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Airbnb Bans Party Houses, But Will Dallas Officials Care?

Airbnb and its competitors are joining forces to try and regulate their platforms before city councils do it for them. First stop: banning problem party houses. Will it be enough?
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After years of complaints, Dallas is looking at how it can regulate short-term rentals that are temporarily leased by platforms like Airbnb, VRBO, and other sites. We’ve written about the various options that the city is weighing before. 

As city after city enacted some kind of regulation or even ban, Airbnb has now announced a total ban on properties listed for parties and events.

In a blog post Tuesday, the platform said that it was making a 16-person cap that it enacted during the height of the pandemic a permanent one. Families and groups that want to rent something bigger (like a castle or a villa) can do so through the company’s Categories, which offers larger homes to “responsible guests.”

“The policy will continue to include serious consequences for guests who attempt to violate these rules, varying from account suspension to full removal from the platform,” Airbnb writes. “In 2021, over 6,600 guests were suspended from Airbnb for attempting to violate our party ban.”

Airbnb will also temporarily ban some types of bookings to try to prevent parties, like not allowing guests that don’t have a history of positive reviews to book rentals during party weekends—like, for instance, the upcoming July 4 weekend.

That party ban prohibits open-invite parties that are advertised on social media and “chronic party houses.” Violators won’t just see their Airbnb privileges go away, either; the platform and VRBO are sharing data when it comes to banned guests.

The Dallas City Council seems ready to consider banning short-term rentals in residential areas. Earlier this month, city staff briefed their bosses on options for regulation: update zoning to allow short-term rentals only in owner-occupied homes, meaning it would relegate Airbnb to granny flats or rented rooms. Those would be allowed in all zoning districts. Off-street parking would be required, and it would be illegal to rent those properties for events or restaurants or other non-lodging uses.

The other option would keep those same restrictions but allow the rentals to continue in all zoning districts, whether the owner lives there or not. It didn’t seem like that would go over well with many on Council, who cite complaints from residents over their temporarily rowdy neighbors.

Airbnb is clearly hoping its new measure will appease regulatory bodies like the Dallas City Council. We likely won’t find out until August whether this will be enough, but I suspect it won’t be.

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Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson

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Bethany Erickson is the senior digital editor for D Magazine. She's written about real estate, education policy, the stock market, and crime throughout her career, and sometimes all at the same time. She hates lima beans and 5 a.m. and takes SAT practice tests for fun.

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