A new fad has emerged in Boston College’s freshman class: throwing parties in rental houses through Airbnb.
Two freshmen who attended a Somerville “Airbnb party” in February had such a great experience that they decided to throw their own early this month. These two students were granted anonymity to speak to The Heights.
“Most BC students have more money than sense,” one of the freshman said. “It’s totally not a foreign idea that you can just buy a house in the city for a night and throw a party.”
Freshmen at BC, especially male students, are often left on Friday and Saturday nights with no plans. Even when they’re invited to parties down in Walsh or the Mods, they don’t have the experience they’re looking for.
“You can go to Walsh and the Mods, but it’s not yours,” one of the freshmen said.
The two freshmen, along with a few of their friends, searched for a house on Airbnb for their friend’s birthday. They looked for listings that did not include “no parties”—a setting house owners can check if they do not want guests hosting parties in the temporary accommodations. They found several owners who listed no rules at all and ultimately decided on a house in Roslindale, Mass., 5 miles from BC.
They spent $475 to rent the house, plus some extra money for alcohol and accessories. The house had two floors with several bedrooms.
They created a private Facebook event for the party, inviting dozens of their freshman friends. Over 50 people attended the party that night. The guys said that, besides a cracked ice cube tray and a broken plastic sign on the front lawn, they left the house in good condition.
“I think we left that house cleaner than we found it,” one said.
The freshmen who hosted the earlier party in Somerville would not say the same. They were hit with a $600 cleaning fee and were banned from using Airbnb because of the permanent damage they caused, according to the freshman who rented the Roslindale house.
Airbnb hosts who feel their home has been damaged so significantly that they require compensation are able to make a claim on their security deposit through Airbnb’s website. If they make a claim within 14 days of their guest’s checkout date, the guest can pay for the damages through Airbnb. If a guest declines or fails to respond to a payment request, Airbnb will mediate the process.
Hosts are also provided with Host Protection Coverage, free of charge, through Airbnb. The claim will provide up to $1 million in liability or property damage.
Eric Friedberg, a homeowner who has been an Airbnb host for over three years, rents out three different houses in Newton. To protect his homes from potential damage, Friedberg takes additional steps beyond the “no parties” setting.
He has a two-night minimum on the homes he rents out to prevent parties from happening. He also has his own screening process in which he researches people who request to rent his home online beforehand, looking at the reviews on their Airbnb profiles. If Friedberg accepts a rental offer, he meets the renter at the house to give them the keys.
“If I see it’s a college kid, I won’t actually give them the keys until I see an adult,” he said.
If this situation were to occur, the guest would receive a full refund on their stay.
Friedberg recently received a reservation request from a student at Emerson College, who indicated that they plan to graduate in May. The student said he would like to stay in the home with his parents, who will be traveling from their home in Connecticut, during his graduation weekend. Friedberg said he will not rent his home to the student until he speaks to his parents. Friedberg was in touch with the student’s mother on Sunday afternoon and has since confirmed the reservation.
Due to his vigorous screening process, Friedberg has not had to deal with any damages to his homes since renting through Airbnb.
He said he does not rely on the company’s Host Protection Insurance Program that will reimburse hosts up to $1 million.
Stories of Airbnb rentals gone awry have been in the news in the last few years. On New Year’s Eve 2016, there were several reports of Airbnb rentals with significant damage across the world, including in London, Montreal, and Oakland, Calif.
These cases, however, are relatively few in comparison to Airbnb’s total volume. In 2016, out of the more than 30 million trips booked, there were just 2,700 cases of significant property damage, according to Jeff Henry, press secretary for global trust and risk management for Airbnb.
“The overwhelming majority of Airbnb hosts and guests are good neighbors and respectful travelers, but when issues happen, we work to make things right,” Henry said in an email. “We have no tolerance for this type of behavior and we immediately ban guests from the platform. We want to do everything we can to help our hosts be good neighbors in the places they call home.”
Once the freshmen who hosted the party in Roslindale heard about the fee and potential trouble they could face, they made sure that their party would not turn down the same destructive path. They asked everyone to leave at midnight to avoid complaints from neighbors or run-ins with the police. They also did not allow anyone except a few of their close friends to sleep over at the house. The next morning, they cleaned up and were out of the house by noon.
“I think this thing taught me that hosting a party is so much less fun than going to a party,” the freshman said. “I grew up five years that night,” he added.
Despite these unexpected stresses of hosting their own party, the duo plans to host more parties through Airbnb in the future.
When asked if they would recommend for next year’s class to host Airbnb parties, the guys were frank.
“It’s a rush, just go for it,” one of them said. “You’re in college—do it.”
Featured Image Courtesy of Logok
Correction: A previous version of this article stated that Airbnb does not cover personal property damage, but that is not true.