Airbnb host in Tampa is facing criminal charges after renting a property for two nights. Florida is one of many states and several major cities that have banned vacation rentals during the pandemic.
According to a police report, local teenagers were throwing a party at the property which they had rented for the weekend when a drive-by shooting occurred. While no one was injured, the homeowner still was charged with violating the state’s emergency stay-at-home order and ban on overnight rentals. She has been ordered to appear in court.
Airbnb host claims that she was not aware of the ban on short term rentals. However, the sheriff argues that the property owner’s “alleged ignorance” of the law is no excuse.
“Our deputies have worked for weeks to educate and encourage the public to follow the emergency orders,” says Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister. “As I’ve stated continuously, we will continue to enforce the emergency orders, especially when blatant disregard for them puts the lives of others in danger. It is important that we hold those who violate the orders accountable, no matter who they are, so the sacrifice of so many is not wasted by the irresponsibility of the few.”
Party house rentals also violate the latest guidelines from Airbnb. Restrictions on unsupervised rentals came after a spate of violent parties, including one in California where five people died. When a similar issue occurred in Toronto, Airbnb banned young locals there from renting whole-house properties. While Airbnb does attempt to provide notice of region-specific regulations, there currently is no mechanism to block these controversial transactions from taking place.
Overnight vacation rentals like those on Airbnb and VRBO have suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic as travel bans and limited flights have hampered bookings. Stay-at-home restrictions are depriving many hosts of supplemental income at a time when they need it most, and some hosts report they are considering shifting to the long-term market to shore up their losses.
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