Shooting at Sunnyvale Party in Airbnb Rental House Leaves One Dead

An 18-year-old was shot and killed at an unauthorized house party being held in an Airbnb rental in Sunnyvale, California.

Deadly Shooting Occurs at House Party Held in California Airbnb

Over 100 teenagers showed up for a party at a single-story home in a quiet neighborhood in Sunnyvale, where Elias Elhania was shot and killed. In the wake of the shooting, investigations revealed that the home was not registered with the city of Sunnyvale as a short-term rental property and the owner of the property was not present on the premises during the party. Moreover, the nearly 150 people who attended the party far exceeded the four-person maximum limit allowed in short-term rentals under Sunnyvale ordinances.

Incident Reveals Problems with Short-Term Rental Properties

As with many municipalities, Sunnyvale requires property owners who list their properties for short-term rental on sites like Airbnb to register with the city’s planning department and pay a yearly fee. The city also limits properties to no more than four guests, and also requires the property owner to remain on-site during rentals. However, the city does not proactively enforce its short-term rental ordinances or cross-check the properties registered with the city against the properties that are listed on Airbnb and other short-term rental sites. Airbnb does not share its listings of rentals with cities.

Following another deadly shooting at a house party at an Airbnb in Orinda, California, the local authorities cross-checked Airbnb listings in the municipality against registered properties and found nearly 40 homes that were in violation of local ordinances governing short-term rentals. Orinda requested that Airbnb remove those properties from its listings, a request the company complied with.

After the Orinda shooting, Airbnb announced a variety of policy changes on its platform, including prohibiting the use of Airbnb rentals to throw house parties, expanding manual screening efforts to identify reservations suspected of being for the purposes of throwing parties and having a hotline that neighbors of Airbnb properties can call to report parties or large gatherings being thrown at Airbnb houses. Airbnb also instituted a rule prohibiting users under the age of 25 with fewer than three positive reviews from booking entire properties in the user’s home area.

Who Can Be Held Liable for Injuries Suffered at House Parties Held in Airbnbs?

Despite these efforts to curb the use of Airbnbs for house parties or other large gatherings, more than 100 shootings have occurred in short-term rentals in the U.S. and Canada over the past two years. When someone is injured in an assault that occurs during an unsanctioned party or event at an Airbnb, who can be held liable? In the Sunnyvale shooting, Airbnb has announced that it intends to take legal action against the user who reserved the property on the Airbnb platform. 

In addition to the guest who reserved the property, the property’s owner may also bear liability for injuries, especially in locations like Sunnyvale where local ordinances require the owner to remain on the premises during a short-term rental.

Pursuing liability against Airbnb may prove difficult unless the company had notice that a property was not properly registered with the local municipality or the municipal government had asked Airbnb to delist the property. 

Contact a Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyer to Discuss Your Airbnb Accident Case in Pennsylvania

Did you or a loved one sustain serious injuries due to an Airbnb accident in Pennsylvania? Don’t let the medical bills pile up while you wait for the negligent party or their insurance company to do the right thing. Right now, you need an aggressive personal injury attorney on your side, fighting to get you the compensation you need, want, and deserve. The skilled attorneys at Marrone Law Firm, LLC represent clients injured because of Airbnb accidents in Philadelphia, Center City, University City, and throughout Pennsylvania. Call (866) 732-6700 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free consultation about your case. We have an office conveniently located at 200 S. Broad St., Suite 400, Philadelphia, PA 19102.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.

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