After Mexico City tragedy, pressure mounts to regulate rental sites

“His death cannot be in vain,” whispers a voice broken by pain, Gloria Ojeda, whose daughter died of inhaling carbon monoxide in an apartment rented on an online booking platform in Mexico City.

The victim’s mother calls on the authorities to regulate the activity of providers such as Booking or AirBnB, which are booming in the Mexican capital, attracting more and more visitors.

A total of four youths died in late October in Mexico City in private housing rented on these two platforms.

Gloria Ojeda’s daughter, 29-year-old Angelica Arce, came with her two brothers to attend the Formula 1 Grand Prix on October 30.

Originally from Tijuana (North-West), the siblings rented an apartment on in a central and trendy area of ​​the capital (Roma-Condesa).

All the three youths were admitted to the hospital after their health deteriorated. Angelica died on the morning of 30 October.

According to preliminary investigation by the prosecution, the young woman was a victim of leakage of carbon monoxide, an invisible and odorless gas, due to faulty installation of a water heater in the residence.

This weekend, three American tourists died of gas poisoning in an apartment rented on Airbnb, according to a prosecutor’s report.

The fiancee of one of the victims opposes this official version, citing traces of poison.

– How many deaths? ,

“I don’t understand what the authorities are doing. How many more deaths do they want?” asks AFP’s Gloria Ojeda.

“We need change. I don’t want what happened to me to happen to anyone else. It seems like a senseless death to me,” tears up the mother’s eyes.

After her daughter’s death, Booking offered her a reimbursement of the rental price in the form of a voucher, ie $600, she resents.

The family lodged a complaint against the landlord of the site and the apartment, who “did not even message her to apologise”.

Their lawyer, Cecilia Rodríguez, explained to AFP that they had made only timid progress in a process complicated by the absence of legislation on the sites and the owners’ obligations.

Counsel believes that the booking should have an “office” on site to handle its responsibilities in the event of defective services.

A view of the Monument to the Revolution at sunset in Mexico City on January 25, 2023 (AFP – David Gannon)

Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum, a possible presidential candidate in 2024, recently mentioned a “working group” on the topic of regulation of platforms with “businesses and citizens”.

Opposition lawmaker Freida Guillén is behind a bill that the capital city’s parliament could examine in February.

“We require owners to comply with requirements such as being listed in a register of service providers, providing security guarantees (…), taking out insurance and acting as a solid third party for the platforms”, details- he.

The debate arises as Mexico City attracts more and more visitors and teleworkers, especially Americans.

According to Airbnb, there has been a 30% increase in long-term stays between the second quarter of 2019 and the same period in 2022.

In late October, the site also announced a partnership with the local government to promote the Mexican capital as a “global hub for remote workers.”

According to testimony, with the advent of “digital nomads” (digital nomads) Americans, owners are turning their housing into seasonal rentals, evicting their former tenants.

“There are uncertainties,” sighs Hector Flores, a 30-year-old playwright who believes his lease will not be renewed in August.

Mr. Flores and his roommate Josu Mechi, cast members of the Marvel blockbuster “Wakanda Forever,” pay $500 monthly rent for their two-bedroom apartment in a central neighborhood.

In nearby buildings, long-term Airbnb rentals already cost twice as much as…

Add a Comment