Amid news that some landlords who are in the long-term let market continue to switch over to seemingly more lucrative short-term lets, the global head of AirBnB has shared his intention to thoroughly audit the landlords who use his site. In a recent interview, the rental platform co-founder said he recognises the potential damage it can cause to the UK's long-term rental market when professional landlords utilise the site to switch from one area to the other.
Meanwhile, the Short-Term Accommodation Association (STAA) has announced four new businesses have joined the trade body, pushing its membership numbers over 50. The group said it now represents the majority of short-let operators across the UK, giving it a more powerful voice for the industry.
Impact on Cities and Communities
After launching in 2009, AirBnB grew quickly with hosts joining the site from cities around the world. As the popularity of the concept expanded, more property investors sought out short-let properties and even began to switch out from long-term into the short-term let market. This trend continued, and in the UK, it became the topic of much debate.
However, since the coronavirus pandemic the firm suffered around £7.6 million ($1 billion) worth of cancellations and the planned float of the business has been shelved. This period has seen co-founder Brian Chesky rethink the direction of the business and its impact on cities and communities.
Speaking to The Times, Chesky said during the period of fast growth, the site has made many mistakes and now is the time to take a “serious audit” of the types of landlords who should and should not be on the platform.
This includes working with local councils in the UK to identify professional landlords and removing them from it, to go some way top redressing the balance between long-term and short-term landlords across the countries it operates in. “We really need to think through our impact on cities and communities,” Chesky said.
Short-term let trade body gains new members
The rising number of short-term lets across the UK means there are fewer long-term rentals available, at a time when more people are living in rental accommodation for longer. However, there is still a market for short-term business and holiday lets across the UK and other cities. This means that just as there are well-known trade bodies representing long-term landlords, in 2017 the STAA was formed to represent the growing number of short-term let landlords.
Despite the hit to booking numbers at the beginning of the Covid-19 lockdown, the STAA recently welcomed four new members, a development it says means it now represents the majority of the market in the UK.
That increased membership level comes as the sector has come together during a challenging few months, the STAA said.
“Having them [new members] all onboard brings even more power to the association’s voice as we tackle the important issues we face as we work towards a full recovery,” said the STAA’s chair, Merilee Karr. “The last two to three months have seen our industry pull together so that come July 4 [sector re-opening day] we were in a very strong position to reopen safely with new industry-wide cleaning protocols and clarity on what we needed to do to keep guests safe.”
This highlights that while more regulations need to be put in place – and adhered to – in order to ensure a fair balance between short-term holiday lets and suitable long-term lets across the UK, its also time for the short-term lets sector to use its collective voice and participate in the debate and setting of rules.