It’s been a difficult summer for Airbnb and other short-let platforms operating in the UK.
Recently the European Commission gave Airbnb until the end of August to reveal how it intends to bring its terms and conditions into line with EU consumer rules; now MPs on the UK House of Commons All-Party Parliamentary Group for Leisure, Tourism and the Hospitality Industry have voiced their concerns on the quality of short-let accommodation across a range of platforms.
In a report on the short let sector - identifying specific players in the sector, including Airbnb, One Fine Stay, HomeAway and Under the Doormat - the MPs say the sector is an opportunity for economy growth for tourism in particular in the UK.
However, they voice concern over how “local authorities claim professional landlords are converting residential long-term leasehold properties to short-term tourism accommodation businesses, leading to residential housing shortages and forcing up property prices.”
The report claims that documentation to be completed by ‘hosts’ letting their properties fail to include “the most important measures that all providers of paid accommodation are required by law to undertake, such as completing a fire safety assessment of the property and having gas services check to ensure the property is Gas Safe compliant.”
The report goes on to say: “If hosts state in the checklist that they do not provide smoke alarms, CO2 monitors or fire safety equipment, the registration process still allows the host to list their property and start taking bookings. This is unacceptable.”
It also voices fears over the lack of policing of the sector: “Regulatory authorities are not able to locate sharing economy accommodation providers, making it difficult to implement an effective inspection regime...Few, if any, sharing economy properties are ever inspected.”
The remit of the MP’s committee also extends to the hospitality sector, and the report therefore also expresses concern over the effects of “de facto hotels” on residential communities.
The report recommends that greater responsibility be taken by short let platforms about telling hosts of their statutory health and safety-related responsibilities; that accreditation schemes be introduced to try to improve quality; and that registers be created obliging hosts to provide evidence that their properties have been checked for health and safety.