Local authorities appear to be at the forefront of identifying abuses of the Airbnb short-let platform and have called executives from the company to a meeting to consider how to solve the problem.
Many councils, especially in London, believe some unscrupulous landlords are not using their properties for long-term tenants and instead use them for serial high-revenue holiday lets, often in contravention of planning regulations.
The Times newspaper says it has seen correspondence from London Mayor Sadiq Khan suggesting that he would take action against the company if required.
Khan says that he has “concerns” that Airbnb is exacerbating the housing crisis by reducing the stock of long-term rentals. In addition, neighbours of some Airbnb properties are experiencing anti-social behaviour from short-let tenants such as noise and rubbish pollution.
The Times says Khan “supports the right of people to benefit from renting out their homes for short periods” but believes this should be balanced with strategic needs.
The letter finishes: “If boroughs [councils] are finding that the legislation needs to be revisited to make sure that we find a better way of balancing the benefits of the sharing economy with the protection of local residents and the retention of housing for long-term use, then I will be happy to work with them and discuss with government whether any changes may be needed.”
A range of surveys has suggested that many of the properties now advertised on Airbnb are not owned by individual owner occupiers away for a short time, but are owned by landlords. The Times says that in London alone there are more than 20,000 entire properties listed on Airbnb, a 24 per cent increase in four months.
Homeowners in the capital must apply for planning permission if their property is used for short lets of more than 90 days a year.