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On Wednesday, May 12th, Airbnb stated that they are filing a lawsuit against a guest for throwing a party at their weekend rental in the Arden-Arcade neighborhood of Sacramento country. This party that entailed more than fifty people became riled up with violence that resulted in three of the party-goers becoming injured by gunshots.
This is the first time that Airbnb, the popular home-rental company, has ever filed a lawsuit against a guest. They state that they are suing the guest for their violation of community standards and policies. Having a party amidst a global pandemic and allowing guests with firearms on site is a premises liability issue for Airbnb, the property owner, and their guests.
According to CBS News, last year, the company banned open-invite parties to rental properties after five people were shot and killed at a party held on an Airbnb rental in Orinda, California. In response to these issues of large gatherings and parties, Airbnb began screening reservations, flagging large reservations for just one night. In July of this year, the company took further action, by banning guests under twenty-five from booking homes near their own residencies.
While the shooting is still under investigation, Airbnb seeks money damages from the guest for violating the no-party policy. According to NPR, the company states that it will use the funds to donate to local nonprofits fighting gun violence. This is although the company is at a great financial loss this year due to the global coronavirus pandemic.
The home-rental company has long been planning to join the public market, as have other sharing companies, such as Uber and Lyft. According to the Wall Street Journal, Airbnb planned to file for initial public offering (IPO) in August, however, this has been delayed due to coronavirus. NPR reports that the company has dropped in value about $13 million since 2017 and that at the most, the company will likely only make half of the profits that they made last year. Airbnb attempted to make up for its losses by terminated a quarter of the company’s employees and taking out a loan of about $2 billion.
With this magnitude of losses and now bad public relations with these violent parties allowed to take place during a global pandemic, will Airbnb survive the global pandemic? Company employees, Airbnb homeowners, travelers, renters, and party-goers, along with premises liability attorneys anxiously await to see what happens.