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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Johns Hopkins: Many Airbnb Venues Lack Basic Safety Protections, New Study Suggests

Many Airbnb venues in the United States fail to provide the critical carbon monoxide and fire safety protections that are legally required of hotels and motels, suggests new research from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

The analysis, published May 7 in the journal Injury Prevention, revealed that while the majority of rental properties — 80 percent — were said to contain smoke detectors, only 56 percent were reportedly equipped with carbon monoxide detectors. Even fewer — 42 percent of venues — were said to have fire extinguishers, and first-aid kits were reported in just over a third (36 percent) of venues.

The researchers say these numbers are troubling, and they point to a lack of national safety standards for peer-to-peer (P2P) hospitality services like Airbnb, which they say leaves room for ambiguity about safety requirements for these rental properties.

“Hotels and other hospitality settings present unique fire and safety challenges, such as the fact that guests are often unfamiliar with their surroundings and the layout of the accommodation,” says study co-author Dr. Vanya Jones, an assistant professor with the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy at the Bloomberg School.

To address these challenges, hotels in the U.S. are legally required to meet safety standards that include posted fire escape routes, fire doors, fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, fire sprinkler systems and exit passageways. However, these requirements do not apply to privately owned, short-term rental properties that are available through P2P services like Airbnb.

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