trying to be responsible. So these additional rules support them. We are trying to continue weeding out any who may be acting irresponsibly," Breit said.
These new rule changes will remain in place indefinitely.
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