In the initial summer of the COVID-19 pandemic, Airbnb put into effect temporary policies designed to curb large-scale gatherings taking place at rental properties, effectively known as its “party ban.” The purpose was twofold: To slow the potential transmission of the virus (and any suggestion of liability), and cut down on what the company feared might be a boom of “party houses” while bars and restaurants were shut down. The “temporary” policy has remained in place ever since, but today Airbnb announced that they’re officially codifying the party ban into their policies, albeit with some tweaks to the policy as it currently exists.
The type of property/Airbnb listing that would seemingly always have been the target of the policy are suburban houses or apartments, with Airbnb concerned about “the very rare cases of Hosts who do not operate responsibly, or guests who try to throw unauthorized parties.” Tools such as the Neighborhood Support Line now exist to allow neighbors to report unauthorized parties and large gatherings directly to Airbnb. Other tools include “anti-party reservation prevention, special holiday anti-party measures, a 24-hour safety line, and a partnership with Vrbo to share information on repeat ‘party house’ offenders in the U.S.” Or in other words: If you want to have a party, you’re probably best off doing it in a property you own, because Airbnb aims to make it as inconvenient as possible as a deterrent.
And indeed, the policy did seem to have a measurable effect. After the party ban was implemented in Aug. 2020, the next year saw a subsequent, 44% year-over-year drop in the rate of party reports, although one has to wonder if reticence to throw a party during the pandemic in the first place might have played a part. Regardless, there are indeed consequences, which can range from account suspension to full removal from the platform. In 2021, Airbnb reports that 6,600 guests were suspended from the service for “attempting to violate our party ban.”
When it comes to how the rule has been updated as it is codified, though, it has actually been made somewhat looser, at least for certain large properties. Where the original party ban included a 16-person occupancy cap for all properties, this has now been removed, with Airbnb citing “several types of larger homes that, by definition, are capable of comfortably and safely housing more than 16 people—from castles in Europe to vineyards in the U.S. to large beachfront villas in the Caribbean.” According to Airbnb, “these thrive on hosting multi-generational family trips and larger groups,” and somehow we get the feeling that the company might be willing to look the other way when it comes to parties occurring on those expensive properties.
Regardless, this is news that will likely be well received by neighbors who live near Airbnb properties, at the very least.