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Airbnb will vet homes listed through a new tier of rentals launches in Toronto

Last Updated Feb 22, 2018 at 1:00 pm PDT

Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky speaks about all the new features and programs unveiled during an event Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

TORONTO – Airbnb is rolling out a new tier of rentals in Toronto that have been inspected and verified in-person by staff.

A press release from the home-rental organization says its new Airbnb Plus program vets homes offered in the tier with a checklist of over 100 factors, including cleanliness, design and comfort.

The launch follows calls from some Canadians for an end to short-term rentals offered in their buildings and neighbourhoods after some Airbnb users rented homes to throw unruly parties or behaved disrespectfully towards neighbours.

A release says the Airbnb Plus service is aimed at high-end accommodations and has launched with 2,000 homes in 13 cities — a small fraction of the roughly 4.5 million properties listed on Airbnb in 81,000 cities worldwide.

By the end of the year, Airbnb foresees verifying the quality of 75,000 homes in 50 cities, including Montreal.

It will offer people who rent their homes through the tier in-home design consultation and expert photography, but did not say if there was a cost associated with the services or listings.

The Plus program, unveiled Thursday, is aimed at winning over travellers who aren’t sure they can trust the computer-driven system that Airbnb uses to assess the quality of rentals. Airbnb believes travellers will be willing to pay more for inspector-certified properties, allowing homeowners and apartment dwellers to recoup a $149 fee to participate in Plus.

The company will also begin offering four new types of properties classified as vacation homes, boutiques, bed and breakfast units and “unique” homes.

A new program called Airbnb for Family and Airbnb for Work will also launch in an effort to help renters find accommodations for social stays, weddings, honeymoons, group getaways and later this year, dinner parties.