Airbnb is working with St. Louis leaders to stop rental parties
Videos show uncontrollable crowds in rented spaces on sites like Airbnb, Vrbo and Craigslist.
ST. LOUIS — Videos show hundreds of people take over a community hall at Ely Walker Lofts. In another, a party spills out onto Locust Street with people jumping on cars.
It’s not just a nuisance, neighbors say these parties are a problem.
“This video didn’t surprise me in any way,” neighboring store manager Justin Pilarski said of one of the videos.
“I would like to start by clarifying where we are,” Airbnb Director of Trust and Safety Communications Ben Briet said as he stood with St. Louis leaders on Monday. “Specifically: we prohibit parties in our ads,”
A longtime issue, Briet was there to announce some of the ways the online rental company will prevent future parties, including new rules for Memorial Day and the July 4 holiday.
“Guests without a history of positive reviews on Airbnb will be banned from making overnight booking attempts. That’s both in St. Louis and across the United States actually,” Breit said.
When Airbnb made those changes last year for July 4, Breit said its software stopped about 500 bookings in the St. Louis area alone.
But residents lobbied for more, asking the city or the council of aldermen to pass new rules and regulations like leaders have done in other cities.
One measure already on the books that the city can use right now: tax rates. St. Louis City Assessor Mike Dauphin said they are trying to identify short-term rentals and tax landlords at a commercial rate that would nearly double the amount they pay, from 19% to 39%.
Airbnb representatives say they have also started a program with another national rental website, VRBO, sharing party home information between the two companies.
“We’re not going to condone parties, we’re going to continue to ban parties, and we’re going to work with stakeholders here to get to the bottom of it,” Briet said.