Airbnb properties have seen their share of crimes

The shooting at an Airbnb in Orinda on Halloween night that left four people dead shocked the normally quiet enclave on the suburban side of the Caldecott Tunnel. It wasn’t the only tragedy to hit one of the short-term rentals in the world that have replaced the hotels of millions of travelers in the decade since Airbnb launched, however.

For a 2017 investigation of what they called “horror stories” of properties Airbnb, the Santa Fe-based travel advice site, Asher & Lyric, searched over 1,000 incidents found on third-party review sites, major news organizations and well-known travel bloggers. They’ve found everything from murders, rapes and kidnappings associated with short-term rentals to sketchy hosts using secret cameras to spy on their guests.

“As short term rentals often have lax ID requirements for hosts and guests, this means anyone can stay at the property and anyone can be your host,” said Asher Fergusson . “I think this creates a higher risk of crime in short-term rentals. Unlike hotels which have internal security and require government ID on arrival, short-term rentals like Airbnb offer no security and prefer their users to ‘watch’ the platform, which is usually an ineffective solution.

Airbnb spokesperson Ben Breit said the company has a number of tools in place to help hosts and their guests have a satisfying and safe stay at their properties. “Every person on Airbnb has a profile page with important information about themselves. To book or host you must provide us with a full name, date of birth, phone number, email address and payment information, ”he said in a statement. “Hosts may also require travelers to provide Airbnb with government identification prior to booking their listing, and the host in turn is required to do so as well. “

He added that the company has also implemented a risk rating system to “help prevent bad actors from accessing our platform in the first place.” This feature, he said, ensures that every Airbnb reservation is scored in advance based on risk. “We have a real-time detection system that uses machine learning and predictive analytics to instantly assess hundreds of signals to report and then stop any suspicious activity,” said Breit. “When we detect potentially worrying behavior, our team takes a series of actions, including removing a user from the platform altogether.”

The company also uses background checks and other safeguards when selecting hosts and guests “globally against regulatory, terrorist and sanction watch lists.” For residents of the United States, we also perform background checks looking for previous felony convictions, sex offender records and serious misdemeanors. We are working with other governments around the world to identify where we can do more background checks. “

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