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Airbnb bans parties, caps house occupancy

Airbnb bans parties, caps house occupancy
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Airbnb announced new measures on Thursday capping house occupancy at 16 people and banning parties to address COVID-19 health concerns.

The company said in a press release that it decided to implement the changes to provide a level of cohesion for rental properties amid varying COVID-19 health and safety measures depending on the state and city.

"[I]n many large jurisdictions, public health mandates on gatherings have changed – and in some places swung back and forth in response to the changing rates of COVID cases – as have regulations on bars, clubs and pubs," the company said in the statement.

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"Some have chosen to take bar and club behavior to homes, sometimes rented through our platform," the statement continued. "We think such conduct is incredibly irresponsible – we do not want that type of business, and anyone engaged in or allowing that behavior does not belong on our platform."

Airbnb noted that it previously changed company policy regarding parties and gatherings last year when it started a global ban on "party houses," citing residences that were leased out specifically for hosting events.

"We've historically allowed hosts to use their best judgment and authorize small parties – such as baby showers or birthday parties – if they're appropriate for their home and their neighborhood," the statement said.

The company said guests will be informed about Airbnb's party rules before booking and will be alerted about potential bans from the platform or even legal action if the rules are violated. 

Airbnb noted capping the occupancy limit at 16 guests is "not a magic number," adding that it does not seek to bar small gatherings, it is trying to "mitigate any efforts to misuse an Airbnb for a party."

The move comes after three people were shot in Sacramento County, Calif., earlier this month at an unauthorized party at an Airbnb home.

Airbnb is also seeking to go public with the company, filing its draft registration for an initial public offering Wednesday.