The BHA and the sharing economy
Following BHA evidence to the BIS Select Committee and Housing Inquiry Iain Wright has written to Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, raising the BHA’s concern that in using online platforms landlords are able to circumvent tax, food, health and fire safety regulation, giving them an unfair competitive advantage over other accommodation providers.
There is now much greater awareness of these issues, in government, City Hall and the press but solutions remain elusive - except perhaps for HMRC, which is poised to implement its increased powers to obtain fiscal information from online platforms.
Airbnb is predicted by some to increase bookings by 150% in 2016. Airbnb have a number of plans, including ‘a buffet of local experience’, ‘magical trips’ and ‘city hosts’. It has also piloted its ‘friendly buildings’ programme in the US, in which landlords allow their tenants to sublet for short periods, in return both landlords and Airbnb take a share of the income.
Cities worldwide are introducing regulation in an effort to ensure compliance with safety regulation and protect housing. So far it has not been a great success. In Europe regulation is often ignored and unenforceable, since host data is not available. In the US Airbnb is suing, it complains new regulations are illegal - in San Francisco, Anaheim and Santa Monica and threatens to sue the state of New York if their latest bill is passed into law.
BHA campaigning continues, on the effects of the sharing economy and the need for solutions.