17 Jan 2020

A council is lobbying the government to ask for landlords using Airbnb and other short let platforms to be charged business rates.

The move would be to level the playing field with buy to let long-term landlords and hoteliers, and may deter the proliferation of anti-social behaviour associated with tenants renting via Airbnb and similar services.

The move comes from Brighton and Hove council, which says Airbnb has an unfair advantage compared with hotels and regular B&Bs.

“Hotels and B&Bs must be licensed by councillors, but Airbnb houses don’t need licensing … Airbnb hosts make money the same way as hotels and other B&Bs. That’s why they should pay business rates … It’s very unfair competition” a local councillors is quoted as telling the Brighton Argus.

“Put a flat on Airbnb is essentially taking it out of the market for local people … It’s like in Cornwall where you can go to towns where most of the houses are second homes.”

The city council also believes introducing business rates for properties could be part of the solution to “party houses” – Airbnb homes which are rented by revellers to celebrate in.

An Airbnb spokesman told the Argus that the platform “helps spread and diversify tourism in Brighton while extending benefits to local families and businesses”.

Tighter controls over Airbnb and similar services are underway in Scotland where the devolved government has introduced measures allowing local councils to operate licensing systems on Airbnb hosts from 2021.

At least one other English council is also seeking backing from the Westminster government for greater powers over short let regulation.

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