State cracks down on banned Airbnb rentals

Published: Mar. 30, 2020 at 3:58 PM EDT
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Vermont state officials on Monday specifically called out owners of Airbnb properties, saying online bookings are banned.

We found out why the extra guidance was needed. Our search early Monday afternoon located 300-plus listings in Vermont claiming to be available to rent from today through April 15.

A concerned viewer sent us this listing in Dover that-- as of four days ago-- had been advertising to out-of-staters to come to Vermont to "shelter in place" and giving special rates. That ad's wording had been changed when we looked at it on Monday, but the listing remained open for reservations.

We also found a couple of other listings that appeared to have been doing similar marketing that had since taken down COVID-specific language. Both now appear to be in compliance.

Vermont Public Safety Commissioner Michael Schirling said the message to Airbnb owners is clear.

"With the additional clarity that was issued, uh, today we fully expect Airbnb, uh, operators if you know them, if you're listening, you need to shut down your operations. We will begin monitoring for online postings, uh, this week and will be making referrals for contact with the attorney general's office thereafter," Schirling said.

He says Airbnb is also supposed to provide additional clarity on Monday.

Airbnbs are allowed to remain open if they are opening up their spaces to COVID first responders. We found at least one listing in Vermont that claimed to be doing that.

Airbnb told us they won't know the full list until Tuesday.

The company is allowing customers to cancel reservations without charge.

During a conference call on March 30, the company's CEO pledged $250 million to offset the refunds.

In addition to that, a $10 million "super hosts" relief fund was set up to offer grants to hosts in financial straits with rent or mortgage.

They will also allow donations from guests interested in helping hosts

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