Another host, Anthony Farmer, filed a class action lawsuit against Airbnb in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in November. The lawsuit seeking to override Airbnb’s terms of arbitration alleges the company violating its contract and fiduciary duty, and violating consumer protection laws.
Christopher Nulty, an Airbnb spokesperson, said the company’s policies had put public health and safety first, which would ultimately help hosts “by maintaining high guest loyalty and demand for Airbnb offerings.” He said Mr. Farmer’s suit was unfounded.
“Back to our roots”
In May, Airbnb announced it would “go back to our roots” by focusing on “everyday people who host their homes”.
This position has business advantages. Lots of professional landlords seem to be taking away housing and turning neighborhoods into tourist zones, leading politicians and neighborhood associations to enact regulations. A family renting a guest room often appears less threatening.
In a financial prospectus in November, Airbnb said 90 percent of its hosts are “single hosts,” defined as those who created their listings directly on the website rather than using specialized software to sign up. According to Transparent, a software provider for short-term landlords, as of September only 37 percent of Airbnb offers were managed by people with a property. About half of the offerings were managed by hosts with two to 20 properties and 14 percent by hosts with 21 or more.
When Airbnb highlighted each host, it further annoyed its professional hosts.
“Their business relies on professional hosts in a way, but they don’t say that often,” said Vail, the operator in Columbus. “You don’t want that message to be the headline.”
Mr. Nulty said Airbnb’s focus on “core hosts” was not at the expense of professional hosts. He said professional hosts are represented on the Host Advisory Board, a group the company founded in October to allow hosts to meet with Airbnb executives.