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, which seeks to override Airbnb’s arbitration terms, alleges the company violating its contract, fiduciary duty, and consumer law violation.
Christopher Nulty, an Airbnb spokesperson, said the company’s policies put public health and safety first, which would ultimately help hosts “by maintaining high levels of customer loyalty and demand for Airbnb offerings.” He said Mr. Farmer’s suit was unfounded.
“Back to our roots”
In May Airbnb announced that it would go “back to our roots” by focusing on “common people who house their homes”.
This position has business advantages. Professional landlords with lots of offerings seem to be taking away housing and turning neighborhoods into tourist zones, leading to politicians and neighborhood associations enacting regulations. A family renting out 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.