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Airbnb makes smoke and carbon monoxide detectors mandatory

The peer-to-peer housing rental site is giving away free detectors and first-aid kits as part an effort to improve safety.

CEO Brian Chesky on stage at Airbnb's headquarters in San Francisco.
Donna Tam/CNET

Airbnb will require its hosts to confirm that they have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors installed in their listed accommodations by the end of the year. To help things along, the company is distributing free devices to eligible host in the US.

Airbnb announced plans Friday to distribute various safety tools, including the detectors, to hosts in the United States. The company said in a blog post that it will require all hosts, including international hosts, to confirm that whatever lodgings they've listed have working detectors installed by the end of 2014.

"We know that smoke and carbon monoxide detectors save lives, but published reports indicate that roughly 60 percent of all homes in North America don't have carbon monoxide detectors," Phil Cardenas, Airbnb's head of trust and safety, wrote. "We want to do more. By the end of 2014, we'll require all Airbnb hosts to confirm that they have these devices installed in their listing."

Airbnb is asking hosts to simply update their listings and write that they have detectors. Starting next year, the company will suspend all listings that don't feature a confirmation. Of course, a host may include it in the listing but not actually have them installed, and Airbnb can't really police this. But, if a guest reports a hosts for not having these devices installed, the company promises to suspend the listing and refund the guest or find them a new accommodation.

In addition to the detectors, Airbnb is offering to distribute emergent contact cards and 10,000 first aid kits to encourage a safety practices. It's all part of Airbnb's plans -- which included the roll out of a verified identification feature -- to make travelers feel less aversion toward renting a room from a stranger.

Update, 12:50 p.m. PT: Added more information about Airbnb's policy for installed detectors.