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05 May Using an Airbnb to Party During COVID

May 6th, 2020

By REALTOR® Amanda McCracken of Stonebridge Properties at Hermann London

COVID-19 has brought many changes to our lives. In the Airbnb world, the new thing is that local people are trying to book our Airbnb’s for parties because everything is shut down and they have no place to go. Bars & nightclubs are no longer an option and I have heard that hotel parties, which were popular in the past, are no longer available. I had one guest that was able to book one of my Airbnb’s for a party before I got wise. She was a girl who was booking on a Friday night at 11:45pm for “her and her four sisters” to stay the weekend so that they could be together while visiting her brother who just had a baby. After the first night, the guests in the unit below them informed me that the partying went on until 4am and they didn’t notice any girls; they only saw huge men driving expensive muscle cars.

The next day I contacted the girl that booked the stay to inquire about what was going on. She said that it was her brother and his friends who had come over to visit and apologized for being loud and promised it wouldn’t happen again. I informed her that we have a strict no party policy and that the neighbors would call the police.

After the 2nd night, the guests in the unit below said that there appeared to have been at least 10 people partying this time and the same muscle cars with blacked out license plates were parked out front. The music wasn’t quite as loud as the night before, they were respectful, but there was definitely no baby and no sisters present. It might have been a silly coincidence but the downstairs guests who were giving me all of this information said that some police drove by with their sirens on and immediately the toilets upstairs started furiously flushing like they were trying to get rid of something they didn’t want to get caught with.

Finally on Sunday the downstairs guests told me that it sounded like a whole bunch of furniture had been moved around. I went over to the unit after everyone had checked out and it turned out they left the place fairly clean. The only real sign of any partying at all was the pile of very expensive liquor bottles in the trash and a single purple feather. I got lucky. Nothing was damaged, there were no fights, and no one was hurt. On the local Airbnb Facebook page there have been others who haven’t been as fortunate.

To prevent this from happening again I took off the “Instant Book” feature that I previously allowed where guests can instantly book the homes as long as they meet the Airbnb criteria of a government issued id and a credit card on file. I now have to approve each request for booking.

Airbnb lets guests book instantly if they keep an ID and credit card on file

I also have a policy where I will not rent to locals unless there is a good reason. The couple on the first floor who were my informants stayed with me for almost a month because they have underlying health issues and live in a condo that has many medical professionals and they were wanting to be more isolated and protected from COVID. They were probably in their 70’s so I was pretty confident I would not have any wild parties with them.

Since COVID I’ve had approximately 47 cancellations with a loss in revenue of probably $40,000. My strategy is to wait it out and see what happens. I’ve gotten a few long term guests like the ones I described above but all of my bookings for May and June have now cancelled. We will see… one day at a time.

Fortunately, I have other rental properties and don’t have all my eggs in the Airbnb basket. Plus, I am part of an amazing team who is rockin and rollin and doing an excellent job with growing our real estate business!

Before this was never an issue for me. Most of my guests are families or friends meeting in St. Louis to spend time together & enjoy all that our city has to offer. Graduations and trips to sporting events or family reunions were also a big thing. This is the first time that I have had questionable guests. When COVID first started in March, I reduced my prices to half the normal price. I quickly realized that was a mistake. The families/friends that I am used to hosting clean up after themselves and take great care of our homes. I found this was not true with everyone after I had reduced my prices so much. I have since raised my prices back to normal rates and will wait for travel & tourism to return to our amazing city.

REALTOR® Amanda McCracken
Broker/Owner of Stonebridge Properties at Hermann London
(314) 607-3877

Amanda is the CFO for McCracken Construction Co. and a managing member of McCracken Development, LLC, MK Real Estate Holdings, LLC, and MKC Rental Properties, LLC.  As the broker/owner of Stonebridge Properties, she is also an experience listing agent who knows how to stage, market, and sell property.

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