AirBreaking The Law – Is UK Regulation About To Crush Airbnb?

Airbnb’s takeover of the hotel market may be about to slow.  A court has ruled that thousands of flat owners are ‘airbreaking’ the law – striking huge concern to current hosts around the legitimacy of their listings.

Airbnb hosts are already concerned about new rules coming into play, but there’s also been a spat of damage being made to properties causing thousands of pounds of damage.

On top of the current legal concerns and potential liability that may be associated to their name, neighbours are beginning to issue complaints to local authorities.  As guests come and go at Airbnb flats, the noise they bring due to parties and constant new tenants is reaching a tipping point.

Owners of a £500,000 flat in Putney, south London, found their property trashed by Airbnb clients holding a New Year’s party in return of just £138.  Over the summer, Kensington & Chelsea council issued a legal notice to occupant of flat due to a series of complaints from neighbours.

Airbnb has issued a note to neighbours stating, ‘Our team will review your complaint. If we match it with an active Airbnb listing, we’ll send your message to the host [owner] when possible.’  The company spokesman defended those who let their homes: ‘More than a third of UK hosts earn below the median household income and almost half rely on the extra income they make by sharing their homes to make ends meet.’

Recently, the Government has deregulated short lets, allowing owners to rent out properties for fewer than 90 days, without needing planning consent.  Astoundingly, property consultancy JLL has found that 25,375 flats were listed in 2016, compared to just 171 at the end of 2009.  Notably, London is the third highest number of Airbnb listings, behind Paris (35,424) and New York (30,480).

Councils are concerned that Airbnb hosts are actually allowing tenants to stay in flats for longer than 90 days meaning they should be abiding to safety regulations and insurance provisions but are not.

Moreover, Landlords have found some tenants who are subletting their flats without the appropriate approvals.  By comparison, anyone letting their apartment in Berlin needs a permit.  If there is not one in place, the Airbnb host could be hit with a cool £86,000 fine, which might make would-be landlords think twice.

DMZ thinks with the pound getting weaker, this trend is unlikely to change in the short term. The advantage of above board letting, be it Airbnb, GuestHouser or HomeEscape, is that it could prevent illegal lettings like the one seen in upmarket Kensington recently.