Airbnb cracks down on 'Covid party houses' by removing 200 listings

Airbnb cracks down on Covid party houses by removing 200 listings from landlords advertising properties for rule-breaking bashes – bringing total to 1,000 in six months

  • Airbnb is toughening its stance on ‘party houses’ following raves held last year
  • Revellers booked accommodation through the site and used it to hold parties
  • One Airbnb owner broke up 25 strong birthday bash in Manchester in November
  • In February this year police made three arrested at a party held in Portsmouth
  • Airbnb, which has a global party ban, has now removed 200 listings from its site 
  • The firm, based in San Francisco, says it has removed 1,000 listings in six months

Airbnb has today launched a crackdown on ‘party houses’ by removing more than 200 listings, amid fears revellers will use the sites to host Covid rule-breaking raves.

The holiday-home rental site has vowed to toughen its stance on customers who advertise their properties for illegal parties.

Listings with terms such as ‘available for a stag do’ and ‘open for hen parties’ have been dropped from the site as part of the firm’s ‘zero-tolerance’ policy.

Properties in London, Brighton, Manchester and Bristol are among the latest to be removed from the site, bosses say.

It means more than 1,000 listings have now been ditched in the last six months, according to Airbnb chiefs.

The crackdown comes after revellers used homes listed on Airbnb to hold Covid-rule breaching bashes last year.

One shocked landlord discovered 12 revellers had sneaked into his flat for a drink-and-drug fuelled lockdown party in May last year.

Police also slapped a teenage party host with a £10,000 fine in November after breaking-up a 25-strong gathering at an Airbnb property in Manchester.

And earlier this year officers handed out more than a dozen £800 fines to partygoers in Portsmouth after breaking up a lockdown-flouting rave.

Now Airbnb chiefs have promised to toughen up on party listings, ahead of plans to allow bookings for self-contained accommodation from April 12. Full listings are due to return when measures are further lifted on May 17.

Airbnb has today launched a crackdown on ‘party houses’ by removing more than 200 listings, amid fears revellers will use the sites to host Covid rule-breaking raves. Pictured: Revellers arrive at an Airbnb for a rule-breaking rave in Manchester in November last year

Earlier this year officers handed out more than a dozen £800 fines to partygoers in Portsmouth after breaking up a lockdown-flouting rave

Screengrabs from an officer’s bodycam where they broke up a party of nineteen people in Portsmouth in February 

The holiday home site that is cracking down on illegal parties: What is Airbnb? 

Based in San Francisco, Airbnb was launched by entrepreneurs Brian Chesky, Nathan Blecharczyk and Joe Gebbia in 2008.

The site, which operates around the world, lists short-term holiday home lets via its website and app.

It has more 220,000 UK listings – and seven million worldwide – including in popular beauty spots such as the Lake District, as well as Devon and Cornwall.

City centre locations are also available – often as an alternative to hotels.

Airbnb does not own any of the properties, but links up those who wish to rent a holiday home with those who have properties available. 

Those renting properties have a direct line to the customers – and often have their own set of rules. 

Around 75 per cent of Airbnb renters already had a no party policy before the company introduced a global party ban last year in response to Covid.

The company makes its money by taking a commission.

Despite suffering a significant drop in bookings, estimated at between 41 per cent and 96 per cent, due to Covid,  in December last year the company was valued at $100billion. 

Patrick Robinson, Director of Public Policy at Airbnb told MailOnline: ‘We want to be clear beyond doubt that we have zero tolerance for antisocial behaviour on Airbnb,’ 

‘The vast majority of hosts and guests are good neighbours, and bad actors have no place in our community.

‘Our measures are working and as the UK looks forward to the reopening of tourism, we are committed to being good partners to communities and helping people stay safe.’ 

The site, which links those looking for short-term holiday home rentals with property owners, came under fire last year after revellers began using the site to hold lockdown-breaching parties.

The site has always had a no unauthorised party policy. But last year it introduced a global party ban in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, determined UK revellers continued to defy the rules, by booking rooms for two and later inviting their friends.

In August last year, furious Londoners were kept awake until 3am after around 160 guests attended an illegal house party, said to have been held at an Airbnb property in Tavistock Terrace, Archway.   

Last April, MailOnline also revealed how an Airbnb landlord discovered 12 revellers had sneaked into his flat for a drink-and-drugs lockdown party on CCTV doorbell footage.

The landlord, who asked not to be identified, said he received a booking for the apartment in Notting Hill, London at around 9pm on April 18, and warned the customer that only two people could be inside the property at once.

