News: Quick Takes

Airbnb Will Let Neighbors Provide Feedback

Company officials can review complaints regarding unruly renters and take action if needed

Airbnb Inc. is rolling out a new website feature that will allow community members to report on how guests behave when they rent a room in the neighborhood.

The online home rental company, which has faced adamant opposition in Raleigh and many other cities across the United States, is dealing with problems that have arisen when Airbnb users have become rowdy or disruptive, said Yasuyuki Tanabe, head of Airbnb in Japan, where the concept will be tested before its global launch.

“One of the most important issues facing the sharing economy is how the people choosing to take part in it co-exist with those that aren’t,” Tanabe said at a public forum. “Our first step in this direction is to give neighbors the opportunity to comment or complain.”

The feature kicks in next month, allowing neighbors to post reports on the company’s website about the behavior of nearby Airbnb users. All feedback will be reviewed by members of the company’s customer support team, which will then tackle problems as needed. Airbnb has not said whether those reports will be made public.

Raleigh’s issues with Airbnb

Raleigh’s heated discussion over whether to legalize Airbnb and similar online rental models began in 2014. The debate was sparked following a complaint lodged against Raleigh homeowner and Airbnb user Gregg Stebben, and revealed that “short-term residential rentals” are illegal under city code.

The dispute over Airbnb legalization continues among council members — some of whom say the service will disrupt neighborhoods and lower property values.

“This would be an absolute nightmare,” said council member Kay Crowder during a December 2015 meeting. “I don’t know how else to put it. In District D, where such as it is I already have issues going on, it just wouldn’t be a win for the district.”

While the city continues talks about possible Airbnb regulations, it has chosen not to enforce the law aggressively, letting roughly 500 users continue to operate without penalty.

To read more about Airbnb’s plan to encourage more-satisfied neighbors, click here.