Defiant Airbnb management service says it doesn’t reduce affordable stock

Airbnb and short let management service Hostmaker – at the centre of a dispute involving a landlord trade body and the Labour party – insists it does not take any affordable housing away from the wider market.

Hostmaker, set up in 2016 with an offer to manage London properties put on to Airbnb and other short let platforms, last month promoted a marketing campaign on Transport for London buses and tubes.

The advertisements were interpreted as suggesting mainstream buy to let landlords should instead turn their properties over to more lucrative short-lets – irrespective of the social cost of taking that home out of the long term rental sector.

As a result Labour’s housing spokesman on the London Assembly began a high profile campaign against the company’s advert; this was backed by the Residential Landlords Association. Both queried the legality of Hostmaker’s suggestion given that properties can be short-let for no more than 90 nights a year in London.

The post campaign ended at the weekend.

Now Nakul Sharma, chief executive of the management firm, has apologised for what he accepts was the “misguided” tone of the campaign.

But he is defiant on some aspects of the criticism, saying in a statement: “In a cosmopolitan city like London, there is a need for a range of housing and rental solutions to meet the needs of the wide variety of residents and visitors in our capital city. Whilst it’s critical that there is plenty of affordable housing stock available, our portfolio is made up of premium homes in zone 1&2 postcodes and does not take affordable housing stock away from the market.”

And he continues: “We are here to meet the needs of Londoners and visitors to the capital who would prefer to stay in a high quality, furnished and managed home service.

“We provide a flexible lettings model to homeowners of these type of properties; blending long-term, mid-term and short-term rentals to suit market demands and help homeowners weather the current slump in rent prices and property sales, ensuring they aren’t left with gaps in the year when their property is standing empty.”

The company had earlier claimed that it was committed to complying with all rules and regulations regarding London’s 90-day policy.

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