Airbnb-style lets must be regulated because they are displacing communities, that’s according to the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH). 

The CIH is calling on government and local authorities to regulate Airbnb style short-term lets following its recent research. The findings show that the growth of these and other mainly on-line letting arrangements are starting to change the character of local communities by displacing long-term residents.

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Despite the fact that short-term lets such as Airbnb have helped both tourists and some landlords, the trend, “risks contributing to the loss of private rented homes for families and individual residents because homes are rented short term to holidaymakers instead,” says The CIH.

The findings come as the CIH’s publishes its UK Housing Review 2019, which says that Airbnb alone has made more than 77,000 lets in Greater London alone, 55% of these being entire homes. Most of these lets are concentrated around the boroughs of Westminster (8,328), Tower Hamlets (7,513) and Hackney (5,907).

Scotland also figures in this short-term letting growth with Edinburgh supporting over 10,000 short-term lets, and the city centre ward alone having two Airbnb lets for every 13 homes. In rural Scotland, areas popular with tourists, such as The Isle of Skye, there’s one Airbnb-let property for every 10 houses.

The report raises the prospect that many of these lets have migrated from the private rented sector (PRS) to the short-term lettings sector for part of each year, and the Institute has even greater cause for concern, it says, if these are becoming permanent short-term lets, no longer available to locals.

“Increasing short-term lets could result in the loss of communal spaces or facilities, as well as impacting the local housing markets,” the report says.

The CIH is calling on central government and local authorities to collect better data on these short-term lettings so that councils can keep track of their growth and their locations. This is something that is happening in other cities around the world as the Airbnb phenomenon has grown.

The CIH report is suggesting that a “modest local tourism tax” would assist local authorities in the monitoring and regulation of the short-term lettings sector, and could lead to capping the number of short-term rentals in particularly high-pressure areas.

Terrie Alafat, chief executive of the CIH, has said:

“Digital platforms like Airbnb have brought great convenience to tourists who come to enjoy our cities and communities, as well as economic benefit to their hosts and local areas.

“However, if left unregulated, there is a real risk of loss of much-needed housing from the private rented sector to the short-term lets market, and displacement of long-term residents. We need to find a way to accommodate the housing needs of individual residents while allowing tourism to continue in our most popular locations.

“More regulation could be necessary if growth continues and local authorities still have no way to accurately monitor numbers.”

UK HOUSING REVIEW 2019 from the Chartered Institute of Housing

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