Airbnb to limit ability of Canadian youth to book some properties
Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, February 5, 2020 1:47PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, February 5, 2020 6:07PM EST
TORONTO - Airbnb will limit young adults' ability to book some properties in Canada in a pilot project aimed at cutting down on unauthorized parties like the one where three young men were killed in Toronto over the weekend.
The company will prohibit people under the age of 25 from booking local listings for entire homes in Canada, company executive Chris Lehane announced Wednesday, insisting such bookings are far more likely to lead to security incidents but refusing to provide numbers to support the claim.
“Three young men lost their lives on Friday night. Nothing we're going to say or do will bring back those lives, but we're certainly going to talk about what we should do from a responsibility perspective,” said Lehane, senior vice-president of global policy and communications.
“...For us it's simply not good enough to say that, hey, we're just merely a reflection, we're a mirror onto larger societal challenges. For us, it's incredibly important that we take a responsibility.”
About 0.03 per cent of Airbnb bookings result in property damage and 0.06 per cent result in security incidents, Lehane said.
Those killed have been identified as Tyronne Noseworthy, 19, Jalen Colley, 21, and Joshua Gibson-Skeir, 20. Police have yet to explain why only two of the three deaths have been classified as homicides so far.
Investigators have said two guns were found at the scene and the gunmen were among the dead.
The Toronto shooting is just the latest incident to highlight fears around Airbnb parties.
Late last year, Airbnb announced a ban on so-called “party houses” after five people were killed at a Halloween party at a rental in Orinda, Calif., that was listed on its site. The ban prohibited “open-invite” parties in which organizers open up the home to anyone who wants to attend, for instance by advertising on social media.
The new measure will have some leniency for young people with a positive track record on Airbnb, Lehane said. Those under 25 who have at least three positive reviews will be able to book entire homes locally.
He said there will be a certain radius from a person's home address in which they won't be allowed to book a full residence, but said the company would be keeping that number secret to make it harder to circumvent the measure.
The company will monitor the initiative's effectiveness in real time and decide whether to roll it out globally, he said.
“We're not saying this is going to be a solve-all or a panacea,” Lehane said. “The issue of gun violence goes well beyond this particular action that we are identifying and taking. But we do think it is a step in the right direction and a step that will reduce the number of instances out there.”
The company is also introducing a “24/7 neighbourhood support telephone hotline” in Canada to connect residents with “rapid response agents” who will deal with concerns.
The line is already operating in the United States, but Lehane said Canada will be the second country where it will be instituted.
Airbnb also announced Wednesday that it will donate $300,000 to Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns over the course of three years.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 5, 2020.