CRACKDOWN ON AIRBNB PARTIES

Airbnb Australia and New Zealand’s head of public policy, Brent Thomas, has called for governments to introduce a code of conduct for short-term hosts and guests.

The Victorian government has already proposed laws to stop “wild party houses” in Melbourne, but so far has only targeted apartments and not detached houses. The Airbnb Code of Conduct has come into question in New Zealand recently with two separate incidents leaving Airbnb owners in a spot of bother.

Recently, the New South Wales government implemented a mandatory code of conduct and complaints system, which applies to all online accommodation platforms, including Airbnb. The reform included a ‘two strikes and you’re out’ policy, as well as a platform for neighbours of short-term accommodation providers to make complaints. Brent Thomas thinks Melbourne needs to introduce the same rules.

“We believe a similar strikes policy should be extended to include freestanding homes as well. This would ensure all home-sharing activity, not just that conducted in apartments or units, is captured by tough but fair rules,’’ he said.

A couple renting an Airbnb in Paihia were kicked out of their lodge when the owners found them watching the sunrise in the spa pool, naked. An Airbnb spokesperson said that because the spa pool was in a shared area the guests were violating the rules. The guests, however, believe they weren’t informed that the spa pool wasn’t a private area, and feel they were mistreated.

In Dunedin, a 14-year-old rented an Airbnb and hosted an out-of-control party full of underage drinkers. Police arrived on the scene and dispersed the gathering. The 14-year-old who booked the house had his account permanently deleted due to being under the legal age to use Airbnb in the terms and conditions.

A legally binding code of conduct on all accommodation properties enforced by the government would give Airbnb owners, neighbours and renters alike, more assurance the property isn’t being abused.

Initially, the Victorian government was unwilling to include houses in its policy because it would then have to amend other related laws.