25 Jul 23

Airbnb has issued a statement responding to the call for a clampdown on short lets demanded by Labour’s outspoken London Mayor, Sadiq Khan.

Khan – whose Ultra-Low Emission Zone idea is widely regarded as the cause of Labour’s failure to win last week’s Uxbridge by-election – claims there are 81,792 listings in London on Airbnb alone. Of these, 50,401 are for entire properties, meaning at least one in every 74 homes in the capital is available for short-let.  

He wants Rishi Sunak to work with him and borough councils to implement a licensing system: this would allow local authorities to limit the numbers of licenses issued and avoid what Khan claims to be “entire streets or blocks being turned over exclusively to short- term lets.”

Now Airbnb has issued its own statement with the platform’s Northern Europe manager Amanda Cupples saying: “We take housing concerns seriously, which is why more than 5 years ago we worked with the Mayor to ensure that London’s 90-night-cap was enforced on Airbnb. We have long led calls for the introduction of a national register for short-term-lets and support calls for industry-wide data sharing that gives local authorities the information they need to ensure the rules are being followed.

“Airbnb was built to help people afford to stay in their homes. As living costs continue to rise, hosting is a vital source of income that helps people pay their rent, mortgages, food and energy costs.”

Cupples says the typical listing in London is rented for just 43 nights a year and four out of 10 hosts say it helps them afford their homes and rising living costs. 

Addressing the need for rules for short-term lets, Airbnb says it has long led the way in championing progressive rules for short lets, and welcomes the Government’s decision to introduce a registration scheme for these in England. 

“Airbnb has long advocated for new rules for short-term lets and believes the relevant authorities should have the tools to know what is going on in their local communities and take action when needed” it says. 

Specifically in London, Airbnb says homes cannot be let out on a short-term basis for more than 90 days in a single calendar year, unless they have planning permission. 

It states: “Airbnb has a long history of supporting regulation in the UK and was the first platform in London to enforce this rule by introducing automated limits in 2017, with the Mayor of London calling for other platforms to follow our lead at the time.” 

More recently, in 2021, Airbnb called for a simple, easy to use, national registration scheme following a consultation process across the UK. The UK government is now committed to introducing a register for short-term lets that would provide authorities with access to accurate data on the types and levels of activity actually taking place in their areas, enabling them to identify any demonstrated impacts within specific communities. 

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