5 Replies Latest reply: Nov 23, 2019 10:36 AM by georgygirl1955 RSS

    Congress wants to grill Airbnb CEO now

    floridagirl19 Contributor

      This is the latest on the attack on Airbnb (and by extension all VR listing companies)


      Watson Coleman Leads Letter Demanding Answers from Airbnb on Misleading Hosts and Listings

      Washington, D.C. (November 21, 2019) — Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), along with Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Robin Kelly (D-IL), G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), Emanuel Cleaver II (D-MO), and Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY) today demanded Airbnb explain its plans to deal with deceptive limited liability corporations disguising themselves as “hosts” on the platform to market short-term rentals out of compliance with local laws and the company’s own policies. The letter, addressed to CEO Brian Chesky, also requests information about misleading listings that have left customers in poor housing conditions and seeks a meeting with Airbnb executives in the next two weeks.

      “Despite Airbnb’s stated ‘One Host, One Home’ policy, media reports have raised concerns about the proliferation of limited liability corporations on your platform…deceptive and misleading listings have also led to customers being scammed by ‘hosts’ who abuse Airbnb’s cancellation policies to trick guests into unsuitable housing conditions for monetary gain. While we appreciate that you have frequently stated that Airbnb has a “zero tolerance” policy, it also seems clear that you have failed to authenticate host identities in a way that would prevent bad actors from continuing to rent through your platform under false identities after being banned,” the Congressmembers wrote.

      The letter includes 20 questions intended to clarify Airbnb’s policies and practices, including:

      • How the company intends to define a “host,” and how the company vets its hosts;
      • How the company will enforce policy violations from hosts who mislead customers and the public about their identities or listings;
      • How the company will verify that units meet so-called “basic safety protocols;”
      • And whether the company’s efforts to categorize “high-risk reservations,” will consider age, race, gender, or other personal traits.

      There is more at the airbnbwatch.org web site - didn't want to link it here

      Notice the 4th question asks how they plan to categorize "high risk reservations" and on the flip side of that they will be claiming discrimination if they DO actually look at who are the "high risk reservation" guests...

      And what is with their preoccupation with an LLC owning homes and renting them out - we have an LLC for our five properties - is this now going to be attacked?

        • Re: Congress wants to grill Airbnb CEO now
          margaret CommunityAmbassador

          I see your point about the LLC, I think what they are addressing is rental arbitrage. ABB has create a huge mess now they are being called out on it. I believe many of the "hosts" who have rented multiple apartments then sublet them as STR are a big part of the problem. This business model is not the same as privately owned VRS. ABB doesn't necessarily cater to VRS, the company began with a completely different model. The ToS are clearly more geared to renting a room in someone's home or renting an apartment mill. The focus is almost entirely on hosts to resolve the many issues that are being highlighted in the media. There should also be a hard look taken at the way hosts are penalized for declining bookings. The fact that potential guests can book anonymously is clearly a recipe for disaster. Social media is rife with post about how to get a free stay, ads for ABB parties where guests pay at the door, how to book anonymously, using "an ABB"  for prostitution, drug dealing or other criminal activity. This is where I feel Vrbo is going way off track in emulating ABB. The race to the bottom is going to be the demise of the OTAS. As I have mentioned in the past, owners protecting their properties also protects the brand, the OTAS fail/refuse to recognise this fact. Vrbo would be better served to set themselves apart from all of the ABB drama.

          • Re: Congress wants to grill Airbnb CEO now
            wildiris Active Contributor

            Many members of this Community have been hoping that the government would take a look at many of the practices being employed by OTAs regarding short-term vacation rentals.  Personally, I think it's about time that a public light is shone on this.

            • Re: Congress wants to grill Airbnb CEO now
              hickmanhideaway Contributor

              We have one, only one, property that we use as a STR. We have four long term rentals. Each of thee five properties are their own LLC. It is good business practice to have your rentals, of any kind, in an LLC for protection issues. I should not be penalized for having a one property LLC because multi-property owners have an LLC.

              • Re: Congress wants to grill Airbnb CEO now
                georgygirl1955 Senior Contributor

                they need to grill them about wretched treatment of owners as well as all the rest.

                The lack of owner protection is horrible.

                The entire system needs an overhaul

                Write to all the lawmakers immediately !