Airbnb is doing a U-turn with its global leader pledging to slash the number of professional landlords using the platform and identify those who remain.
The platform has long attracted complaints from a wide range of sources because it has allowed landlords to kick-out long term tenants and instead attract higher-paying short lets holidaymakers.
Now co-founder Brian Chesky says in an interview with the Sunday Times that he recognises the problem, and the damage this does to some local housing markets.
In the interview Chesky says he will undertake “a really serious audit” which will end up with the removal of professional landlords whose offering “doesn’t connect to the Airbnb brand” while those professional landlords who remain will be chosen because they offer an “authentic experience” - and those that remain will be “branded a little differently.”
This might include identifying whether landlords hosting tenants via the platform will be on hand to meet and greet and whether they will give local recommendations - two criteria, he suggests, which make it easier to spot remote landlords currently using the platform to fake local involvement.
He also pledges to give city authorities more information about the scale and scope of Airbnb properties and transactions which will help local councils catch unscrupulous operators.
Airbnb in particular, and short lets platforms in general, have been the subject of huge criticism by city authorities in recent months.
Politicians in Dublin have spoken of possibly buying short let properties to ensure they are used for genuine housing need, while the Budapest local government is the latest to consider capping the number of days a property can be short-let per year.
Meanwhile in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon, the mayor is pledging to “get rid of Airbnb” when the pandemic ends, by turning over the properties to become affordable housing for long-term tenants. Airbnb property owners apply to rent to the city authorities for a minimum of five years.