Short-term vacation rental website AirBNB will sue a Sacramento-area customer after a house party at one of its vacation rental homes ended in a violent shooting last week.
The pending lawsuit marks the first time AirBNB has taken legal action against one of its customers in connection with their service.
AirBNB connects homeowners who want to rent rooms to vacationers on a short-term basis. Some homeowners list their entire property for rent on the website, something the service allows.
But what AirBNB doesn’t allow is for customers to book homes for “open-invite parties” or other ragers that aren’t sanctioned by a property owner. The company has cracked down on renting homes for parties since the start of the coronavirus health pandemic.
This week, AirBNB provided media outlets with a statement that accused the Sacramento-area customer of booking a home in the Arden-Arcade neighborhood under false pretenses. The company said the guest, who was not named in their statement, violated numerous county health codes as well as the company’s community standards policy.
“AirBNB has removed the guest from the platform,” the statement said.
That won’t be the last step in the saga: This week, AirBNB said it would initiate legal proceedings against the customer and donate money received through the lawsuit to a Sacramento-area non-violence organization.
Legal expert Mark Reichel said the pending lawsuit comes at a time when AirBNB is preparing to file an initial public offering or I.P.O., and that such a filing normally requires them to have a squeaky-clean image.
“AirBNB is being very proactive in this case and that is an image issue for the company,” Mark told local TV station CBS13 News. “They are planning to go public very soon, and they want to come off as a very clean, by-the-book type of company.”
Mark said the pending lawsuit is also intended to shield AirBNB from certain types of liability in anticipation of separate lawsuits being filed against the company by as many as three victims who were reportedly shot during the party.
“They are getting ready for the rounds of lawsuits that are coming, as if to say, we agree, we’ve already sued this guy, we had nothing to do with it” Mark said.