He continued to monitor the situation throughout the evening due to similarities the booking had with another from a few days earlier, after which he said the property was left ‘in a mess’ with evidence of drug use and drinking.

In August last year, furious Londoners were kept awake until 3am after around 160 guests attended an illegal house party, said to have been held at an Airbnb property in Tavistock Terrace, Archway 

The property owner was then awoken at 1am due to phone notifications from his Ring video doorbell alerting him to activity outside the front door.

In a CCTV clip from the doorbell, at least 12 men and women are seen sneaking inside the property, despite earlier warnings that more than two guests would be evicted if caught.

Footage shows two men initially unlocking the front door, before a woman attempts to duck down below the shot of the doorbell to avoid being seen.

The landlord, who was abroad at the time, said he sent a relative to the property after he was awoken by the Ring alerts, who reportedly found 11 people smoking cannabis, drinking and socialising.  

Then, in November last year, an Airbnb booking for two people descended into a huge illegal lockdown party with more than 25 revellers drinking and taking ‘hippy crack’.

Police were called to the property in locked-down Manchester after the landlord’s front door camera flagged beer-carrying revellers arriving at the flat. 

Police were called to the property in locked-down Manchester after the landlord’s front door camera flagged beer-carrying revellers arriving at the flat

The landlord shut the party down himself – later finding £3,000 worth of damage and nitrous oxide canisters strewn across a table

UK’s Covid infection rate plunges below that of 25 EU nations as jabs success sees cases fall 28% in week to 4,052 and deaths halve

Britain’s coronavirus infection rate is now significantly lower than 25 of the EU’s 27 countries – as the UK’s daily Covid cases plunge by 28 per cent in a week, official figures revealed.

The UK’s successful vaccine rollout means it is now in the best position of all major European nations, despite being the worst hit in January.

The weekly infection rate in France – where intensive care units are overwhelmed – is around eight times higher than in the UK.

But President Emmanuel Macron blamed the so-called ‘British variant’ for the country’s surge in cases, saying it created ‘a pandemic inside a pandemic’ as France heads into its third national lockdown from Saturday.

He yesterday announced that all of mainland France will be under a 7pm curfew, working from home will be expected from those that can, gatherings will be limited, non-essential shops will be closed, and travel restrictions will be imposed.

In Germany, which recorded 23,681 cases on March 30, the infection rate is nearly three times higher.

Over the past week, the UK has recorded an average of 73 cases per one million people every day. This is a lower rate than all 27 EU nations apart from Denmark and Portugal, which have both adopted strict lockdowns.

Hungary, the worst affected EU nation, has a daily rate of 882 cases per one million.

In France it is 571, while the rate in the Netherlands is 449 and in Italy it is 334. As Europe battles a third wave, UK cases, deaths and hospitalisations have fallen to a six-month low.

On Wednesday, another 43 deaths and 4,052 cases were recorded. Deaths are now averaging 50 a day, down from a peak of 1,284 deaths on January 19. It also marked a 56 per cent week-on-week drop in deaths on last Wednesday.

The contrasting fortunes of Britain and mainland Europe are largely down to our successful vaccination programme. Nearly six in ten adults in the UK have now received at least one dose.

But across the EU, just 11 per cent of the population have been vaccinated.

NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens is urging all over-50s and younger people with health conditions yet to be vaccinated to book an appointment now.

But the hostess, believed to be around 18 years old, refused the landlords request to shut down the party – which took place when tough Tier Three restrictions were in place.

Despite warnings of a £10,000 fine under Covid rules, the hostess replied: ‘I’ll pay for everyone’.

The landlord was forced to shut the party down himself – later finding £3,000 worth of damage and nitrous oxide canisters strewn across a table. He later submitted a claim for compensation to Airbnb.

Then, in the latest incident, police In Portsmouth handed out £800 fines to 19 partygoers at an Airbnb after breaking up the lockdown-flouting rave in February.

Horrified neighbours said one man even climbed onto the roof of the terrace house to escape police and then had to be rescued by the fire brigade.

Three men were arrested – one for criminal damage, one for assaulting an emergency worker and one on suspicion of affray.

Dozens of patrol cars descended on the property after outraged locals complained to police about large numbers of young men and women turning up at the house in the North End area of the city on Saturday night.

One neighbour, who wished to remain anonymous, said many of the women – believed to be in their teens and early 20s – looked like they were ‘dressed for a nightclub’.

He said: ‘It was obvious from the way that they were dressed that those in attendance weren’t heading out for some late night exercise. Many of the girls looked like they were dressed for a night in a nightclub. 

‘Their parents need to hold themselves accountable – if they had done more to stop their kids heading out in the evening dressed the way they were, they wouldn’t be waking up to the fines that will need paying.

