Airbnb presents plenty of challenges for the City of Toronto. But there’s one you probably couldn’t have predicted: human trafficking.
“We’re seeing an emerging trend with human traffickers using more Airbnbs in the city of Toronto and the GTA,” said Det. Sgt. Nunzio Tramontozzi. “It’s more anonymous for them, so it’s a lot easier not to be caught by the police when they’re in these private type of residences rather than hotels and motels where we could get more information.”
Tramontozzi suggests people renting their apartments on Airbnb should be more diligent in their background checks of guests.
“Do as much checks as you can on the people that are renting. They need to make sure that their properties aren’t being used for criminal acts,” he said. Further advice beyond this obvious recommendation was not made.
Airbnb, meanwhile, said it is “strongly committed to working with law enforcement officials and anti-trafficking advocates to prevent these horrible crimes and to help hold criminals accountable” in a statement that had to be made.
Airbnb, for its part, actually is taking action. In a collaboration with Polaris, the company that runs the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline, Airbnb share its data with professionals who are able to identify potential threats.
“The urgency of this work cannot be overstated,” reads a post announcing the collaboration. “Human trafficking is a $150 billion industry that robs 25 million people around the globe of their freedom. It has no place in today’s world and is antithetical to the open society we deeply believe in.”
So the next time you put your place on Airbnb, maybe consider disabling Instant Book and run a Facebook check to see if your potential guest has publicized their criminal behaviour.