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Airbnb's new rule in London should cut down on "professional" hosts

City A.M. Thursday, 1 December 2016 ()
Until recently, the sharing economy has been a bit "Wild West" - but all that could be about to change in London, after one of its major players, Airbnb, announced a crackdown on so-called professional hosts.

In a statement today the company said it is introducing automated limits on listings to prevent an entire home from being listed for more than 90 days a year - unless the host confirms they have the required permission to share their space more frequently.

Airbnb said the move, aimed at cutting out companies which rent properties then make a profit by letting them on Airbnb at a higher rate, will make it "easier for hosts in London to act in the best interests of everyone in the city". 

The move comes after it spent six months working with London boroughs and speaking to Londoners to help it meet its Community Compact commitment, which includes a pledge to remove "unwelcome" commercial operators. 

Today a Camden councillor hailed a "victory".

“This is a major victory for Camden Council and partner councils, who have collectively been pressuring Airbnb to take action to stop exacerbating the capital’s housing crisis, and to control the impact of their properties on the lives of nearby, working, Londoners," said Sarah Hayward, the council's leader.

“It was abundantly clear to all councils involved that many users of the site were flouting the 90 nights limit and the simplest way to stop that was for Airbnb to stop it at source, rather than councils undertake resource intensive and costly retrospective enforcement operations against the culprits, working with limited data from the company."

*Housing crisis*

In September research by the Residential Landlords Association has suggested Airbnb may be fuelling the capital's housing crisis - with 61 per cent of the entire homes and apartments listed on the site available for more than 90 days, while 41 per cent were multi-listings. 

However, Airbnb hit back saying the research "deliberately confuses availability with nights booked".

"The typical Airbnb host in London shares their space for 50 nights a year and hosts generated £1.3bn of economic activity in the capital last year," it added. 

"Rather than removing housing stock, hosting on Airbnb puts money in the pockets of regular Londoners and helps them afford living costs in one of the world's most expensive cities."

*Going for gold*

Meanwhile, earlier this year Olivier Gremillon, managing director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Airbnb, said he wanted half the homes in London to be available on the platform. 

Gremillon told an audience at the Institute of Directors' annual convention that "perception is changing", noting that Airbnb was "creating this trust between people who don't know each other". 

*Read more*: Airbnb your house: Londoners could be making a packet from idle assets
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