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Airbnb to launch helpline for city officials

Airbnb wants to deepen trust with cities and guests following controversy and ahead of a planned IPO next year.

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Home rental platform Airbnb has announced that it will launch a dedicated hotline for mayors and city officials in 2020.

 

The company has also set new rules for guests covering noise, visitors, parking, smoking and cleanliness, and unauthorised parties.

 

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky announced that the policy updates were coming last month after five people were killed in a Halloween shooting at a California home rented through the company.

 

Ahead of its planned initial public offering (IPO) next year, Airbnb is keen to highlight its credentials, calling the new policies a “trust innovation update”.

 

Trust

 

A statement from Airbnb said: “As part of our ongoing commitment to work with cities around the world, we’re launching a dedicated line where mayors and city officials can connect with appropriate Airbnb representatives about our new policies. Details on this new feature will be rolled out in 2020.”

 

It added: “Airbnb has worked to collaborate with cities around the world and with our host and guest communities to ensure we are creating a framework that allows millions of people to trust one another.

 

"We want to deepen that trust by making sure that city officials have a dedicated way to communicate with Airbnb in the rare event that hosts’ or guests’ conduct are not meeting our standards."

 

“Trust is the real driver that has allowed Airbnb to scale in more than seven million listings and more than half a billion guest arrivals in 191 countries, and we want to deepen that trust by making sure that city officials have a dedicated way to communicate with Airbnb in the rare event that hosts’ or guests’ conduct are not meeting our standards.”

 

City rules tighten

 

Many cities have taken steps to rein in holiday rental websites such as Airbnb, claiming they are driving up housing prices, displacing locals and changing the face of neighbourhoods.

 

In June, ten European cities called for more help from the EU on the matter. Paris, Barcelona, and Santa Monica are examples of cities that have introduced strict rules around home rental platforms. Last month, Boston implemented new rules which mean hosts have to register their listing with the city. They must own the property they are renting out and live in it for nine months a year.

 

The move aims to prevent property designed as housing being used purely for commercial letting. In October, Airbnb had over 4,000 property listings in Boston. The city said it has received 1,778 applications for registration and so far approved 737.

 

Airbnb launched an initiative with the City of San Jose to allow residents to offer space in their homes free of charge in the event of an emergency or disaster situation, such as a flood or earthquake.

 

New Orleans and Portland, Oregon are set to implement similar laws to Boston early next year.

 

Airbnb has taken steps to build relationships with cities. Last year it launched an initiative with the City of San Jose to allow residents to offer space in their homes free of charge in the event of an emergency or disaster situation, such as a flood or earthquake.

 

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