Airbnb suspends Bradenton Beach ‘party houses’

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A screenshot of the Airbnb rental platform shows listings available in Bradenton Beach. The site recently suspended at least one listing in Bradenton Beach for violating a company policy banning “party houses.” Islander Screenshot

By Amy V.T. Moriarty

Islander Reporter

At least one island property listing is among 40 statewide vacation homes that have been removed from the Airbnb platform.

The Sept. 10 move came as part of a statewide effort to ban “party houses,” as concerns over large gatherings remain tied to the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic, according to a statement from the short-term lodging service.

Airbnb is an online forum connecting those who want to rent properties to those seeking accommodations. The site lists properties in more than 81,000 cities across 191 countries.

Airbnb did not specify in a news release how many Manatee County listings were removed from the platform, but said all were in Bradenton Beach.

The company did not respond to requests for additional information.

An Airbnb ban on the occupancy of more than 16 people predated by more than six months the outbreak of the coronavirus and subsequent bans on large gatherings. The company first began limiting occupancy in August 2019 in a crackdown on “party houses.”

When the occupancy limitations were first implemented, the company launched a 24/7 neighborhood support hotline for complaints.

In addition, Airbnb staff began manually reviewing reservations deemed “high-risk,” as well as restricting guests younger than 25 from making “entire home” reservations.

Bradenton Beach officials could not say how many vacation rental properties in the city are listed on Airbnb.

Bradenton Beach deputy clerk Ruth Stief said property owners who want to rent their homes must obtain a city license, but the city does not track which companies or services the homeowners use to manage their rentals.

Bradenton Beach Police Lt. John Cosby said Sept. 17 that a lot of companies managing short-term rentals have a motel/hotel license, providing more leeway to remove people from a property should they be in violation of a rental agreement.

Cosby also said the majority of rental-related complaints to police are about parking, large gatherings and excessive noise.

In most cases, after officers speak with renters, “we haven’t been called back,” he said.

Cosby said there had not been more complaint calls than usual since the virus outbreak in March.

Airbnb’s suspensions do not extend beyond its platform and do not prevent property owners from renting their homes.

Also, the company release said most property owners on the platform follow the rules.

“It’s critical that we take steps to reduce the number of large parties and events and we support the efforts of local officials to put a stop to irresponsible behavior,” Viviana Jordan, Airbnb manager of public policy in Florida, stated.

Other Florida counties with property listings suspended by Airbnb include:

  • Alachua;
  • Broward; Duval;
  • Lake;
  • Lee;
  • Miami-Dade;
  • Okaloosa;
  • Orange
  • Palm Beach;
  • St. Johns;
  • Walton.

More information about Airbnb’s global party ban and other policies is available on its website at www.airbnb.com.