Airbnb removes 80 Texas listings in party house crackdown

Airbnb announced a crackdown on party houses throughout Texas on Tuesday.

The short-term rental company says it is suspending or removing 80 listings that have violated the company's policies on parties. But some homeowners who are fed up with loud house parties don't trust the move.

Airbnb says its crackdown on 80 listings across Texas targets homes that violated the company's temporary COVID-related ban on parties at all of its listings. Two of the cities with suspended homes on the list are Dallas and Fort Worth.

“This was going to be my permanent retirement home,” said Dallas resident Bruce Echols.

Echols says he loved his townhome in Oak Lawn until the owner of four townhomes next door turned them into a large, short-term rental.

“I’m usually someone who can sleep thru a thunderstorm, but I’m frequently being woken up in the middle of the night,” he said.

Echols, who shared security camera video of renters flinging a cigarette over his fence, says he tried to report problems to Airbnb in the past but got nowhere.

“Police have called many, many times. Whoever owns the property or leases it out it should be their responsibility,” he said.

Airbnb's spokesman said the company now wants to get the word out about their 24-7 hotline, where the company says people can reach a real person at anytime.

“We are prohibiting, not allowing so-called party houses on our platform. We’re really defining that to be a home that is responsible for persistent problems,” said Ben Breit, Airbnb spokesman.

Airbnb initially banned open invite parties after a deadly shooting last Halloween at a rental in San Francisco. Last month, due to COVID-19, the company banned all parties and added an occupancy cap of 16.

“In this current environment it can be unsafe, as well it can spread a virus,” Breit said.

But Andrew Muras, who founded Texas Neighborhood Coalition, says he's heard promises from Airbnb before.

“They talked before that they were doing a rapid response team. It’s never materialized, they never used it. So again, it’s just another false promise,” Muras said.

Airbnb responded that the hotline is the rapid response team, and it was activated in December 2019.

Muras organized his coalition of neighbors to fight back against short term rentals after one opened next to his home.

“The question for everybody is, ‘Do you want to live next door to a short-term rental hotel?’” Muras said.

Airbnb says calls to the hotline are what led to many of the suspensions announced on Tuesday.

The number for the hotline is 855-635-7754.