Allegheny County councilmember banned from Airbnb for life due to ‘criminal records match’

A local councilwoman says she doesn’t know why she was banned from Airbnb.

Allegheny County Councilwoman Bethany Hallam recently booked a birthday trip to see the Steelers play the Dolphins in Miami.

“Within a few hours, I got an email saying that my reservation had been canceled, my money refunded and that I was banned for life from Airbnb hostings and bookings,” Hallam said.

Recently, the company rolled out new criteria to try and prevent parties at properties. A company spokesperson told Channel 11 that had nothing to do with Hallam’s ban and pointed to rules put in place in 2015.

The reason given in this case? A “criminal records match.” Hallam has had legal issues in the past including time in the Allegheny County Jail and has openly talked about her history of substance abuse. But, she’d used Airbnb many times before, as recently as July, with no issues.

She tweeted about the ban and as of Tuesday evening received nearly 20,000 likes and more than 1,500 retweets and replies from people dealing with similar issues.

“I had no idea how many people had been affected by this,” she said.

Channel 11 first reached out to Airbnb Tuesday afternoon. Several hours later, we received word that Hallam’s account had been restored and that “For the safety of our community, Airbnb runs background checks in the US and may remove people with certain convictions, or who have multiple prior convictions.”

We also asked why she was able to use the platform with no issues before but have not heard back.

Hallam says she wants one thing:

“Clarity! I’ve scoured the website; I’ve talked to many other people across the country and the world who have had issues with Airbnb. None of it seems to be consistent.”

If you believe you’ve been wrongly banned from Airbnb, there is an appeals process.

Click here for more information.

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