26 Apr 2022

Website says it’s ready to implement tourist taxes where local councils want to use them

Airbnb has called for the Government to ban “no fault” evictions to stop landlords kicking tenants out of properties so they can be turned into short-term holiday lets. 

The lettings website also said it was ready to administer tourist taxes to help tackle the housing crisis caused by properties being used for holidays rather than permanent residences. Local councils should also create a register for landlords so they can better regulate the short-term lettings sector.

Amanda Cupples, of Airbnb, said banning Section 21 “no-fault” evictions would help the website better police the sector. Airbnb removes landlords from its platform if tenants have been unlawfully evicted, but has been powerless to stop that in the UK because of “no fault” evictions. 

Ms Cupples said: “At the moment there are very few illegal evictions that we can take action against because they are done legally using Section 21.”.

She said the firm would support the introduction of local tourism taxes to help local residence better benefit from living in a tourism hotspot. The measures were part of Airbnb’s “Healthy Tourism Commitment” published ahead of a busy summer of British travel bookings. 

The short-term lettings sector has been heavily criticised for contributing to a collapse in the number of rental properties available for families and young people – as landlords take homes off the long-term lettings market to chase profits in holiday hotspots. 

Nationally, the number of rental homes has plunged 50pc year-on-year, according to property website Rightmove.

Ms Cupples added: “We have collected $4bn (£3bn) in ‘tourism taxes’ all around the world so where local authorities or regulators think it is in the best interests of communities to introduce tourism taxes, we will be supportive.”

The Scottish National Party has pledged to bring in a tourism tax in Edinburgh if it wins local council elections in May while the Welsh Government will launch a consultation on a tourism levy this autumn. 

“There is a lot of emotion around the impact of short-term lets on long-term housing. The absolute first step in regulating the sector is to create a way for local authorities to know the number and proportion of short-term lets in their areas. This is a policy hole,” she added.

The Government announced last year that it would consult on introducing an industry-wide Tourism Accommodation Register to regulate the holiday let sector but has yet to formally start the process.

“Ideally we want something as soon as possible this year,” Ms Cupples added.

Tourism taxes should be digitised and charged at the point of payment, Ms Cupples said. “Platforms such as Airbnb can do the work of administering those payments and sending them to the relevant tax authority.”

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