Keeping Guests Safe in D.C.

At last, the Washington, D.C. city council is taking action on Airbnb’s less-than-stellar record on safety standards – and NBC Washington is taking notice.

NBC correctly points out that “when you stay in a hotel in Washington, D.C., your accommodations must meet a long list of inspection standards. Federal law says hotels must have exit signs, working smoke detectors and evacuation plans, plus sprinkler systems in buildings higher than three stories.”

Airbnb? Not so much.

What did the $30-billion company tell a Toronto woman when her Airbnb rental caught on fire, forcing her to flee the property?

“These are the growing pains of disruption.”

NBC’s reporting also revealed the following tragic local example:

A 25-year-old woman and 24-year-old man died in a rowhouse fire near Dupont Circle in apartments that had not been inspected because the rentals were illegal. Lawsuits filed by the victims’ families said the housemates were trapped on the third floor of the house because there was no fire escape and the windows were painted shut.

When lives are at stake, excuses simply won’t do.

According to NBC, this July, D.C. lawmakers are likely to vote on a bill, introduced by Councilman Kenyan McDuffie, that “would require health and safety inspections of all short-term rental units.”

This bill would give the District some of the strongest Airbnb regulations in the country, and would be a significant step toward protecting residents of the District and visitors to the nation’s capital.

We applaud Councilman McDuffie for his work on this legislation and encourage the rest of the Council to approve this bill to protect D.C. families and homes.