BHA calls for tougher Airbnb regulation at parliamentary committee hearing

George Sell By George Sell
13 January 2016 | Updated 13 January 2016

UK: BHA chief executive Ufi Ibrahim claimed many Airbnb hosts are “professional landlords” at yesterday’s meeting of the Business Innovation and Skills Committee.

UK: BHA chief executive Ufi Ibrahim claimed many Airbnb hosts are "professional landlords" at yesterday's meeting of the Business Innovation and Skills Committee.

Ibrahim criticised Airbnb and other sharing economy rental platforms, claiming many of their hosts are "professional landlords".

Speaking on behalf of the hospitality and tourism industry at the hearing, Ibrahim claimed the sites are used by "many large-scale landlords, operating multiple properties".

Ibrahim shared industry research which claimed:
• 40% of all home-exchange website listings are from 'professional landlords' running unregulated 'pseudo-hotels'
• The top 1,000 home-exchange hosts are netting £150 million of accommodation revenue annually
• Half of all home-exchange listings are entire properties rather than rooms in host's own home
• London is most affected with the largest number of landlords (40 per cent of all listings in London are multiple property owners renting accommodation on a short-term basis year-round)

Airbnb, which was represented at the hearing by head of public policy Patrick Robinson, has said it would clamp down on what it called "illegal hotels". Airbnb hosts do not have to meet the same strict regulations as serviced apartments and hotels such as planning regulations, food, health and fire safety regulations, and critics accuse them of avoiding tax.

At the hearing, Ibrahim put forward three proposals to regulate home exchange websites. They are:
• Home exchange websites should share with government bodies (London Authorities and Councils, HMRC) named host level data to demonstrate clearly; Who is letting over 90 nights in London?; How many people are letting out a secondary residence?; How much tax is due on the income?; How staff are employed and paid to service multi-rentals?
• Home exchange websites should directly restrict landlords from letting out for more than 90 days per year through their platform
• Home sharing websites should require much stricter checks on safety and security, something other sharing economy platforms, such as Uber, have already implemented

Click here to watch video footage of the committee hearing.

www.bha.org.uk

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