Following the devastating explosion in Beirut’s port last Tuesday as many as 300,000 Lebanese citizens have been made homeless. With many turning to Airbnb for temporary housing, the company has been called upon via Twitter and Linkedin to waive its fees for all stays in Beirut. Airbnb typically charges guests between 6%-12% of the value of the stay and charges the host 3%. While the company does have the framework to waive fees in crisis hit areas via its Open Homes initiative, launched in 2012 in response to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy, it has so far declined to do so in Lebanon.
The company released a statement on the Linkedin thread which cites “structural safety” as the main reason for not activating the Open Homes program in Beirut:
“We are devastated by the tragedy in Beirut, and our thoughts are with all those affected by this terrible disaster. The safety of our community is a top priority. Our immediate focus is on offering support to the Lebanese government, NGOs on the ground and hosts and guests in the region. While we are not activating our host community through Open Homes at this time due to concerns about structural safety, we are continuing to closely monitor the situation as it develops and considering all options”
The structural safety concerns referred to may relate to Airbnb’s policy around Open Homes which makes it liable for damages incurred to the property. Although not yet activating Open Homes for Beirut, Airbnb has pledged its support to local NGOs and will match all donations to NGOs made by its employees.