The tragic and sudden death of a renter at an Austin, Texas Airbnb now has many wondering just how safe it is to rent and stay in another person’s house rather than a hotel.
Zak Stone rented a home in Austin for his family to celebrate Thanksgiving in two years ago. One of the amenities that the place offered was a simple and innocent swing hanging from the tree which Stone’s father decided to try out — it would be the last thing he would ever do.
Stone explained in a long and graphic post on Matter:
“The rope swing looked inviting. Photos of it on Airbnb brought my family to the cottage in Texas. Hanging from a tree as casually as baggy jeans, the swing was the essence of leisure, of Southern hospitality, of escape. When my father decided to give it a try on Thanksgiving morning, the trunk it was tied to broke in half and fell on his head, immediately ending most of his brain activity.”
Since the tragic incident, Stone has debated whether to go public with his story and questioned who might be responsible to prevent such occurrences, we writes in the post:
“Since the incident, I’ve felt isolated by the burden of this story and my sense of obligation to go public with it, but with an unclear aim. Am I ‘raising awareness,’ in the familiar path of the victim speaking out? And if so, to what end? What will sharing my story really mean for Airbnb? Could the company, with its reportedly $24 billion valuation and plans to go public, do more to ensure the safety of the properties where millions of guests stay each year?”
Despite the limited sources on past Airbnb deaths, Stone’s highlight of the incident now raises questions on just how safe an Airbnb is to stay at. Hotels and legitimate bed and breakfasts are held to a standard of safety that might include smoke detector, fire alarm and sprinkler inspections, though accidents still do happen.
Airbnb does provide their own safety guidelines for hosts and guests and even added additional language after Stone’s tragic Thanksgiving, but as he points out, no one is really accountable:
“Even so, nothing is currently done to make sure hosts actually comply with safety guidelines (or even read them), which is a problem particularly for newer properties on the platform, which Airbnb’s customers, as opposed to employees, are left to vet for safety.”
Stone’s fateful experience is just another reminder now that when you rent an Airbnb, like anything else in life, it is always at your own risk.