Not-Your-House Party

With Prom on the way, Burlingame juniors and seniors have a lot of planning to get ready. Students have to coordinate outfits, makeup, dinner plans, and, of course, after parties. During this festive time, upperclassmen are faced with finding a large and safe venue to celebrate after Prom, and the company Airbnb offers a solution.

Airbnb, an online marketplace that leases short-term lodging for travellers and events, aims to make travel easier and experiences more unique. However, Airbnb has recently gained a reputation for lending itself to high school and college parties. Primarily used for post-prom parties, Airbnb offers luxurious homes for students to rent for one night, trash, and then leave the next morning, with supposedly minimum consequences. Compared to parties at student’s homes, Airbnb parties offer less parental involvement, less chance of being shut down by police, and the opportunity to over consume.

“Airbnbs are often very separated from Burlingame, so people are more inclined to be rowdy, and are less afraid of the police coming, and they’re generally less respectful to the house,” senior Edward Philips said. “There’s going to be a lot more destruction, and people doing more than they usually would because they don’t have to worry about getting home, or talking to adults.”

While students think of Airbnb parties as being without repercussion, these events can be more consequential than the average house party. Depending on the location, and size of the house, Airbnbs can add up to a hefty price. Most students split the cost of the Airbnb between themselves and their guests, charging a cover fee or only inviting a select number of people. Besides the actual cost and deposit for the Airbnb, if the house owner reports damages, there can be a substantial extra expense. Depending on the severity of the damages, this can become the most expensive part of throwing a party in an Airbnb.

Because using Airbnb for unrestricted underage drinking and other illegal activities is thought of as a more serious offense than a simple house party, police are more likely to crack down on these situations. If the police apprehend those who threw the Airbnb party, they can tell the student’s parents and school, leading to further punishment.

“That specific Airbnb party got to the school, because it was a private school, and the cops ended up getting involved and told the parents,” junior Sofia Robbels said of an Airbnb party she attended. “I think they got detentions and some got suspended for it.”

A valued component of Airbnb parties is the lack of parent involvement. For post-prom parties and post-formal parties, students want an adult-free place to celebrate and have fun. If students find themselves in an Airbnb, they are more likely to over consume, because there is no grown-up supervision. With over consumption and absence of adults, student’s safety can be at risk.  

“My sister went to Burlingame a few years ago and her formal after-party was at an Airbnb and it was apparently a big mess,” Philips said. “There was vomit left everywhere, not a lot of cleanup, and a lot of people staying the night and going the extra mile with how much they were consuming. And I think that stays true for the people who do it now.”

Another side effect of throwing an Airbnb party is the mess and damage it will do to someone’s home. While many students wish to respect the owner’s house, some throw caution to the wind and practically destroy the property. This divide between guests can ruin the mood of the entire the night. Because of the delicate nature of throwing a party in someone else’s house, the party can quickly become tense and turn to fighting.

“It was a lot of arguing about how loud you could be, or how late you could play music, or how loud you can play music, or what rooms you can go into or not, what rooms should stay off-limits,” Philips said.

Airbnb discourages minors from renting houses by recommending hosts to only lease to older users and ask for their intent of use. While Airbnb is only supposed to rent out houses to adults, students get friends over 18 or willing parents to put their name under the lease agreement.

“Generally they have to get a parent, they definitely need a credit card, and they have to be over 18,” teacher and parent Susan Marcan said. “However, the Airbnb site doesn’t verify that information, so if you have a credit card and you set up a profile, you can be anyone you want.”

If a parent’s name is under the lease agreement, they are liable for all damages, as well as for allowing underage drinking and other illegal activities. Parent’s involvement in aiding underage drinking and misconduct is a serious liability issue, not just for Airbnb parties, but for all activities including underage substance use.

“If you’ve rented the Airbnb and there’s alcohol and drugs involved and a rape you’re going to jail, not your kid,” Marcan said.

While Airbnbs offer a unique situation for students to throw prom after-parties, they can also carry a secret price tag, along with countless other unforeseen consequences. When throwing house parties not in their actual house, students should be careful and avoid reckless tendencies.

“I would never throw a party in an airbnb, I just don’t think it's a good idea,” Robles said. “I feel like if you're old enough, you should make sure it's under wraps.”

Posted on May 3, 2018 .