The room sharing platform has been criticised by the British Hospitality Associated (BHA) for allegedly allowing its users to run long-term ‘pseudo hotels’ exempt from fire, food and health regulations.
Under current rules Londoners must apply for planning permission if their property is used for short-term lets for more than three months a year, but Airbnb has been accused of failing to enforce the rules.
Though the site has always denied it is unsafe, Airbnb said today (1 December) that from spring 2017 it would be imposing a 90-day limit on hosts in order to ‘act in the best interests of everyone in the city’.
Airbnb said in a statement: “We know the vast majority of Airbnb hosts in London are regular people who share their homes to help them afford one of the most expensive cities in the world.
“The typical Airbnb host in London earns £3,500 by sharing their space for 50 nights a year and the Airbnb community generated an economic impact of more than £1.3 billion in London last year.
“We firmly believe this step will help build a better London for everyone and work is already underway to implement these measures, which will be in place by spring 2017.
“We want to be good partners to London and continue to lead our industry on this matter, and ensure home sharing grows responsibly and sustainably.”
STR Global estimates that over 25,000 London units are listed on Airbnb, 52 per cent of which are entire homes.
The BHA hailed today’s change as a 'welcome' shift towards a more ‘responsible’ method of room sharing.
“We have been calling on the Government to enforce regulatory controls on home-sharing platforms and while this move by Airbnb is welcome it is important that all home-sharing platforms are similarly regulated,” said Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the BHA.
Last year former Whitbread boss Andy Harrison warned that the Government was unable to 'keep up' with sites such as Airbnb and ensure they were subject to the same taxes and regulations as hotels.