Airbnb sues LA “party promoter” for throwing “mansion parties”

Company cracks down on prohibited events in leadup to IPO

The party mansion at 1120 Sierra Madre Avenue, Glendora, Los Angeles (Credit: AirBnb and Google Maps)
The party mansion at 1120 Sierra Madre Avenue, Glendora, Los Angeles (Credit: AirBnb and Google Maps)

Two days after Airbnb announced a global party ban for all its listings, Davante Bell threw a big party at an Airbnb rental. Guests at the Los Angeles County home were invited to pre-order bottle service for the Aug. 22 bash. To maintain discretion, a shuttle would pick them and take them to the undisclosed location.

Hundreds of guests showed up at the property in Glendora, and Bell was later issued a $1,450 fine for violating city rules prohibiting large gatherings during the pandemic.

While that didn’t appear to stop him — Bell promoted another bash for the following month — the party may now be over.

Airbnb is suing the 26-year-old for misrepresentation, inducing breach of contract and other charges. The home-share startup filed the suit Friday in L.A. County Superior Court.

Airbnb claims that Bell “improperly threw ‘mansion parties’ fraudulently booked on Airbnb’s online platform in violation of Airbnb’s policy.” The company said it had permanently banned Bell from the platform and was now trying to block him from continuing to plan parties using other guests’ accounts.

“Airbnb has suffered and continues to suffer reputational harm and potential liability to third parties as a direct result of Bell’s actions,” the lawsuit said. It referred to him as a “self-described party promoter.”

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Bell, who reportedly lives in Santa Monica, could not be reached for comment.

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The party is one of many thrown at short-term rentals during the pandemic, as restless revelers and professional promoters look for ways to get around restrictions on social gatherings.

Cities and towns have been targeting so-called party houses, and companies like Airbnb have also cracked down. In August, Airbnb sued a different California guest for violating its rules against unauthorized house parties. That gathering in Sacramento County ended in violence when three people were shot.

Airbnb’s latest lawsuit comes as it heads toward an initial public offering later this year. The company has been addressing issues with its platform, including out-of-control parties and lingering regulatory disputes, which may give investors pause.

Bell’s event — marketed as the “100 Summers Mansion Party” — took place at a $1.5 million home listed for rent on its platform, Airbnb said in the lawsuit. The 5,300-square-foot Spanish-style home on East Sierra Madre Avenue features a large outdoor fountain, a fire pit and a putting green, according to Redfin. “The backyard includes several areas for entertaining friends and loved ones,” the description reads.