To live and die with Airbnb: why the service does not control user security

The family met the Stones thanksgiving in the country house in Texas, filmed through the service Airbnb. When Zacks father decided to take a ride on the rope swing, the tree trunk to which they were tied, broke and fell on his head. Medics took the man to hospital by helicopter, but to save his life failed. In 2012 in The New York Times, the responsibility of the Airbnb, it was said.

“Its only a matter of time until something terrible”. That “something” was a family history of Stones. “I felt that I should share this story, but its hard to understand why, says Zach. — I will draw attention to the problem, say victims.

Where will this lead. Can a 24-billion dollar company to worry about the security of millions of people. Airbnb is reshaping the global real estate market and changes not only our way of travel, but also how we value personal space. What is the responsibility of the company in front of people giving her their money and trust?”. There are all new startups that are changing the social and economic relations, and the laws lag behind the realities.

The stones were probably the first who made public the death while using Airbnb, but sooner or later the similar should happen. To sleep with a stranger or invite him or her is in itself a risky business. Hotel rooms meet the requirements of security, care of them the special staff, and it affects the price. Accommodations on Airbnb, by contrast, is not regulated, it is diverse and accessible, but also the standards of safety in its relation so far only entered.

Airbnb a shared approach to security service is consistent with the philosophy of Silicon valley. “First do, then fix it”. If the crude product leads to negative consequences and receives bad reviews in the press — apologize and fix it. In 2011, a woman from San Francisco discovered in his apartment smashing. The criminals had rented a place through Airbnb, took out the jewels and burned the things of the hostess.

When her story about the incident spread on the Internet that CEO Brian chesky made a public apology, and in terms of service appeared insurance from Airbnb in case of damage to housing. Now it is $1 million. Protect guests from unscrupulous owners cared about the company less. In March, the American, who shot through Airbnb apartment in Argentina, was bitten by a dog.

The company refused to cover treatment expenses, while on the case wrote in The New York Times. Recommendations for the security of property were not included in the conditions of registration up to the occasion with father Zach. But even now, there is no guarantee that landlords will comply with the security requirements or at least read them. Security of the apartments have to check users and not employees of Airbnb.

If the company will increase requirements for landlords, for example, will force them to fill out a form, pass the safety test, talk to a company representative by phone or checks by housing (this idea expressed itself Cesky) — Airbnb will have to say goodbye with a quick and easy registration process, which will significantly reduce the influx of new users. Every house or apartment, which is registered in the Association of hotels of Texas, is thoroughly tested with test overnight. Every two years the Association test in all homes — from the cleanliness to the design, locks and smoke detectors.

Similar measures not only Airbnb would cost a lot of money, but would come into conflict with company policy on which all obligations are given to outsource the receiving side. “To reduce their liabilities to a minimum, startups in the sharing economy should be as a passive platform,” says lawyer Jim Rosenfeld. “The more content and services they provide, the more risks. The more they are like Bulletin boards like Craigslist, the better for them”.

Airbnb bills itself as a service that just “connects owners of vacant housing to those who wish to take it off”. Companies that benefit from this uncertainty, impose all the risks on users, especially when exchanged on the platform is a human experience, not data or sound, as in the case of Napster and Tumblr, which also appealed to his status as a platform, when they were accused of illegal activity. But companies understand that business is strategically important, and what can be ignored. At the dawn service at Airbnb noticed that users from new York was uploaded the poor-quality photos of the property, often have taken with the phone.

Nobody wanted to rent an apartment that could not even really see on the photo. Then Airbnb hired professional photographers who took the pictures for free rental apartments. It was a good decision. The companys revenue in new York was soon doubled.

On the basis of these photos could be doing a baseline assessment and issue specific safety recommendations related to potentially dangerous places (swimming pools, saunas, trampolines), or to inspect immediately at home. However, it would have cost the company much more expensive and would expose the neutrality of Airbnb as a platform. The irony is that from Amateurs who cannot be trusted even such a trivial task, how to photograph your property, expect that they may succeed in the home — ensuring the life and safety of our guests. Airbnb will gladly send person to you to ensure that your trees look great in the photo, but will not inquire, will not fall these trees on your head.

Supporters of Airbnb have protected the rights of homeowners to make their property and believe that such platforms do not require additional rules. The company, in turn, protects the owners, offering them legal support and supporting Peers — the Association of Airbnb hosts, drivers for Uber and other freelancers who oppose legislative regulation and limitation of companies in the “on demand economy”. In San Francisco Airbnb has spent about $9 million on a successful opposition amendment, which restricted the delivery of one dwelling to 75 nights per year and provided for the company a fine of $1000 in favor of the city for mismatched conditions.

In other cities, some landlords and neighbors tend to drive out the informal of of homes and neighborhoods. Proponents of affordable housing called Airbnb fuel, warming up the already hot rental market in gentrification blocks. Players of the hotel industry are lobbying state governments to ban short-term rental accommodation. Local politicians and community residents, in turn, support campaigns like Share Bette in their videos Airbnb guests come across mouse droppings and apartments in unfinished buildings.

