Parliamentary Briefing – Will Airbnb Short Stay Serviced Accommodation Be Regulated?
Regulation has been a hot topic for a number of years as the growth of short term/ serviced accommodation has grown year on year.
As well as the nationwide concern for decreasing availability of rental stock for long term tenants, and properties being snapped up by investors rather than owner-occupiers, councils have reported an increase in anti-social behaviour related to these properties, including noise, nuisance, and vandalism all of which impact nearby residents.
According to Airbnb, 223,200 active listing were posted between July 2017 and July 2018, 58% of which were for an entire property. London had more active listings (75,700) than other regions, but all regions saw substantial growth in the number of listings over the year to July 2018.
Analysis by external organisations, using data taken from Airbnb’s website, provides supporting evidence of the growth in short-term lettings. Data collected by Inside Airbnb, a campaign organisation, found around 88,100 listings in London in March 2020, almost five times higher than the number in April 2015.
London 90 day rule
London already has planning restrictions with short term stays of less than 30 days being restricted to a total of 90 days in any one calendar year. This restriction does not currently apply outside of London although local authorities such as Cambridge and Edinburgh have similarly attempted to restrict this peer-to-peer sharing industry.
Despite lobbying from the established hotel industry, including small hotels and B&Bs it appears as though Airbnb-style short lets are here to stay.
Government have no plans to ban the use of residential properties as short term stays
Government have no plans to ban the use of residential properties as short term stays believing that the consumer should be able to have choice in terms of the size, location, and price of their temporary accommodation. Guests bring money into the local economy so any action by local authority to restrict the choice for guests could have a detrimental long term effect.
Instead, Government would prefer that the industry self regulates by ensuring best practice and adherence to restrictions imposed by head leases, and lenders.
Naturally, this self-regulation would encourage observation of H&S issues, as well as good management to prevent the occurrence in the first instance, and impact to local residents, of anti-social behaviour of all types.
At Property Qubed Towers we envision a sharp decline in listings on OTA sites such as Airbnb, and Booking as serviced accommodation operators and hosts turn their collective backs on online travel agents who through the crisis were willing to throw their ‘partners’ under the bus and instead use reservation funds for their own PR.
As operators and hosts take their business away from the OTAs, and list independently, figures won’t be so easy to track if at all, and the true extent of the proportion of short stay serviced accommodation will remain largely unknown and unaccounted for.
As with every industry, there will always be the cowboy element who disregard best practice and even the safety of their guests, in the search for big money and substantial profit.
Will it be the guests themselves who help ‘regulate’ the industry and encourage best practice by reporting the more dubious commercial operations to the local authorities and fire service?
Or will guests stay quiet because of the huge savings that can be made, safety (and fire regulations!) aside, by hiring a couple of unfamiliar properties equipped with enough beds and sofa beds to sleep 23 bodies?
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