The UK government said on Wednesday it was launching a review into short term rentals in popular tourism areas in England, including Airbnbs.
Ministers said they wanted to support rental platforms like Airbnb but acknowledged concerns that such businesses could drive communities out of their area – for example if landlords opt to run their properties as holiday lets rather than long-term accommodation.
Additional measures may involve “physical checks of premises” to crack down on the enforcement of regulation around noise and anti-social behaviour, ministers said.
“While no decisions have been taken, this review will help us work out the options to look at so we can protect our much-loved communities and thriving holiday industry,” tourism minister Nigel Huddleston said of the open call for evidence.
Holiday rental platform Airbnb has said it hopes that ministers will make it easier, not tougher, for the English to let out their homes amid economic turmoil.
In a statement responding to the review, US-based Airbnb said it welcomed further regulation that could “unlock the benefits of hosting for regular people while clamping down on speculators and big businesses that drive housing concerns and overtourism.”
It added: “As everyone works together to tackle the most challenging economic crisis since The Great Recession, we should look to make it easier — not harder — for regular people to use their homes — typically their greatest expense — to flexibly boost their income while diversifying tourism.”
The platform said there was a “big difference” between “buy-to-let speculators” and those who “occasionally” let out their homes for a bit of extra cash.
Landlords said the boom in holiday lets was a “direct consequence” of the government’s “anti-landlord” attitude and tax policies discouraging long-term investment in the private rented sector.
“With a housing secretary that wants to shrink the size of the sector, it is little wonder many landlords have jumped ship to the holiday lets market,” Ben Beadle, chief executive of the National Residential Landlords Association, said.
“As a result, for many in holiday hot spots finding a long-term home to rent is all but impossible. With demand for such housing at a record high, all it is doing is increasing rents when tenants can least afford it,” he said.
Traditional bed and breakfast businesses have complained there is not a level playing field when it comes to their digital peers.
What’s more, pubs and restaurants in tourism hotspots have reported struggles with recruitment, which have been exacerbated by a shortage of affordable rented accommodation nearby.
“Government action in this area can help to rebalance short and long-term rentals in our fragile communities, while at the same time help build a more sustainable tourism industry,” UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls added.