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N4T Investigators: Pandemic Parties

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TUCSON (KVOA) - Airbnb has started cracking down on Arizona party houses.

The move came after 50 of its listings across the state received complaints about guests throwing parties during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The News 4 Tucson Investigators looked into what this means for the health and safety of our community and how you can help.

Fifty homes, 10 of which are located in Tucson, have been suspended or removed from the platform.

"There's no question that cracking down on this type of behavior is more important than ever in this current environment," Ben Breit, a spokesperson for Airbnb said.

People have traded in traditional vacations for rental homes during the pandemic to using low-key properties to host parties under the radar.

It has been happening across Arizona despite the governor's executive order to limit mass gatherings.

"I could mean that the host is just out there actively soliciting parties, right," Bried said. "Saying come on down, party, do whatever you want. That's not acceptable."

However in Tucson, Airbnb is dealing primarily with a different issue.

"The host technically bans parties... isn't out there soliciting the parties," Breit. "But isn't out there doing a good enough job of stopping unauthorized parties." 

"It's disrespectful I think on all counts. Obviously, there should be a lot of consequences for that," Justin Donaldson, a Tucson Airbnb host said.

Donaldson said the crackdown is necessary because you never know what other places in the community party-goers may visit after their event. Doing so could make everyone more vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19.

"Oh my gosh, yeah. To outwardly break the rules, you know, set out by state officials, federal officials," Donaldson said. "I mean that's ridiculous to do that and to use another person's property to do it." 

Guests who violate the rules are subject to removal from the platform. Airbnb will warn hosts but ultimately suspend or remove them if complaints persist.

The company has also placed new restrictions on users under 25-years-old. Those without at least three positive reviews from nearby homes will not be able to book a stay.

"This is an effort to weed out as many unauthorized parties as we can," Breit said.

Concerned neighbors can call Airbnb's 24/7 Neighborhood Support Hotline at 855-635-7754.

A spokesperson for Airbnb said the hotline reports lead to many of the recent listing suspensions in Arizona.   

Alexis Berdine

Alexis Berdine is an Investigative Multi-Media Journalist at KVOA.

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