Airbnb has recently kicked off a roadshow throughout the UK as an attempt to workshop proposals for registering short term rentals in a way that satisfies local governments, communities and hosts.
This move looks to combat public perception that Airbnb is damaging local housing markets ahead of their IPO offering, which is set to occur later this year.
“We were the first platform to automatically restrict how often London hosts can share their homes to support the local 90-day hosting limit. We also backed calls from the Mayor of London to introduce a registration system in the capital to ensure that these rules are applied fairly and equally to hosts on all platforms,” the company wrote in a blog post. “Through the roadshow, Airbnb will continue this work and engage with major cities across the UK on these proposals.”
Airbnb has a huge presence in London, with the number of listings available in the city more than quadrupling in the last four years. As of May 2019, 80,770 properties in London were listed on Airbnb, with 23 percent of these thought to be extended beyond the legal 90 day rental limit, as reported by Wired.
Airbnb has signaled that they are open to suggestions in London and throughout the UK. In addition to conducting this roadshow, they recently appointed Dr. Marina Novelli, Professor of Tourism and International Development at the University of Brighton, as an independent academic advisor.
“Airbnb has a desire to develop its relationships with local communities and work with government, policy makers and city leaders to develop a host registration system that is accessible and effective. This project allows us to explore all the options available,” Novelli wrote in a statement.
The first roadshow event took place in Brighton on February 13th, with upcoming stops planned for London, Cardiff, Plymouth, Bristol and Bath, Manchester and Liverpool, Birmingham, and Glasgow taking place over the next three months.
The company still faces plenty of opposition in the UK and throughout the rest of Europe, with a number of major cities banding together to demand stiffer regulations.
An analysis by the non-profit Economic Policy Institute recently suggested that Airbnb listings boost the value of an area, raising prices and making housing inaccessible to residents that were already living there. The study went on to say that there is “no reason for local policymakers bypass tax or regulatory obligations.”
London-based housing advocacy group Generation Rent has amped up attacks on Airbnb in the wake of the aforementioned study.
“The unchecked growth of online holiday lettings is depriving communities of much-needed homes. In rural areas and cities alike, the story is the same: young adults can’t afford to settle down in the areas they grew up in,” said Dan Wilson Craw, director of Generation Rent.
Following the report’s publication, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas said local councils should be given new powers to regulate Airbnb and similar platforms.
“The pressure put on the availability of local housing by Airbnb in some areas of UK is intolerable. Local councils must be given powers to regulate this, so local housing needs are not squeezed out,” said Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, as transcribed by Rude Baguette.
Airbnb, however, has pointed to increased tourism revenue, noting that they boosted the UK economy by 3.5 billion Euros in 2018, with statistics for 2019 forthcoming. Though, given the conciliatory nature of this traveling roadshow, it seems the company does understand the paramount importance of community outreach in addressing grievances.
photo credit: airbnb