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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Top agent urges Airbnb regulation to deter criminal activity

A leading London lettings agent wants increased regulation over Airbnb 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.

Poll: Should Airbnb and other short lets be regulated?

PLACE YOUR VOTE BELOW

  • Angus Shield

    I own both a Letting Agent and separately a Block Management business and within the latter we are always pushing-back against Lessees who feel it’s their right to offer their property to Airbnb and simply wait for the Management Company to eventually curtail their activity.
    Obviously the terms of the lease and insurance jeopardy are argued whilst other residents express their concerns about security codes/remotes being freely available however this all pales into insignificance when an angry cleaner is constantly inconvenienced with extra hallway cleaning and sorting badly disposed of recycling so the bins will be collected.
    I also question the lawful compliance, such as Gas Safety, CO detectors, etc, before we start with the referencing & selection of the ‘guests’. Whilst we know they will likely be tourists or businessmen, there are still the fellow residents/lessees concerns to address.
    With my Letting Agent hat on it peeves me that all our costly regular tenancy management compliance and routines are cheapened by the Airbnb process for a greater yield to the landlord, and with my Block hat on I am simply frustrated by the cheek of it!
    The talk over licencing Letting/Managing agents is of concern but I think Airbnb venues should hold a Local Authority permit to be offered on Airbnb to demonstrate that all the necessary permissions and H&S obligations have been met; who else apart from Trading Standards/Planning could police this and maybe even that greater landlords have to give actual consent and not depend upon vague ambiguous lease clauses.

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