Airbnb Regulation Central Housing Group

Short lets regulation options to be considered by government in June

A document outlining options for the future regulation of Airbnb and other short let platforms in the UK is to be considered by the government next month.

A statement posted by the House of Commons Library says that the options are in a paper which Airbnb, amongst others, have helped prepare.

The news comes in a 46 page briefing document prepared by the Commons Library and released yesterday.

Much of it covers familiar ground, saying how the rapid growth of the short lets sector, before the arrival of Coronavirus, has caused concern over anti-social behaviour linked with the sector, and a possible reduction in stock for long term rental or owner-occupation.

It says that according to Airbnb, 223,200 active UK listings were posted between July 2017 and July 2018, 58 per cent 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.

Aside from the temporary Coronavirus restrictions, in normal times there is an annual limit of 90 nights a year being allowed for London residential property to be short let, but with no restriction at all outside London.

The report goes on to list concerns about the sector’s rapid growth – chiefly, commercial operators using residential properties as letting businesses in breach of planning rules; the challenges local authorities face in taking planning enforcement action; impacts on local housing markets; negative impacts on neighbours and local communities, for example from noise disturbance and anti-social behaviour; taxation compliance; compliance with health and safety regulations; and the implications for traditional short-term accommodation businesses such as hotels and Bed and Breakfast accommodation.

The government has made it clear that it has no plans to ban the use of residential properties for short-term letting. It considers that further legislation would be overly bureaucratic, and could act as a barrier to households letting out their properties on a short-term basis.

Instead the report says government prefers a non-regulatory approach by encouraging the Short Term Accommodation Association to improve standards and promote best practice in the industry.

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