Medium writer tells story of father's death at Airbnb home, questions rentals' safety

Posted on: November 10 2015

By Diana Samuels, | The Times-Picayune

A writer whose father died at an Aibrnb rental home his family was staying at in Texas is speaking out about the accident and questioning what can be done to improve safety in the "sharing economy," in an article on the website Medium.

Zak Stone's father was killed when he sat in a rope swing attached to a tree that broke and fell on him. Stone, who before the accident was an avid Airbnb user, says the essential structure of the Airbnb model makes it difficult to require the same sort of safety inspections that a hotel or licensed bed and breakfast gets, since that might make it cost-prohibitive and onerous for people to rent out their homes.

"Hotel rooms are standardized for safety, monitored by staff, and often quite expensive," he writes. "Airbnb rentals, on the other hand, are unregulated, eclectic, and affordable, and the safety standards are only slowly materializing."

The question of what regulations should apply to short-term rental companies like Airbnb is of particular interest in New Orleans, where the rentals have been the subject of heated debate.