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Labour MP attacks Airbnb hosts for “exploiting” housing crisis

A Labour MP has attacked Airbnb hosts and others in the short lets business, accusing them of “this exploitation of housing for personal gain.”

Rachael Maskell, MP for York, tomorrow moves a Bill in the House of Commons calling for greater council-level regulation over Airbnbs and other short lets, and she has written in the city’s local press about her aims.

She says she is backed by numerous other MPs who want to protect rural, coastal and urban communities with a common concern about ”villages hollowed out by holiday let investors and second home-owners, and urban streets that are now party streets.”


Although Maskell is highly critical of holiday and second home owners in general, she becomes fiercely opposed particularly to short let hosts. 

She writes: “Whether you are unable to rent or buy because property costs are rising as demand exceeds supply, have a son or daughter priced out of the city, or live next-door to an ‘airbnb’ party house, many people in York are being impacted by this unlicensed, unregulated trade. Businesses can’t recruit staff and our NHS and care sectors are suffering as there is nowhere for staff to live.

“This exploitation of housing for personal gain is extracting homes from those who desperately need them. As things stand, unlike B&Bs or hotels, Short Term Holiday Lets are unregulated.

“They don’t need safety certificates or energy efficiency measures, and owners don’t pay council tax as they benefit from Small Business Rate relief. No standards, no contribution, just profit. Everyone searching for a home will also know this is one reason why property prices in York are so ridiculously high.

“On the darker side, we hear anecdotally that in some places these properties harbour criminal activities, from modern slavery to county lines. The lack of accountability is costly.

“I, like so many other MPs that care about homes for their constituents, want to see these properties licensed, fully regulated and making a significant contribution to the community through local taxation. My Bill goes one step further, adopting the Scottish licensing model, enabling local authorities to set up control zones to limit the expansion of holiday lets where housing is under pressure.

“It would also give councils new powers to close down Short Term Lets that are causing a repeated nuisance to local residents, and returning these homes to families.”

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    There should be better regulation of short lets, however, it needs to be thought through, not a knee jerk reaction to solicit votes!! Energy efficiency is something tenants (allegedly) will consider before committing to renting a property, but if you are taking a short let airbnb property for a long weekend, frankly, you wouldn't even consider it, so would imposing that legislation on short lets benefit the tenant or the local community? Probably neither! Even with longer lets, it takes forever to prove nuisance, so proving a property is a 'party house' will be hard. Certifying Gas, Electric and Portable appliances has a place and I believe should be present, as a fault with any of these has the potential to be life threatening. But, this brings us on to enforcement. Most local authorities focus on the activities of the larger corporate agents who are a soft target as the opportunity for human error is far greater and they can levy large fines, but the smaller independent agents seem mostly to fly under their radar (a small independent has just opened a new branch in my local high street - not an EPC rating to be seen in their new shiny window display!!). Will local authorities trawl through airbnb or Bookingcom websites to track down rogue landlords - not a chance!! Empty words to win votes by jumping on a band wagon. Lets have a cohesive policy including a plan for enforcement, then we might take you seriously.

    jeremy clarke

    I recently tried to report 7 letting agents to trading standards for not displaying fees, impossible to do! I was redirected to citizens advice who, after 2 weeks, emailed me to say not within their remit as I had not spent money?

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    • S S
    • 08 December 2022 11:11 AM

    And perhaps the MP for York should be trying to understand why people are opting for short term lets rather than longer term residential. Short term lets are harder work. If the Government continues to legislation to drive out smaller residential LL and so they can turn the PRS into a corporate, expensive build to rent luxury apartments, there simply wont be any housing for "normal" families, keyworkers.
    Whilst I agree there should be safety legislation for all lets be it short or long term and both sides of the industry should be fair, beating both sides with sticks is not going to get more residential family properties for rent.


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