A 46-page briefing document, issued by the House of Commons Library on 26 May outlining options for the future regulation of Airbnb and other short let providers in the UK, will be considered by the government in June.
The document, prepared by the Commons Library with help from Airbnb and others, focuses on a number of familiar issues.
In particular, the briefing paper highlights concerns over anti-social behaviour associated with the short-term rental sector prior to the coronavirus outbreak, and the potential reduction in stock for long-term rental or owner-occupation.
The paper states that 223,200 active UK listings were posted in the period July 2017 to July 2018, 58 percent of which were for the rental of an entire property, according to Airbnb. 75,700 active listings were London-based, representing the most of any region.
However, all regions experienced significant growth in the number of listings over the year to July 2018.
Analysing data from Airbnb’s website, several external organisations have found evidence of growth in short-term lettings.
Campaign organisation, Inside Airbnb, discovered that London listings in March 2020 totalled 88,100, nearly five times more than the number of listings recorded in April 2015.
Prior to the implementation of coronavirus lockdown measures, an annual limit of 90 nights per year was in place for short-term lets on London residential properties. However, there was no restriction on accommodation outside the capital.
Concerns over the sector’s rapid growth have also been included in the Commons Library document, specifically:
- Commercial operators using residential properties as letting businesses in breach of planning rules
- The impact on local housing markets
- The negative impact on neighbours and local communities, including anti-social behaviour and noise disturbances
- Local authority challenges, such as taking planning enforcement action
- Compliance with taxation laws
- Adherence to health and safety regulations
- The implications for traditional short-term accommodation businesses, including hotels and bed and breakfast establishments
The government has indicated that the short-term letting of residential properties will not be banned, saying that additional legislation would be ‘overly bureaucratic’, while acting as a barrier to households letting out properties on a short-term basis.
A non-regulatory approach is preferred by the government, according to the report published on the official Common’s Library website.
Government officials aim to encourage the Short Term Accommodation Association to improve standards and promote best practice across the industry.