Premier Inn boss slams 'unregulated' Airbnb

By Sophie Witts contact

- Last updated on GMT

Premier Inn boss slams 'unregulated' Airbnb

Related tags: Bha chief executive, Law, Occupational safety and health

The outgoing Whitbread boss has slammed Airbnb by arguing that the Government is failing to properly regulate the site.

Andy Harrison, CEO of Premier Inn’s parent company, claimed that the Government was unable to ‘keep up’ with the rise of tech start-ups and ensure they were subject to the same taxes and safety regulations as hotels.

He alleged that 40 per cent of Airbnb users are listing ‘multiple’ properties on the site, The Times​ reported.

“These are probably professional landlords,” Harrison told the CBI conference.

“How does the government or Airbnb know that these landlords are complying with all the same laws that we are, whether it’s health and safety, consumer protection or paying their taxes?”

STR Global estimates that 25,361 London units are listed on the site​ - 52 per cent of which are entire homes.

But James McClure, general manager of Airbnb for the UK and Ireland, said the company had held ‘very good discussions’ with HM Revenue & Customs.

He added that the company sent ‘reminders’ to its users to ensure they were aware of their tax obligations.

Harrison said he had written to the Government over the issue.

“We are not looking for any special favours…we just want to make sure regulations keep up with technology and there is a level playing field,” he said.

He added that there were ‘no signs’ Airbnb had damaged Premier Inn’s business, but that the hoteliers were ‘watching carefully’.

So could things change?

In the July budget the Government appeared supportive of ‘sharing economy’ sites like Airbnb.

It unveiled a larger tax break for those renting out spare rooms and homes, with a tax-free allowance for the first £7,500 of income from April.

However the British Hospitality Association (BHA) said it hoped Transport for London's plans to impose tougher regulations on Uber​ could mark the beginning of a clampdown on the wider 'sharing economy', including Airbnb.

"Visitors and residents alike should be free to choose any transport or accommodation they prefer," said BHA chief executive Ufi Ibrahim.

"However, all customers must be afforded the same basic regulation and health and safety protection."

Related topics: Business & Legislation, Hotel, People

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