‘It is this shameful behaviour that brought us to lockdown, and it is the attitude that will keep us here for far longer than is necessary.’

Chief Inspector Rob Mitchell, of Hampshire Constabulary, said: ‘This was a blatant breach of the Health Protection Regulations that are in force to keep people safe during the pandemic.

‘The people attending this party were putting themselves and their loved ones at risk from the virus.

‘It’s actions like this that place increased and unnecessary pressure on the NHS. Anyone who does not follow the regulations faces a fixed penalty notice.’

A 27-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of criminal damage, and another, also 27, was arrested on suspicion of assaulting an emergency worker.

A third man was released after being arrested on suspicion of affray and using threatening, abusive words or behaviour.

While many Airbnb owners have been left infuriated by the party antics of their guests, a survey earlier this year revealed how dozens of the sites users were happy to break Covid restrictions.

Some even said they suggest would-be guests lie about the reason for their stay.

Of the 45 landlords who were contacted by KentOnline, 11 said they were happy to hand over the keys, with some even offering to reduce prices.  

Based in San Francisco, Airbnb was launched by entrepreneurs Brian Chesky, Nathan Blecharczyk and Joe Gebbia in 2008.

The site, which operates around the world, lists short-term holiday home lets via its website and app.

It has more 220,000 UK listings – and seven million worldwide – and makes its money by taking a commission.

Last month, Airbnb launched its Neighbour Support Line in the UK, offering neighbours in the community with urgent concerns about a listing the ability to talk to someone directly at Airbnb. 

The company has also announced it is working with charity Crimestoppers to help provide more information to its hosts about how to spot potential problems. 

How will lockdown ease in the roadmap?  

Step One Part One: March 8

From March 8, all pupils and students will return to schools and colleges across England.

So-called wrap-around childcare will also be allowed to resume, paving the way for after and before school clubs to reopen.

People will be allowed to meet one other person outside for recreation, for example, to have a picnic or to meet for coffee.

Care home residents will be able to have one regular named visitor.

The Government’s stay at home order will remain in place, with travel for non-essential purposes still banned.

Step One Part Two: March 29

From March 29, outdoor gatherings of up to six people or a larger group from up to two households will be allowed. These gatherings will be allowed to happen in private gardens.

Outdoor sports like tennis and basketball will be allowed to reopen and people will also be able to take part in formally organised outdoor sports.

It is at this point that the Government’s stay at home guidance will end, to be replaced by ministers encouraging people to ‘stay local’.

However, the Government is expected not to define what constitutes local, instead choosing to rely on people using their common sense to decide on journeys.

People will still be told to work from home wherever possible while international travel will still be banned unless it is for essential purposes.

Step Two: April 12

Non-essential retail will be allowed to reopen as well as personal care premises like hairdressers, barbers and nail salons.

Public buildings like libraries, museums and art galleries will be allowed to welcome back customers.

Meanwhile, hospitality venues and outdoor attractions like theme parks will be given the green light to reopen in some form.

However, there will still be rules on household mixing: Essentially any activity which involves being indoors will be restricted to members of the same household.

Gyms and swimming pools will also reopen from April 12 but only on the basis that people go on their own or with their own household.

Pubs and restaurants will be able to reopen but at this point they will only be able to have customers outdoors.

Any visits to a pub or restuarant will have to comply with the rules on social contact, so no more than two households or the rule of six.

The Government will not be bringing back the old requirement for people to order a substantial meal with alcohol while the old 10pm curfew will be ditched.

All customers at hospitality venues will also have to be seated when they order food or drink, with ordering at the bar prohibited.

Campsites and holiday lets where indoor facilities are not shared with other households can also reopen but trips must be restricted a single household.

Funerals will be allowed to continue with up to 30 people, while the rules on wedding receptions will be eased to allow the number of guests to increase from six to 15.

Step Three: May 17

The two household and rule of six requirements for outdoor gatherings will be ditched but gatherings of more than 30 people in places like parks will still be banned.

Crucially, mixing indoors will be allowed again. The rule of six or a larger group from up to two households will be allowed to meet.

However, this will be kept under review by ministers to see if rules could be relaxed still further.

This is also the point at which pubs and restaurants and other hospitality venues will be able to open indoors, with the rule of six and two household limit in place. But groups meeting outdoors at pubs will be allowed to be bigger.

Entertainment venues like cinemas and children’s play areas will be able to reopen, as will hotels and B&Bs. Indoor adult sports groups and exercise classes can also reopen.

Changes will also be made to sporting and performance events in indoor venues with a capacity of 1,000 people or half full

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