Airbnb announces ban on renting out houses where slaves lived

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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 is done with promoting or allowing rentals in homes where slaves lived.

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In a report published this week titled “A Six-Year Update on Airbnb’s Work to Fight Discrimination and Build Inclusion,” Airbnb announced its policy “Prohibiting the Glorification and Marketing of Slavery.”

“In July 2022,” the report said, “we took a number of steps to address the listing of properties in the United States that were known to include former slave housing. Such properties have no place on Airbnb.” The company “immediately removed listings that included former slave houses,” and “began working with experts including historic preservation architect Jobie Hill on guidelines to address other US-based properties and experiences related to slavery.”

“These guidelines,” the report continues,

…which applies to property in the United States, includes: 1) prohibition of the construction of any home or other structure on a former plantation where slaves lived or worked, if structures that existed during slavery are still present on the property; 2) imprison any structure specially designed only for housing slaves and which housed slaves (“slave house”); and 3) to prohibit the promotion of slavery-related features as a selling point for a stay. We are in the process of implementing these new policies and reviewing listings that may be affected…

Airbnb’s Ben Breit told BuzzFeed that the company has already “removed listings and experiences associated with approximately 30 properties that violate our policies.”

The “1830s Slave Cabin” that inspired the move went viral in July. It is called Panther Burn Cottage and is located in Greenville, Mississippi, on the grounds of Belmont Plantation. TikToker Wynton Yates, a lawyer, drew attention to the cabin in a video, saying: “How is this OK in anyone’s mind, to rent this out – a place where people were kept as slaves – to rent this out as a bed and breakfast?”

Airbnb and the cabin’s owner apologized at the time, and the company stated that “Properties that formerly housed slaves have no place on Airbnb.”

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