Bristol Hoteliers Renew Calls for Urgent Airbnb Clampdown
Hoteliers in Bristol are renewing calls for tighter regulations and restrictions to be imposed on Airbnb properties which affect both the hospitality sector and the rental market.
The Bristol Hoteliers Association (BHA) would like to see limits put on how many days properties are able to be let for and for homes to be licensed.
Raphael Herzog, BHA Chair, said: “As of 8 December 2022, there were 3,689 active Airbnb and VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) listings in Bristol.
“This is affecting hospitality, since Airbnb homes don’t have any of the regulations on them – and associated costs to conform to those regulations – that we have, which means, of course, that their rates can be lower.
“With so many families facing financial difficulties at the moment, it is easy to see why they would want to find the cheapest accommodation possible for a break, so by being able to regularly undercut the prices of hotels which are regulated, Airbnb properties are a threat to our businesses.
“What’s more, they also affect long-term letting in the city. There is a massive shortage of properties to rent, and Airbnb is one of the reasons.
“It was recently reported that a group called Inside Airbnb, which extracts data from Airbnb’s own website, shows that there are a total of 2,329 Airbnb properties currently being advertised in Bristol but only 835 of them are where people stay in a room or part of someone else’s home.
“A total of 1,494 are entire homes or apartments. That is nearly 1,500 homes in Bristol that could have people living in them, while those seeking overnight and short stays could use proper hotels and guest houses.
“In many European cities, you are limited to being able to rent out rooms for 100 days a year. You also have to pay an annual licence fee and need to register your accommodation, but there is nothing in the UK to regulate short lets.
“I think any property offered for rental should also be subject to the same kind of controls as our businesses are, around water and fire risk assessments and other health & safety checks.
“As well as affecting the availability of housing for people who badly need it, the likes of Airbnb are taking a large share of occupancy from hotels and B&B businesses, who are trying so hard to keep going in the wake of both Brexit and the pandemic.
“We have been saying for some time that Airbnb operators have been having a detrimental impact on Bristol’s hospitality sector, yet nothing seems to have changed.
“Another ‘hidden’ impact is that, with more properties being offered as Airbnb, it has a direct impact on hospitality sector staff trying to find accommodation for themselves in Bristol – either because it is too expensive or simply not available – and this means they are unable to take up jobs in our businesses, at a time when we are struggling to recruit the staff we need.
“Students are struggling to find accommodation, too. This year, some student ended up living in other towns and cities for attending university in Bristol, so there are plenty of reasons for something to be done to restrict Airbnb lets.
“Last year, Bristol’s Mayor MarvinRees spoke about the ‘wicked challenge’ of Airbnb in the city and said he had few, if any, powers to tackle it.
“I have reached out to Marvin Rees, and also to the ‘metro’ Mayor, Dan Norris who are both aware of the situation but tell me they are relying on the Government to regulate this nationally.
“However, I think this should be a case of a region or city being empowered to regulate Airbnb in their own area.
“So, we are now, once again, urging those who DO have the power to urgently consider strategies that will help lessen the impact of businesses like Airbnb, and similar businesses.
“This is not a case of us being afraid of competition; this is, by its nature, a very competitive industry. But it’s only right and fair that accommodation providers are all starting from a level playing field.”
Find out more about the Bristol Hoteliers Association here.