Combating Gun Violence at Short-term Rentals

Police Tape

Gun violence in the U.S. is nothing new. What is new is the sharp uptick in shootings at house parties held in properties rented through Airbnb and other short-term rental services. 

Increasingly, these properties are being used as party locations, and the parties can easily get out of control. The result: increased property damage, upset neighbors, and worse, as evidenced by the number of gatherings that have turned deadly through gun violence. For example, in one widely reported incident in October 2019, five people were killed and four others wounded during an Airbnb house-party shooting in Orinda, California, an upscale suburb of San Francisco.  

Increased overall gun violence

Overall, gun violence in the U.S. has continued to escalate. “More Americans (45,222) died of gun-related injuries in 2020 than in any other year on record,” as the Pew Research Center reported. Unfortunately, this trend is not limited to drug gangs and inner cities. Gun violence can happen anywhere, anytime, including short-term rental properties in expensive neighborhoods. 

Gun violence at short-term rentals

Within the past five years, multiple television news stories reported more than 50 cases of shootings in Airbnb rentals. Local jurisdictions have responded with new regulations governing parties held at short-term rentals. Atlanta, for example, has enacted strict new measures targeting short-term rental parties following a deadly shooting in 2020. But, as we have blogged about in the past, crime at short-term rentals is both real and growing.

What else can operators do to avoid problems?

An obvious solution is flagging potential problem guests through careful screening; asking for proof of identity of all guests, and stipulating that large gatherings are not allowed. 

Unfortunately, even with diligent screening, guests who plan to host parties can find ways to hide their real intentions. That’s where new monitoring technologies can work wonders. For example, Party Squasher is a unique solution that counts guests by detecting the number of cell phones present in a home. 

Party Squasher doesn’t violate anyone’s privacy; it simply counts individual cell phone signals as a proxy for the number of guests present. With the Party Squasher system, you can set to alert the property owner in real-time via text message as to the number of phones/guests present. Operators can then inform the guest that they violate their rental terms agreement; and take steps to prevent a party from getting out of control. 

Of course, not every party will result in property damage or shootings. However, property owners have both the right and the obligation to ensure that any gatherings held in their properties are safe and approved. Solutions such as Party Squasher and Party Squasher Pro are powerful tools for doing exactly that. 

Photo by David von Diemar on Unsplash

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