AIRBNB IS A GREAT SERVICE from the traveler’s side. It’s convenient, it’s affordable, and Airbnb rooms usually have more personality than your average hotel room. But in many cities, Airbnb has caused problems. Unscrupulous landlords in many cities have used the service to price out local residents, while dodging taxes and regulations that would apply to other hotels and B’n’B’s. This has contributed to the rise in rent and to a decrease in housing supplies in many cities.
Airbnb has (understandably) not been super keen to crack down on these landlords, as that would lose them money. But last week, after some pressure from London authorities, they did the right thing: they banned hosts from renting out their homes for more than 90 days a year without permission from their local council.
The housing problem has been particularly bad in London, which is one of the most expensive cities in the world, and where nearly a quarter of Airbnb rentals are rented out for more than 90 days.
Sarah Hayward, leader of the London Borough of Camden, told the Guardian, “Swathes of properties in Camden had effectively been removed from the longer-term rental market, making it both more expensive and difficult to find a longer-term rental property in the borough for those working here. It was abundantly clear to all councils involved that many users of the site were flouting the 90-night limit, and the simplest way to stop that was for Airbnb to stop it at source.”
Airbnb still does not admit that homesharing may impact the price of housing in London, but after some pretty severe pressure from places like New York, Barcelona, and London over the past year, they’ve started working more closely with local governments to make sure that their business model is more sustainable.
So while we in the travel community may find it harder to find Airbnb’s in places like London over time*, we can take comfort in knowing that our lodging choices aren’t damaging the local economy. This is a cool step forward for the homesharing platform.
*It’s not going to be much harder.