Expedia, TripAdvisor tighten rules after Airbnb horror stories

Airbnb’s competitors are tightening their rules for how guests access keys following a horrifying investigation into violent crimes at rental properties listed on the site. 

Expedia’s rental business Vrbo now forbids hosts from leaving keys in public places where the rental’s “owner, business manager or staff is not present,” according to the company’s site. Hosts who do not abide by the rule may be banned from Vrbo.

TripAdvisor, meanwhile, also plans to tighten its rules on how keys are transferred to guests, Bloomberg reported.

The news comes two weeks after a shocking investigation revealed that a 29-year-old Australian tourist was raped at knifepoint in a Manhattan Airbnb rental in 2016 by an assailant who somehow had a key to the unit. 

The unnamed female victim had reportedly picked up the keys to the rental at a nearby bodega without showing identification, raising questions of how many people were able to access the apartment. 

Two years after the incident, Airbnb paid the woman $7 million in a settlement that prevents her from suing or blaming the company or the rental’s host, according to Bloomberg. 

Expedia’s rental business Vrbo now forbids hosts from leaving keys in public places where the rental’s “owner, business manager or staff is not present,” according to the company’s site.
Expedia’s rental business Vrbo now forbids hosts from leaving keys in public places where the rental’s “owner, business manager or staff is not present,” according to the company’s site.
Alamy Stock Photo

Airbnb spokesperson Ben Breit said that the company requires all hosts to “properly secure their listings, and that includes requiring that key exchanges are made safely and securely” under a security policy that has been in place since 2019. 

The company also requires hosts to change keypad and lockbox codes between reservations, Breit said.

Vrbo, meanwhile, only “recommends that hosts change codes, according to the company’s site. 

TripAdvisor did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

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