Next month, Airbnb will unveil a new tool to allow neighbors of unruly renters to complain directly to the home-sharing company. Airbnb won't say whether the comments will be made public, nor how it will affect the status of those rentals that are subject to numerous complaints. But it does signal a new willingness by the company to listen to those directly affected by Airbnb's rapid spread in dense urban centers, especially as critics claim that Airbnb's rise directly correlates to the declining availability of affordable housing.
The new complaint system was first revealed by Yasuyuki Tanabe, the head of Airbnb in Japan, during a government forum in Tokyo on Monday. A spokesperson for Airbnb later confirmed to The Verge that the program would be launched in the coming weeks.
"register a complaint directly to our customer service team"
"We are proud to have built a respectful and compassionate community," the spokesperson said in an email. "Most Airbnb hosts are sharing the home they live in and we give them tools they need to only welcome respectful travelers. If issues do arise, we work with our community to try and resolve them. In the next month we are planning to start offering a new feature on our website that will enable neighbors to register a complaint directly to our customer service team for follow up. We will have more details when we formally launch the product in the coming weeks."
Airbnb has long argued that it allows homeowners to make a quick buck on an extra room, as well as travelers an opportunity to experience a new city from a resident's point of view. But critics accuse Airbnb of creating a marketplace that gives landlords an incentive to push out low-income tenants so they can rent out their apartments to tourists and others who use the online service. This conflicts with laws prohibiting short-term rentals in many cities, but has puzzled politicians who struggle to regulate the popular $25 billion company. Tensions have boiled to the surface in some cities, with neighbors complaining that their buildings are being turned into hotels, or worse, hostels full of young, rowdy travelers.