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Airbnb plans register to help councils regulate short-term lets

The company will spend the next six months meeting with experts across the UK before presenting a white paper to the government

housing crisis

The short-term lets platform has been accused of driving up rents in cities, reducing the housing supply and heightening inequality – but from today, Airbnb representatives say they will travel the UK meeting with policymakers and communities to figure out how they can “be good partners to cities”.

Councils currently do not know who in the area has listed their property on Airbnb. But following pressure put on the company by UK officials, the company is getting out ahead of the issue by considering a short-term lets registration system that could make it easier for local authorities to regulate holiday rentals and to cut back on council housing used as holiday homes.

The company will gather evidence from major cities across the UK to produce a white paper on a registration system to be presented to the government next year.

Patrick Robinson, director of public policy at Airbnb, said: “We want to be good partners to cities and work together on a host registration system that is easy to follow, gives authorities the information they need to regulate home sharing effectively, and that ultimately makes communities stronger.

“We hope that other industry players will join us in this important work.”

Earlier this year Mayor of London Sadiq Khan called for such a system to be put in place that would apply to anyone who wanted to rent out a property for less than 90 days in a calendar year.

In 2015 the law was changed to cap short-term lets in the capital at 90 nights a year, however it has been described as near-impossible for councils to enforce.

Khan said: “Short-term lets are a benefit to visitors to London, and to Londoners themselves who want to earn a little extra money. But these benefits must be balanced with the need to protect long-term rented housing, and to make sure neighbours aren’t impacted by a high turnover of visitors.”

We need planning consent for anyone changing from a home to a short-term let.

Airbnb representatives plan on visiting Edinburgh, Glasgow, Bristol, Bath, Manchester, Brighton and Cornwall and more.

Karen Buck, Labour MP and chair of the APPG on short-term lets, said: “The short-let housing sector has a lot to contribute but if left wholly unregulated there are potentially serious negative consequences.

“Part of the reason for setting up the APPG on short-lets was to consider effective ways of preventing some of these unwanted impacts.

“I welcome their recognition of the need to ensure the sector is properly managed and regulated, and will want to contribute to the consultation they are launching.”

Nearly 80,000 London homes are listed on Airbnb. That number falls to 12,000 in Edinburgh, but is far greater proportionally – working out as one Airbnb-listed property for every 42 residents.

People across the UK have complained of anti-social behaviour from one-time renters in neighbouring properties which are often being used for hen or stag dos or birthdays.

Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas called for a registration system similar to that proposed by Airbnb. Lucas said: “People who live in crowded towns and cities have to tolerate the occasional noisy party at a neighbouring house. But it’s completely unreasonable to expect people to put up with this every weekend.

“We need better regulation, including requiring planning consent for anyone changing property use from a home to a short-term let.”

Earlier this year the local authority in Madrid put a ban on renting out flats without separate main entrances, blocking thousands of hosts from using Airbnb.

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