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Top Agent Urges Airbnb Regulation

A leading London lettings agent wants increased Airbnb regulation in a bid to deter criminal activity and anti-social behaviour.

Martin Bikhit, managing director at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Kay & Co, says there are clear risks for those who become Airbnb landlords.

“The downside of such platforms over the traditional management services of an estate agency are the obvious loopholes in the vetting process. These allow criminals to carry out meticulously planned scams whereby consumers pay their reservation fee only to realise, upon arrival at their supposedly booked property, that it doesn’t exist” he says.

“There are, however, equally worrisome cases in which the landlord is being victimised. Damage to the property due to irresponsible tenant behaviour or illegal sub-letting are thereby two key risks. As an agency that has been operating since the 1980’s, the core of our success is the satisfaction of our clients who often seek advice about platforms such as Airbnb” adds Bikhit.

He continues: “After careful consideration, they realise, it’s not actually a risk worth taking; especially as their insurance often won’t cover any related damage. For those who still decide to favour an online platform, we would like to see the introduction of tighter regulations and insurance cover to protect landlords and tenants alike.”

Earlier this week it was revealed that the Scottish Government was looking at possible regulation of Airbnb and other short let platforms after a consultation found widespread support for greater controls.

More than 1,000 responses from communities, landlords and businesses raised a number of concerns about the effects of short-term lets including anti-social behaviour, safety fears and the impact on the housing market.

The Scottish Government says policy proposals are expected to be announced later this year.

Meanwhile a new trade body has been set up to professionalise the controversial short lets sector, including Airbnb and other online platforms.

The body, called the Professional Host Alliance, claims its “mission is to accelerate the professionalisation of a sustainable, global short-term rental sector and build trust in the homesharing economy.”

Letting Agent Today yesterday morning asked Airbnb for its response to Martin Bikhit’s criticisms; so far we have not had a reply.

However, yesterday evening Airbnb let it be known that it would verify the legitimacy of every single property on its platform by the end of 2020.

This follows revelations last month by website Vice News that false or misleading property listings had been posted on the site.

Airbnb also promised to refund customers if they were misled by inaccurate listings.

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