Huge gap between expectations of short-lets platform users and the safety and regulation being delivered is shocking, a survey has shown.
The gap between consumer expectation and delivery on safety in the short-lets Airbnb-dominated sector has been revealed by a survey.
More than three-quarters (77%) of overnight guests want regular, independent inspections of all ‘pay to stay’ properties available on platforms such as Airbnb, while almost the same number (72%) assume that they’re already regulated.
The survey by Quality in Tourism, which quizzed 2,000 guests who had stayed overnight in the UK over 12 months to October 2019, found safety and regulation was high on renters’ agenda and 83% supported the mandatory regulation of all Airbnb properties.
Many private landlords are already highly critical of the current system which regulates the long-term let sector – as well as hotels, B&Bs and guesthouses – but not the growing ‘wild west’ short-term lets market.
Quality in Tourism, which is a performance assessor for tourism and hospitality businesses in the UK, believes the lack of a level playing field between Airbnb and other types of accommodation means there is no way to hold amateur providers accountable.
And while there were thousands of successful, incident-free stays last year, it points to horror stories around the world including a balcony collapse, ceiling collapse, condemned buildings being rented, hidden cameras and fraudulent listings.
Deborah Heather, director of Quality in Tourism, says councils are just beginning to tackle the issue by considering mandatory licensing or regulation.
And the Scottish Parliament also recently moved to license all short-term lets.
But she urges councils to move fast. “Hosts can rent a spare room or even an apartment or house to a complete stranger, with little or no concern for that guest’s welfare,” she says.
“Consumers could be staying in unfit accommodation, some of which don’t even have basic safety equipment such as smoke detectors or carbon monoxide alarms.”
“Changes need to be urgently made to level the playing field and align all operators to become accountable and improve consumer safety, before it’s too late.” Quality in Tourism is calling for new enforceable, mandatory regulations that set out minimum standards and include compliance with fire safety, food hygiene and building regulations.