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SALT LAKE CITY — The party is officially over.
Or at least, any future parties planned for properties available for short-term rental through online accommodations giant Airbnb.
On Tuesday, Airbnb announced a two-year temporary ban on parties at its hosts' houses, condos and apartments had proven so successful the company decided to make it a permanent policy.
Airbnb first implemented a party ban in 2019 following a series of violent and destructive incidents at rental properties on its network and in 2020, extended the rule globally as the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Going, going, gone. In a blog post Tuesday, Airbnb said the early ban in 2019 was aiming to prohibit both "open-invite" parties (i.e., those advertised on social media) as well as "chronic party houses" that had developed into neighborhood nuisances. That decision came shortly after a Halloween 2019 shooting at a California Airbnb that left five dead.
Airbnb said when COVID-19 pandemic restrictions led to the closure or restricted occupancies for bars and clubs, its property hosts began to see some people "taking partying behavior to rented homes, including through Airbnb." Airbnb said the change was concerning both because of the disruptive nature of unauthorized parties and the risk of such gatherings spreading the virus. And those concerns led to the global party ban instituted in 2020 "in the best interest of public health," according to Airbnb.
The party ban has worked. Mostly. Airbnb said it found a direct correlation between the implementation of the global party ban in August 2020 and a 44% year-over-year drop in the rate of party reports. The ban, according to Airbnb, has been well received by property owners, and the company said it has received positive feedback from community leaders and elected officials. That evidence, Airbnb said, led to the decision to codify the party ban policy.
Airbnb said the policy will "continue to include serious consequences for guests who attempt to violate these rules," varying from account suspension to full removal from the platform. In 2021, over 6,600 guests were suspended from Airbnb for attempting to violate the party ban, according to the company.
But, due to the way companies like Airbnb operate, they can't always stop parties from taking place, according to CNBC. Guests can sometimes check in to remote properties themselves while the owner is away and can invite as many people over as they want.
Ashtyn Ernesto Ortega, 18, of Herriman, and Daniel Martinez, 17, of Lehi, who goes by the moniker "Felon," were each charged in 3rd District Court with two counts of murder, a first-degree felony. In addition, Ortega was charged with three counts of possession of a firearm by a restricted person and drug possession with intent to distribute, third-degree felonies.
Both are accused of killing Austin Terry Powell, 27, and Jonathan July Fuentes, 21, on April 3. A party was ending just after 1 a.m. in an Airbnb rental home at 11464 Cranberry Hill (280 East) when shots were fired outside of the house in the street.
"The party ended when the homeowner arrived and kicked everyone out," charging documents state.
In the street, Ortega and Martinez — neither of whom had been invited to the party — got into an argument with Powell, according to charging documents. Some witnesses told police the argument may have started because of bottles being thrown.
"Martinez was throwing beer bottles in the street and asked Ortega for his gun. Ortega pulled his gun from his waistband and handed it to Martinez. Martinez then danced or skipped down the street while shooting at the Tesla driver. The driver, along with a second person who was walking behind the Tesla, were shot and died as a result of the shooting," the charges state.
"Martinez's attitude of indifference and even amusement while pulling the trigger demonstrates his danger to the community. He had an immediate lethal response to a verbal altercation."