Group accuses Airbnb of price gouging for Mardi Gras 2018

Posted at 11:20 AM, Feb 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-10 11:20:50-05

New Orleans, LA (WGNO) -- Airbnb hosts in the New Orleans area have been accused of price gouging by a watchdog group that says prices have spiked as much as $1,500 per night.

Washington, DC based AirbnbWATCH detailed the price gouging in a new report published this week.

The price spike can be seen at Airbnb rentals across the area in the weeks leading up to Mardi Gras Day, according to the report.

Many of the rentals with the most significant increase in per night rates are run by “commercial operators running multiple listings,” according to the group.

“Airbnb’s price gouging was a dream killer for many football fans during the Super Bowl and the company is continuing that practice with folks looking to celebrate Mardi Gras in New Orleans,” AirbnbWATCH spokesperson Lauren Windsor said in a press release. “Permitting their ‘hosts’ – who many times — let’s be honest – are real estate professionals – to raise rent by these astronomical rates is a very worrisome precedent that Airbnb is setting at these widely attended events.”

An Airbnb representative did not refute the report, but did point out that AirbnbWATCH has been linked to the Hotel and Lodging Association in a report from The New York Times.

Per night rates for rentals across the city spike by hundreds to upwards of $1,000 when the date range is set to February 13 to February 14, according to the report.

Some of the most eye-opening increases occur at rentals like a four bedroom French Quarter apartment going for $1,800 per night for February 13-14, but just $299 per night on February 20.

That’s an increase of 468 percent.

An “Uptown Mansion” is renting for $2,500 per night during Mardi Gras, and only $775 one week later.

“Bottom line, the documented facts in this report expose Airbnb’s hypocrisy for a second time in as many months,” Windsor said. “Additionally, this gouging further pads the profits of commercial operators essentially running hotels in residential neighborhoods.”

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