Airbnb has little to say about carbon monoxide deaths in Mexico City

On October 30, three American tourists were found dead in their Airbnb rental in Mexico City. The bodies of Kandace Florence and Jordan Marshall, 28 each, and Courtez Hall, 33, were found in an Airbnb rental home in La Rosita, an upscale neighborhood in Mexico City. Hall and Marshall were professors in New Orleans; Florence was a Virginia Beach business owner.

Investigations appear to show that the three friends died accidentally from carbon monoxide poisoning. One was taking a shower, which activated a water heater that was leaking gas. The colorless, odorless gas then filled the apartment, with the three unknowingly being poisoned. A full report, which would indicate whether the house had a carbon monoxide detector with an alarm, has not been released by Airbnb.

I posted a story about the November 11 tragedy. I spent several days making multiple and repeated efforts to get reviews from Airbnb. I haven’t heard from them.

On November 30, NBC News aired a narrative. It included exclusive interviews with the mothers of the three young Americans who died in the Airbnb.

Freida Florence, Kandace’s mother, told NBC that Airbnb should have required rental homes to have working carbon monoxide detectors. “I can’t understand why my daughter isn’t here today,” Ms Florence said. “There’s no excuse. It cost $30. If I had known, I would have bought it for her.”

I contacted Airbnb again about a follow up story. After several requests, a company spokesperson released this statement.

“This is a terrible tragedy, and our hearts go out to the families and loved ones who mourn such an unimaginable loss. Our priority at this time is to support those affected as authorities investigate what happened, and we are ready to meet their demands as much as possible.”

Airbnb sources noted that the company has suspended listings and canceled future bookings.

There has been at least one similar fatal incident in Mexico. In 2018, an American couple from New Orleans died of CO poisoning in an Airbnb in San Miguel Allende.

Airbnb is clearly aware of these issues. From the company Airbnb Trust and Safety Host website said in November: “All Airbnb hosts with an active listing can get a free smoke and carbon monoxide alarm. The listing adds, “We request that all listings be equipped with smoke detectors and equipped with carbon monoxide detectors if the listings have combustion appliances.

Airbnb could insist that hosts have smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and prove it with photographs and/or certificates, but surprisingly they don’t. Their language continues to be a matter of demand, not demand. “We ask that all listings be equipped with smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms if listings include combustion appliances. And “Hosts are encouraged to install carbon monoxide alarms in their space.

L. Chris Stewart, an Atlanta-based attorney representing the victims’ mothers, told NBC that “Airbnb regulates guns and parties, so requiring carbon monoxide alarms should be company policy to ensure customer safety”.

Indeed, Airbnb has codified its “party ban”, with “serious consequences for guests who attempt to violate these rules, ranging from account suspension to complete removal from the platform”. If in 2021 “more than 6,600 guests were suspended from Airbnb for attempting to violate the party ban”, why can’t Airbnb insist that its hosts have a CO detector on their properties? ?

Airbnb has also just announced that it is cut 4000 hosts of the platform for violating the non-discrimination policy. Again, if it can do that, why can’t Airbnb require hosts to provide a CO and smoke detector?

Once filed, the family members’ complaint will seek to compel Airbnb to do just that. In other words, to impose functional carbon monoxide detectors in all its properties throughout the world.

The problem, according to writer and hospitality industry expert Katherine Doggrell, is that Airbnb is “a platform, not a hospitality company.” Doggrell is the author of Checking Out: What the Rise of the Sharing Economy Means for the Future of the Hospitality Industry.

“Airbnb offers a lot of advice on how it like you host, lots of advice on what he would like you to do and lots of best practices. Compare that with the 25 year agreement an operator has with a hotel company. If your hotel flies a Marriott, Hilton, IHG, Accor or any brand flag, you will be bound by a contract that will define the carpet under your feet, the font of your free stationery and the position of your croissant at breakfast. -breakfast. Nothing is left to chance and safety is a priority.

In contrast, says Doggrell, “We’ve seen a number of companies shy away from using sharing platforms like Airbnb for business travel because they can’t guarantee the due diligence they need to perform when they send their employees on the road.”

Questions like these may soon also concern leisure travel customers, says Doggrell. “As these accidents continue to happen, all travelers are likely to start thinking about the safety implications of staying in a stranger’s home.”

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