Airbnb has announced new changes after five people were killed during an unauthorised party at a home rented off the platform.
Airbnb has announced new changes after five people were killed during an unauthorised party at a home rented off the platform.

Airbnb imposes a party house ban after deadly shooting

The CEO of accommodation giant Airbnb has announced the company will ban "party houses" after a mass shooting at a mansion rented out for a Halloween blowout in the US last week.

The "mansion party", as it was advertised on social media, took place at a house in Orinda, not far from Airbnb's San Francisco headquarters.

The 372 square metre four-bedroom house was reportedly rented for the night at $US420 ($AU600) by a woman who claimed she and her asthmatic family members needed to escape smoke billowing from massive wildfires burning about 100 kilometres north of Orinda in Sonoma County.

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The owners Michael Wang and Wenlin Lou, who purchased the home for more than $US1.2 million in 2017, reminded the woman that parties weren't allowed at the house, having become suspicious about a one night rental on Halloween night.

The San Francisco Chronicle later reported neighbours had complained about "disruptive" parties at the home, and the city council had already issued two violation notices to the owners.

One neighbour told the Chronicle he had complained to the city on numerous occasions, and in once instance said he was "concerned that a future rental will result in a drunk driving accident or even worse violence".

Contra Costa County Sheriff deputies investigate in the aftermath of the shooting.
Contra Costa County Sheriff deputies investigate in the aftermath of the shooting.

On the night of the shooting, neighbours again complained about a party.

Mr Wang's wife then got in touch with the renter, who said there were only a dozen people at the home, which was clearly not the case as the owners could see more people than that through a video doorbell fitted at the home.

Police were called, but before they could arrive to break up the party, shots rang out, forcing more than 100 partygoers to flee or hide inside the home.

Three people died at the scene while two others later died in hospital.

Police recovered two guns from the property but are yet to confirm if they have a suspect.

The home was registered with the city as a short term rental in November last year, but attracted complaints from neighbours.

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky has now announced the company's plans to rid the platform of party houses.

The company will expand its manual screening processes so listings identified as "high-risk" by its automated risk detection technology are reviewed faster.

Mr Chesky also announced a "dedicated party house rapid response team" would be created, and the company would begin taking immediate action against users who violate the "enhanced guest policies", including removing them from Airbnb.

Mr Chesky said the company will "accelerate the development and implementation of these new safety initiatives".

"We must do better and we will," Mr Chesky said. "This is unacceptable".

Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky at the relaunch of Airbnb in 2016
Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky at the relaunch of Airbnb in 2016

Airbnb was founded in 2008 and provides a platform for property owners and residents to rent spare rooms or entire homes to travellers. It has faced a number of regulatory challenges as it "disrupts" established industries, doing to hotels and tourism what Uber did to taxis.

RELATED: How hotels plan to lure Millennials from Airbnb

It has faced criticism that the short term holiday rental market it has created takes housing stock off the market, at a time where housing affordability is a major issue in many of the areas it does business.

Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia co-founded Airbnb with an air mattress in their living room after struggling to afford the rent in their San Francisco apartment.

Do you think Airbnb's new strategy will help it rid the site of party houses? Let us know what you think in the comments below.


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