two champagne glasses against holiday lights and fireworks - new year celebration

Airbnb will continue to ban partying at all properties listed on the vacation rental website in advance of the New Year’s Eve holiday.

The company first adopted a global ban on partying in August at all properties listed on the site and threatened bans and legal action against property owners who did not comply.

The August rule change also capped occupancy at Airbnb properties at 16 individuals. Scottsdale already limited occupancy in all dwelling units, including vacation rentals, to six adults and their children.

Airbnb went a step further over the Halloween weekend in the U.S. and Canada, prohibiting all one-night reservations in an attempt to reduce partying.

Now, the company announced it will again ban most one-night reservations for New Year’s Eve in the U.S. and six other countries, with limited exceptions for renters who have a track record of good behavior.

“Effective today, in these countries, guests without a history of positive reviews on Airbnb will be prohibited from making one night reservations in entire home listings on New Year’s Eve,” the company wrote in a press release on Dec. 3.

Guests who are allowed to book one-night reservations will still be required to agree not to throw an unauthorized party and “that they may be pursued legally by Airbnb if they break our rules on parties and events,” according to the company.

Airbnb will also have staff on call in a “virtual command center” on New Year’s Eve to deal with any issues.

Many of the new restrictions put in place by Airbnb this year have come in response to COVID-19, but issues with short-term rental party houses in Scottsdale predate the pandemic. 

Scottsdale has one of the largest concentrations of short-term rentals in the Valley, including properties rented out on global marketplaces like Airbnb along with other homes rented by smaller local companies.

Raun Keagy, the city’s code enforcement director, said a third-party source estimated there are 3,660 active short-term rentals in Scottsdale.

Under an ordinance passed in 2019, all vacation rental property owners are required to provide the city with an emergency contact information for the property owner or a representative.

But, only 679 short-term rentals are actually registered with the city, including 414 voluntary registrations and 265 properties that were registered following enforcement actions resulting from a complaint, Keagy said.

The 2019 ordinance also included stiff penalties on homeowners and renters responsible for nuisance parties or unlawful gatherings in an attempt to crack down on parties at short term rentals.

Under that ordinance, individuals could face fines of up to $4,000 for hosting parties that disturb the peace or include illicit activities like drug use or underage drinking.

The ordinance applies to all properties in Scottsdale, because state law prohibits cities from specifically regulating short-term rental properties or banning them outright.

During his campaign this year, Mayor-elect David Ortega made returning local control of short-term rentals to cities part of his platform and vowed to work with state legislators and other Valley cities to change state law.

“As the next mayor of Scottsdale, I will make sure City Hall follows due process so that short-term rentals are at the table, comply with safety requirements and coexist without overwhelming us,” Ortega wrote the Progress in August.

In July, Airbnb reported it had suspended or removed 50 “party houses” across Arizona, including some in Scottsdale, for repeated complaints or violations of its policies.

An Airbnb spokesman said properties can be suspended or removed for several reasons, including repeated issues with parties or direct complaints to the company’s 24/7 neighborhood hotline.