Parties During a Pandemic: Dallas Apartment Residents Sound Alarm on Short-Term Rentals

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While many North Texans are social distancing and staying at home, some are opting to throw parties at apartment buildings using short-term rental sites like Airbnb.

Residents at one apartment building said they’re fed up and want the city to ban short-term rentals for now.

“People, for whatever reason, are throwing large parties, which is a danger to themselves as well as to us,” Ari Talton said. “I would honestly love if the mayor would at least temporarily ban rental of all Airbnb units in Dallas. This is happening in more buildings than just mine.”

Talton, an Irving teacher, said she was driven out of her Butler Brothers Building a week ago out of fear and frustration.

“Definitely not something I wanted to worry about. I would love to be in the comforts of my apartment that I’m paying for,” she said. “I’m actually here at my mom’s house.”

She said a flurry of strangers have come into her apartment building to party amid a global pandemic.

“We have Airbnb all the time, but within the last few weeks we’ve had maybe a dozen parties,” she said.

Another resident shared cell phone videos with NBC 5 that showed people filing out of an elevator, reportedly bound for a party.

Another video showed a group of people standing outside of a unit. And in a third video, loud music could be heard in yet another unit.

Dallas County’s shelter-in-place order states "all public or private gatherings of any number, outside a single household or living unit" are temporarily banned.

“We’re in a pandemic right now, so I don’t know if I’m more frustrated at people having the audacity to throw a party right now or AirBnB companies making it more affordable to do so,” Talton said.

She said she kept an eye on falling prices on the platform, which assures perspective renters staff has been trained to disinfect homes before and after each use.

NBC 5 saw listings for a one-bedroom unit for $61/night on Airbnb’s website listing the company Sonder as the "super host."

“To look online and see a unit in an apartment building where I live be $35 for an entire night, nothing good can come of that,” she said. “People who want to have a party during a pandemic need to be stopped.”

A spokesman for Airbnb said they would look into the matter and referred NBC 5 to a press release in which the company urged users to follow official guidelines regarding efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

"Please do not use Airbnb homes for parties or gatherings given the risks," stated the release, dated March 20.

The platform said it’s already disabled the "event friendly" filter, it is increasing efforts to detect unauthorized parties and would enforce against those who promote "this dangerous conduct."

Residents who wish to report violators should click here.

NBC 5 reached out to Butler Brothers Building management for comment.

A representative said whoever is allowing parties in the building is "violating the lease" and added management was "taking strong action to stop them."

Building management urged residents to report issues immediately.

NBC 5 reached out to the city of Dallas for further clarification on the current mandates and is awaiting a response.

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