Airbnb Announces Ban on Renting Out Houses Where Enslaved People Lived
The change follows criticism over a listing for a "slave cabin" that went viral last summer.
In the summer of 2022, a TikTok video of an Airbnb promoted as an "1830s slave cabin" went viral for all the wrong reasons. Now Airbnb says it's done with promoting or allowing rentals in homes where enslaved people lived.
In a report published this week titled "A Six-Year Update on Airbnb's Work to Fight Discrimination and Build Inclusion," Airbnb announced its "Prohibiting the Glorification and Marketing of Slavery" policy.
"In July 2022," the report reads, "we took a series of steps to address the listing of properties in the US that were known to include former slave houses. Such properties have no place on Airbnb." The company then "immediately removed listings that included former slave houses," and "started working with experts including historic preservation architect Jobie Hill on policies to address other US-based properties and Experiences associated with slavery."
"These policies," the report continues,
...which apply to properties in the US, include: 1) prohibiting the listing of any home or other structure on a former plantation where enslaved people lived or worked, if structures that existed during the time of slavery are still present on the property; 2) barring any structure specifically designed only to house enslaved people and that did house enslaved people ("slave houses"); and 3) prohibiting the promotion of slavery-related features as a selling point of a stay. We are in the process of implementing these new policies and assessing listings that may be impacted...
Airbnb's Ben Breit told BuzzFeed that the company has already "removed listings and experiences associated with roughly 30 properties that are violating our policies."
The "1830s Slave Cabin" that inspired the move went viral in July. Named the Panther Burn Cottage, it is located in Greenville, Mississippi, on the grounds of the Belmont Plantation. TikToker Wynton Yates, an attorney, called attention to the cabin in a video, saying, "How is this OK in somebody's mind, to rent this out — a place where human beings were kept as slaves — rent this out as a bed and breakfast?"
Airbnb and the cabin's owner apologized at the time, with the company stating that "Properties that formerly housed the enslaved have no place on Airbnb."