Airbnb have just agreed on a new deal with London. Here we discuss a few myths surrounding the legal issues and what it means for other cities.

Many people believe that London recently imposed a 90 day limit on short-term rentals. London’s restrictions have actually been around since the Greater London Council (General Powers) Act 1973. That legislation stipulated that short-term rentals, or temporary sleeping accommodation for less than 90 days, were considered a change of use on a residential property and therefore required a permit. It was therefore illegal to use Airbnb at all without licensing and those who did could be fined for up to £20,000.

This legislation only applied to London rather than the entirety of the UK. In February of 2015, the Deregulation Act 2015 came into force to allow the liberalization of this law. It was no longer considered a change of use to offer short-term rentals in a home for less than 90 days per calendar year. The government enacted this law to “enable Londoners to participate in the sharing economy and benefit from recent innovations in information technology by letting out either a spare room or their whole house.” [1]

So in actual fact, the changes came almost two years ago. What just happened at the beginning of December was an agreement by Airbnb to enforce the law that if people were letting out their house for more than 90 days per calendar year they would need a permit.

Another myth surrounding the new deal is that it won’t be followed through on by Airbnb. The former chairman of the San Diego Community Planners Committee, Joe LaCava said that “It’s a little bit like having the fox watch the chicken coop.” [2]

The Guardian also reported that “Dale Carlson, the co-founder of Share Better San Francisco, a pressure group agitating for greater regulation of Airbnb, said that the move was a good thing “only if it’s real,” but felt that his experience of the company led him to doubt that they would follow through with the deal in good faith.” [3] And it’s true, there may be a few loopholes.

For example, any bookings made before the automatic limit is introduced, Airbnb will allow to be honored, regardless of the law. However, I believe the skepticism is largely misplaced. Airbnb plans to enforce the new law using an automatic limit on their hosts. If a host books out a listing for 90 days, guests can no longer book. It is difficult to see how Airbnb could circumvent this after implementation without it being noticed by the authorities.

What does this mean for other cities? As we know, a similar deal was struck with Amsterdam to enforce their 60 day limit (read more). It is hard to see how other cities couldn’t expect the same treatment. Of course this only works for time limits, so cities would have to consider implementing that kind of legislation. There’s also other home-sharing sites to worry about, who have not signed on to any kind of agreement. For now however, we can see this as the next step towards cooperation between governments and home sharing sites to the detriment of the host acting illegally.


[2], [3] london-amsterdam-housing

Read full post


No comments to display.

Load More