As part of its Deregulation Bill, the government is expected to relax Clause 34, a law dating back to the 1970s and which requires London residential property owners or tenants to seek planning approval before repurposing it to sell nightly accommodation.
James Foice, managing director of ASAP, explained: “It’s clear that political imperatives are driving government action, most especially the need for more housing in London. Housing in the capital is a political hot potato, and the Bill has been framed to ensure an outcome whereby there is more housing available for purchase.”
Though in favour of the amendments, the association believes the government should go further by enacting regulations on quality standards for the industry.
“We’re lobbying the government to proceed with this piece of legislation because we want to ensure that our members have the freedom to do their business without being encumbered by out-of-date legislation.
“In the age of the internet, it’s very easy to book a room through Airbnb, a hotel or indeed a serviced apartment, but you’re not absolutely sure what you’re getting. Our view is that it’s important to ensure that people know what they’re buying.
“For us it’s about clarity over the quality of the apartment that customers are renting, so that they know for example that it’s properly insured, that health and safety arrangements have been taken care of, and in the same way that hotels and other accommodations have standards, that serviced apartments and everybody else has the same,” an ASAP spokesperson told BigHospitality.
The association is hoping that standardising the serviced apartment sector will further boost its growth. “Our sector is worth £500m of annual revenue, the same size as the entire sharing economy in the UK, and we are expecting serviced apartment stock in London to reach 14,000 units by this time next year,” Foice added.
The ASAP is also promoting its Quality Assessment programme as one of the things the government should look at in order to ensure that customers “get what they pay for”.
The Bill will be debated in the House of Lords from tomorrow, though the actual close is likely to be discussed on 30 October.