In 2014, the attorney General of new York Eric Schneiderman published an analysis of illegal rental apartments in four years. It turned out that more than a third of revenue generated through Airbnb in new York, is $168 million received illegal hotels, the owners of which contained from 3 to 272 institutions and earned millions of dollars a year to bypass taxes. 72% of all rented apartments or broke the rules of short-term rental, or used as housing commercial premises. Using Airbnb is illegal there are hundreds of hostels, some of them take 13 guests per night.

The law of the state of new York prohibits city residents to take shelter in rentals of less than 30 days if the landlord is not in the building. This law is intended to preserve affordable rent and to restrict tourists from housing that does not meet fire regulations. Illegal hotels are often dangerous for its residents. They are not systems of automatic fire fighting and fire alarm, evacuation schemes.

The laws of new York require cheap compliance with much more stringent safety standards than residential homes. Unregulated hotels are not concerned. Director fire safety Fire Department of new York Thomas Jensen argues that visitors to such places are putting yourself at great risk. However, strict standards are ignored on Airbnb, which helped to reduce the number of accidents from fires in new York by 80% from 1976 to 2013.

Zach stone found that his father was not the first, who died on Airbnb. In 2013, a woman from Canada were poisoned by carbon monoxide in the apartment, shot through Airbnb in Taiwan. In an illegal hostel was a gas leak from the column on the enclosed balcony. Relatives of the woman dropped the claim after the company offered $2 million “purely humane reasons”.

On the requests of Zack and edition Matter they also not replied. After this incident the company started to give out free smoke detectors and carbon monoxide all interested owners. The ill-fated hostel was removed from the site. However now in Taiwan for removal of 11,000 affordable apartments without any confirmation of the legality or implementation of safety standards.

After the death of his father Zach in the registration process added security, but the site still has no certification. Users simply have to the word to believe the owners of apartments that people are okay with security and they do not violate local laws. Zach wonders. How Airbnb can fix this.

To check the legality of housing in each city is a cumbersome task, but often it can be solved by one call. Tourists seeking temporary housing in new York, you can show a message stating that you can only stay for 30 days or more, or have to find an apartment with the owner. Even visit the apartment to check — not really such an incredible task, may be difficult and expensive. In the end, it is possible to hire freelancers, using sharing economy.

Three days after the death of his father, Zach received a letter from the Manager of Airbnbs proposal to call and to discuss how the company can help the family. Zach was suggested that this was an attempt to settle the matter before the case goes to court, is common practice in such cases. The terms of assistance usually are the withdrawal of claims to the company and the subsequent agreement on non-disclosure of the details of the transaction. Stone refused to make any contact with the company, but not filed on Airbnb in court.

He considered it his duty to tell everyone about the problem, because of which killed his father. A blog dedicated to the rebranding of the company, Brian chesky says that Airbnb returns to the trust, gives you the opportunity to know each other and find a home in any part of the world. Zach stone casts doubt on these words. Participants unite Airbnb is not the sentiment that “makes this global community so special”, and the value of global market efficiency, benefit and personal interest.

Community is the common interests connecting people, set of rules, which all members agreed to abide by, and transparency. Airbnb is not interested in the personalities of the members of its community and is unlikely to track the data necessary to assess the risk of death, injury, robbery or sexual aggression. The community is an exclusive concept that implies certain limits that define who can enter and who is not. The security community Airbnb could be the exclusivity is to set higher standards for those who can use the service to be proactive and to prevent the exchange of violators of local laws, to promote safety standards, to set realistic rental prices, to ensure that people pay taxes (this would inevitably pushed out of the market by some owners).

Airbnb says it does good, allowing people to pay bills and attracting tourists to the city to spend money. But not everyone is ready to take on the responsibility to accept people. Most just earn. Some friends of Zack shoot in new York apartment for $2500 per month and earn it through Airbnb $6000.

Since the tragedy nearly two years. Shortly before the death of his father Zack slid into a more expensive apartment. He expected a few days a month to rent out your property on Airbnb to pay the bills. On Airbnb he could earn $125 per night.

Historic building, district centrifically. But the plans interfered with an accident. Zack had cleaned the apartment, put up the plants and hung a photo of my parents. In advertising their accommodation on the website he would write the following.

Relax in the heart of Los Angeles in a century old building with parquet flooring, fabulous views, magnificent dawn, a fresh breeze and lots of plants. In the interior — audio system Sonos, juicer Vitamix, Souvenirs and photos collected during travel. Look at my parents. Arent they a beautiful couple.

My home is your home. My stuff — your stuff. You can even borrow my clothes. But do not take blue sweater with blood stains.

It is a reminder of my last stop in Airbnb.


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