Short lets exposed by BBC News as flouting lockdown regulations

A BBC News investigation has exposed some Airbnb and other short let platform users as flouting lockdown regulations.

The probe has found some Airbnb hosts advertising their properties as “Covid-19 retreats” and “perfect for isolating with family” in the countryside – despite Coronavirus regulations suggesting holiday accommodation should be provided only to keyworkers needing to self-isolate.

Of many Airbnb hosts contacted by the BBC, only one said their property was available solely to keyworkers.

In response to the findings, government minister Nigel Huddleston said: “Our advice is clear. Essential travel does not include holidays, leisure travel and visits to second homes – and people must remain in their primary residence.

“It is incredibly irresponsible, and dangerous for some property owners to be marketing themselves as ‘isolation retreats’. We are writing to companies today to remind them of their responsibilities at this time.”

Individuals and businesses could face fines of up to £960 for breaking these rules, the government added.

Last month, Airbnb announced a worldwide extension to its “extenuating circumstances” policy, stating all guests booked for check-ins between 14 March and 31 May would be eligible for full-refund cancellations.

Airbnb had previously told the BBC: “We announced a platform where hosts on Airbnb are offering NHS and other front-line medical staff free places to stay and Airbnb will waive all fees associated with the stays. We are in regular discussions with the government about travel restrictions during the lockdown period and have introduced measures and guidance for both hosts and guests.”

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