Airbnb Announces New Policy Cracking Down on Party Houses

Ragers will be harder to throw in Airbnb houses.
Ragers will be harder to throw in Airbnb houses. Chris Clinton/Getty
Sorry, kids, the party is over. Today, December 5, Airbnb unveiled a new policy that expands its ban on parties in rentals.

The new policy prohibits open-invite parties, like ones advertised on social media, and large parties in multi-family residences, such as apartment buildings and condos. Airbnb has previously banned parties that aren't sanctioned by hosts.

The company also announced that hosts can report guests who make excessive noise, host unauthorized visitors, park in places they shouldn't, smoke in a non-smoking house, or make large messes. A first-time violation would incur a warning, and a second violation could lead to an account being suspended or banned. The company also announced that it would unveil details in 2020 about a dedicated phone line "where mayors and city officials can connect with appropriate Airbnb representatives about our new policies."

Airbnb stresses that its "Party House Ban" does not prohibit all parties and events. "This policy does not impact parties that are authorized by hosts and convened respectfully by guests. Instead, our goal with this new policy is to address the small number of guests who act irresponsibly and those rare hosts whose homes become persistent neighborhood nuisances," the company wrote in a statement announcing the new policy.

The Denver Department of Excise and Licenses requires that any rental be the host's primary residence, with the goal of ensuring that the host is more invested in the property's well-being. In April, the department enacted a policy that allows licenses to be "revoked or sanctioned, and an application for a new license [to] be denied if a rental property is found to be adversely affecting the public health, safety, or welfare of the immediate neighborhood in which the property is located."

In March, Excise and Licenses revoked a short-term rental license for the first time in city history. The department found that Garth Yettick, the owner of a 7,787-square-foot mansion located near the Denver County Club, didn't use the property as his primary residence. Yettick denied this claim, arguing that he simply traveled a lot for work. The home came to the attention of the city after complaints from neighbors, one of whom described a week-long "frat party" where people garbed in robes were drinking out of red cups. "After that visit, there were a bunch of plumbing trucks coming," a neighbor said during a January administrative hearing.

As part of its enforcement of the primary-residence requirement, Excise and Licenses is mailing affidavits to short-term rental operators that they must sign to prove their rental is their primary residence. The department contends that since it started sending the affidavits, hundreds of people have either withdrawn their applications or have voluntarily forfeited their licenses.

The Denver District Attorney's Office has charged four people who signed the affidavits with felonies for allegedly attempting to influence a public servant. The office of District Attorney Beth McCann alleges that the four individuals, two of whom are a married couple, don't live at the properties they list on Airbnb but signed the affidavit anyway.
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Conor McCormick-Cavanagh is a staff writer at Westword, where he covers a range of beats, including local politics, immigration and homelessness. He previously worked as a journalist in Tunisia and loves to talk New York sports.