Pittsburgh City councilmember reacts to new Airbnb screening tools to cut down on parties

PITTSBURGH — Airbnb is rolling out new screening tools to cut down on parties and property damage.

The announcement by the company comes just a week before the Pittsburgh City Council heads back in session.

Councilman Bobby Wilson is proposing new rules for short-term rentals in the city and says the new tools will work well with Pittsburgh’s plans.

“I think it’s a step in the right direction,” he said. “I think it’s going to be important that it’s implemented. I think it’s a good complement with what we’re trying to do with the city as well.”

The company announced it will use factors like length of stay and past reviews to determine whether a user is “high risk.” If they are deemed “high risk,” they will be prevented from booking entire homes.

Wilson proposed the legislation shortly after the Easter Sunday mass shooting at an Airbnb in Pittsburgh’s East Allegheny neighborhood.

Two teenagers died and nine others were injured.

His plan would create a list of all short-term rentals in the city.

“One of the things is a sticker in the window. The other is to make sure that whatever rooms they claim that are on the property, that they are accounted for by an inspector,” Wilson said.

He has met with city officials including Mayor Ed Gainey’s administration to iron out the plan. He hopes it will benefit one group in particular.

“Public Safety. If they are arriving at that property, they can access your information. They’re going to give you a call if there’s a problem.”

City Council returns from recess next week.

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