WALTON COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — Last week, Airbnb suspended several rentals deemed as “party houses” around the state of Florida, including two in Santa Rosa Beach and Destin.
Ben Breit, Airbnb’s head of trust and safety communications, said that a party house is essentially categorized as a home that causes a persistent disruption to its neighborhood.
Breit said the recent suspensions date back to 2019 when the company cracked down globally on party houses.
He added that the company wanted to take a closer look at Florida in particular for several reasons. One of the reasons is the ongoing pandemic.
“I think there’s certainly no question that in this current environment, large parties, unauthorized parties, anything along those lines,” Breit said. “It is a more serious issue and it’s something that we all need to do more to combat.”
The other reason is Florida’s climate.
“As it’s getting a little colder elsewhere, perhaps, it’s still warm in Florida,” Breit said. “So we want to be sure to get ahead of any issues and hope that this is a preventative measure.”
Suspensions in Florida have taken place in Walton and Okaloosa counties as well as Alachua, Broward, Duval, Lake, Lee, Manatee, Miami-Dade, Orange, Palm Beach and St. Johns counties.
Breit said the best way for hosts to avoid having their properties suspended is to make the instructions on the listing explicit in banning parties, providing open communication with guests, in-person check-in or employing a two-night minimum.
Breit also said that the company rolled out a new policy that prohibits anyone under the age of 25 without a history of positive reviews on Airbnb from booking entire home listings local to where they live.
Airbnb has a 24/7 neighborhood support line where community members surrounding rentals can call or write in expressing concerns.
Breit said the recent suspensions are not the only ones.
“We really see this as a beginning,” he said. “Not the end.”