With increasing pressure coming from local municipalities, including a complete ban on short-term rental properties, Airbnb is motivated to find a solution to the problem of some of their rentals being bad neighbors.
“It was just non-stop parties. Every weekend there was a party. Fourth of July weekend, the cops had to come to clean up 350 people,” Michael Aselin said.
Aselin lived next door to an Airbnb rental in Houston’s Westview Terrace subdivision before moving to another city with stricter rules on short-term rentals.
In response to growing problems similar to what Aselin experienced, in August 2020, Airbnb announced a temporary ban on all parties and events at properties advertised and rented through its short-term rental booking site.
“When the pandemic hit, after many bars and clubs closed or restricted their use, we started to see some people engaging in festive behavior in rented houses, including through Airbnb,” the company wrote in a press release. June.
In June, the company announced that the policy was now permanent.
The next question was how to enforce the ban.
The short-term rental giant says it has found a solution.
Airbnb now uses a combination of metrics to determine if a renter is likely to host a party at the rental, including but not limited to; positive review history, length of stay of guests on Airbnb, length of trip, distance to listing, and day of the week.
Airbnb reports that the technology is designed to prevent booking if a combination of metrics indicates the tenant.
Similar technology is designed to prevent renters under the age of 25 from securing a short-term rental through Airbnb’s booking system.
Clear Lake Shores, a small town in Galveston County near Kemah, recently passed an ordinance banning any new short-term rentals in the municipality.
About 20 who were registered before the ban are grandfathered under the law.
But city leaders are of the opinion that until a long-term solution can be found, the best short-term policy is to ban so-called “STRs” altogether.
“It’s important that we face this and get our ordinance, make sure it’s legal and have an ordinance that’s in place and strong to put an end to this,” said Mayor Kurt Otten.
The ban makes it a violation of city ordinance for an individual homeowner or corporation to rent a townhouse for less than 30 days.
In Galveston, where short-term rentals are located on almost every street, landlords are required to pay a fee to register their properties, display that property registration, file reports (monthly or quarterly, depending on income) and to pay city hotel taxes.
Registration is not the same as police activity as some neighbors will point out.
But Galveston certainly does more to regulate the industry than Houston.
Unlike the city of Houston, the city of Galveston has even dedicated internet space to the issue GalvestonTX.gov.
Houston, which has almost 12,000 short-term rentals, doesn’t ask for anything at all. There are actually no laws or regulations specifically aimed at monitoring short-term rental activity. Instead, the city relies on individual neighborhoods to regulate activity through HOA bylaws, covenants and restrictions.
Aselin believes that cities have a duty to protect citizens from those who put their neighbors at risk by running a business in a residential area.
“It’s a matter of public safety and their responsibility to maintain public safety,” Aselin said.
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