A parliamentary investigation into the sharing economy has claimed that the popularity of Airbnb is helping drive an increasingly number of private landlords to exit the private rental sector, leading to housing shortages, forcing up property prices and putting renters at risk.
It also found that PwC believes half of all revenue for residential landlords could soon come from sharing platforms, increasing from £3 billion a year now to £30 billion by 2025.
The report by the UK House of Commons All-Party Parliamentary Group for Leisure, Tourism and the Hospitality Industry suggests that landlords are both attracted by the potential higher returns of sharing platforms, and the laxer safety standards than compared to the private rental sector.
The investigation’s report says too many Airbnb properties do not conform to Health and Safety standards such as having a gas safety certificate, and that Airbnb allows landlords to rent out properties even if they admit their properties don’t comply to safety standards.
To combat these problems, the MPs recommend that Airbnb be forced to ensure hosts are aware of their responsibilities, and that an accreditation scheme is rolled out across the industry.
The report also recommends that “sharing economy companies develop and implement procedures that ensure that hosts have, as a minimum, undertaken a fire safety assessment, a health and safety assessment and, where relevant, have Gas Safe certification.
“Accommodation providers should not be allowed to register properties without proof of these assessments.”
Any new rules would cover not just Airbnb but its competitors too including One Fine Stay, HomeAway and Under the Doormat.
Read more about Airbnb.
The company’s spokesperson says the company has launched a collaboration with the National Fire Chiefs Council to promote and educated hosts across the UK about fire safety. This includes a guide that will be sent to 100,000 hosts. The guide gives advice on fitting fire and smoke alarms, but makes no mention of gas safety testing.
“At Airbnb, we’re committed to supporting safe hosting and are pleased to have teamed up with the UK’s leading experts to develop guidance for our community and lead our industry on this important issue,” says Natasha Mytton Mills, Public Policy Manager at Airbnb UK (pictured, left).
“Whether it’s taking a minute to test your smoke alarms regularly, or having an escape plan for guests handy, we’re encouraging all of our hosts to follow a few simple steps to make their home even safer.”