Airbnb Faces New Safety Concerns Over The Use Of Their Web Site For Rentals

Airbnb head honcho Chip Conley sat down at the Skift Global Forum recently to discuss the unique challenges delivering a consistent guest experience. But the popular rental web site may face even greater challenges as they head into 2015 — namely proposed regulations and greater scrutiny from landlords and building owners over tenants that decide to rent on Airbnb.

According to the NY Times, “condos and co-ops have been laying down the law, writing warning memos and fining wayward residents” who decide to post their apartment for rent on Airbnb. They are also “tightening security, asking doormen to scrutinize visitors and requiring residents to sign authorization forms for guests.”

And while the general public is in favor of Airbnb, as a recent Quinnipiac poll found, there are certainly enough safety and insurance concerns to worry about.

“What happens if one of these Airbnb guests starts a fire?” Phyllis H. Weisberg, chairwoman of the Cooperative and Condominium Law Committee at the New York City Bar Association asks in the Times article. “Who’s paying for that?”

Safety is also the number one concern many renters, users, and neighbors have expressed over Airbnb. Just last week, the NY Post reported that a woman, Noelle Penraat, was ordered to stop renting out her apartment via Airbnb because not only was she “profiteering” from her government-subsidized, rent-controlled Central Park apartment, but she was putting her fellow neighbors at risk by doing so.

In a statement made by one of Penraat’s neighbors that was obtained by the Post, the potential danger to his family was of great concern. “As a result of the constant barrage of strangers that enter our residential building,” Michael Whitman wrote, “I live in fear for the safety of my minor daughters and my wife.”

And while safety for neighbors is a huge concern, Airbnb also has to address the safety of their users, especially when the site has little control over what happens offline. As reported by Inqusitr, an Airbnb apartment owner in Barcelona was sentenced for raping two U.S. tourists when they stayed at his apartment. According to a court statement, Córdoba Riascos directed two drunk tenants back to his apartment after showing them around town, where he took advantage them.

Chip Conley, the head of hospitality for Airbnb, recognizes that changes may have to be made. In a statement at the Skift Global Forum, found via the Skift web site, Chip acknowledges that Airbnb has to do more.

“One of the things that we have to do a better job on is building better relationships with communities and landlords,” Conley said. “We need to focus on how we can be a good neighbor.”

[Airbnb logo via Mises.ca]