Local councils in England must have the power to regulate Airbnb and other short-term rental sites in order to ease the “intolerable” pressure they have exerted on the availability of local housing, said Green Party MP Caroline Lucas.
His intervention followed an investigation by the Guardian who found an Airbnb listing for every four residential properties in some hotspots in Britain. Airbnb contested the conclusion.
In the meantime, an organization representing landowners has warned that impending tax changes will bring increasing numbers of owners to Airbnb and its rivals, depriving tenants of long-term stable leases.
Last month Lucas asked the government to make it easier for councils to impose a 90-day limit on homes released on Airbnb and other online platforms. Airbnb says that the vast majority of properties on the platform have already been rented for less than 90 days a year.
He wants the UK government to follow Scotland’s lead. In January Holyrood announced new measures that empower Scottish local authorities to regulate short-term leases. This includes a licensing system with health and safety provisions, which would also allow councils to address the concerns of local residents. A tax on short-term leases was also taken into consideration.
“Brighton and Hove city council should have the power to regulate this sector, which is having such a serious impact on an already overburdened private sector and on more highly regulated hotels and B & Bs, which are underestimated. There must be a level playing field, “said Lucas.
“The pressure exerted on the availability of local housing by Airbnb in some areas of the UK is intolerable. Local councils must be empowered to regulate this, so local housing needs are not eliminated, ” he tweeted on Fridays.
Airbnb said the Guardian’s data was flawed and that some of the listings were for hotel rooms, single rooms in homes and unusual properties such as caravans, which means that their rental did not affect real estate.
Patrick Robinson, the company’s public policy director, said: “Airbnb is a good partner for cities and we were the first platform to limit the frequency with which London hosts can share their homes. We are also working with cities across the UK on proposals for a host registration system that we will proactively submit to the government later this year to ensure that the rules work for everyone. “
But some company critics in crisis areas say that the saturation of their neighborhoods is changing the way they live. Chris Hayes, a 55-year-old train driver who lives in the Laon area of north Brighton, said his life had become a pain because five of the 29 cottages in his row were advertised on Airbnb and similar sites.
“Residents have no way of stopping the noise without comparison. The owners are unknown or indisputable, the “guests” do not have contact numbers for off-site hours, the council has no noise abatement officials at night, the police regard it as a very low priority, “he said, complaining to be woken by the holidays and the sound of the suitcases that are rolled along the alley in the middle of the night.
He added: “Airbnbs should be a change in residential use planning. A change of use is required to convert a house into an office, hotel or shop. Why not on Airbnb? “
In 2018, according to the board, up to 2,000 homes were used as short-term holiday homes in Brighton, a figure that has likely increased since then. Between May 2019 and January 2020, the number of active ads in the UK on the website increased by 14% to 257,000.
The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) warned Friday that tenants had difficulty accessing long-term rental homes because tax changes are prompting owners to move into the vacation rental market.
Last month, research from the ARLA Propertymark found that nearly half a million UK properties could be left unavailable for long-term rental as more owners leave the market for short-term rentals. Many owners accuse the government of limiting mortgage interest relief to the base rate of income tax, claiming that they will be significantly worse or even unable to make a profit on their leases.
The change does not apply to short-term leases, encouraging more landlords to enter that market, according to the RLA. Anyone who purchased a second home or rental property was also hit with a 3% surcharge on stamp duty since April 2016 following the changes introduced by George Osborne as registrar.
David Smith, RLA policy director, said: “Government policy is actively encouraging the growth of vacation homes at the expense of long-term rental homes, which many families need. This is completely counterproductive, making the renting more expensive and undermining efforts to help tenants save money on their own home.
“The chancellor needs to use his budget to offer tenants a better deal by supporting good landowners to provide the rental homes they want to live in.”